17 July 2007

Mortimer - 1968 - Mortimer

Quality: 3.5 out of 5
Trip-O-Meter: 3 out of 5

Mortimer was a East Coast freakbeat band that had some success playing shows in New York City. Upon embarking on their strange and unfortunately short-lived recording career, they would metamorphosize into a acoustic pop band. Although they would have a short flirtation with the Beatles' Apple Records in 1969, this 1968 American disc remains their sole released product.

The sound here recalls the Hollies with close vocal harmonies and sometimes too-sugary melodies. Of course, this is without any hint of rock creeping in through the crystaline production. Also like the Hollies, much of the listenability here rests on the amount of sugar in the song. On Mortimer, we find some great shiny, happy and sometime trippy melodies alongside twee monstrosities. We get both on a track like "Would You Believe."

I feel that the best sunshine pop needs a tinge of darkness to really work. That's the difference between something like the somewhat embarrassing Love Generation and the genius of a Curt Bottecher or Brian Wilson. Mortimer sometimes manages to create this touch of darkness with a drift into modal melodies or Indian-inspired passages, but their songwriting is generally on the blinding side of the sunshine pop spectrum.

The big standouts here include the opening track "Dedicated Music Man," which is acoustic with shimmering harmonies, but still provides a little bit of a musical punch. Likewise for "Life's Sweet Music," which comes closer to rock than anything else on this album.

The bonus tracks include a few fun mono mixes, and some material Mortimer recorded between the release of this album and their move to England. Those tracks are interesting for the Mortimer fan, but of somewhat dubious sound quality.

Mortimer's album is average to slightly above average sunshine pop. It should be heard by all afficianados of that particular genre, but is probably of little interest to everyone else, especially those lusting for a more driving acid soaked psych-rock sound.

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Mortimer - 1968 - Mortimer


Anonymous said...

Hiya Dr Schluss, thanks for all the postings. I can't say that all your records are 100% psychedelic but they are intriguing and your comments are always interesting. I particularly like the concept of the Tripp-o-meter. I think a few albums, like Amon Duul II - Yeti and Phallus Dei, would definitely get a 5, and if you turn up the volume and take psychotropic drugs at the same time the poor Tripp-o-meter would go to eleven before blowing up into a thousand pieces.
Here's one that I would give a 4.5, Eire Apparent - Sunrise (1969), Link:http://lix.in/67ac52, it's got everything you want, fuzzed out guitars, reverb, backwards tape, banal lyrics, paisley pirate shirts, and produced by Jimi Hendrix! I wish every year was 1969.

Dr. Schluss said...

The Trip-O-Meter is in place to insure psychedelic freshness. I'd say it's gotta be 3.5 before we can really call it psychedelic and 4.5 to 5 to blow your mind.

I've got Amon Duul II's catalog up to about 1975 or so. One day it'll show up.

Eire Apparent's hanging out on my hard drive somewhere, but I have to admit I haven't given it a good listen yet.

Anonymous said...

hello dr.schluss!i have the MORTIMER album since 20 years. it is always joyable listening.did you know that this band evolved of PINNOCHIO AND THE PUPPETS and before that of THE TEDDY BOYS ? the sole PINNOCHIO single (mercury 1967)is a double a - sider psych monster !!!! i can really recommend . cheers, steven from hamburg

Fred M said...

Hi - Yes these guys had some killer sides as "The Teddy Boys" who hailed from Poughkeepsie , NY ( my home town ) with some great unreleased material as well. I've been trying to have unreleased material see the light of day but no luck yet. On a sad note guitar player Tom Smith ( on the right on album cover)passed away last year he was a good guy and full of old Teddy Boys stories. Another key player in the band Bob Ronga went on to record an lp with "Plainsong" and is worth checking out as well .

Xervello said...

Hey, Doc, just discovered your site. It's great! Was wondering if you still Mortimer's self-titled debut album and if so, could you possibly re-up it, please? It's really hard to find. Thanks and keep up the great work!