Andy Kim Baby I Love You / Andy Kim (2on1)
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- by Andy Kim ~ Baby I Love You: Greatest Hits (2-CD) ~ $9.90
- Released: May 1, 2006
- Originally Released: 2006
- Label: Collector's Choice
- 1.Baby I Love You
- 2.Walkin' My La De Da
- 3.If I Were A Carpenter
- 4.Let's Get Married
- 5.By The Time I Get To Phoenix
- 6.I'll Be Loving You
- 7.So Good Together
- 8.I Got To Know
- 9.This Is The Girl
- 10.Didn't Have To Tell Her
- 11.This Guy's In Love With You
- 13.Who Has The Answers
- 14.Shady Hollow Dreamer
- 15.The Fancies Of A Child
- 17.Oh What A Day
- 18.Love The Poor Boy
- 20.All In The Name Of Steinem
- 21.So Good To Have You Here
- 22.A Love Song (Just For Strings)
2 LPs on 1 CD: BABY I LOVE YOU (1969) / ANDY KIM (1973).
Personnel: Andy Kim (vocals).
Liner Note Author: Richie Unterberger.
Andy Kim's first four albums managed to escape CD reissue until 2006, when Collectors Choice released a pair of two-fers containing his three albums for Steed and his sole effort for Uni. The second of these contained 1969's Baby I Love You, his last album for Jeff Barry's Steed label, and his fourth album, 1973's Andy Kim -- two records that couldn't be more different in their sound or feel. Baby I Love You is of a piece with his two previous records for Steed, his 1968 debut How'd We Ever Get This Way and its 1969 follow-up, Rainbow Ride. Where the latter cribbed heavily from the psychedelic sounds of the late '60s, Baby I Love You took a different approach, leaning upon many of the middle-of-the-road sounds of the time, as well as several of the songs that were hip MOR crossover standards of the time: Tim Hardin's "If I Were a Carpenter," Jimmy Webb's "By the Time I Get to Phoenix," and Burt Bacharach's "This Guy's in Love with You." Clearly, there seems to be an effort to move Kim back into the mainstream -- a place he never left -- but the day-glo colored Rainbow Ride failed to generate a Top 40 hit, and Baby I Love You feels designed for Top 40 play in the best possible sense. It's crisply produced by Barry, who tones down the fuzz-tones and phasers of Rainbow Ride without sacrificing the scale or color of Kim's music, and it's a tight record. There may be five covers here, but they're not only well-chosen, they're executed with inspiration and imagination, particularly on the hit title song -- a lighter-than-air reinvention of the classic Phil Spector-produced single for the Ronettes -- and on "By the Time I Get to Phoenix," which boasted a dramatic, colorful coda. With the exception of "Walkin' My La De Da," which veers too close to cutesy, and the circular "I Got to Know," Barry and Kim's compositions -- all collaborations this time around, unlike its predecessor -- capture them at their bright, bubblegum best, particularly on the exuberant, propulsive "Didn't Have to Tell Her," the Spector-esque "So Good Together" and the cheerful "Let's Get Married." Those aforementioned pair of missteps -- which aren't complete missteps, just mildly awkward -- keep Baby I Love You from being as consistently absorbing as Kim's debut, and it lacks some of the period charm of Rainbow Ride, but it's yet another dynamic late-'60s pop sound that's quite addictive in its high spirits.
In contrast, high spirits never come into question on Kim's fourth album, Andy Kim, his first record for Uni. Released a long four years after Baby I Love You, Andy Kim is the polar opposite of his Steed recordings: the album is a brooding, introspective work that's not just serious, it's somber. No longer working with Jeff Barry, Kim is on his own here, producing the album himself and writing all the songs alone, with only two exceptions. The feel is markedly different than his previous albums: even when the tempos are raised and the hooks are catchy, as they are on a stretch of the gospel-inspired "The Fancies of a Child," or on the rollicking "Sunshine," there is a distinct melancholy undercurrent to the affair that tempers any good vibes (of course it doesn't help that his one attempt at levity is a heavy-handed swipe at feminists in "All in the Name of Steinman," whose joke is so obscured it's hard to tell if it's witty or misogynist or simply botched). This is a deliberately dark album, as executed by a Brill Building pro, so it still has moments of strong melody and is impeccably produced and arranged, and in that respect, it is not far removed from Neil Diamond's work of the early '70s, either. But where Diamond leavened his moments of gloom with dramatic kitsch, Kim indulges himself in meandering songs built on childhood memories and existential questions -- something that may sound intriguing on paper, but Kim is too self-consciously dour to make this into the moody masterpiece it was intended to be. Nevertheless, it's good to have this back in print on Collectors Choice two-fer, if only for the sake of perspective: this severely flawed, sometimes fascinating set only helps to point out how strong his three Steed albums are -- and it suggests that those effortless-seeming LPs did indeed take some effort. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine
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