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Main » 2007 » September » 27 » David Hemmings - 1967 - Happens
David Hemmings - 1967 - Happens
Actor David Hemmings was afforded pop star-like status after his dashing turn in '60s pop culture flick BLOW UP, so it's appropriate that he took time out from the day job to make an album with members of The Byrds. Released in 1967, HAPPENS is a nine-track folk rock album by the talented actor.

I recommend this album to all who loved the Byrds in their psychedelic era.

The Reviews

David Hemmings; boy opera star, young British character actor, star of the iconic 1960's movies "Blow Up" and "Barbarella", film and TV director and producer, and latterly again a character actor and star in such films as "Gladiator" "Gangs Of New York" and the elegaic British movie "Last Orders". An impressive resume for any man, one might think, but there's more, he made a record too! But not the usual actor-makes-an-album camp artifact ....oh no....our David was quite serious. In fact, "Happens!" was actually produced in Los Angeles by none other than Byrds manager and producer Jim Dickson, AND features The Byrds as well as a session crew (led by legendary bassist James Bond Jnr.) drawn from Dickson's years producing folk and jazz for the World Pacific label. The fact that it was done somewhat in a rush due to David's film commitments actually worked in it's favour as the Columbia-rejected and otherwise unheard Gene Clark song "Back Street Mirror" opens the album with a full-on gorgeous orchestral Folk Rock rush.

Largely improvised collaborations with The Byrds and Mr. Bond's crack crew of jazzers follow, allowing David to express his love of folk music against a background of prime Byrds at their Raga Rock peak, and the cream of LA's jazz fraternity! David's friend, Monkees songwriter Bill Martin provides a couple of songs, and we are on course for an album of rare beauty.

This is an unknown and hidden gem indeed!

This is an unexpected gem from the Sixties. Certainly, David Hemmings was very well known but not as a singer. He starred in a number of classic films from the era, most notably Blow Up where he portrayed a photographer apparently uncovering a murder. The singing side of him remained relatively unknown and the re-release of the album on CD must come as a bit of a surprise, albeit a very pleasant one. Having made his name in the UK, David Hemmings headed off to LA where he met up with a number of the Byrds as well as their producer Jim Dickson. The seemingly unusual collaboration produced this album.
In keeping with the Byrds connection, the opening track Back Street Mirror is a Gene Clark song that was written and recorded subsequent to his departure from the group. However, it was never released and David Hemmings recorded his vocals over the existing backing track. This is really something to thank David Hemmings for, otherwise this Gene Clark song would have remained unreleased.

Reason to Believe is the Tim Hardin classic and Hemmings' version stands up with the best of them. The guitar style of this track reminds the listener of the Incredible String Band, a likeness that appears in later tracks.
Good King James starts with some clearly recognisable Roger McGuinn guitar. Like many of the other tracks, this was improvised in the studio. This was done in one take! Bell Birds is an old song but the lyrics had "disappeared" over time so the new lyrics are from Hemmings. Like Good King James, the following track Talkin' LA another studio improvisation where McGuinn and Hillmann provide the backing to Hemmings' semi-spoken vocals. The backing track is less free-form and this allows Hemmings to improvise with his thoughts about Los Angeles. He had recently moved to the area and seems happy. As he says, "this is where it all happens."
Anathea is another traditional folk song where David Hemmings lays down a beautiful vocal on tops of the Byrds' backing. While some of the tracks feature spoken, improvised vocals Hemmings shows here that he has a fine singing voice. After the Rain is another beautiful song.

Another improvisation is War's Mystery which has the unmistakable Roger McGuinn guitar sound but with the addition of Indian instruments it has the air of a Robin Williamson song, even if the lyric subject is quite different. The track is a long improvisation. This is more than just a curio from a 1960s actor. Hemmings shows that not only does he has a fine singing voice but also that he can improvise his lyrics on top of a backing track. You could say that it is folk-rap! The album stands up on its own and the fact that Hemmings is an actor is quickly forgotten. The album is easily accessible to fans of the Byrds or the Incredible String Band and will be of interest to others with more of a leaning towards folk psychedelia.

Thanks Justin Thyme for this

Category: Psyche/Garage/Folk | Views: 1960 | Added by: Lost-In-Tyme | Rating: 5.0/1 |

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