Lambert & Nuttycombe - At Home (Great & Rare UK 1970)

Kamis, 01 November 2012

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Source: Japan 24-Bit Remaster

Dennis Lambert and Craig Nuttycombe had been on the fringes of LA's music scene for some time, including stints with bands such as the East Side Kids and the West Coast Pop Art Experimental Band, when they decided to proceed as a duo. This 1970 release was recorded live at the home they shared in Sausalito, California, and co-produced by David Anderle (The Doors, Love), Chad Stuart (Chad and Jeremy) and Glyn Johns (the Beatles, the Rolling Stones). 

A mellow collection of self-penned ballads that showcases their superb vocal harmonies and subtle guitar interplay, it has attracted a major cult following over the years. Though they gigged widely in California, Lambert's heroin addiction made it hard for them to break nationally and they parted after recording one further album in 1973. 

The story of David Lambert and Craig Nuttycombe's not-quite-success actually says more about both the business and lack of guarantees one can face than most Behind the Music specials about famous groups -- acts that never fully connect beyond a small fan base despite efforts otherwise from a far greater percentage of performers in general, even in the everyone's-a-star days of Myspace and YouTube. 

At Home's cult appeal doubtless partially results from that history. Released by A&M, it was the closest Lambert & Nuttycombe got to balancing out their spare, reflective sound with wider support (getting co-produced by Glyn Johns near the height of his fame is enough of a sign on its own). Literally recorded at the duo's shared house, the 12-song collection is almost a spiritual cousin to U.K. contemporary Nick Drake's work, the sonic connection of vocal-and-acoustic-guitars-only further heightened by the short songs and bare half-hour length of the album. 

By taking an understated approach to an already low-key performing style, there's an aching sense of intimacy throughout, and on songs like "Time" and a cover of "Mr. Bojangles," the singers sound like they could be singing as much to themselves as to an audience. This said, there's a brighter glow to At Home in comparison to, say, Pink Moon -- not a bouncily cheery sort, to be sure, but a warmth in the singing and a content, breezy jauntiness on songs like "My Own Beat" and "Ode to Drugan" that almost suggests something like the Beach Boys' "Busy Doin' Nothin." That the duo and this album in particular have received attention and re-releases over the years isn't surprising at all in retrospect, and Fallout's 2007 reissue -- adding no bonus tracks, just letting it stand as it is, beyond a brief biographical note -- is a welcome way to bring the story of a star-crossed duo back once more. 

One of many folk-rock acts formed in the 1960s, Lambert & Nuttycombe enjoyed modest success on the West Coast but failed to sustain a long-lasting career. Los Angeles native Craig Nuttycombe honed his musical skills playing guitar with the New Dimensions in the early '60s. Nuttycombe left the band in 1964, and soon after, several members of the New Dimensions formed the East Side Kids, an outfit briefly featuring Denis Lambert on guitar. 

Lambert and Nuttycombe became acquainted and decided to form their own act after both spent time as members of the East Side Kids. Playing clubs in the Hollywood area, the acoustic-based folk duo soon built up a following. In 1969, Lambert & Nuttycombe, now under the direction of We Five manager Howard Wolf, signed with A&M and moved to San Francisco to record their debut album. The sparse At Home was released in 1970, and the moderate success of the record opened up new opportunities for the act. They soon began to tour more extensively, even landing a gig opening for Canned Heat on their 1970 European tour. However, the duo, seemingly on the verge of greater success, began to lose steam. 20th Century signed the act after A&M let them go, and the duo, along with Wolf, brought in producer Keith Olsen and a host of musicians to help them expand their sound on record. 

Released in 1973, As You Will generated a bit of attention but failed to bring Lambert & Nuttycombe into the mainstream. Soon after the album's release, Craig and Denis went their separate ways. Nuttycombe released It's Just a Lifetime in 1978 to little response. After a long hiatus from recording, he reemerged in the '90s with a handful of releases reminiscent of Lambert & Nuttycombe's rootsy folk sound. Both the duo and Nuttycombe as a solo artist experienced a surge of popularity in Japan in the late '90s with the re-release of At Home and the distribution of Nuttycombe's solo work on Japanese labels. Old Friends and Days Gone By, collections of previously unheard Lambert & Nuttycombe recordings, appeared in 2001. Nuttycombe continues his involvement in music, issuing albums independently and playing dates in Southern California occasionally. Sadly, Lambert took his own life in 1997. 

01. Morning 
02. Time 
03. Bird Song 
04. My Own Beat 
05. Something On My Mind 
06. Mouse 
07. Ode To Drugan 
08. Putting Myself Together Again 
09. Mr. Bojangles 
10. Country Song 
11. Heaven Knows (Where I've Been) 
12. Clover 

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