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The Collectors - Grass and Wild Strawberries CD (album) cover


The Collectors



3.59 | 32 ratings

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siLLy puPPy
3 stars THE COLLECTORS went in a completely different direction on the followup to their groundbreaking self-titled psychedelic debut that came out in 1968. Having been clueless as to what they had accomplished with their earliest drifting into progressive rock territory particularly with the 19-minute side swallowing "What Love (Suite)," the band shifted gears into a more accessible sound which made GRASS AND WILD STRAWBERRIES just another rock album and thus many steps down form the adventurous debut.

While an attempt to be more mainstream was the idea at least, GRASS AND WILD STRAWBERRIES was still a bit strange and distinct from the average 60s rock album but was also a lot more generic in many ways. This collection of twelve songs were written in conjunct with Canadian playwright George Ryga who wrote all the lyrics to provide a soundtrack to his 1969 play of the same title. This strange hybrid of psychedelic rock and theatrical music wasn't quite as revolutionary or successful as the over-the-top debut which also didn't attain the status of top band names of the era.

The band kept all of its band members for this second album and retrained at least some of its attributes that made the debut so unique. THE COLLECTORS still mined harmonies from Gregorian chants, still mixed rock with classical and jazz sounds and had a propensity to take you somewhere on the music spectrum that you didn't think possible but that's pretty much where the similarities end. GRASS AND WILD STRAWBERRIES is a much more energetic set of songs compared to the laid back debut. Drummer Ross Turney really turns up his firepower several notches on this one.

This is also a more uniform sounding album unlike the eternally drifting debut. The basis of the tracks are a steady beat rock groove with Baroque pop melodic hooks. The guitar, bass and drum interplay is more in the line of contemporary bands like The Moody Blues rather than The Doors or Pink Floyd. The vocal harmonies are more like Crosby, Stills and Nash and lead vocalist Howie Vickers delivers a more enthusiast singing style on this album sounding indeed as if he was singing a Broadway play. In fact the entire think sounds like a rock opera the way the sections are emphasized to narrate a tale.

While GRASS AND WILD STRAWBERRIES is a decent and even pleasant album to experience, it pales in comparison to the outrageously creative debut. This one comes across as a rather forgettable blip of 60s sounds and although THE COLLECTORS were well ahead of the pack on their debut, they seem to have gotten cold feet here and backpedaled to the point where the album sounds rather generic. Sure the occasional jazzy sax squawks and awkwardness of the mixed styles still stands out but as far as the momentum of the songs themselves, not so much. This was the end of the road for THE COLLECTORS. Vickers would leave soon after this release and the rest of the band rebranded as the band Chilliwack.

siLLy puPPy | 3/5 |


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