Monday, July 9, 2007

Grapefruit - Around Grapefruit (1968)

Grapefruit were one of the better Beatlesque late-'60s British pop-rock bands. In 1968 they seemed on the way to stardom, with a couple of small hit British singles and, more importantly, some help from the Beatles themselves. Led by George Alexander, brother of the Easybeats' George Young, the group were at the outset cheerful harmony pop/rockers with similarities to the Easybeats, Bee Gees, and some Paul McCartney-penned tunes from the Beatles' own psych-pop era. Not quite as incessantly chipper as the Easybeats, not as melodramatic as the Bee Gees, and certainly not as inventive as the Beatles, they were nonetheless similarly skilled at blending melodic pop with sophisticated arrangements that employed baroque/psychedelic touches of strings, orchestration, and several varieties of keyboards. A disappointing second album, however, helped sink them out of sight, and the Beatles couldn't be of help as they were preoccupied with their own imminent dissolution.

Grapefruit just missed the Top 20 with their first single, "Dear Delilah," with its lilting melody, uplifting harmonies, and creative use of orchestration and electronic phasing. A cover of the Four Seasons' "C'mon Marianne" just missed the Top Thirty, and although there were several other singles in 1968 and early 1969, nothing else made the charts. Their first LP, Around Grapefruit, was largely comprised of songs from their first five singles.

In contrast to "Around Grapefruit", their second album, 1969's "Deep Water", was an utterly undistinguished effort that could have been by an entirely different band, as its routine late '60s rock was quite unlike the band's debut. Grapefruit went into a much heavier sound, with deeper traces of blues and occasionally country, and virtually abandoned the harmonies, pop melodicism, and creative multi-textured arrangements that were the strongest points in their favor. For good measure, their association with Apple Publishing ended in November 1968, although John Lennon did suggest in early 1969 that the band should record the then-unreleased Lennon-McCartney song "Two of Us" (which they didn't). Following some personnel changes, the group broke up around the end of the 1960s, although Alexander did revive Grapefruit for a 1971 single, "Universal Party"/"Sha Sha," which also featured ex-Easybeats George Young and Harry Vanda. Subsequently Alexander worked with Vanda and Young on other production and songwriting projects, while John Perry made an unlikely return to the public eye as a member of the new wave band the Only Ones in the late '70s.

If you dig artists like Left Banke, Beatles and don't mind a bit of psych thrown into the mix, I guarantee you will love Grapefruit. This is a brilliant debut...


gary_lankford said...

Very 60's! My favorite decade... :) Yesterday's Sunshine!

Love it!

Anonymous said...

Thanks, have this album on vinyl but easier to listen on mp3's..
Great album, found it a couple of years a go and played it quite frequently one summer. Brings back the sunshine in my apartment!

gary_lankford said...

One of my very favorite of all J's postings!

Anonymous said...

Just amazing .... one of your grestest post ever.
How this band never become huge it`s a thing i`ll never understand.
Thank you so much

bobbysu said...

thanks for sharing

JKMAN said...

Thanks for the great music!