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Saturday, 17 February 2018

Rick Price (ex-Move member) “Talking To The Flowers” 1971 UK Psych Prog,Sunshine Pop


Rick Price (ex-Move member) “Talking To The Flowers” 1971 UK Psych Prog,Sunshine Pop
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Being in a band with Roy Wood and Jeff Lynne must have been frustrating for Rick Price, knowing that his songs would never find their way onto a Move LP. What cannot be denied is that, ultimately, his time in that band was well spent. He may not have been blessed with Roy’s uncanny commercial instincts, or Jeff’s facility for pastiche but ‘Talking To The Flowers’ (Gemini GME 1017) 1971, reveals Rick to be very much his own man creatively, offering a gentle, sweetly melancholic introspection that was already an anachronism when this album was issued. 
Sadly, as an artist, Rick Price was done a disservice by the packaging and sequencing of this LP; the first thing you notice is the cover, a sickly green and white floral motif that resembles more a particularly hideous wallpaper pattern. About as much thought was put into its sequencing; Side 1 pitting Rick Price: Purveyor of Pop Psych Whimsy against Side 2’s casting of Rick Price: Interpretive Singer. Consequently, Talking To The Flowers does not hang together as a unified whole, the way an album should; rather it plays more like two mini albums by different artists. 
That said, Side 1 is as damn near perfect a specimen of “out of time” pop psych that I have heard; this album may have been issued in 1971 but Rick himself was still stuck somewhere in 1968! The material here is of a uniformly high standard; kicking off with 'Butterfly’, a sprightly piano-dominated number and the most obviously Move-like track on the album. 
Great lyrics too, describing a woman who, like the title, is graceful, delicate and tantalisingly out of reach. 'April Is Here’ follows and may very well be my personal favorite; Rick’s yearning vocal floats over a Hammond organ that manages to be both funky and subtle. 'Misty Morning’ shows the same fine eye for detail that marked the Kinks circa Village Green, cataloguing the mundane details of a day in the life. 'Daisy Farm Park’ and the title track both espouse escape whether it be from the hustle and hassle of the overcrowded big city, or the frustration and pain that comes from everyday living. Closing out the side, 'Who Am I’ features the most beautiful, sensitive arrangement on the album; the questioning lyrics given added poignancy and depth via some subtle wah-wah, soft acoustic strumming and gently flowing organ. 
Side 2 loses momentum as the material does not measure up to the overall excellence of the first side, and the arrangements are considerably less inspired, ranging from overblown to hilariously inappropriate; only the opening and closing tracks emerge relatively unscathed. Jimmie “Honeycomb” Rodgers’ 'It’s Over’ benefits from an understated reading that puts across the lyric’s sadness effectively; strings add just enough without degenerating into syrup. Tim Hardin’s oft-covered 'Reason To Believe’ is the most blatant misfire here; the heartbroken, and heartbreaking, sentiments are set against a bizarrely jaunty backdrop that leaves the listener scratching his head. 'The Singer Sang His Songs’ succumbs to overblown schmaltz early on, offering proof, if any were needed, that covering Neil Diamond songs is generally not a good idea. 'Love Her’ is a brave choice but, considering that Scott Walker owns this song, any competing version can’t help but pale in comparison. 'Please, No More Sad Songs’ adds nothing to the Idle Race original but, if viewed more charitably as a tribute to a former band mate and fellow songwriter, is acceptable enough. 'And Now’, the closing track and only original on this side, is a close cousin to 'It’s Over’, lyrically speaking; for once someone had the good sense to push the orchestra in the back of the mix. Despite my general lack of enthusiasm for this side, I will say in its defense that it is not unlistenable, just unnecessary, especially when set against the top side. 
It is too bad that, rather than mark the beginning of a promising solo career, this album put paid to it instead; Rick Price was talented enough as a singer and a writer, to continue making interesting records equal to what Wizzard and ELO were doing not long after…..by Scott Charbonneau…~


1971 LP by ex-Move member Rick Price, “Talking to the Flowers” on the UK Gemini label. A STUNNING lost popsike classic here, recorded in 1971 but believe me, this SOUNDS 1968 all the way. Imagine if Rick’s old band the Move had recorded an album of baroque pop psych inspired by the Left Banke and Zombies, and this is what you’ve got here. Exquisite orchestrated UK popsike in the tradition of comps like Rubble and Fading Yellow - beautiful stuff - and unfortunately for Rick, housed in one of the all-time WORST album covers EVER in the history of music! Now I figure the Gemini label wasn’t a major player and may not have had the graphic design team of Hipgnosis on their side, but STILL…it looks like they gave a ten-year old a sheet of kitchen wallpaper and some large press-on type and told him to do a record cover. It’s that bad. But fortunately, you can put the sleeve away and concentrate on the music, which aint bad at all. “Butterfly” is one such popsike gem - and continuing in the grand tradition of songs mentioning butterflies, this is SUPERB floating drifty trippy wah wah psych pop with piano and super catchy melody. This is easily in the same league as prime Hollies, Small Faces and all the major names you find throughout your Rubble box set. “April is Here” has a groovy late Zombies “Odysey and Oracle” feel - lots of minor keys, moody organ, flute, cool acid guitar - it’s a baroque pop lovers DREAM - as Rick goes all Left Banke and Procol Harum on us here. “Please No More Sad Songs” harkens back to the Move a bit (and even the Idle Race, whose song it was originally anyway), especially their later, dramatic catchy ballads like “Beautiful Daughter” and “The Last Thing on My Mind”. This is pure orchestrated beauty - a big, dramatic ballad with swirling strings, flute, and the kind of echoed-out lilting vocal theatrics you’d expect from a Roy Wood. Yes, Rick does manage to pull off a fairly good Roy Wood impersonation on this one, making this the closest he gets to his old band - it would have fit nicely on “Shazam” and really IS that good a song too! “And Now”, the final track (ironic title then, isn’t it?) is pure delicate Fading Yellow style baroque popsike with strings, flute, xylophone and a real cool Beach Boys “Pet Sounds” feel to it as well…~





Tracklist 
A1 Butterfly 
A2 April Is Here 
A3 Daisy Farm Park 
A4 Misty Morning 
A5 Talking To The Flowers 
A6 Who Am I 
B1 It’s Over 
B2 Reason To Believe 
B3 And The Singer Sings His Songs 
B4 Love Her 
B5 Please, No More Sad Songs 
B6 And Now 

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