Julian Cope presents Head Heritage

The Common People - Of The People By The People For The People

The Common People
Of The People By The People For The People


Released 1969 on Capitol
Reviewed by Dave Furgess, 26/02/2001ce


These days i'm quite wary of record albums that change hands for hundreds of dollars that are described as psychedelic classics, because a lot of these records turn out to be useless hippie trash or sub-Steppenwolf boogie records. A friend of mine paid $200 for this album by California based group The Common People and was raving about it to me, so I asked him to make me a tape of it, which he did and I've been playing this thing for months and I'll be damned if this isn't one of the best psychedelic pop records I've ever heard!The record is near perfect save for one piece of utter hippie trash called "Funeral" which is so lame I won't waste your time telling you how bad it is.
The record begins with a beautiful swirling psychedelic pop song called "Soon There'll Be Thunder" that sounds like the best of the Strawberry Alarm Clock meeting The Left Banke, the track has brilliant strings supplied by David Axelrod. "I Have Been Alone" is next and follows the same formula and it's even better, this one has some magical acid guitar lines played against a Love "Forever Changes" like backdrop, this song is a true knockout. "Those Who Love" once again follows the same style to absolute perfection. With "Go Everyway" the psychedelic juice gets turned up full on this brilliant melodic rocker, lead singer Denny Robinett has an unusual but engaging voice that stands out on almost every track.
"Why Must I Be" has a Moby Grape/Buffalo Springfield folk rock flavor to it, some understated organ fills add to the song's appeal. "I Take From You" is a driving folk/punker that again recalls early Love. Things go back to the garage for "Feeling" this one is incredibly simple but dynamite, the guitar solo is wonderful! I can't enough of this one. Up next is my favorite track on the LP called "Girl Said Know" which is a direct descendent of the Byrds "So You Want To Be A Rock and Roll Star" which features a punchy latin style trumpet section that adds wonders to the song, the only trouble is the song is under 2 minutes long which is a shame. "Land Of A Day" is a slightly doomy Doors type thing that works really well.
The trumpets are brought back up front for "This Life" which ends the record in a rousing upbeat fashion. This is a fantastic album from start to finish if you don't count the atrocity called "Funeral", this record should have sold crate loads but probably wasn't promoted much, it's weird that Capitol signed several outstanding groups in the late 60's like SRC, Gandalf, Hearts and Flowers, Food and Stained Glass and didn't seem to push them at all, perhaps these groups were just tax write offs, I guess they were too busy with The Beatles, Beach Boys and Grand Funk Railroad.
This record by The Common People is one of the great lost records of the late 60's I think it has been issued recently on CD, so I would suggest you pick up a copy I know will be as soon as I can find one.

Update (5-22-07) Since this review there has been some action of the Common People front. First of all this album has recently received a UK CD release on the Fallout label, the sound quality isn't the greatest but it's certainly good enough. What really makes this CD an essential purchase is the add-on of the group's 2 pre-LP 45's. The first of the two "Oh My My" b/w "Days On My Mind" is a bit tentative, but certainly worth hearing. However the second single "Look Around" b/w "Dawn Of My Life" is absolutely sensational and equal to almost anything on the LP. "Look Around" is a tough, brooding garage thumper, with a sinister riff and a pounding beat, while "Dawn Of My Life" is an expansive, trippy number with a stoned vocal and dreamy organ phrases. The second 45 clearly paves the way for the greatness to come on the LP.

Even more incredible is that Capitol Records in the USA has actually dusted off the LP for a limited run 180 gram vinyl issue, complete with original lime green Capitol label. I have also run across an interview with lead singer Denny Robinett and keyboardist William Fausto. Both are alive and well and very happy about the attention their great album is attracting these days. To solve the mystery, the group were indeed from Baldwin Park, California as had been rumored.


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