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Main » 2007 » June » 1 » Yays & Nays - 1968 - Yays & Nays
Yays & Nays - 1968 - Yays & Nays

YAYS & NAYS: Yays  & Nays (Neo US 1968?)

01 - gotta keep travelling
02 - nature is my  mother
03 - some do, some don't
04 - contrary mary
05 - easy  woman
06 - it's what's happening baby
07 - call me a dog
08 - if
09  -take it easy baby
10 - let it all hang out + what women do
11 - onstage  revelations


The  majority of LPs that fall into the "incredibly strange" category do so to no  fault of their own, but as an effect of a marked disconnect between whatever  artistic vision that went into them, and how the work is perceived by a listener  in another time and place. A band such as the Kaplan Brothers obviously thought  they had created a deep, meaningful statement with "Nightbird", while most  people who listen to it hear... something else. This is all fine and doody and a  testament to the lasting quality of popular music springing from experience and  honesty, no matter if clever, misguided, or just strange.

But then there  is a rarer type of bizarre vinyl testaments which we can enjoy because the band  knew exactly what they were doing, and what they were doing remains unusual and  imaginative to this day. After listening many times to the remarkable LP by  Southeastern band the YAYS & NAYS I'm prepared to put them in this upscale  category of strangeness. The misleading descriptions you may see on the rare  occasions it's offered for sale is another indication of its elusive qualities.  I don't know any LP even remotely like it, yet it's highly listenable, even  commercial in parts.

This track, and the LP as a whole, is smart and hip  on so many levels that it's difficult to sort out, but I'll give it a shot. To  begin with the vocals, the guys are typically solo and sing in a  tongue-in-cheek, "manly" Johnny Cash/Lee Hazlewood style that works as an ironic  deflation of the macho content of their lyrics. The result projects the 1950s  family provider husband as an increasingly powerless and slightly neanderthal  creature, clueless in the emergence of a modern era of liberated women. The  women in turn usually sing ensemble, like the chorus of a Greek play, their  high-pitched feminine voices aggregating power when heard together -- and this  clever solo <-> ensemble juxtaposition is no accident. The gals can sing  pretty and romantic, like they do on a few songs, but they can also be tough and  uncouth, thus given a wider range of expression than the guys. The lyrics follow  a similar pattern, the guys delivering sentiments and desires from a by-gone  era, while the gals usually express a sense of freedom and independence. The  whole thing plays like an inspired fratty college musical sendup of the Lee  & Nancy and Sonny & Cher duets.

The opening track "Gotta Keep  Traveling'" is an uptempo garage ditty sung mixed ensemble that works as a  gender-neutral starting point for the album, with typical 60s lyrics about doing  your own thing and escaping a dull, conformist society; the 1950s vocals of band  leader "Big Daddy" adds an appealing beatnik touch in line with the subject  matter. This is followed by "Nature is my mother", a partly-French sung tune  that comes closest to "hippie" sounds on what is mostly a raw folkrock album.  The gender theme is then introduced in full with the hilarious "Some Do, Some  Don't", where-in "Big Daddy" laments the fleeting nature of his ladies' promises  with lines like "Down with the ones who say they will/And then later say they  won't". The gals back him up with a mocking gleam in their eye. This subject  matter is extended into "Contrary Mary" wherein the 1950s macho crooner retroism  is put to full use; the male lead asking Johnny Cash-style his girl for a bit  more stability in their relationship.

The rest of the album continues in  this same convincing manner, each track both an excellent standalone item and a  piece in the bigger Yays & Nays puzzle. One reason it works so well, and  stands up for repeat plays with no loss of impact, is that the songwriting and  arrangements are remarkable, worthy any name release from L A or the Brill  Building. The style is an eclectic 60s bag of P F Sloan folkrock, tough upscale  r'n'r like the Raiders, Eastcost girl-group sounds and Broadway musical, all  held firmly together by the strength of the lyrical content and the  idiosynchratic, self-referential vocals. You'd be hard pressed to find another  local, unknown item that delivers on all levels like this -- no matter where you  press, it's there; the lyrics, the concept, originality, creativity, zeitgeist,  even rare attributes such as irony and internal logic.

Here at Lama  Reviews we have a tradition of lamenting the unjust lack of success for artists  that were in the wrong place or on the wrong label, but that line doesn't really  cut it for the Yays & Nays, because even on Vanguard or Elektra I think this  would have flopped at the time -- it's such a multilayered, double-edged trip  that requires many plays to grasp, and thus probably better fit for our age than  the fast and flashy 1960s.

There are many different  opinions on this record... i 'd like to hear yours

Category: Psyche/Garage/Folk | Views: 2360 | Added by: janisfarm | Rating: 4.0/1 |

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