Review: Wendy & Bonnie – Genesis
Perhaps one of my all time favourite 60’s Beat Psyche albums, I actually stumbled across Wendy and Bonnie Flower’s music via a sample of ‘By The Sea’ on ‘Hello Sunshine’ by the Super Furry Animals. After a little research and a lot of online jiggery pokery I managed to find a reissue. Genesis showcases an impeccable fusion of San Fran Folk, Beat Pop and Latin Jazz with a first class warm recording and some serious players, not to mention two teenage sisters called Flower on vocals. Although very young, the girls’ voices are velvet-like and textured with an almost impossible sense of melancholy that gives the album a very mature and wise feel.
Genesis was originally recorded for Skye recordings but was sadly beset with unbelievable tragedy, Initially with Skye Records going bankrupt pretty soon after the release and followed swiftly with the murder of Skye Records’ partner and producer / arranger on Genesis ‘Gary McFarland’ in a bar in New York, Genesis never really made the mark it should of. It has since been Re Released on Sundazed and has been included on Andy Votel’s compilations.
Starting with a bang, albeit a slight feathery Gogo Bar sounding one, ‘Let Yourself Go Another Time’ is a technicolour and outrageously camp organ and bass wigout with the girls singing their haunting messages of Peace and Love throughout. ‘The Paisley Window Pane’ is a more bare folky affair featuring soaring twisting harmonies and a sense of longing in both the vocals and the guitar that would make a grown man cry. ‘I Realized You’ is the sort of softly softly beat thing that lovers of Gainsborg will adore.
If you know anything by Wendy and Bonnie it’ll probably be ‘By The Sea’ and in many ways rightly so, it drifts around your ears in cycles and is so beautifully arranged and sung that I still find it impossible to believe how young these girls were. Wendy Flower has the spirit of an elderly woman regaling you with tales of loves and loves lost, rather than a teenager dreaming about marrying an ever changing lineup of 60s Pop Pinups. ‘You Keep Hanging up In My Mind’ is very much something Stereolab fans will go for, summery, kitsch and beautiful chords swing around and intertwine with dreamy vocals about breaking up with some chap. ‘Its What’s Really Happening’ is an amazing Beat Pop, Go Go bar number. With backing music so sickeningly peppy that it wouldn’t sound out of place on a late 60s Coca Cola advert it could all be lost, but no! Wendy and Bonnie Flower juxtapose this cheddary Cola Psyche workout with Lyrics about riding the wind faster than dictators can speak.This is Pop subversion at its level best (If I ever have daughters I hope they end up like these girls).
My favourite song on the album used to be ‘By The Sea’ but perhaps the overplaying has led me favour ‘Five O Clock in The Morning’, if for nothing else but the chorus which is so wrong its right. Odd sounding organ patterns intertwine with the Girls voices in a way that you are not sure whether the organ is slightly out of tune or intentional and is that a Kalimba? For some reason it reminds me of Aphex Twin which will never be a bad thing.
Picking things up again ‘Endless Pathway’ is all about the snaking funk bassline that underpins the wah wah Guitar Rhythms and Angelic Harmonies. ‘Children Laughing’ is up next, which is possibly the only song on here that I’m not that bothered about, its nice and well played but feels a little like filler with its 2 minutes of innocent lala vocals and pitchy organs. No Bother though as The Album (without the bonus material) closes with ‘The Winter is Cold’ which is an amazing soft Jazz-Soul thing with an ingrained piano roll swing that wouldn’t be out of place on a Rufus Thomas tune full of deep keys and mournful lyrics.
The reissue also Includes five unused songs and demos, the best of which is ‘Story of a Conventional Man’ which is a simple tale of a conservative working man who comes home one day to find his pregnant wife has had a breakdown and taken a bottle of tablets killing both her and the unborn baby, as I said made by kids but by golly its not for kids.
Heres my Favourite….