Gary Puckett & the Union Gap were originally an actual band, but by the time the musicians entered the recording studio with producer and songwriter Jerry Fuller, the focus fell on Puckett's strong, smooth baritone voice, and the Union Gap part of the equation was buried under a MOR barrage of strings, horns, and choirs. The formula worked, however, and the group enjoyed five Top 40 hits between 1967 and 1969.
This is a 1998 album of all new material except for the re-recordings of a couple of his hits. Being a Gary Puckett & The Union Gap fan, I bought this out of curiosity several years ago. Most of the tracks are written or co-written by Gary or his brother.
During the late '60s – a period forever distinguished as rock's most radical, innovative, and far-reaching – Gary Puckett and the Union Gap forged a series of massive chart ballads almost otherworldly in their sheer earnestness and melodrama. Likely the only pop band of the era to play two nightly shows in the Catskills – the early gig for their younger fans, the later appearance for the fans' parents – the group pioneered the hip-to-be-square concept two decades before spiritual descendants Huey Lewis and the News; clad in Civil War-era get-ups (complete with fictitious military ranks) and bizarrely pedophilic lyrics, Puckett and the Union Gap were in their own way as far-out and singular as any other act of the period.
This is an album of re-recordings of his hits. I bought this CD for the tracks "Little Green Apples" and "Take A Letter Maria" which I haven't seen on any other issue. The other track that I haven't seen anywhere else is "Son Of Hickory Holler's Tramp". The casual fan may only want to get "The Best Of" CD that I posted earlier. The serious fans/collectors of Gary Puckett will want this one for the tracks I mentioned above.
Hollies Sing Hollies was the group's somewhat self-conscious follow-up to Hollies Sing Dylan – in the U.S., it formed the bulk of the He Ain't Heavy He's My Brother LP, with that smash single (totally unlike anything else on the album) overshadowing the rest of the record. If the Hollies began to lose credibility as a frontline rock group, the blame must rest with this album. The songwriting is generally melodic and very pleasant, but little of it is particularly memorable, and the arrangements mostly have a light rock/pop feel to them, closer to Gary Puckett & the Union Gap than to the Beatles. There are one or two very good songs, including "Please Let Me Please," with crisp rhythm guitars…
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