Pierre's Plastic Dream
Market Square Records, 2001
REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen
ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 08/13/1999
Everybody's familiar with Murphy's Law, and several other phrases that tend to be clumped together under the same banner. With that in mind, I offer Thelen's Rules Of Music:
Rule number one: Just because you've never heard of the artist - even if he's been in the business for over 30 years - doesn't mean the artist isn't good.
Rule number two: Just because an album is on a small label doesn't mean the material isn't worthy of the major market.
I mention these thanks to a disc sent to me from England,
Pierre's Plastic Dream. A compilation of 21 songs recorded
and released from 1966 through 1968 by Pierre Tubbs and various
bands he had formed, this collection dares to merge the worlds of
The Who with The Association, creating a sound that is as pleasant
as it is unique. Chances are, you will have never heard of the
bands featured on this disc. Chances are also that once you do,
you'll be begging to hear more.
This disc features the work of four bands - Our Plastic Dream, The Owl, The Jeeps and The Silence. Of these, only The Owl is a different band; the others had the same lineup of Tubbs (guitar/vocals), Paul Bedwell (bass/vocals), Julian Ferrari (drums/vocals) and Bob Moore (vocals). While this music has been classified as psychedelia, I'd respectfully argue with this. If anything, the music of these bands dares to merge the worlds of the mods (think "A Quick One" from The Who, especially when the band kicks into rhythmic "la-la-la"s) with the light pop of The Association - and, on two cuts with JJ Jackson (not the former MTV jock), r&b.
It's a bizarre and interesting mixture, and Tubbs knew exactly what he was doing. In a garage studio, these bands laid out their work; though the sound of some of these tracks is rough, it does capture a magic that, regrettably, many people may not be aware of. Listening to the five tracks from Our Plastic Dream, I couldn't help but draw comparisons to the Mothers Of Invention on tracks like "Encapsulated Marigold" and "Paint Yourself". It's all quite fun, really.
Tubbs proves not only to be a capable musician throughout the course of Pierre's Plastic Dream, but he also shows his talents as a songwriter, getting at least a co-writing credit on all but one track. Songs like "But It's Alright" (which may be familiar to some listeners), "Julie September" and "Shades Of Blue & Greenwater Flies" all possess a simple beauty about them that brings out the best, even if the final product shows limitations of the recording process in the mid '60s.
What is amazing about the music on this disc is that it still sounds relevant, even if the musical trends during which they were created have long past. Earlier, I compared these songs to early works from The Who. Just like I still get a kick out of picking up an album like Meaty, Beaty, Big And Bouncy, I can see myself slapping Pierre's Plastic Dream into the player for the same nostalgic rush.
Regrettably, the thing that may hold Tubbs back is that consumers are often less than willing to try something new to them. My advice? Cast aside your fears (especially if you liked the excitement that rock in the '60s brought with each new turn) and give this disc a chance.
Who knows? There's a chance we could see the first hit of the millenium be a song recorded over 30 years ago.
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