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Hilton Valentine - All In Your Head (LP)

Hilton Valentine - All In Your Head (LP)

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Genre: rock
Rating: ***
Title:  All In Your Head
Company: Capital
Catalog: ST-330
Country/State: Newcastle, England
Year: 1970
Grade (cover/record): VG /VG
Comments: cut out hole top right corner
Available: 1
Catalog ID: 6327
Price: $20.00

There's a strong probability you've heard this talented singer/guitarist's work through his association with the original Animals line up. I'm willing to bet few of you would have heard any of his solo catalog ....

Born in Newcastle, England, by the time he was in his teens Hilton Valentine had formed his own band The Wild Cats. By 1962 he was playing with The Alan Price Combo, who quickly metamorphosed into The Animals. As talented as many of his mid-1960s contemporaries, Valentine differed from them in that he seldom actively sought the spotlight, instead largely content to showcase his good taste (check out his classic solo on "House of the Rising Sun") and knack for clever and innovative arrangements. With the original Animals line up collapsing in 1966, Valentine stepped back into the shadows. He undertook some low-keyed sessions with Paul Samwell-Smith; looked at forming a band with The Mockingbirds (Graham Gouldman's old outfit), and helped former Wild Cats alumnus Keith Shields record a one shot single for Decca. On the personal front, by 1968 Valentine had relocated to Southern California (was anyone left in England?), where he signed a recording contract with Capitol.

1969's "All In Your Head" teamed Valentine with producer Vic Briggs (who handled many of the Animals LPs), but anyone expecting a set of Animals-styled R&B rockers was in for a major surprise. All but abandoning the R&B format, original material such as "Listen", "Land of Children", "Peace" and "Girl From Allemagne" found Valentine pursuing an eclectic blend of acoustic troubadour folk and lite psych - something Eric Burdon and the New Animals were to do with considerably less artistic success. Largely acoustic, the eleven original numbers sported pretty melodies; several blanketed in heavy orchestration. The overall effect was similar to something out of the Donovan catalog, though with a bit less mysticism. By the way, that wasn't meant as a criticism. A seldom heard vocalist under The Animals' regime, Valentine actually had a decent (if somewhat limited) voice, which was well suited to these thoughtful acoustic numbers ("Everything Returns To Me"). A charming and thoroughly overlooked debut, it beat the crap out of most of Eric Burdon's solo catalog. 

- Propelled by strumming acoustic guitar and harpsichord (?), 'Listen' was a pretty and delicate ballad that showcased some nice multi-tracked lead vocals. Very upbeat and catchy with glistening harmony vocals. If Donovan could tear up he airwaves with far weaker material, you had to wonder how this one escaped notice. rating: *** stars
- 'Everything Returns To Me' sported more of an English folk sound; not quite early Fairport Convention, but close. Once again the song had a nice refrain and producer Briggs arrangement was very nice. rating: *** stars
- 'It's All In Your Head' came off as Valentine's attempt to blend Dylan with Stax-styled horns. Kind of a slow bluesy number, this one found Valentine singing with a bit more energy than normal, though the song itself wasn't all that impressive. rating: ** stars
- Side one's weirdest number, 'Little Children' sounded like a blend between a country number (complete with fiddle and Jews harp) and English music hall ... the song's charms were totally lost on my ears. rating: * star
- Another slice of Donovan-styled sensitive singer/songwriter moves, 'Eyes of a Child' had a pretty melody (complete with harpsichord), and a dainty, classical influenced string arrangement. rating: ** stars
- Sporting an insidiously catchy refrain, 'Sitting In the Sun' was one of those near perfect slices of late-1960s pop-cum-psychedelia. One of the album's best performance. rating: **** stars
- The album's most blatantly commercial number, 'Is There Anything But Love' had a top-40 ready melody, some great horns (and I'm not a big horn fan), alone with one of Valentine's most engaging vocals. Great tune that Capitol should have tapped as a single. rating: **** stars
- To be honest, 'Land of Children' was simply a bit too hippy-dippy for my tastes. I liked the bright horns, but otherwise this one was forgettable to me. rating: ** stars
- The chief pleasure derived from 'Run, Run, Run' came from the sparkling 12 string guitars, harpsichord, and the Jew's harp. rating: *** stars
- While you certainly couldn't argue with the sentiments, 'Peace' must have already sounded a bit dated when it was released in 1969. There wasn't a great deal to the song, but Valentine's acoustic guitar solo made up for any other shortcomings. rating: *** stars
- The lyrics were a but clunky "met a girl from Allemagne, knew she would look good ..." but 'Girl from Allemagne' had kind of a charming innocence. Whereas many artists would have sounded like they were faking these kind of sentiments, Valentine sounded completely honest. rating: *** stars

As to be expected, the set vanished without a trace; followed in short order by Valentine's solo career. 

"All In Your Head" track listing:
(side 1)
1.) Listen (Hilton Valentine) - 2:35
2.) Everything Returns To Me (Hilton Valentine) - 2:45
3.) It's All In Your Head (Hilton Valentine) - 3:10
4.) Little Children (Hilton Valentine) - 1:50
5.) Eyes of a Child (Hilton Valentine) - 2:17
6.) Sitting In the Sun (Hilton Valentine) - 2:38

(side 2)
1.) Is There Anything But Love (Hilton Valentine) - 2:38
2.) Land of Children (Hilton Valentine) - 2:21
3.) Run, Run, Run (Hilton Valentine) - 2:34
4.) Peace (Hilton Valentine) - 2:30
5.) Girl From Allemagne (Hilton Valentine) - 2:40

Valentine reappeared in the mid-1970s as part of an Animals reunion (check out 1976's "Before We Were So Rudely Interrupted"), as well as an early-1980s reunion ("Ark"). The 1990s found him touring with a couple of former Animals in the cleverly-titled The Animals II. He's still performing as of 2010.
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