Brum Beat
December 2011

The Grip Weeds

Under the Influence of Christmas (Rainbow Quartz)

If Buble and Carey aren’t your festive music tipple and you really don’t want to heard Noddy Holder one more time, then you might want to check out this collection of originals, covers and carols by the New Jersey 60s retro psychedelic power pop quartet named (sort of) after John Lennon’s character in How I Won The War.

Owning up to a blender of influences that partake of Byrds, Beatles, Kinks, The Who and The Zombies and recording on vintage equipment, they’ve invited some venerable names from pop history to the party too.

Now 69 but sounding like 1969, former Paul Revere & The Raiders singer Mark Lindsay takes lead vocals on the band’s garage rock original Santa Make Me Good while George Cameron, guitarist and founder member of 60s baroque pop band The Left Banke (who recorded the original version of Walk Away Renee), lends harmonies to another band original, the swaying, keyboard driven and, well, baroque pop actually, For The Holidays.

The two other originals, Christmas, Bring Us and lead singer Kurt Reil’s Christmas Dream are both solid 60s influenced power pop guitar numbers, while they bring the same sensibilities to bear on a jangly Hark The Herald Angels Sing and God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen which starts out like the Monkees before a psychedelic midsection gives way to a quick electric guitar freak out.

The rather more respectful of their covers with faithful readings of The Pretenders’ 2000 Miles, featuring guest vocals and guitars from Pat Dinizio and Jim Babjak of The Smithereens, Greg Lake’s I Believe In Father Christmas, and a pretty good approximation of Jethro Tull’s A Christmas Song too, complete with flute. They do, though bring a new tinsel shine to twee Vincent Montana chestnut Merry Christmas All and rock up Welcome Christmas rather more than the original from the 1966 animated classic How The Grinch Stole Christmas; and it’s also vastly preferable to the Glee version! Go on, add a little acid to Santa’s sherry.

Mike Davies