Written by Kathy Browning
Wednesday, 30 December 2009
It was the best year for the Ford Fairlane.
Even now if you should be blessed with seeing one roll by, an
appreciative smile cannot help but appear on your face.
It was also a transforming year for rock music. The Beatles set the
tone with the release of "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band." It
ushered in the era of psychedelic rock. They followed that with
"Magical Mystery Tour."
Now with 2010 just a breath away, The Strolling Scones are releasing
their "Two Vegans Malcolm & Yardley Do 1967." For those who
appreciatively remember and smile, "Two Vegans" instantly reminds one
of "Two Virgins" by John Lennon and Yoko Ono. Helen Highwater, who
among her other duties of making music on the album, designed and
photographed the cover and takes a further humorous turn with two
bare troll dolls innocently smiling on the back cover.
The cover reveals the sense of good humor that is never far from the
Scones. Rick Stockton and Helen Highwater as the British T. Malcolm
Oxford and Yardley London take fans on a magical musical tour of
1967. The album was produced by the pair and recorded and mixed right
at Valley West Studios in Paonia.
"It was a monumental year in music," Rick Stockton said.
"Disraeli Gears" by Cream, Jimi Hendrix and "Are You Experienced,"
the debut album by Pink Floyd, "The Piper At The Gates Of Dawn," were
all released in 1967.
"It was just an amazing year. There were so many things that came out
that year, just all kinds of great music and eclectic stuff going
on," Stockton explained. "It was the last year when people were
really positive and uplifting. It seems like '67 was positive and in
'68 things got a little dark. We tried to capture some of that
optimism that came out in the music at that time."
One of the distinctive flavors added to the selections are Stockton's
arrangements orchestrated with strings and oboe. The result is a
deeply textured listening experience, much like the first time you
heard the orchestration on "Eleanor Rigby." It stops you in your
tracks and makes you want to hear every note, not taking anything for granted.
Members of Feast perform the strings for the album. Tyme Mientka
plays cello, Alisha Bean violin and Stephanie Mientka viola. Laura
Brown of the Grand Junction Symphony Orchestra adds oboe. Tony Peters
is on trombone. George Weber provides keyboards and vibebraphone.
Recorder and flute are played by Ellen Hutto. David Alderdice does
all the drum work.
Add to all of that, the musical ability and harmonized vocals of
Stockton and Highwater, and the album generates those appreciative
smiles on the faces of its listeners.
The Scones have always done great covers of Beatles' tunes. For "Two
Vegans" they chose "I Am The Walrus" from "Magical Mystery Tour."
Helen Highwater handles the lead vocals and with the orchestration
captures the spirit of the song. She also does the lead on the Cream
song, "S.W.L.A.B.R." which stands for "She Walks Like A Bearded
Rainbow." Stockton's guitar riffs are real standouts. Eric Clapton
did those on the original.
Rick Stockton's arrangement for "May This Be Love" by Jimi Hendrix
includes a surprising banjo turn and strings with psychedelic effects.
The Scones perform "You're A Very Lovely Woman" by The
Merry-Go-Round, a group that was big in Los Angeles. The lyrics sung
by Stockton reveal a moral dilemma a tempting lovely woman and
wishing to remain true to another. "But I think I better turn you
down this time," he sings.
"Pretty Ballerina" was originally done by Left Banke who had several
popular hits. Stockton again does the appealing lead vocal
accompanied by a rich string presence.
Stockton and Highwater blend their voices on the Byrd song,
"Renaissance Fair" penned by David Crosby and Roger McGuinn.
Stockton's guitar solos send the song soaring to Byrd altitudes.
Helen Highwater lends her rich voice to "Tell Me To My Face" by
Keith. The first name only singer had a big hit with "98.6". This
song was written by the Hollies. Stockton said the song's inclusion
allowed them to "kill two birds with one stone."
Stockton said while the new album includes a few hit singles, he
mainly looked for more obscure but great songs from 1967. He noted
that in the 60s it was common for a novelty song to receive a lot of
radio air play. So he selected a fun ditty by Whistling Jack Smith
called "I Was Kaiser Bill's Batman." There's no whistling on the
Scones' version. That's been replaced by 12-string guitar, an organ
and flute all mixed together creating a "catchy little tune." It
sounded like the music you might hear at an amusement park arcade.
Another fun song, is from the creative talent of Ray Davies and The
Kinks. It's "Party Line." For those who are too young to remember, in
those old days back in the 60s multiple telephone users shared one
line. The lyrics detail how a man is looking for some privacy so he
can get to know the woman behind the voice on his party line.
Stockton liked including this "dated" song which shows how far we've
come in phone technology.
In addition to the CDs being available at The Blue Sage Center for
the Arts this Thursday during the band's New Year's Eve concert, they
are for sale at Expressions Bookstore in Paonia, Hardin's Natural
Foods in Hotchkiss and Triple Play Records in Grand Junction. Also
strollingscones for a free listen to several of their new songs.
Just scroll down to the photograph of Rick Stockton and Helen
Highwater and click on to the page with the songs.