Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Dick Monda's "Peco Kids" LP

One of the rarer offerings in the obscure and little documented Album World discography, I've only seen two copies of this one in twenty years of collecting and I've never seen a review of the album.

In typical tax scam fashion 1977's "Love In An Open Hand" carried little biographical information.  From the liner notes you knew:

- Dick (Richard) Monda produced the set.
- All nine tracks were credited to Monda, or the namesake Peco Kids.
- The album was recorded at Quantum Recording Studio in Torrance, California.

Given those limited credits and the pop/bubblegum/novelty feel of much of the material, I'm guessing this was a Monda studio effort.  Pure speculation on my part, but I'd guess that this simply compiled some of the material Monda had written over the years  for his own career and as a hired-gun for outside acts.   So rather than regurgitate material you can readily find on the internet, I'll simply point you to a Wikipedia entry on Monda:

Overlooking the somewhat disconcerting album title and art work, "Love In An Open Hand" was actually a mildly entertaining release. Assuming Monda handled most of the vocals ('Take Me For More Love' featured a female lead vocal), he had a nice enough voice with a '60s blue-eyed soul vibe.  Musically the ten tracks (more about that in a moment), were all over the genre map including '60s-styled pop (an unlisted track which I'm guessing was entitled 'Talk To Me Tracy'), blue-eyed soul ('Ain't Gettin Enough of Your Love'), big ballads  ('Take Me For More Love') and even some '70s-styled AOR  ('the title track).  That scattergun approach seemingly lent credence to this being a compilation of material from across the spectrum of Monda's career.  Curiously, the liner notes only showed nine songs, but side one actually included a 'mystery' tune - as mentioned above, I'm guessing the title was Talk To Me Tracy'.

- Kicked along by some punchy horns, strident bursts of fuzz guitar and Monda's blue-eyed soul voice, to my ears 'Ain't Gettin Enough of Your Love' had a distinctive bubblegum pop sound.  The song was quite commercial. but in a bad way - imagine the music for an underarm deodorant commercial and you'd have a feel for what this one sounded like.   rating: ** stars
- With Monda sounding more relaxed (though just as commercial), 'Drown In My Broken Dreams' was actually a far stronger slice of top-40 pop.  Built on a glistening title track hook that recalls a really good J. Geils Band effort, the song had a casual, drunk-bunch-of-friends vibe that would be fun to howl along to at a dive bar.   rating: **** stars
- The ballad 'Take Me For More Love' featured an anonymous female singer and a distinctive '60s girl-group flavor.  Pretty, if a little low-keyed, I always loved the Farfisa solo.   rating: *** stars
- For some reason the fourth song on side one wasn't even shown on the track listing.  Given the prominent, I'm guessing the song title was  'Talk To Me Tracy'.  Musically this one sounded like a Gary Lewis and the Playboys outtake,   If you liked hat '60s pop sound, then you'll go for this one.  rating: ** stars
- With a strong, slightly ominous melody, 'Love In An Open Hand' has always reminded me of one of those Dennis Yost and the Classics IV tunes (if you're old enough, think along the lines of 'Spooky').  I've always had a sweet spot of the Classics IV, so I give this track pretty high marks.   rating: **** stars
- Side two started off with Monda dipping his creative toe in the sensitive singer/songwriter pool via the ballad 'Gonna Rain In California'.  I'm usually not a big fan of the genre. but this one was surprisingly nice with some tasty lead guitar and it actually generated some energy as it rolled along.   rating: **** stars
- 'Tricky Business' was the album's stab at straightforward rock.  Another one where Monda surpassed by limited expectation turning in a slinky rocker that would have made The Stones proud.   rating: **** stars
- Under the moniker Daddy Dewdrop Monda had made some noise with the goofy novelty song 'Chick-A-Boom' and 'Abracadabra Alakazan' sounded like a transparent attempt to replicate the formula.  Harmless bubblegum fun.   rating: *** stars
- The Farfisa organ (Augie Meyers would have approved) and bouncy melody made 'Baby Am I Feeling Love' sound like a cross between a Sir Douglas Quintet rocker and a Jerry Kasenetz and Jeff Katz slice of bubblegum pop (think Lemon Pipers or 1910 Fruitgum Company).     rating: *** stars
- Yes, it was cheesy beyond all description, but the bubbly 'Sugaree' was easily my choice for standout performance.   Kicked along by a banjo, this one had early-1970s top-40 written all over it (shame it was released in 1977).   A near perfect slice of bubblegum pop.   rating: **** stars

So what's the take away here ?   Well, this won't change your life in any form or fashion, but it's a surprisingly enjoyable collection and one hard album to track down.

"Love In An Open Hand" track listing:
(side 1)

1.) Ain't Gettin Enough of Your Love  (Dick Monda) - 
2.) Drown In My Broken Dreams (Dick Monda) - 
3.) Take Me For More Love (Dick Monda) - 
4.) unlisted track
5.) Love In An Open Hand  (Peco Kids) - 

(side 2)
1.) Gonna Rain In California   (Peco Kids) - 

2.) Tricky Business (Dick Monda) - 
3.) Abracadabra Alakazan   (Peco Kids) - 
4.) Baby Am I Feeling Love (Dick Monda) - 
5.) Sugaree (Dick Monda) - 

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