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David - David

Sound Canada - 1969

Robert Williston
From the same label that gave us Rockadrome comes the six-man, one-woman David. Their sole album is one of those wonderful, flawed surprises from the era, an overreaching blend of orchestral pop with light psychedelic and soul touches that doesn't quite come together, yet is full of exquisite music nonetheless. The band started to take shape around 1966 when the Webster brothers, Francis and John, relocated to Toronto from nearby Collingwood, ON and hooked up with remaining members Chuck Petersen, Tony Lecaillon, Cliff Snyder, Bill Szekeres, Deborah Kelly, and Ted Grimes. By 1967, the group, still operating as the Marcatos, was purportedly drawing sizable crowds throughout the Toronto area. With a name change the following year to a more contemporary-sounding David, the band was ready to hit the studios.

Recorded at Toronto's Sound Canada Recording Center, David is a mix of late sixties top-forty and psychedelia, with an even blend of UK and US influences. Though the songwriting is a mixed lot of varying calibre, the finest songs - and those make up at least half the album - are stellar. The two Francis Webster contributions are highlights. The moody, psych-tinged 'Never Been in Love' features gorgeous production and ethereal harmonies that descend into quasi-medieval gothic chants, which when mixed with the track's prominent trumpet are truly goose pimple-inducing. And his romantic, country-picked 'Cup of Tea' sounds not unlike Paul McCartney's more sentimental, acoustic efforts. The soul-inflected horns throughout the record seem in retrospect almost a harbinger for the likes of Blood Sweat and Tears, Lighthouse and Chicago.

Originals are tough to find, and a mint copy might set you back about $400 (though Florida's Gear Fab label gave David the digital treatment back in 2001).

Robert's site is at www.mocm.ca

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