Monday, September 07, 2015

The Association - Stop Your Motor (1971)


 Although their chart hits had long since dried up, Stop Your Motor (1971) became the Association's penultimate long-player and second to last attempt at garnering any degree of hipness. Sadly, the sextet could not have been more out of step with the concurrent popular music trends, which must have been doubly frustrating as this effort actually includes a fair share of decent tunes that would have fit nicely into the burgeoning singer/songwriter genre. When Stop Your Motor was issued in the summer of 1971, it heralded the end of a two-year absence of new material. In the interim there had also been marked change behind the scenes. Most notable was the slightly ersatz production style of Ray Pohlman, a longtime session musician and member of Hal Blaine's infamous "Wrecking Crew." Yet another L.A. studio stalwart, Don Randi, had taken the reigns of one of the Association's most vital assets -- scoring the band's trademark vocal harmonies. Randi's handiwork is at its best on the midtempo opener, "Bring Yourself Home," or the decidedly laid-back lilt of "It's Got to Be Real." While the disc primarily consists of originals from within the combo's own ranks, "P.F. Sloan" is not only one of the record's best tracks, it was penned by singer/songwriter Jimmy Webb as a paean to the West Coast balladeer and composer of the same name. Among Sloan's best-known works are "Eve of Destruction," "Sins of a Family," and "Lollipop Train (You Never Had It So Good)." In fact, the Association covered Sloan's "On a Quiet Night" some four years earlier for the Insight Out (1967) album. Other standouts include Terry Kirkman's (percussion/woodwind) "That's Racin'," which is a whimsical precursor to the burgeoning stock car competitions that would evolve into the NASCAR craze over the ensuing decades. Perhaps the track that most accurately recaptures the Association of old is Gary "Jules" Alexander's (guitar/vocals) familiar mixture of trippy-tinged folk-rock on "Funny Kind of Song," which recalls his earlier contributions "Pandora's Golden Heebie Jeebies" and "Remember." Stop Your Motor was essentially stillborn upon release, stalling out at number 158 and driving a final nail in the band's relationship with Warner Bros., with whom they had been associated for five years. They would return with the equally dismissed Waterbeds in Trinidad


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