Secret Life of Harpers Bizarre [Expanded]

by: Harpers Bizarre

Harpers Bizarre's third album continued their mildly eccentric soft rock direction, remaining as mildly eccentric ever, but growing ever softer. In truth, this skirts adult contemporary Muzak almost as it does anything that could be considered rock music, and is rather a dark day in the annals of sunshine pop. The covers are a motley assortment of largely pre-rock standards given ornate arrangements and the group's trademark high, measured harmonies. What call there was for remakes of "Battle of New Orleans" (a real low point), Bacharach-David's "Me, Japanese Boy," "Sentimental Journey," and the Gershwins' "I'll Build a Stairway to Paradise" by a pop band in 1968 is questionable. Anachronism wouldn't matter so much if the results weren't so damn prissy. Ted Templeman and Dick Scoppettone's few originals are a little less objectionable, but no more memorable. The melancholy "Bye, Bye, Bye" is about the best, segueing strangely into Randy Newman's "Vine Street." Several half-minute interludes connect the tracks to give the album a suite-like feel and create the impression that the work is more important than it is. The Beau Brummels fans might want to note the inclusion of a so-so good-time Ron Elliott composition, "I Love You, Mama," which Elliott also arranged (as he did two other tracks). The 2001 CD on Sundazed adds two bonus tracks, the 1968 non-LP single "Small Talk" (written by Bonner-Gordon of "Happy Together" fame) and a cover of Joni Mitchell's "Both Sides Now." ~ Richie Unterberger

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