Cowabunga, sixties freaks! Summer's here! Or almost here, and I know because I just got my hands on Laurie Biagini's girl-group, surf, super sweet pop album, A Far Out Place, and all I can say is, far out! Laurie would like to have you believe it is California kicking-sand-in-your-face Pop, but California is only a part of her equation. The rest has a bare foot planted on every beach in the States, sixties-wise, and it adds up to one hell of a Pop Fest.
Unknowingly forged by the early music of Patience & Prudence, Annette Funicello, and the likes of The Teddy Bears, her music adds a splash of beach water, plastic bucket and shovel to Sunshine Pop and teen innocence. For old-timers like myself, it is a look back to music with a beat, when that was all that mattered. She takes us to our happy place, sans psychiatrist, and reminds us of the joys of youth. This is good music, harmonious music, beautiful music. It is happy music.
She starts it all of with a one-minute dip into the surf gene pool with an organ and background vocal romp plus basic Sandy Nelson beat (non-solo), a simple introduction to a music world of the past and present. Then all hail breaks loose. She reaches for every sixties Pop influence she can find and the party is on! Track after track pays homage to the AM sounds of the era and you hear slices of The Beatles, Phil Spector, The Brill Building, The Beach Boys, Southwest F.O.B., The Mamas and The Papas and others too numerous to mention. Listen hard and you hear a harpsichord here (probably a synthesized version, though one cannot always be sure), a Cyrkles-sounding organ there and the simplified let's-dance beat which quickly lost ground to the more complicated music of post-puberty when holding hands was no longer enough.
When the music is up, it is really up, having the driving force of a Freddie Cannon but on a bit more subdued level. Good rocking, less whoo! When it's not, it is pure melodic and harmonic joy with all the hooks you need and enough of the sometimes towering and always spot-on choruses to keep you beach-dancing for weeks.
I could point to each and every track as the best, but that would not give you much of an idea of what is there. Suffice it to say that I am enthralled by “Intro-Setting the Scene,” as short as it is, because it does just that and so well--- sets the scene, that is. I can't think of a better lazy beach tune than “Another Old Lazy Lyin' On the Beach Afternoon,” with its Beach Boys oo-wahs in the background, and “Gonna Do It My Way” has a chorus which makes me dance inside. Like I said, this is good stuff. I can't help it.
Laurie Biagini has done a wonderful job grabbing the bits and pieces of the past and weaving a spell completely her own. Her songs stand on their own, awash as they are in ghosts of the past, and are there for your enjoyment. I suppose you could listen with skepticism and find fault here and there, but this isn't music to be dissected, it is music to be enjoyed and, damn, I can't help but feel sorry for the skeptics in this world. Well, I would, but I don't have time. There is so much good music out there these days that if the music died today, I could not possibly catch up before my time comes, and Biagini just pushed a bit of that music to the back. I can't stop listening. In fact, it's a beautiful day and I'm taking A Far-Out Place for a drive. If I owned a convertible, I'd do it with the top down. Won't matter. I'll roll down the windows and turn up the music. With Laurie Biagini blasting, life is just an illusion anyway.
Oh, before I forget, Biagini released one album before this you might want to check out: Ridin' the Wave, and she has two since: A Go-Go Girl in a Modern World and Sanctuary of Sound, all riding that sixties sound. Huh. Wonder what that's all about? I'm kidding! As soon as I'm done here, I'm checking it out myself. Then, it's the open road. Can't get much better than that.