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Calliope - Calliope (LP)

Calliope - Calliope (LP)

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Genre: pop
Rating: 2 stars **
Title:  Calliope
Company: Tiger Lily
Catalog: TL 14069
Year: 1976
Country/State: US
Grade (cover/record): VG+ / VG+
Comments: --
Available: 1
Catalog ID: 6139
Price: $100.00

So this anonymous outfit isn't to be confused with Danny O'Keefe's Seattle-based outfit that released a pair of mid-1960s LPs ("Steamed" and "Calliope"). This is nothing more than speculation on my part, but there's some reason to suspect this Calliope may not have really been a band, rather reflected a collection of demos recorded by a couple of different artists and slapped together as an album. Why would I say that? Well the album was released by the notorious Tiger Lily tax scam label. The liner notes show the songs were recorded at three separate studios (New York's Electric Lady, Media Sound, and Sound Ideas). Six of the songs feature anonymous female vocals, two feature male lead vocals. and one's a big band instrumental.

Ignoring everything above, so how do you describe 1976's "Calliope"? Big band with disco and rock yearnings? Bad orchestrated MOR pop? Sub-par Blood, Sweat and Tears? Each of those tags has some merit. Whoever these folks were, Calliope was seemingly the brainchild of Don Pinto. Pinto was credited as prime songwriter, producer, arranger, engineer, publisher, and copyright owner. While there were no performance credits, most of the vocals were handled by a pair of females. Judging by the abbreviated liner notes, the singers were likely Patsy Horan and Christie Thompson (who made for one of the shrillest duos I've ever heard). Elsewhere, 'They Say' and 'Hold On Tight' featured an anonymous male led singer (Pinto ?). Say what you will, but compared to the women this guy was actually pretty good. Unfortunately musically this set was pretty much an aural disaster. Crappy songs with crappy arrangements, poorly conceived and executed orchestration, and saddled with crappy vocals made for ... a crappy album.

- Showcasing Horan and Thompson (?) on lead vocals, 'Look What's Happening Now' was an upbeat, mildly rock-flavored number burdened by their shrill, barely in tune vocals and some equally horrible big band orchestration. Hearing these ladies try to power their way through the song was truly a painful experience. rating: ** stars
- Ah, more female vocals and horns ... Giving credit where due, 'It's All One' was at least mildly interesting for the interesting vocal arrangement (though they were as shrill as before) and the slightly disco-tinged feel. Geez, what was with the horns? rating: ** stars
- 'Can I Give You Shelter' found these folks making an effort to record a Burt Bacharach-styled slice of pop. The melody was actually pretty good (though once again it was all but lost between the horrific over-singing and the hackneyed horns - you were actually left to wonder if they were working on the same track). rating: ** stars
- 'They Say' replaced the women with an anonymous male lead singer. He wasn't great, but compared to the previous three songs, made for a nice change of pace. This one was also interesting for sporting the album's most rock-oriented sound, including a truly bizarre freak-out horn arrangement. BS&T would have been proud of the the arrangement (which isn't necessarily a good thing). (I also liked the hyperactive bass line.) rating: *** stars
- 'Hold On Tight' featured a weird mix between adult-contemporary-styled pop and something out of the Tony Bennett cocktail jazz repertoire. rating: * star
- 'Circus of the Wizard ' started side two with another stab at BS&T-styled horn rock. Not sure who the female lead vocalist was, but it was kind of fun listening to her trying to sound tough and mean. The track also sported the album's best guitar solo (not that there was much to chose from). rating: *** star
- Geez, guess I must be getting soft, but the ballad 'Angels' was actually listenable. The track sported a nice melody, though it would have been better without the hideous horn arrangement and had the female leads refrained from trying to muscle their way through the song ... rating: *** star
- I've always been pushover for Hammond B3 so the ballad 'Maybe Now' got off to a good start (though it didn't last). Initially the track had a couple of other things going for it: 1.) the female vocalist actually turned in a relatively subdued performance, not turning shrieky until halfway through the song, and 2.) the horns didn't kick in until midway through. 'Course the second half of the song was a complete aural disaster. rating: ** star
- To be honest, when I saw the title 'El Condor' I was expecting to hear some sort of bastardized version of the Simon and Garfunkle song. Instead what you got was a vaguely Latin-flavored instrumental that variously sounded like a college football team band trying to rock out, or a group of angry yellow jackets. I'll give it an extra star just for the freakout sax solo and the overall bizarro factor. rating: ** star

I've heard about half of the Tiger Lily catalog and, while this one is friggin' rare, it is among the dregs of the imprint. (As an aside, any time I give an album a really bad rating I set it aside and come back to it a couple of months later to make sure I wasn't simply having a bad day when I listened to it. Well having listed to this set two more times, I may have been over-generous with my original comments. Yeah, this one is bad enough to be considered interesting.)

"Calliope" track listing:
(side 1)
1.) Look What's Happening Now (Don Pinto) -
2.) It's All One (Don Pinto) -
3.) Can I Give You Shelter (Don Pinto - Artie Resnick) -
4.) They Say (John Serrano - Patsy Horan) -
5.) Hold On Tight (Don Pinto - Patsy Horan) -

(side 2)
1.) Circus of the Wizard (Don Pinto) -
2.) Angels (Artie Resnick - Christie Thompson) -
3.) Maybe Now (Don Pinto) -
4.) El Condor (instrumental) (Don Pinto) -
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