There was a time when my Mom’s fluorescent green plastic Magnavox played all day in the kitchen. I remember songs like “Hot Child in the City” by Nick Gilder, “Maggie May” by Rod Stewart, “Ride Captain Ride” by the Blues Image, “Hello, It’s Me” by Todd Rundgren, “Magic” by Pilot, “Precious and Few” by Climax and “Sky High” by Jigsaw. Ken Sharp knows all about these great songs.
As a respected music writer, he has context when it comes to his own material. This release has all the freshness and verve that the above songs do and did. It’s a shame that I can’t hear this record like I did the other songs: there was something magical about the one-speaker splendor of open format AM radio. Sharp would have fit right in back then.
“Beautiful” opens with Nick Gilder-like pop. “See Through My Eyes” reminds me a bit of certain AM psychedelia. “Hurdy Gurdy Man” by Donovan comes to mind. “Mr. Sun” is textbook late ‘60s era Beatles. “Wrecking Ball” is the best mellotron-fueled, “Strawberry Fields” sounding song since many of the tracks on the classic Kon Tiki by Cotton Mather. As the sound of pastoral strings massaged my ears on “Wrecking…”, the line “...pulling the strings of love” was skillfully highlighted. “Brand New Day” reminds me of Andy Kim AM pop. “Unconditionally” has a feel similar to an artist that I mention often, the great Emitt Rhodes.
The next track, “Tea and Sympathy”, gives the CD its open format radio feel. Think of hearing “Every Picture Tells a Story” followed by “A Day in the Life”. When “Floating Like a Cornflake” follows “Tea…”, Sharp brings me back to the day of the AM dial and the creative freedom that so many DJs of that era had.
In closing, I still have my Mom’s modular lime green Magnavox clock radio. If I could only rewire that radio so that I could play my Walkman through it. There it is. Turn that up: “Ride Captain Ride upon your mystery ship…” Excellent. I can’t wait to hear Ken Sharp’s Happy Accidents through this new setup.
For maximum impact, I suggest the above. For those with less patience, your stereo will do just fine.