Sagittarius – Present Tense (Rev-Ola Records)


Sometime in 1967 West Coast mega-producers Gary Usher and Curt Boettcher used some leftover studio time to cut a Beach Boys-influenced song called “My World Fell Down” with L.A.’s famed Wrecking Crew session band and Glen Campbell on vocals. That song has lived on ever since, thanks to its inclusion on the Nuggets compilation in 1972. It’s not hard to see why Lenny Kaye thought it was worth putting a psychedelic sunshine pop track on an album otherwise dominated by tough garage rockers – the song is a brilliant composite of layered vocal harmonies, found sounds and orchestration. It’s a rare example of someone trying to put together a Pet Sounds-esque production and actually pulling it off successfully. Columbia liked what they heard and asked for a full album, so the producers brought in a large team of West Coast session players (including Beach Boy Bruce Johnston, future film composer Angelo Badalamenti and members of The Music Machine) and made Present Tense. Unfortunately the album never hits the heights of “My World Fell Down”. While the lush production is impressive, the songs are weak. A lot of the blame can be placed on Curt Boettcher’s lyrics, which are quasi-mystical new age mumbo-jumbo (“The Truth Is Not Real” and “Artificial Light of All Living Lies)” or fairytale-psych feyness (“The Keeper Of The Games”, “Glass” and of course “Song To The Magic Frog”). Besides the aforementioned lead single there’s only a few songs concise and ballsy enough to warrant repeat listens (“I’m Not Living Here”, “The Truth Is Not Real” and “Get The Message”), but given the talent that went into this album I would have expected more. It’s a shame to because the presentation on this CD is excellent – great liner notes, crystal clear remastering, and nine bonus tracks.

 

Tracklisting:

  • “Another Time” (Boettcher)
  • “Song to the Magic Frog (Will You Ever Know)” (Boettcher/O’Malley)
  • “You Know I’ve Found a Way” (Boettcher/Mallory)
  • “The Keeper of the Games” (Boettcher)
  • “Glass” (Marks/Sheldon)
  • “Would You like to Go” (Alexander/Boettcher)
  • “My World Fell Down” (Carter/Stephens)
  • “Hotel Indiscreet” (Gordon/Griffin)
  • “I’m Not Living Here” (Boettcher)
  • “Musty Dusty” (Boettcher)
  • “The Truth Is Not Real” (Usher)

Bonus Tracks

  1. Artificial Light (Of All the Living Lies) (Badale/Levitt)
  2. Get the Message (Gordon/Griffin)
  3. Mass # 586 (Usher)
  4. Love’s Fatal Way (Boettcher/Naylor)
  5. My World Fell Down (Single Version)
  6. Hotel Indiscreet (Gordon/Griffin)
  7. Lonely Girl (Salisbury)
  8. The Keeper Of the Games (Demo)
  9. Sister Marie (Instrumental)