Mono Mondays: Harpers Bizarre, Anything Goes

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Monday, August 11, 2014
60s
Harpers Bizarre
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Mono Mondays: Harpers Bizarre, Anything Goes

This week’s Mono Monday release comes courtesy of Harpers Bizarre, who – in the wake of their success from covering Simon & Garfunkel’s “The 59th Street Bridge Song (Feelin’ Groovy)” – decided to take things in a seriously old-school direction.

When you first spin Anything Goes, don’t start bemoaning the mastering job: the introduction – appropriate entitled “(Intro) This Is Only the Beginning” – is supposed to sound like it was taken from an old record. After all, how better to set the stage for the band to tackle “Anything Goes” and “Two Little Babes in the Woods”? Not that covering Cole Porter was a decision destined to pay off with huge success, but the fact that Harpers Bizarre managed to make it into the Billboard Hot 100 with both “Anything Goes” (#43) and their take on the Mack Gordon / Harry Warren classic, “Chattanooga Choo Choo” (#45) at all seems kind of miraculous when you think about the other tunes taking the chart by storm at the time.

The rest of the album follows a similar sonic format, with the group throwing in a few other standards – “Pocketful of Miracles,” written by Sammy Cahn and Jimmy Van Heusen, is a particular highlight – while also turning in a couple of originals (“Hey You in the Crowd,” “Virginia City”) and taking on songs by some of their peers that were easily made to fit the mold, like Randy Newman’s “The Biggest Night of Her Life” and “Snow,” Doug Kershaw’s “Louisiana Man,” and, to close things out, Van Dyke Parks’ “High Coin.”

Anything Goes might’ve been an album out of step with the times even in ’67 – a creative decision which Harpers Bizarre wore proudly on their sleeve –but one thing’s for sure: listening to this material in mono feels just right.