I’m creating a more healthy morning routine. This involves not turning on my computer before going to the office, and instead listening to records while I drink my coffee and eat my toast. This seemed to be a hit. This morning we enjoyed side 1 of Encore of Golden Hits by The Platters, and most of side 2 of Sarah Vaughan sings the Mancini Songbook. These are both records I bought back in 1997 when I was first living in NYC. Great stuff. The beautiful moody/cinematic/bossa sound of Vaughan’s recording of ‘Slow hot wind’ inspired me to quickly bring out Quincy Jones’s Deadly Affair soundtrack, featuring Astrud Gilberto’s version of ‘Who Needs Forever’ (recommended in two different versions on Musical Taste).

Continuing what has turned out to be a very musical day, my shipment of CDs from Rev-Ola arrived. Some very nice stuff was included.

Joe & Bing (aka Best of Friends): 'Daybreak' (CD; Rev-Ola; 1970)
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I had wondered about this LP for years, ever since a Musical Taste contributor recommended its title track and mentioned a connection to Eumir Deodato. It finally came out just recently in this excellent reissue from Rev-Ola, including 7 bonus tracks. It's brilliant. I'm not crazy about the remade cover art, but the reissue conveniently includes the original design as well (as well as snippets of the alternative issue covers), so it doesn't matter!

The whole thing is a rather magical blend of soft pop vocals, intricate acoustic guitar, lively percussion and deep string arrangements. There’s also a bluesy/folky edge that comes out strongly on some tracks.

The title track, ‘daybreak’ (which was later recorded by Astrud Gilberto) is magical, a wonderful mix of gentle vocals, nicely picked acoustic guitar, full arrangements and nice drum sounds. The strings are rich and textbook Deodato style. Some very Eumiresque piano is also added in the break. ‘I'm not forgetting your name’ is another fantastic track. The arrangement has a nice trumpet part and opens up beautifully after about a minute. At around 1:30 there's a slowdown in tempo and a superb use of trumpet hits that recalls some of the pop vocal records being made in Brazil around the same time. The bass playing is superb too. According to the liner notes the arrangment on this cut was by Bingham, without Deodato's involvement, but I can definitely hear some influences from Brazilian pop.

‘It's OK’ is a more upbeat number with an irresistable groove. This catchy track has a very nice sound, although it’s more simple in structure to lots of the others here. ‘Summer Sound’ is perhaps my favorite track of all, an exquisite ballad with an astonishingly brilliant arrangement - a mix of Deodato's thick strings and the fantastic intertwined rhythmic guitar playing of Joe and Bing (Thanks to Joe for the background clarification on the instrumentation!). There's a great stripped-down middle section in which the vocals are joined by some powerful strings. It's just beautiful. ‘Fennario’ is a pretty straight take on a traditional folk song.

‘Love the one you're with’ is quite a nice version of this famous song, but somehow the song is so famous that it jars slightly next to the fresher genius of the other tracks. ‘If love's in season’ has a very Nick Drake-style opening. I wonder if Joe and Bing had a chance to hear Five leaves left and Bryter later. The whole track has a wonderful mix of guitars and strings.

‘Plain livin blues’ is another drum-heavy upbeat track. Pretty cool stuff, although it does less for me than the more meditative numbers. ‘Sail’ is a return to this gentler mood, and ‘Drifting with the time’ has a simple bluesey feel that definitely recalls Chad and Jeremy to me, but also features a nice string swirl that reminds me of the arrangement of ‘You showed me’ by the Zombies

The bonus tracks are interesting, although I imagine they came from non-tape sources, since the sound quality is suspect. There's a nice version of Nilsson's 'Without her' (also featured on another revola reissue, Triste Janero’s Meet Triste Janero).

There are some other exclusive tracks, as well as some interesting pre-orchestration demo versions of album tracks.

To me, the record is a revelation – like a cooler and classier take on the Chad & Jeremy sound, with superior performances, songwriting and arrangements.

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