Chris Lucey - Songs of Protest and Anti-Protest

Chris Lucey
Songs of Protest and Anti-Protest

Released 1965 on Surrey
Reviewed by Dave Furgess, 17/07/2000ce

A friend of mine hooked me up with a tape of this obscure album a few months back and he told me it sounded like 1966-67 era Love. I was skeptical of course, but after playing it several times I'll be damned if he wasn't right on the spot. Better still, he recently turned up a second copy of the record and sold it to me for $40.
This is a pretty mysterious album, it appeared on a small Los Angeles label called Surrey, which looks to be a budget line jazz and folk label (there is an advert on the back cover for other albums on the label by the likes of Hoyt Axton, Herbie Mann and other low key jazzbos.) I'm not positive about the year of release but I would guess late 1966 or 1967.
Chris Lucey is rumored to be the same guy who also recorded under the name of Bobby Jameson (who recorded the awesome "Vietnam" and other greats). In fact all the songs are credited to Jameson. Shades of Marcus Tybalt or what?
"Songs of Protest and Anti-Protest" is short on running time but not on quality, every song is a certified keeper. The cover of the album is great showing Chris looking like Michael Clarke of the Byrds blowing mouth harp into a microphone. I'm assuming it is Chris but it just might be some file photo of some unknown stoned folk rocker.
The Love comparison my friend Paul made is right on the nail, the songs here sound like dead ringers for "Da Capo"era Arthur Lee and Bryan MacLean, especially Love numbers such as "Que Vida" and "Orange Skies". What's really unique about this record is that it's folk rock without Beatles overtones. In fact Chris is backed on several tracks by what sounds to be a jazz group (kinda like on Tim Buckley albums like "Happy Sad" and "Lorca")
The record opens with a smooth, jazzy number called "That's The Way The World Has Got To Be Part One" which sounds like the best moments of Arthur Lee and Bryan MacLean as stated before, especially the "Da Capo" album.
"I'll Remember Them" is next and it's a downer ballad along the lines of Love's "Signed D.C." The next track "Girl From Vernon MT" also falls into this category, both tracks are eerie and unsettling. I can't get over the strong Love influence on this music, it really sounds like it could be an Arthur Lee solo album(had he made one between the first Love album and "Da Capo".)
"I Got The Blues" is a driving uptempo folk rocker not too far from "Hey Joe" in construction, it also kind of reminds me of some of the early sides by the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band. Side 1 closes with a tough folk blues selection called "Saline", which sounds similar to Tim Hardin or Fred Neil.
Side 2 begins oddly enough with "That's The Way The World Has Got To Be Part 2" which sounds nothing at all like Part 1. This one sounds more like Eric Burdon's treatment of "St. James Infirmary". Next up is the record's true curveball in "With Pity,But It's Too Late" which has a good-timey Lovin' Spoonful feel.
"You Came You Saw But You Didn't Conquer Me" goes back to the Love "Da Capo" style, with a trace of the Buffalo Springfield's "Uno Mundo." Lyrically the song is a bit of a self declaration that shares sentiments with things like The Third Bardo's "I'm 5 Years Ahead Of My Time" and The Aardvark's "I'm Higher Than I'm Down."
"Girl From The East"is the same song cut by The Leaves, on this track Chris comes across like a solo John Sebastian. The record closes with "Don't Come Looking" whichs sounds like (you guessed it!) 1967 Love, in fact it's almost a letter by letter ripoff of "Orange Skies".
All in all this is a very satisfying and well performed disc which has Chris Lucey wearing his influences proudly on his sleeve. But don't get me wrong he is far from being a copycat, he really has a unique sound that's all his own. In fact I'm knocked out by what a versatile singer and writer he is. This record may be hard to track down and I'm told it is increasing in value daily, but it is really worth any effort used in trying to obtain it.
(Update 10-27-06-"Songs Of Protest & Anti Protest" has been given a CD release on the UK Rev-ola label. Mojo magazine even did a feature with Bobby Jameson a couple of years ago with his full dope on the record-D. Furgess)

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