Friday, December 10, 2004

 

The Anders & Poncia Album

I should probably revisit the work of Pete Anders and Vinnie Poncia some time in more detail, but I'm in a rush (as usual).

The obligatory "connections" paragraph: Anders & Poncia worked with The Ronettes way back when, and Poncia co-wrote I Was Made For Loving You by Kiss. I'm not sure how exciting either of those factoids are, in the grand scheme of things. Since they were a songwriting/production team, they obviously had a hand in a lot of projects, but I can't say I've been really blown away by anything of theirs that I've yet heard (other than today's album). They recorded as The Tradewinds at one point, managing a small hit with the Beach Boys sounding New York's A Lonely Town. The Tradewinds aren't really to my taste, but their album (there are also some singles) is highly rated by some. It's available on a Japanese CD collection.

In 1969 they released The Anders & Poncia Album on Warner Brothers. It's a strong-to-very strong collection of extremely well-produced pop in a number of late 60's styles.

I'm just about 100% convinced that there's some connection between the first track The Year Of The Twine and The Velvet Underground (e.g. Head Held High from the last VU album). I'm not sure if they stole from Lou, Lou stole from them, or if both stole from a shared source, but some of the vocal mannerisms and guitar are very, very close.

They follow that up with the very Forever Changes-like You Don't Know What To Do. Sometimes I wonder if Anders and Poncia were a little weak at integrating choruses with songs, but then I think that that's being awfully picky for such a strong track. I hope I'm not underselling this album. Let me say right now that the best tracks are seriously top-shelf.

Third song is called I'm Beginning To Touch You. Both my wife and I have this incredibly strong feeling that this was a hit, but I can't find any evidence that it actually was. If it wasn't, it sure should have been. Someday, someone's going to put this on the soundtrack of a movie (if they haven't already) and it's going to be huge.

And that's a pretty damn strong start. There's a slight drop-off in quality after the opening 1-2-3, but there are no out-and-out weak tracks, and several more really good ones. For now I'll leave out their version of the Leiber & Stoller track Smokey Joe's Cafe, with guitar by Ry Cooder, and go straight to the slightly White Album sounding Take His Love, which is another favorite of mine.

I can't imagine why this isn't on CD, unless there's some weird legal issue. The singing and playing are great throughout, and the songwriting ranges from very good to excellent. They never quite lay claim their own sound, but do a fantastic job of stealing from their sources. The really spot-on production is by Richard Perry who's produced so many big acts that I wouldn't know where to start.

I'm also a total sucker for bands made up of people who look like Juan Epstein.

(Photo from the back of The Anders & Poncia Album. I can't say I'm sure exactly who we're looking at!)



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