Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Tommy James and the Shondells – Cellophane Symphony


Ah, the internet. There’s always someone marking out every piece of territory before you even set off. How can we big up unmoored one-off “Cellophane Symphony” by Tommy James and the Shondells more incisively than this description:
As a joke, Tommy begins his proto-prog bloater with a few notes of an actual symphony. Har har. For a second, I thought I wasn't listening to shit. The title track is staggeringly bad drone, refusing all resolution and wielding a Moog like its own justification.
That would sell it to me, stat.

I’ve no clue why “Cellophane Symphony” exists. A ten-minute long instrumental opening title-track to an LP is a, uh, lateral move for the bubblegum poppers behind “Hanky Panky”, “I Think We’re Alone Now”, “Mony Mony” and early vocoder jam “Crimson & Clover”. If “Cellophane Symphony” is an attempt at psychedelia it’s remarkably free of histrionics and heavy artillery—there’s none of the bloooze-bore authenticity via guitar jerk that clogged Woodstock here. Instead it’s light and airy, floating on a bass riff that’s like a Black Sabbath that took helium instead of valium and brown ale. The drums are reined in and content to mark time with constant slow-mo fills whilst the organ and guitar circle each other warily. The aforementioned Moog does what it does best, throwing out little galaxies of spacedust across everything else.

Tommy James and the Shondells – Cellophane Symphony [ysi]

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