Kangaroo - Kangaroo (1968)

Posted by Amelia Swhizzagers On 5:21 AM

There are few other albums of the late '60s besides Kangaroo's sole, self-titled affair on which so much talent is evident, but so little coheres into satisfying results. Part of the problem is that, as on so many obscure long-players of the age, there's such a salad of non-complementary styles, running the gamut from redneck country-rock ("Frog Giggin'," "Happy Man") and sunshine pop-spotted psychedelia ("Such a Long, Long Time") to strident folk-rock ("Daydream Stallion") and avowedly sub-Beatlesque sounds ("Happy Man," "Make Some Room in Your Life"). There are also gratuitous insertions of backwards guitars, San Francisco-type acid rock riffing, soul vocal posturing, descendants-of-Mamas & the Papas male-female backup harmonies, and a silly monologue about killing frogs and having sex at the same time. The biggest flaw, however, is the substandard songwriting, which has sky-high ambitions but confused construction and execution. That's not to say there aren't good things about the record, particularly the vibrato folk-rock vocals of Barbara Keith. They're reminiscent to varying degrees of Melanie, Judy Collins, and Buffy Sainte-Marie, though her own personality comes through, as showcased to best effect on the record's highlight, the strident yet haunting folk-rock-psych outing "Daydream Stallion." Unfortunately, that's the only Keith-penned song on the album, which would have been far better had she written and sung lead on more of the material — or, to be cruel, written and sung lead on most or all of it. The other three bandmembers not only come up with nothing to match "Daydream Stallion" — their styles don't even jell well with one another, N.D. Smart II's mediocre countrified numbers sticking out like a sore thumb in the midst of this crossfire of late-'60s rock stews. Fans of Barbara Keith should be aware both that this record is not similar to the ones she would subsequently make during her long career, and that her contributions are usually confined to backup harmonies. It's only when she took the lead vocal — as she did on "Daydream Stallion," the slightly less impressive "The Only Thing I Had," and her wordless scatting on the opening jazzy section of "I Never Tell Me Twice" — that Kangaroo showed any glimmer of something special.
01. Such a Long Long Time
02. You're Trying to Be a Woman
03. Daydream Stallion
04. Make Some Room in Your Life
05. Frog Giggin'
06. You Can't Do This to Me
07. If You Got Some Love in Mind
08. I Never Tell Me Twice
09. Tweed's Chicken Inn
10. Happy Man
11. The Only Thing I Had
12. Maybe Tomorrow

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