Thursday, 3 October 2013

Hamlet - Hamlet (1973)

I was quite excited about hearing this album, having heard that this was the band that came after one of my favourite US Beatles-styled, sixties bands, Colours. Firstly, I made a bit of a boob with the postage, trying to save myself a dollar, I ended up waiting two months for it to arrive via international surface mail. When it finally arrived, still sealed (oh yes!) upon inspection I didn't recognise any of the names of the players on the record. Neither Gary Montgomery nor Jack Dalton's (Colours songwriters) names were to be seen. It turns out that Hamlet were formed out of the ashes of another band called Colours. These Colours were also from California although their album "Voluptuous Doom" remained unreleased for 40 years until US reissue label Frantic put it out in 2009. What I've heard of it sounds ok, but not the sort of thing I'd write about on this blog.

Hamlet were Bob Brien (Guitar, Vocals), Mark Cipolla (Bass, Keyboards, Vocals), Steve Parsons (Drums, Vocals) and Kurt Kearns (Guitar, Vocals). Their sole album was released in 1973 on Capitol Records and was produced and engineered by Charlie Dreyer. Despite not having the connection to Dalton & Montgomery's Colours, the Hamlet album ironically has it's share of Beatlesque/Badfingery moments.

Hamlet 1973 - (L-R Cipolla, Brien, Parsons, Kearns)

Side one opens with the McCartney-alike "Little You Say", a hooky, harmony filled singalong. A great way to start a record and an obvious choice of single, of which three were plucked from the album, none charting of course! "Jimmy Watts" is an ace piano pop tune about a performer who always turns up late to his shows, making excuses about having to look after his family and sounds much like Asylum Choir to me. "Bound To Redream You" and "Tonight" are pure powerpop of the Raspberries variety and "Garden of Girls" owes a debt to one of Eric Carmen's tender hearted moments. "I Should Have Known Better", not the Beatles song, is way too short at a mere one minute and thirteen seconds, but is a precursory of the later 70's powerpop sound that would be much more accepted by the masses. "Lazy Summer", another tune falling short of the two minute mark is unashamedly upbeat, a bit like a bouncy version of Crosby, Stills & Nash's "Marrakesh Express". Side Two ends with the most obvious Beatles influence on the epic "Curtains", Hamlets own "Carry That Weight", some great drumming too for the long fade out.

I like this album more and more with each listen and I'm beginning to think of it as a bit of a lost classic. So, grab a copy for cheap while you still can, because I'm going to be spreading the word about this album!


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