by: The New Christy Minstrels

Today is an awkward album. The record company probably intended it to be called Advance To The Rear (Original Soundtrack), which it was for the 1964 comedy about an inept cavalry troop during the Civil War. But "Today" was the hit song in the spring of 1964 and that seemed the safer and more commercial choice for the album title; thus, the front cover emphasized the group and the hit, while the back cover was devoted to Advance To the Rear. Musically, it was not the group's strongest album, comprised as it was primarily of period and period-style songs that weren't always the wisest choices -- "Anything Love Can Buy" is too sweet for words, but at least sounds like something the group would have cut at any point in its history. Juxtaposed with the silly "Whistlin' Dixie," however, it shows off the sappy side of the group's sound too close to that silly side. The kazoo instrumental "Ladies" is an acquired taste, as are the "Company Q Whistle March," "Riverboat Theme" (which at least has a jaunty bridge), and "Brackenby's Music Box," three other pieces of background music that normally wouldn't have made it on to a Christys album. "Way Down in Arkansas" is closest to the spirit of the Christys at their most fun, while the achingly beautiful ballad "Today" (a major hit) is the standout track. As an album, Today did little to enhance the group's reputation or legacy -- ironically enough, the movie Advance To The Rear might have had more impact on popular culture, as it was almost certainly one of the inspirations behind the television series F-Troop. It was reissued in 1997 by Collectables and paired with Ramblin' on the same CD. ~ Bruce Eder

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