CD Life Is But a Dream (CD 7021885),
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Life Is But a Dream

  • Additional Info
    Manufacturer Part Number (MPN): TUNEIN 007

  • Credits
    Producer
    Engineer

    Liberty Records evidently had great hopes for this obscure late 1968 LP, seeing it as an attempt to fuse classical and rock into a concept album that told, if obscurely, "the story of a life" (as guitarist/singer David Roush remembers in the liner notes to the 2011 CD reissue). The label even put $50,000 into the recording budget, a high sum by 1968 standards, using the string section of the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra and arrangements by the respected Artie Butler. Heard many years later, you have to wonder what Liberty was thinking. For this album (a commercial flop, and the only one Wichita Fall would make) is a pretty tepid attempt at making an ambitious pop masterwork. Wichita Fall's songs were only average material to begin with, perhaps falling on the earthier side of the sunshine pop then in vogue among much of what was being produced in Hollywood. However, the compositions are not just overwhelmed, but almost subsumed, by the dainty orchestration, which is more appropriate for links on a TV variety show than it is for an album with any connection to rock. It was too much for the original drummer, who left the band rather than play on the album, which made the Moody Blues' Days of Future Passed (a possible influence on Liberty taking this approach in the first place) sound evil and gritty in comparison. While you can hear a potentially decent harmony-oriented pop/rock group in the mix, their strengths are smothered by the settings, and by the time of the infuriatingly cloying closing title track (a variation on the "row row your boat" chant), you might be rolling your eyes at the excess. [The CD reissue on Tune In adds two bonus tracks from a non-LP 45 that show their strengths as a fair pop-folk-rock group to much greater advantage, especially on the country-influenced "Ginger Blue," though the other side ("Lovely Love") is still a little overproduced. The reissue also has extensive historical liner notes, with quotes from bandmembers, that tell the fascinating story of the flawed album's creation well.] ~ Richie Unterberger

  • Critic Reviews
    Mojo (Publisher) (p.119) - 4 stars out of 5 -- "[With] pretty, cross-genre arrangements and harmonies..."
    Record Collector (magazine) (p.89) - 4 stars out of 5 -- "A highly enjoyable artefact of sugar sweet bombast."
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