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AMERICAN BREED – Pumpkin, Powder, Scarlet And Green

American Breed were a soul influenced pop band who formed as Gary And The Night Lites in 1966. The changed their name in 1967, and had their big hit with a cover of Amen Corner’s ‘Bend Me Shape Me’. They had a few other successes in the US, and normally I would have ignored them as a run of the mill pop group. However, in 1968 they went all psychedelic and released this album of interesting psyche/pop. While still retaining their brassy pop sound they added in some suitably weird lyrics and unusual instrumentation to make an enjoyable album. ‘Welcome You’re In Love’ is a good example of an attempt to write odd lyrics, and then ‘The Right To Cry’ goes back to their pop roots for a harmony-laden ballad. ‘Ready, Willing And Able’ and ‘Take Me If You Want Me’ are two of the more out and out pop songs on here, and it is therefore no surprise to learn that they were both sides of a 1968 single, and similarly ‘Any Way That You Want Me’ and ‘Master Of My Fate’ were coupled for another single, this time with the A-side a pop ballad, and the flip one of their best attempts at their new direction. Interspersed throughout the album are four short pieces based on the disc’s title, with ‘Pumpkin’ being the weirdest, ‘Scarlet’ an orchestral piece, and ‘Green’ giving us some jazzy pop. On the whole this is not a bad album – perhaps not a band that I would have normally tried, but the mix of pop and psyche is blended well, and it makes for an enjoyable listen. It is not yet out on CD, although a ‘Best of…’ compilation does include quite a few of these tracks, as well as ‘Bend Me, Shape Me’, so if you are intrigued then that is a good place to start.
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