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Terry Draper — In the Beginning
(Bandcamp no#, 2023, CD / LP / DL)

by Peter Thelen, Published 2024-01-10

In the Beginning Cover art

Over the decades Terry Draper has proven himself to be a masterful composer of pop music in all its forms as well as a top notch arranger and lyricist, and the thirteen tracks at hand underscore those accomplishments. As one might suspect, there is a strong Beatles and Brit-pop influence to his work, as there was with his band Klaatu back in the 70s and early 80s; in fact there are a number of songs here that were written as far back as 1976, imbued with the same crafty hooks and energetic brilliance that were so prevalent on albums like Hope and Magentalane way back when. Draper is primarily a composer, arranger, singer, keyboard player, and sometme drummer, but he can’t do the full-on one man band thing on every piece, so he has a number of guest singers, guitarists, drummers, and other players as needed. Most of the songs are done with (at most) a trio or quertet configuration; singer Brenda Webb appears on many of the cuts, and our friend Fernando Perdomo appears on “Pigs Ears into Purses.” The opening title cut looks back in time to the dawn of civilization and asks some pertinent questions regarding our ancestors, but almost on cue, the second cut “All Aboard” switches to the lighter topic of Mister Mole and Ratty, floating in Ratty’s boat etc. a song that’s somehow mildly reminiscent of “Mrs. Toad’s Cookies” (from Magentalane); those kind of seismic shifts in subject matter and style from one song to the next are prevalent throughout In the Beginning, a factor that keeps the listener engaged over the long haul. Other standouts include “Sebastiano Elcano,” a 16th Century explorer who circumnavigated the globe, the earnest rocker “For the Few Who Couldn’t Be Friends,”  the atmospheric closer “Lost at Sea,” and the wonderful and mystical “Diamonds of the Mind,” written in ‘76 is probably the most sincere slice of psychedelia on offer here. I would be remiss to conclude this review without mentioning the beautifully illustrated booklet, lyrics, and artwork (by Jamie Grant) on facing pages for each song.

Filed under: New releases, 2023 releases

Related artist(s): Fernando Perdomo, Terry Draper

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