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Plain Jane - Plain Jane

Plain Jane - Plain Jane

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Title:  Plain Jane
Company: Hobbit
Catalog: H.B. 5000
Year: 1969
Country/State: Albuquerque, New Mexico
Grade (cover/record): VG+ / VG+
Comments: promo sticker on front cover

Wow !!! I'd only seen one short review of this obscurity and it essentially labeled it as lame country-rock ... Wrong! Wrong! Wrong!

First off, other than what's on the liner notes, good luck finding out much about this outfit. The line up featured singers/guitarists Don Gleicher and Barry Ray, and brothers David and Jerry Schoenfeld (drums and bass/keyboards respectively). This is speculation on my part, but I suspect the band originally hailed from New Mexico. That's based on the fact that a 'Don Gleicher' was a member of a pair of mid-1960s New Mexico-based bands - The Monkeymen and The Piggy Bank. (Turns out I was correct - see below.)

Recorded at Hollywood's I.D. Sound Studios with Les Brown Jr. handling the production duties, 1969's "Plain Jane" was nothing short of fabulous. Featuring ten original tracks with all four members contributing material, the album showcased a mesmerizing blend of late-1960s country-rock, pop, and psych influences. Full of killer songs and breath-taking, slightly stoned vocals, this overlooked gem spent weeks on my CD carousel (yes I made a CDR copy for personnel use). Hard to pick standouts since all ten tracks were worth hearing, but the opener 'Who's Drivin' This Train' sounded like Arlo Gurthrie and the Grateful Dead having graduated from the John Philips top-40 songwriting academy, while 'Not the Sam' combined CSN&Y vocal harmonies with some ballistic drumming and a cool psych feel. If I had any complaints, it was that these guys lacked a distinctive sound of their own, though in borrowing bits and pieces from other groups they came up with a wonderful aural stew. They also created one of those albums that was a blast to crank up and play spot-the-influences. Okay, I'll add that 'Num-Bird' was too country-flavored for my tastes. 'You Can't Make It Alone' was what post-Monkees Michael Nesmith always yearned to sound like. 'That's How Much' sported an odd mock-English feel - hum, kinda' what Davy Jones always wanted to sound like ... 'Short Fairy Tale' added some tasty jazzy guitar licks to the mix. And that was just side one.    All hyperbole aside this is a classic lost album just waiting to be discovered !!!  
"Plain Jane" track listing:
(side 1)
1.) Who's Drivin' This Train (C. Ray) - 3:55
2.) You Can't Make It Alone (Jerry Schoenfeld) - 4:19
3.) That's How Much (Don Gleicher) - 2:08
4.) Short Fairy Tale (Don Gleicher) - 2:19
5.) Not the Same (Jerry Schoenfeld) - 4:20

(side 2)
1.) Num-Bird (C. Ray) - 2:24
2.) What Can You Do? (Jerry Schoenfeld) - 2:50
3.) Fire Hydrant (C. Ray) - 4:08
4.) Silence (Don Gleicher) - 2:31
5.) Mrs. Que (C. Ray) - 3:36
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