Phonograph – Volume 1 (2001; 2014 reissue)

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Phonograph’s Volume 1 initially surfaced in 2001 on Big Red Records and vanished within the blink of an eye. Had the album been pushed on a wider scale, it would have definitely troubled airwaves everywhere and sent Photograph into the star-studded stratosphere where they so clearly belong.

Comprised of singer, guitarist, keyboardist and harmonica player Paul Campbell, singer and guitarist Terence O’Mahony, bassist Jeff Steel, and drummer Andrew Buonincontro, the United Kingdom-based band authors and performs classic pop rock with direction and intention. Although all the tracks on Volume 1 — now available again through Kool Kat Musik and Amazon — are originals, there’s a comfortable familiarity about them, making the listener feel as if they’re reconnecting with a group of long lost friends.

Photograph’s smooth and beaming vocals rest squarely in the orbit stamped Beatlesque, while their songwriting and structuring possess enough modern touches to endure them to today’s generation. Stuffing their gripping tunes with more hooks than an elementary school coat rack and banks of sweeping choruses, the band is tight, bright, and insistently right when it comes to communicating their emotions.

The term power pop can be used without apology on high energy rockers like “My Oh My,” and “Hangin’ Around,” where “She Knows It” is peppered with southern-styled slopes chiming with life, “Don’t You Bring Me Down” glitters and gleams to a merry tone of pure-hearted pop tradition, and “California” boogies with purpose and perspiration. Fueled by belly dancing grooves, the dramatic “Maheema” exposes a psychedelic side of Phonograph, the lonely whine of a harmonica provides “Passion” with a hint of a bluesy bent, “Fading Into You” culminates into a rocking rubble of excitement, and “Losing My Nerve” is a sleepy-shaped ballad.

Razor sharp keyboard drills, in the pocket drumming, and guitars that shuttle back and forth between loud and crunchy, sweet and jingly, and crisply acoustic additionally represent the sound and vision of Phonograph’s great songs. Armed with an impressive pop vocabulary that also reflects bits and pieces of Big Star, Crowded House, Teenage Fanclub and Gin Blossoms, the band has the drive and ability to transmit their own clever ideas into a credible context.

An album that sorely needs a second wind, Volume 1 is a pop rock treasure.

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