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It's A Beautiful Day - It's A Beautiful Day CD (album) cover

IT'S A BEAUTIFUL DAY

It's A Beautiful Day

 

Proto-Prog

3.83 | 98 ratings

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ClemofNazareth
Special Collaborator
Prog Folk Researcher
3 stars This is a band that I had never considered progressive in any way, maybe more of a an old folk group that fit in well in the late 60’s and early 70’s, but were largely overcome by the emergence of much slicker production and richer sounds of the latter 70’s. I’m pretty sure I bought this because of a girl in my teen years, and it sounded pretty old-fashioned even then. I don’t even think this is available on CD.

No wait – I just went and checked and it looks like this was released again on CD in 2001.

The band centered on David and Linda LaFlamme, with David playing violin and singing and Linda playing a variety of keyboard instruments. There was also a very hippy- looking girl named Pattie Santos who sang some and played tambourine and a few percussion instruments. A guy named Hal Wagenet played some pretty decent guitar for them in their hippy days – he’s joined the establishment today and is involved in local politics in northern California. The rhythm section were kind of forgettable – bassist Mitchell Holman still performs along the west coast of the U.S., and drummer Val Fuentes has played in a number of moderately successful other bands. I checked their web site and apparently It’s a Beautiful Day are still kicking around the oldies circuit today.

“White Bird” is a six minute song and a very typical late 60’s west coast folk-meets- psychedelic tune, with LaFlamme and Santos complimenting each other very well on vocals, although at times it almost seems they are both singing harmony. Wagenet’s guitar work is much closer to that day’s psychedelic sound than the rest of the band was. As I recall this was the song the band was best known for back then.

“A Hot Summer Day” finds Santos in Mamas and the Papas-sounding harmonizing, and LaFlamme and the rest of the band actually sound a bit like very early Santana. This is one of those hug-the-earth tunes that were so prevalent back then.

Some changeup on “Wasted Union Blues”, which starts off with one of the more discordant intros I’ve ever heard – Wagenet on guitar and LaFlamme on violin with some really uncomfortable grating flat notes and Santos just kind of wailing in the background. But after a bit LaFlamme kicks his violin into a bluesy riff and the rhythm section gets things sorted out. Even then this gives off an almost bluegrass vibe, and is a song that very much wears the 60’s on its sleeve musically.

“Girl With No Eyes” opens with some delicate harpsichord, a ice change of pace although a bit of an abrupt shift. LaFlamme and Santos sound very folksy here. I think the song is about a stoned chick or something.

Another abrupt shift with “Bombay Calling”, a piano heavy tune with David LaFlamme playing pizzicato on his violin, alternating with very long drawn minor chords. It’s a peaceful-sounding instrumental with the harpsichord drawing out the ending note for a good fifteen seconds or so.

“Bulgaria” is another tune heavy on harpsichord and violin, but I must say that in a few places the keyboards approach a grating sound. I think the band was trying to evoke an eastern European feel on this one, but the vocals really come off as an early 50’s film track. Somewhere around the middle Linda LaFlamme switches to piano for some reason, which I have to say serves mostly to make the song sound even more like an early pop tune and less of a folk or progressive work. The lyrics date this one though – lots of chanting about opening up your mind, some Indian yodeling by Santos, and even someone on bongos for a while. Peace and love, man.

“Time Is” rounds out the album, but in some respects it almost seems as if the band has gotten their second wind, as this one moves along at quite a nice pace compared to the two works that precede it. This is also the longest track, clocking in at nearly ten minutes.

I don’t believe that It’s a Beautiful Day were ever considered in the same genre with most of the progressive bands of that day, but they also were not heavy or overtly psychedelic either. I suspect they played to a lot of the psychedelic crowds back then, but possibly also coffee houses as well – not really sure. They're pretty laid back either way.

This is a pleasant enough album, but certainly not essential by any means. Try some very early Jefferson Airplane or Mamas and Papas for similar sounds that have stood the test of time much better. Three stars is the right place on the shelf for this one.

peace

ClemofNazareth | 3/5 |

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