3 February 2009
"THE MILLENNIUM - BEGIN" (SUNSHINE PSYCHEDELIC POP US 1968)
Begin is a one-off, a late Psychedelic Sixties collaboration gathering several Pop journeymen led by one of the most obscured masterminds of the era, "Curt Boettcher".
A demanding and visionary Pop MAESTRO in the vein of "Brian Wilson", "Curt Boettcher"'s mark on Pop music is etched in stone.
His staggering work in the Californian Sunshine-Pop scene touched many bands that came from the region and led to his eventual partnership with the aforementioned "Brian Wilson".
However, it is with "The Millennium" that "Curt Boettcher"'s legacy rests.
Begin, part of Rock and Roll's great tapestry of unsung commercial failures, is a prime example of exceptional 60's Pop.
The Millennium: "It's You" / "I Just Want To Be Your Friend", front cover, Columbia Records 44546, 1968
For some reason (this was partially attributable to "Curt Boettcher"'s reluctance to tour. The group staged a one live performance at a college in Southern California, but the difficulty of replicating the album in concert posed a large enough challenge to dissuade "Curt Boettcher" from sustaining the band), a group of superior musicians and songwriters made one FANTASTIC album, Begin, that went absolutely nowhere.
Each song flowed into the next as if they were one.
Both groups were formed by "Curt Boettcher" of "The Association" and "Tommy Roe" fame.
His genius at vocal arrangement was and still is unsurpassed.
With the help of "Keith Olsen" ("The Music Machine") and "Gary Usher" (songwriter, surf music avatar, and "Columbia Records" staff producer), "Curt Boettcher" formed "The Millennium".
The band consisted of seven musicians and songwriters, including "Curt Boettcher".
The other six members are: "Ron Edgar" and "Doug Rhodes" ("The Music Machine"), "Michael Fennelly" (who later formed "Crabby Appleton"), "Lee Mallory", "Sandy Salisbury" ("The Ballroom"), and "Joey Stec".
"Curt Boettcher"' genius at vocal arrangement and love of the new art of studio technology was obvious in the result.
Begin album (Columbia Records CS-9663, 1968) was only the second album recorded with the new 16 tracks technology.
"Curt Boettcher" ran up the most expensive album ever recorded for "Columbia Records" at that point.
The reasons for its commercial failure might be due to the fact it was too light for FM and too complex and hard for AM.
The Millennium: "It's You" / "I Just Want To Be Your Friend", back cover, Columbia Records 44546, 1968
More than anything, Begin is an incredibly tight and immaculate presentation.
This is where "Curt Boettcher" deserves most praise along with assisting producer, "Keith Olsen".
"Prelude", the instrumental opener hammers off an awesome beat, each sound, crystal clear as it flows into "To Claudia On Thursday".
Each track, and as a result, the entire album, sounds like a cohesive team effort.
This is a remarkable feat considering the band as a whole existed for a little around a year.
As a complete album statement, Begin competes with any Sixties classics.
Track by track, it's a bit tougher for the work to hold up.
"The Millennium"'s roots are firmly grounded in Californian Soft Pop and many tracks are incapable of delivering the same punch many other artists were capable of.
It should be assumed that none of "The Millennium"'s song writers can really compare to "John Lennon", "Paul McCartney", "Ray Davies" or "Brian Wilson".
But with those hindrances in mind, "The Millennium"'s Begin remains a significant collection of Pop songs and is required listening for fans of the period.