David Hemmings - Happens
In iconic terms, there are two David Hemmings. One is the larger-than-life veteran actor who does walk-ons-for-carpet-money appearances in recent mainstream Hollywood blockbusters, whilst simultaneously doing acting and directing stints in many notable television shows. The other is young, dashing and slim; arguably one of the key figures of the 'Swinging Sixties' moment, defining his own career with confident self-assurance in characteristic works such as Barbarella, and most importantly, Antonioni's Blow Up. Thankfully, it's the latter definition of David Hemmings who 'happened' to record a 1967 album entitled David Hemmings Happens. It could be argued that all actors are self-indulgent narcissists, thus an established actor jumping mediums and recording a record is merely an extension of their deluded opinion of their own abilities. However, throw in to the David Hemmings Happens mix the ingredients of Byrd members Roger McGuinn and Chris Hillman, along with renowned bassist/arranger Jimmy Bond and Byrds manager/producer Jim Dickson and you have in your hands a quirky gem of alluring folk wizardry.
It seems a bizarre clashing of two very-seperate worlds, but somehow the figures involved crafted out an album that most musicians would be proud of, let alone an actor curiously dipping his toes into new ventures. At times rambling, at times improvised, at times leftfield genius, David Hemmings Happens is a thirty-three minute spiritual grab on the listener's senses. Byrds fans will already be licking their palms due to inclusion of McGuinn and Hillman, but will go crazy over the opening song, written by Gene Clark, which was never released. Back Street Mirror was culled from a rejected Clark track and had his vocal simply swapped for Hemmings', the result is an inspired homage to folk rock.
Reason To Believe was a jangly Tim Hardin number that Hemmings was an admirer of, hence its selection on David Hemmings Happens. Good King James is ultimately worthless as an improv-attempt, but it does contain some expert McGuinn spiritualism. Album standout After The Rain is a tender Bill Martin ballad that Hemmings performs with suitable charm, whilst War's Mystery is a stirring seven minute concept between Hemmings, McGuinn and Hillman devoted mainly to the effects of war. There are nine songs in total, with the resulting aura split evenly between McGuinn/Hillman-controlled weirdness to Jimmy Bond's strong, straightforward arrangements.
Whilst David Hemmings Happens will never rank as a musical masterpiece, it will always feature prominently in any list of collectable albums. Here is a record in which so many iconic figures from different streams were thrown together; on occasions throughout David Hemmings Happened, strong musical creativity actually happened.
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