Sunbeam strikes (should have been) gold yet again with the horribly mishandled lone release from the London based Justine. The project was started by childhood chums Keith Trowdale and John McBurnie, both accomplished guitarists, with the group swelling to include three female vocalists, a session rhythm section, and the odd orchestra as time marched forth, never landing on anything permanent. With a sound somewhere between the West Coast pop of The Mamas & The Papas and the symphonic English psych of the other Nirvana (read: not Cobain’s), their dueling acoustic guitars and occasionally Renaissance fair choruses sadly saw them lumped in with soft music by disinterest youth. However, repeat listens reveal incredibly deep arrangements (even more amazing considering the producer often “borrowed” random orchestras on their way to sessions in other studios), subtle psych touches, and lyrics ranging from lovely lurve and whimsy to soul searching.
“She Brings the Morning with Her” was an inspired choice for the lead single, with its summery vocals and uplifting sweeps supporting a nice groove. Even more inspired, it was backed with the equally moving “Back to Boulder”, which is a sad traveling tale about a man returning from a mission of survival money and self-discovery to pick up the pieces of his life, if there are any left, with an electric guitar, brushes, and somber strings slowly reaching crescendo beneath him. Listening to those back to back, as well as the X-mas bells acid rock epic “Unknown Journey”, it becomes clear what a tragedy it was that they were permitted to fade away. The term “lost classic” is thrown around a lot, but this eponymous sole effort has it well earned.
// Notes from the Road
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