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STONED CIRCUS HEADSTONE CIRCUS Headstone Circus - 1968

REASON TO LIVE

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AllMusic Review by Franรงois Couture Recorded between 1968 and 1970, the tracks on this eponymous CD were not released back then and represent Headstone Circus' complete legacy. Bassist Nick Bonis, drummer Randy Ray Pope and lead guitarist Mike Johnstone formed Headstone Circus in 1966. The group was meant to have a psychedelic rock imprint, but the addition of singer/songwriter Glenn Faria diverted that original intention toward something much closer to Crosby, Stills & Nash, Neil Young or Buffalo Springfield. Upon listening to these tracks released almost 40 years after the fact, it is obvious that the group was doing some things right. Faria has a warm and soulful voice, the multipart vocal harmonies (the main CS&N tie-in) are beautiful and most of the melodies exert an immediate appeal. However, possible reasons why the group never "made it" also become quickly obvious, the main one being a tendency to overstretch simple songs. While musically proficient, the group simply doesn't have in its ranks the kind of virtuosity or creativity that could justify playing a simple chorusand-verse song for five minutes or more. As a result, otherwise pretty good songs like "I'm Going Down" and "Summers Gone" drag on for too long, making them sound weaker than they had to be. There is still some enjoyment to be had from these tapes though, especially for fans of harmony folk-rock or connoisseurs who liked Faria's early-'70s solo LP (another rarity legitimately released for the first time in the 2000s). The first eight tracks make up what would have been Headstone Circus' album proper; they are well recorded but the tapes clearly suffered from old age (distortion, slight drops, a grainy feel). The last four tracks are demo recordings.

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