Anything Goes [Expanded]

by: Harpers Bizarre

It's not easy to figure what Harpers Bizarre had in mind with their second album, which was highly orchestrated soft rock on the verge of pre-rock pop. Rock for the kiddies, perhaps, or rock for the old folks, especially considering that a few of these tunes (Cole Porter's "Two Little Babes in the Woods," "Chattanooga Choo Choo") were pre-rock standards. It gave producer Lenny Waronker (and Harpers Bizarre member Ted Templeman, who became a producer himself and helped with the vocal arrangements) some experience, but it's way too twee to make for meaningful music. Perhaps you can hear a wee bit of the kind of L.A. pop-rock-schmaltz dished out by Randy Newman (whom Waronker would produce), Nilsson, and Van Dyke Parks at times, but in a much dumbed-down fashion. There are some interesting cover choices, though: David Blue's "You Need a Change" (arranged by Ron Elliott of the Beau Brummels); Parks' "High Coin"; and Newman's "The Biggest Night of Her Life" and "Snow," which must have generated enough royalties to feed the parking meter for a few hours. The 2001 CD adds two non-LP bonus tracks: the 45 version of Kenny Rankin's "Cotton Candy Sandman (Sandman's Coming)" (a different version of which the group put on their 1969 album 4) and the non-LP single "Malibu U." ~ Richie Unterberger

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