BURT BACHARACH – REACH OUT (A&M AMLS 908) 1967

Saccharine sweet music almost gives me a thromboembalism

So this is my introduction to Burt Bacharach who I previously had never listened to. It was a couple of quid from a local charity shop, a month ago. It’s also in very good shape so I decided to add it to my haul.

Give me primitive garage punk over this slop any day of the week. I’m still at a loss who would have been buying records like this in 1967. Was it aimed at the easy-listening, squaresville bloke who thought wearing cuban heeled Beatle boots and a psychedelic shirt outrageous?

I can picture in my mind’s eye thousands of fellas playing this record to their girlfriend back in the mists of time. It’s Valentine’s Day today, and that sappy-fuelled occasion seems very apt .

The middle-aged stamp-collector types would have been serving their Dollybird aphrodisiacs, served up on a plate laden with possibly pig’s trotters and boiled whelks. Drenching all that down with a bottle of chilled Dandelion & Burdock. There would have been no resistance . . . You have scored! turn the record over and play Side two.

Back cover liners:

If you love not tall pines which touch the beginnings of the sky. If you have never yearned to leap in a mailbox, nor longed to join the street urchins in a game of tag.

If you have not sighed and smiled beyond your mind as sleep creeps out of the abstract and carries you into its endless night.

If violins and cellos harpsichord and piano trumpets, flutes and sounds of rippling scales have never lightened your spirit.

If Alfie did not become so much a name, more a lonely island of song in a sea of human sadness. If cool water too long out of reach has never quenched your thirst. If love comes second or you come first. If you have never walked without a destination nor flown without a sense of marvel.

If you have known neither pain nor sorrow nor wept for the joy of release. If a baby is not a person until it knows your name. If your heart has not leapt nor your senses quivered as the conductor’s baton taps the music stand.

If you have not stared at a pretty girl in a vacuum in time across a crowded room and prayed she knew. If you believe that the essence of a man and his music can adequately be caught and conveyed within an album liner note . . . then it is likely that the entertainment of music between these covers is not for you and, though it is sad, you should walk on by.

Burt Bacharach, shy, young, handsome, courteous, New Yorker son of a journalist, married to an actress, is more relevantly, a fiery complex ingredient in the exciting cauldron of the musical sixties.

Put down by no one, whether peers or followers, put on by nothing, whether fame or wealth, put off by neither pressure nor competitor, Bacharach is a very special man.

He bestrides, like Gulliver, the warring worlds of the Establishments’ Academy Award system – from whom he has wrought two Oscar nominations for “Alfie” & “What’s New Pussycat” – and the contemporary Top Forty scene where the buying power lies in the hands of the very young.

It is effortless to praise him because he has done so much, so widely and so well. Marlene Dietrich doted on him as her arranger and conductor, adores him as a man.

From Hollywood to New York, across Europe and the British Isles in military camps and in brutally sophisticated nightclubs, he built upon his formal training as a pianist by adding technique and style and charm.

As a songwriter, he decided to create tunes people could hum, and by now, few singers anywhere in the world haven’t sung them.

On this album, his first for A&M Records with whom he has a close and vastly rewarding relationship, he has written, arranged, assembled all eleven songs, conducted the orchestra and produced the entire album, and because he knows there is nothing you can do that can’t be done, he has played piano on all of the tracks and sung on one of them.

This one is called “A House Is Not A Home” and it is something else.

So is Burt Bacharach

charity shop purchase @ £2

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