Named after a beloved storybook character who is better known as Winnie the Pooh, Edward Bear was actually a full-fledged band, not a single person as a lot of people assumed the moniker to represent.
Quite a sensation in their home country of Canada, Edward Bear even ambushed the American airwaves for a brief moment. Spring 1973 was when the band experienced their biggest success in the states, with “Last Song” and “Close Your Eyes,” which reached the No. 3 and No. 37 positions on the charts respectively.
A 15-track set, The Edward Bear Collection (Capitol Records) reveals the band to be avatars of the kind of soft rock offered by acts like the Flying Machine, latter day New Colony Six, Bread and Lobo. You’ll also hear how Edward Bear’s lead singer, Larry Evoy, is a dead ringer for David Cassidy, which is honestly the highest compliment possible. So chuck the Partridge Family in as another reference point.
Supple songwriting, stressed by hooks and melodies strategically placed, partnered with radiant vocals and clutching choruses, encompass every entry on The Edward Bear Collection. The hip sound of a wah-wah guitar also crops up on a fair share of the tunes, while brass instruments and keyboards are put to good use as well.
Both “Last Song” and “Close Your Eyes” obviously appear on The Edward Bear Collection, along with equally dazzling diamonds such as the sparkling tones and textures of “Masquerade,” an emotionally-charged cover of Allen Toussaint’s “Freedom For The Stallion” and the toe-wiggling “You Me And Mexico,” which shuffles and ruffles to sexy and spicy Latin styled rhythms.
Although Edward Bear specialized in pop pleasantries, they weren’t afraid to crank the volume and break a sweat, as testified by “You Can’t Deny It,” a powerful slice of hard rocking rumblings tinged with a groovy boogie undercurrent.
Edward Bear disbanded in 1974 in the midst of recording an album that sadly failed to be completed. But how lucky for us The Edward Bear Collection contains a handful of these songs, most notably “I Had Dreams” and the lushly-crafted “She Loves A Parade,” which sits regally upon a warm bed of chic string arrangements.
Not to be lumped together with the school of schlock rock bands dominating AM radio during the early 70s, Edward Bear boasted an impressive degree of artistic insight and integrity that separated them from their puppet peers. There was nothing the least bit contrived about Edward Bear, as their talent and feelings were visibly authentic.
A nicely-conceived overview, The Edward Bear Collection is stocked with effortlessly seductive missives, making the band not only great at the time they were active but now ripe for reappraisal.