Something Special

by: The Kingston Trio

Something Special was the oddest of all the Kingston Trio's albums. Released just a few weeks after the group's first "best-of" collection and five months after the number three charting College Concert, the album was a marked departure from previous work by the trio, featuring their singing set against Jimmy Haskell's brass, string, and wind arrangements and an echo-drenched overall production. The results aren't bad so much as they are strange at times. Bob Shane, Nick Reynolds, and John Stewart give wonderfully spirited performances on "Brown Mountain Light," where they do well amid a lively brass arrangement. But that track and "Pullin' Away," the trio's version of "The Wagoner Lad," are the only places on this album where the elaborate arrangements really work -- and "Pullin' Away" works because the string arrangement is far more restrained than Haskell's work elsewhere on the album, and meshes beautifully with an understated chorus supported by the members' soft strumming. Stewart's beautiful "One More Time" is a bit too string-heavy and swallowed in reverb to show itself to best advantage; their version of Rodgers & Hart's "She Was Too Good to Me" sort of works, except for the fact that this doesn't sound like the Kingston Trio. "Jane, Jane, Jane" is better, but is hardly enough to fill out or carry the album, and the record ends with "Old Joe Clark," which is closer to the trio's usual sound, without an over-reliance on the accompaniment, apart from some spirited fiddle playing. ~ Bruce Eder

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