Fan review: ‘Wake Up Where You Are’

Longtime fan David Chirko wrote this online review of the Strawberry Alarm Clock’s new CD “Wake Up Where You Are.” It’s reposted here with his permission.

strawberry alarm clock album coverThe Strawberry Alarm Clock’s 2012 “Wake Up Where You Are” CD sports a front cover with the slogan “Its (sic) About Time” and the band’s moniker, in big green/blue/red shagadelic lettering, with small, coloured flowers atop and (of course) centrepiece alarm clock with black Roman numerals encircling a large strawberry in its face, and outside of it left and right, more, smaller berries, all over an orange background.

It conjures the blissful musing of a sultry summer day. The also orange back cover showcases a top-right-corner photo — interestingly, the album’s name above it — of our minstrels gazing down, but somehow back, into a time tunnel. It, as well, under the group name, lists down the left side the album’s 14 songs; all but a handful penned by Clock alumni and most being rerecorded numbers from their earlier albums.

Listening to this new SAC CD I mentally ensconced myself back in the 1960s, when I first heard them. I asked myself: Would the same sound landscape I found so captivating then, recrudesce now, crafting an ariose déjà vu?

Whether SAC does psychedelic, sunshine pop, jazz oriented pop or rock, there is always something irresistibly arcane reflected in the cogency of their poetic/musical renderings. Their lush, often gossamer, vocal meshes are adroitly combined with taut harmonizing of a plethora of florid instruments, delivering a flower power orchestra. Like scintillating keyboards and warm, inviting, fuzz tone guitars that evoke what has become de rigueur in the Clock’s oeuvre: calm confidence.

Strawberry Alarm ClockSome of the disc’s works have a heavier, but pleasant, grittiness to them, while some pieces are served with aplomb, in cocktail lounge phraseology. Let the listener delve this mature band’s derring-do by comparing the originals with the redone tracks, whose altered tempi and newly inflected lyricism are yours to discover. To absorb the total impact of this more delicately performed album — with a hitherto unrealized dynamic range — it must be played LOUD.

Let me now exemplify, what I’ve asseverated thus far, with a few of my favourite opuses on this disc:

“Charlotte’s Remains”: Can’t you just envision go-go dancers in shimmering short shorts, gyrating in their cages? Okay, the captivating tale of a femme fatale; her “remains ” being the aftereffect upon the men she jilted. And where did Charlotte disappear to? For the answer, we’re taken into the psychedelic wonderland of ghosts.

“Drifting Away”: Commences with calescent tintinnabulation. The melody echoes, like a condor sailing over a bluff. The elocution, well timed. “Drifting away and taking my chances … ” — ah … dreaming leads the smitten awry. Drift away at the end as the volume decreases with strumming akin to a slowed clock or metronome.

“Hummin’ Happy”: The chorus opens this chestnut ballad of a “sadist” (long “a” this time) visually transforming the felicitous sights of an impetuous downtown into devastation: “Evil things make me laugh so … ” Compared with the old version, this offering is more liquid, without sacrificing SAC’s ebullient sardonicism.

“World Citizen”: Behemoth songwriting effort. A paean to the wonderment of camaraderie. Its enchanting flute is like the serpentine rising of a hand, there to sonically seduce us. The redolent percussion escorting us to a tribal culture.

I’ll stop here, leaving the rest up to you, curious listeners.

Yes, “It’s About Time,” as this comeback album’s subtitle announces, we, as SAC aficionados, “Wake Up Where We Are” and savour this fresh Strawberry treasure; praying there is a follow-up in the offing.

David Chirko is an abstract artist from Sudbury, Ontario, Canada. He has published three poetry books and is an international affiliate member of the American Psychological Association.

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