Peter and Gordon

by: Peter & Gordon

The duo's first British album is essentially the American A World Without Love LP with one extra song ("Long TIme Gone"), and as a British Invasion debut record, it's not bad. The duo sort of rocks out on Little Richard's "Lucille" and Ray Charles' "Leave My Woman Alone," and harmonizes in the best Beatles/Merseybeat manner on "If I Were You," the Buddy Holly/Crickets number "Tell Me How," and "You Don't Have to Tell Me," and they attempt to sound bluesy on "Trouble in Mind" and fail, but they fail in no worse fashion than 98 percent of the white British singers who went down that road in 1964. Arranger/producer Geoff Love -- led a pop orchestra of his own and had previously worked with Shirley Bassey, among other pop singers -- occasionally lets the electric guitars come to the fore, but on most of this album, the accompaniment is no harder than the way that the Beatles played on, say, "Till There Was You" from With the Beatles, embellished with light orchestral accompaniment. Try as they might to emulate the sound of the Beatles, the duo and their producer never get much closer or better than a kind of formulaic "Beatles-lite" -- the Liverpool quartet could have covered "Tell Me How" in the manner depicted here, but you just know that they'd have left in some rough spots and sung it a little tougher. The song chopped off the U.S. release, "Long Time Gone," is nothing terribly profound, a traditional number adapted by the duo into a folky Merseybeat-type rocker without any distinguishing characteristics except pleasant singing and more of that generic Brit-beat guitar on the break. The basic problem with the album is that, with the exception of the Lennon-McCartney authored "A World Without Love," nothing here is distinguishable from work by the Merseybeats, the Roulettes, or a dozen other groups of the period or, indeed, is as distinctive as the best work of either of those bands. The songs on which Peter & Gordon sound most comfortable and natural is the folk material, such as Hedy West's "500 Miles" and Peter, Paul & Mary's "Pretty Mary," which most listeners, then and now -- drawn to this album by the presence of "A World Without Love" -- probably find the most dispensable part of their repertory, regardless of how well they're sung. The 1999 British EMI CD reissue does offer extraordinarily high-quality sound, and features the mono and stereo mixes of each song -- the mono is preferable on just about every level, unless one really wishes to analyze the singing and playing, in which case the stereo tracks, which are essentially in binaural sound (voices out of one speaker, instruments out of another), are a treat. ~ Bruce Eder

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