Sunday, 2 February 2014

Punch - Punch (1971)

I remember being a bit disappointed when I first listened the lone LP by Californian act, Punch. When I was in the the record store, holding it in my hands and scanning the sleeve for clues as to whether it would be a decent purchase, it seemed like a dead cert. It appeared to have all the ingredients of a classic lost pop album. Firstly, the band themselves consisted of two male and two female members (Steve Adler, Charles D. Merriam, Kathy Ward and Dee Steele) all providing the vocals ala the Mamas & Papas and each of them looking very hip in their groovy cowboy attire. Secondly, the session musician listed on the album includes some of the heavyweight LA players: Hal Blaine (drums), Joe Osborne (bass), Larry Knechtel, Jimmy Rowles, Bob Alcivar & Gary Illingworth (piano, organ, harpsichord) Zavier, Mike Deasy, Dennis Budimir, Fred Tackett & Mike Anthony (guitars). Thirdly, the label, A&M, had been churning out tonnes of easy listening, lightweight soft pop around this time, namely Paul Williams, The Carpenters, Boyce & Hart, Emitt Rhodes etc. Production duty was handled by Dayton Burr "Bones" Howe who produced most of the big hits for the Turtles, the Association and the 5th Dimension.


To be fair, it's not a total duff, but it's really only the inclusion of a couple of nice songs that has prevented me from filing this LP away and never listening to it again. The problem for me are the choice of covers versions that take up half of the album, which unlike the Mamas & Papas, are badly chosen ones. Luckily the album opener, a cover of Simon & Garfunkel's "Why Don't You Write Me" is a real winner, sounding like it was written specifically for them. "Open Highway" is the other ace tune on the album, an original composition written by Merriam with lead vocals provided by Ward and Steele, which would have made a great choice for single rather than A&M's choice "Falling Lady" which has a bit too much of Adler's strained vocals for my liking. Some people will love this record, but I personally think it looks better than it sounds. A&M could have condensed it down to a killer single though!

Following the album, Punch recorded two singles, recorded for Bell records in 1972 before splitting and reforming in 1973, releasing a decent LP under the name Sonoma, with Dee Steele replaced by Tricia Johns and continued to perform their blend of harmony pop until finally splitting for good in 1976.

2 comments:

  1. Sorry you were disappointed by what appears to be the cast of Scooby Doo come to life. Yes, this is a nice cover version of the S&G tune with a little extra "punch." I first heard their version several years ago, and I recall being disappointed when I heard the entire album. Guess I need to reinvestigate the "Open Highway" track, as I don't recall any other songs striking a chord.

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  2. Ha! Scooby Doo!! How did I miss that?

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