CD Review – White Plains – The Collection

On the face of it, White Plains has very little to do with progressive rock. The band produced some very nice-and-cheesy sounding pop in the late 1960s and into the 1970s that seems the very antithesis of what was happening in the burgeoning prog scene. In The Court Of The Crimson King this is not. But there’s a lushness to the string arrangements here that proggers would soon be busy emulating with mellotrons, and a sense of melody that many in the more progressive field struggled to find. But the emphasis here is on the short and catchy tune.

This three-disc release amounts to forty-six tracks, a collection that rounds up just about everything released by White Plains. Disc One features the self-titled debut album, which contained the international hit single My Baby Loves Lovin’. It reached No.9 on the UK charts and No.13 in America. Also included is the UK No. 17 hit I’ve Got You On My Mind. The second disc finally sees a full CD release for the band’s second studio album When You Are A King and although many of the tracks have appeared across compilations, the songs Home Loving Man and An Eye For The Main Chance are debuting here on CD. Nine bonus tracks have been added including the UK No.21 hit Step Into Dream, which had previously been known to keen-eared listeners as the soundtrack to the TV adverts for Butlins’ holiday camps. Disc Three may only contain eleven songs, running to some forty minutes, but they are all rarities sought after by collectors. The first four tracks were recorded as Crucible for the film Extremes in 1972 while tracks five to eight make their debut on CD and were originally issued under the name of Zenith. The final three tracks, also appearing on CD for the first time, are from the mid ‘70s, the band’s final original recordings. The booklet contains detailed liner notes by Phil Hendricks with contributions from original member Robin Shaw, plus many overseas picture sleeves.

The band itself ran from 1969 to 1975 and had frequent wholesale personnel changes. The group originally developed from psychedelic pop band The Flower Pot Men, although the band’s songs were mainly produced and written by Greenaway and Roger Cook, neither of whom actually performed on the releases. Although the band would retain some relatively long-standing members, it appeared to work on an open-door policy. To be honest, the music is so highly arranged, and almost dense with strings in some parts, that is very difficult to pin point which musician is contributing a certain part. There are some excellent vocal harmonies on display though. Overall, though, you are left with the impression that the band always had its sights set on the next hit single.

For proggy-eared listeners the stripped-down tracks in evidence on the third CD are probably of more interest, where it is possible to hear the instrumentalists not fighting for space, and the band appears more cohesive, focused and less of a hits machine.  For the most part though the string sections are reminiscent of gaudy out-of-focus Top Of The Pops clips, with frilly shirted men singing whilst trying to retain a degree of coolness without looking a prat.

This is actually a well put together package though. There’s a well-illustrated CD booklet providing lots of information about the band, and the music itself is quite crisp and clean sounding, given the age of the source material. It is a fine example of pop nostalgia.

Disc One: White Plains

1. I’ve Got You On My Mind

2. When Tomorrow Comes Tomorrow

3. Taffeta Rose

4. Summer Morning

5. To Love You

6. In A Moment Of Madness

7. My Baby Loves Lovin’

8. Today I Killed A Man I Didn’t Know

9. You’ve Got Your Troubles

10. Show Me Your Hand

11. Young Birds Fly

12. Sunny, Honey Girl

Bonus Tracks

13. I Need Your Everlasting Love

14. Gonna Miss Her Mississippi

Disc Two: When You Are A King

1. When You Are A King

2. Lovin’ You Baby

3. Home Loving Man

4. Julie Anne

5. Carolina’s Comin’ Home

6. Sunny, Honey Girl (2)

7. Every Little Move She Makes

8. An Eye For The Main Chance

9. Julie Do Ya Love Me

10. I’ll Go Blind

11. Noises (In My Head)

12. The World Gets Better With Love

Bonus Tracks

13. I Can’t Stop

14. Dad You Saved The World

15. Beachcomber

16. Step Into A Dream

17. Look To See

18. Does Anybody Know Where My Baby Is?

19. Just For A Change

20. Ecstasy

21. A Simple Man

Disc Three: Rarities Crucible

1. Box Man

2. Hit It

3. We Gotta Watch Out

4. Elvish Queen

Zenith

5. A Face You Won’t Forget

6. Just The Two Of Us In Mind

7. A Fool That Was In Love

8. Silent Words

White Plains

9. Dance With You

10. Plains

11. Wanna Fall In Love

Members

Tony Burrows, vocals

Pete Nelson – vocals, piano

Robin Shaw – bass

Ricky Wolff, vocals, guitars, keyboards, flute, saxophone

Robin Box – lead guitar

Roger Hills – drums

Later members

David Clemenson – bass guitar, vocals

Roger (Tex) Marsh – percussion

Tony Hall – tenor sax

Brent Scott Carter – tenor sax

Julian Bailey – drums

Brian Johnston – keyboards

Ron Reynolds – organ

Release date: 22nd October, 2021

Label: Cherry Red Records

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