The Very Best of Fourmyula

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Can one absolutely extraordinary song make a CD, and further justify the knotty trial of chasing down an obscure import? You bet it can, when it's surrounded by a cast of other first-rate (if not as unbelievable) recordings. Such is the case with these late '60s New Zealand chart sensations, whose impact elsewhere was zippo and remain as obscure here as they are lionized there. For one listen to the stunning "Start by Giving to Me" is all that's required to make sane-but-desirous pop fans begin salivating. The Fourmyula's Kiwi period domination is demonstrated by the facts: Signed to EMI in their islands nation, they made it to #2 with their first single, "Come With Me," in 1968, and the 13 that followed were similarly huge smashes. As the brief liner notes remind, "In many cases it was Beatle singles that kept them from reaching #1, but they finally hit that top in December 1969 with 'Nature'" (another superb song, voted #1 greatest New Zealand song ever in a recent magazine article there). Now all of these 14 singles are combined with six tracks from their five LPs to form this collection, and there's one lovely late-'60s rock/pop moment after another. Like a mix of the Village Green Kinks and For Certain Because Hollies, with lots of Beatles/Byrds pop moves, this group feels equally comfortable with their variety. But it's "Start By Giving to Me" that holds this writer spellbound. It may be more than 30 years old, but this song feels like the great lost classic we search for in dreams. With a verse that feels like it could only be a gift of Greek gods, and a pre-chorus that could launch a thousand ships to get the CD, it's the ultimate Nuggets-era artifact, if not particularly garage-y and barely psychedelic. And there's some other nice tunes, too.

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