The Morning Glory - s/t LP
Multi-instrumentalist and producer Josiah Steinbrick (Cate Le Bon, Devendra Banhart) had long known that his mother-in-law, a music industry veteran, was in a group in the '60s, but he was totally unaware they had recorded anything until an acetate was uncovered after her passing.
The Morning Glory have a backstory that is almost too good: three teenagers from The Bronx and Harlem in that heady year of 1966, a mafia associate named Salvatore and an ill-timed heroin bust. It's the kind of quintessentially New York tale that could easily have been a plot point left on the cutting room floor of Scorsese's Mean Streets. Of course, none of this would be anything more than a good yarn to spin if the music didn't pass muster. Fortunately for us, it does.
Drawing inspiration from Spector, Motown, West Coast jangle, surf and garage, The Morning Glory have managed to remind this listener of artists as diverse as Laura Nyro and The Rezillos, which is no small feat. Recorded at Rossi Enterprises in Brooklyn, which garners a few google hits linking to old editions of Billboard and Cash Box and little else and featuring a backing band and songwriting credits that are both lost to time, The Morning Glory covers a surprising amount of territory in its eleven tracks.
After a pleasant if unremarkable start, it really kicks into gear with "Billy Gotta Go," a song that is something akin to a harmonica-laden female Ramones pulling into the station ten years ahead of schedule. "Please Stop Pretending" is a moody organ drenched mid-tempo ballad in 6/8 time which (in this reviewer's humble opinion) is the best time signature out there. The title track is a beautiful piece of lite psych, and "I'm Through With Boys" sounds like a sneering New York City response to The Beach Boys hit of the previous year, "California Girls."
Far too good and naturally talented to be described as "real people" or outsider, but much too shoestring to accurately approach Spector's Wall of Sound or Motown's Hitsville, The Morning Glory exist in that glorious middle ground where talent wasn't lacking, but time or studio capabilities perhaps were. The end result is a record that's almost there, yet something's not quite right ... which, for many of us, makes it even more perfect.
Limited edition of 315 copies.