Sunday, February 26, 2012
Cartoone's sole, self-titled album is more known as a footnote in the late-'60s career of Jimmy Page than it is for its own merits. Page contributed guitar to the record as a session man -- though his work is neither too prominent nor too similar to what he was getting ready to do in Led Zeppelin -- and Cartoone opened for Led Zeppelin at some shows in the U.S. in early 1969, probably because of the Page association and a shared label (Atlantic Records). Not to stretch the Page/Zeppelin connection past its breaking point, but those whose interest in this album is piqued by that connection should know that this Scottish band's music is highly dissimilar. Far from being hard rock, it's slightly fey pop/rock with strong debts to the lighter side of the late-'60s Beatles and, more apparently, the late-'60s Bee Gees. Singer/bassist/guitarist Derek Criegan has a far less delicate delivery than the Gibb brothers, but certainly the melancholy melodies, ornate arrangements, and trembling vocal timbres of songs like "Withering Wood," "Girl of Yesterday," "I Can't Walk Back," and especially "Mr. Poor Man" can't help but bring early Bee Gees to mind. Yet Cartoone seemed to be suffering from some indecision as to how to define themselves, with some other tracks indicating some harder-rocking ambitions (especially the opening and most Beatleque track, "Knick Knock Man"). Other cuts load on so much orchestration that they seem to aim to the right of the Bee Gees, as stabs at the more bombastic and ballad-oriented slice of the late-'60s British pop market. The common shortcoming, as is so often the case in records reflecting numerous trends of the period, is in the material, which just isn't as distinguished as that of the Bee Gees, let alone the Beatles.
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