The Buckinghams – Time and Charges/Portraits (1967; 2011 reissue)

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Born and bred in Chicago, Illinois, the Buckinghams were one of the most successful groups of 1967. The band started the year off on a banner note, as they netted a No. 1 hit single with their first single “Kind of a Drag” — distributed by the regional USA label and appeared on their debut album of the same name.

By the time 1967 drew to a close, the Buckinghams scored 4 more Top 40 winners. And what an amazing feat that was, in light of the truckloads of incredible records arriving in the bins that fabled year. Revolution was in the air with acts like the Doors, the Jimi Hendrix Experience, Procol Harum, and Jefferson Airplane hawking psychedelic commodities. Although the Buckinghams traveled a different route than these bands, they were uniquely forward thinking in their own right.

Shortly after Kind of a Drag sent the band into orbit, they relocated to the Columbia label, where they cut a pair of excellent albums, Time and Charges and Portraits. Now, the always on-the-spot Sundazed Records has again reissued the platters as a solitary set, and here they are …

Released in the spring of 1967, Time and Charges opens up with “Don’t You Care,” which peaked at No. 6 on the national charts. Constructed of crooning horns, breezy boyish vocals and a plush finish, there was no way a tune this catchy could fail. The album also includes the band’s slinky, soul-drenched cover of Cannonball Adderley’s “Mercy, Mercy, Mercy” that seized the Top 5 that summer. Flooded with engaging tempos, complex movements, and a strict anti-war message, “Foreign Policy” is an elaborate progressive rock piece, and a beautiful version of John Lennon and Paul McCartney’s “I’ll Be Back” exerts a nip of a jazz feel.

The tail end of 1967 saw Portraits land on the shelves. Featured among the prizes on the collection are “Hey Baby (They’re Playing Our Song)” and “Susan,” which reached No. 12 and No. 11 respectively. Both these tasty tunes represented the sound and style the public came to know and love of the Buckinghams. Sweeping harmonies, reminiscent of the Beach Boys, combined with brassy horn arrangements and potent melodies were the magical ingredients directing the popularity of the band. But as their albums indicated, the band was adventurous and as daring as the best of the bunch. Rife with stinging guitar leads and rattling rhythms, “Just Because I’ve Fallen Down” is a particular mind-blower heard on Portraits while the rest of the record involves a nice balance of pure pop and horn rock.

Blessed with great vocals, solid chops and the tunes to match, the Buckinghams were an A-Grade band. Filled with songs that are fun, imaginative, arty, thought-provoking and just plain good, Time and Charges and Portraits are satisfying on every conceivable level.

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Beverly Paterson

Beverly Paterson

Beverly Paterson was born the day Ben E. King hit No. 4 with "Stand By Me" -- which is actually one of her favorite songs, especially John Lennon's version. She's contributed to Lance Monthly and Amplifier, and served as Rock Beat International's associate editor. Paterson has also published Inside Out, and Twist & Shake. Contact Something Else! at reviews@somethingelsereviews.com.
Beverly Paterson
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