Friday, April 13, 2007

The Free Design - Stars/Time/Bubbles/Love (1970)

"The commercial failure of the Free Design remains one of the most baffling mysteries in the annals of pop music -- with their exquisitely celestial harmonies, lighter-than-air melodies and blissful arrangements, the group's records were on par with the work of superstar contemporaries like the Beach Boys, the Association and the Cowsills, yet none of their singles even cracked the Hot 100." Jason Ankeny - ALLMUSIC.COM
Baffling indeed, if not downright criminal. Luckily, the incessantly upbeat pop contained on this record will help you overcome the anger of injustice. The Girl/Boy vocals recall in spirit, if not in style, the waves of indie kids that are still crashing on our shores with their twee pop, cute haircuts, and irreverent take on life. The four members (2 guys 2 girls) that make up The Free Design are all siblings, and their songs seem to be extensions of their childhood. "Bubbles", the opener, is a favorite. It has a bouncy bassline and jazz inflected harmonies. I have heard this record described as "the one where the Free Design discovered funk". "Bubbles" certainly makes a good case for that. "Butterflies Are Free", likely inspired by the Leonard Gershe play of the same name, is an uplifting ode to personal freedom supported by some lovely horn arrangements. "That's All, People" is a triumphant, horn driven The Free Design have always delivered superb covers of other people's songs, and the inclusion of "Raindrops Keep Falling On My Head" here is no exception. Like they'd done previously for The Beatles, Simon and Garfunkel, and The Mammas and The Papas, the group adds their cascading vocal harmony style and jazzy backing to a recognizable pop song and makes it their own. While it is possible to overdose on the sweet sugary-goodness that is the Free Design, sometimes a little hit of their unabashed sentimentality is all that you need to get over the hump.

1 comment:

Jonathan The Lovable said...

My gosh -- I've been digging through your blog, getting more and more impressed with your taste, when you drop THIS -- the inimitable FREE DESIGN. Colour me impressed.