It was a couple covers of obscure girl group songs, "Do Wah Diddy Diddy" (the Exciters) and "Sha La La" (the Shirelles), that broke the group internationally -- "Do Wah Diddy Diddy" reached number one in the States, and "Sha La La" just missed the Top Ten. From 1964 to 1966, they took the approach of playing gutsy pop/rock on their singles (including the original version of "My Little Red Book") and soul and R&B on their albums, with occasional detours into jazz, Dylan (their cover of his then-unreleased "If You Gotta Go, Go Now" was a big British hit), and competent original material.
Jones left for a solo career and acting in 1966, and the group reformed around singer Mike D'Abo (Beatle friend Klaus Voormann was also in this aggregation on bass). Adopting an even more pop-oriented approach for the singles, with occasional psychedelic and progressive touches, the band ran off a string of Top Ten hits in their homeland until 1969, although the only one to hit the jackpot in the U.S. was their cover of another unreleased Dylan song, "The Mighty Quinn."
The outfit's early jazz-rock efforts were interesting, but not very popular, and so they steered the ship back toward mainstream rock by forming yet another incarnation. The heavier, more synthesizer-oriented outfit made quite a few albums in the 1970s; 1976's today's mystery album made the Top Ten, and featured the number one hit "Blinded by the Light". Ironically, despite the group's oft-proclaimed preferences for serious explorations of jazz, blues, and progressive music, it's his pop/rock recordings that hold up best, and for which he'll be remembered most.
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Today's mystery album was released 27 August 1976. The reason that this album became the band's best-selling album may have been because of both Bruce Springsteen-penned singles, however its instrumental makeup, by way of the keyboard manipulation coupled with Chris Thompson's chiseled singing, had just as much of an affect. "Blinded By the Light" and "Spirit in the Night" gave the band hits at both ends of the Top 40 spectrum, with "Blinded" going to number one while the mysteriously-sounding "Spirit in the Night" edged in at number 40 six months later. Outside of the singles, the mystery album is made up of clean-cut, well-established synthesizer and guitar work, with touches of techno psychedelia that are sometimes lengthy but never messy. "Questions" is based on the main theme of Franz Schubert's Impromptu in G flat Major; "Starbird" takes its theme from Igor Stravinsky's ballet The Firebird. Aside from the music, the mystery album basks in veiled poetry, cryptic but at the same time intriguing, verging on the complexities of progressive rock but far from its pretentiousness. Eventually achieving gold status, this mystery album both commercially and artistically became the group's finest effort. Here in it's 2013 remaster....N'Joy
Goldy Rhox 196 (flac 251mb)
Goldy Rhox 196 (ogg 97mb)
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