Liz Damon - Liz Damon's Orient Express

Liz Damon's Orient Express is a soulful and smooth voyage; a sweet journey encompassing musical contentment on its path towards a love-filled primary-colour driven destination. As an album, it's reception was tainted by its 1971 release date; had it emerged a few years earlier it would certainly have captured the chart-buying public's appreciation, being that similar act The Fifth Dimension were a household name. Sadly, the early-seventies were an era in which pop-balladry was ditched in favour of Woodstock-era rock; songs were lasting longer and the attitude was more rebellious. Liz Damon's Orient Express, whilst not the only release for Damon herself, proved to be the last release on the White Whale label, and has now finally been reissued on compact disc by the ever-respectful Rev-Ola.

The Hawaiian-born Damon broke out in her hometown with the gorgeous 1900 Yesterday, featured as the glorious opener here on the Orient Express album, but it was sadly the only song that would bring Damon and her musical troupe to any sort of national acclaim. It's arguable that an all-too contemporary reliance on cover songs failed to elevate them to any critical greatness, and yet should you listen to the harmony work at play between Damon and her co-singers you will agree that there is an abundance of talent on display. Liz Damon clearly had all of the makings to act as a suitable foil to Karen Carpenter's success.

Splendidly mixing orchestra-backed musicianship with multi-part harmonies, Liz Damon's Orient Express certainly lives up to its reputation as a soft-pop classic. The bouncy rendition of George Harrison's Something is the best song on the album in which Damon does not command lead-vocal. In fact, the album is weaker when Damon doesn't take charge of the songs. For proof of this, compare the relatively anonymous But For Love with the Damon-delivered You Make Me Feel Like Someone, which gushes with spine-tinglingly epic sentiment. British fans will forever associate Bring Me Sunshine with legendary comedy-duo Morecombe & Wise, and yet as fifth track on Orient Express Damon delivers the song with suitable ditzy charm.

Before you know it, Damon and her Orient Express have reached the end of their journey, via Bacharach and even further Beatles stops, although Let It Be is the most middle-of-the-road performance on the album. Still, the bonus tracks, including an exotic Quando, Quando, Quando and a lovely version of Jobim's Wave, do much to extend the desirability of this package, alongside liner notes that feature recent interviews with Liz Damon herself.

Now that Liz Damon's Orient Express has been finally unearthed for public consumption again, retro-soft-pop fans should, in their infinite wisdom, be lining up to use Damon's Orient Express as a vehicle to hark back to a time in which majestic pop-balladry ruled the airwaves.

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