Monday, February 02, 2015

Twice As Much - Sittin' On A Fence-The Immidiate Anthology




One of the most anonymous-sounding acts of the British Invasion, Twice as Much was the duo of Dave Skinner and Andrew Rose, harmony singers who also wrote much of their own material. Signed to the Immediate label (run by Rolling Stones manager Andrew Loog Oldham), the pair recorded several singles and a couple of albums between 1966 and 1968. Most of these recordings were innocuous, pleasantly forgettable pop affairs in the Peter & Gordon/Chad & Jeremy mold, with light orchestral pop/rock arrangements that sometimes employed a touch of the Baroque. They had their only British Top 40 success with a cover of the Stones' "Sitting on a Fence"; although the Stones' version was one of their best cuts from the Between the Buttons era, the Twice as Much interpretation seems to miss the point completely, transforming it into a chipper, quasi-vaudevillian tune without a hint of ambiguity or sullenness.



Twice as Much never got much more than a couple of dismissive comparisons to Simon & Garfunkel (to whom there's admittedly a slight vocal resemblance, although the U.K. duo's brand of lush psych-pop owes little to the New Yorkers' folk-rock roots) and a footnote in pop history for covering a Rolling Stones song on their first Immediate single ("Sitting on a Fence," the country-tinged opener here). This is a shame, because the vocal blend of Dave Skinner and Andrew Rose is simply gorgeous, and they were a dab hand as songwriters as well. Nothing on That's All is up to the level of "Night Time Girl," the album track from the debut, Own Up, that's among the loveliest songs of the entire psych-pop era, but this album is much more consistent than the patchy debut. Soft and gentle, along the lines of Chad and Jeremy's Of Cabbages and Kings, or perhaps Curt Boettcher's work, the album includes gems like a pair of Steve Marriott and Ronnie Lane rarities, "Hey Girl" and the trippy "Green Circles," a dreamy take on the Dionne Warwick classic "You'll Never Get to Heaven," and an inspired medley of the ghostly original "Life Is But Nothing," with an oddly resigned version of Bobby Freeman's "Do You Wanna Dance." That's All is second-string work to be sure, but it'


The duo's two albums are assembled together on one CD, and appended with singles that weren't on either, all in glittering sound (it took till the mid-'90s, at least, for proper sources to be assembled on the Immediate Records catalog). The first six tracks, representing single A- and B-sides, have a fair amount of appeal today as artifacts of '60s pop/rock, with "Step Out of Line," an original by the duo, probably representing their own sound best, kind of between Simon & Garfunkel and Peter & Gordon, and closer to the latter. The album cuts are a more difficult fit, ranging from Broadway tunes to covers of Beatles and other songs -- though if these guys were to have covered any Beatles tracks, the right ones were chosen in "Help!" and "We Can Work It Out," and the harmony versions of the Small Faces songs are an interesting variant on the latter, even if they won't displace the Small Faces' own renditions. There are also good covers of Phil Spector material ("Is That What I Get for Loving You Baby?") and rock classics like "Do You Wanna Dance," but their very best efforts were, in many ways, the duo's own songs, and filmmaker Peter Whitehead seems to have had the best instincts when he lifted their "Night Time Girl" from the first album for use in his documentary Tonite Let's All Make Love in London. Fans of Vashti Bunyan may also want to pick this CD up for the presence of "The Coldest Night of the Year," as the folksinging legend appeared with the duo, fully credited, on the record.


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