Friday, July 4, 2008

Coven - One Tin Soldier

(MGM, 1973)

Oh MAN I love this record. A fife and drum intro swells into a horn-soaked joyride as this brassy broad with a nice set of pipes belts out an O Henry-style life-lesson concerning peace and cooperation. The whole thing, from the vocals to the trumpets to the drumming to the slight hint of novelty appeal, is full-bodied and spectacular – a perfect single. Just for fun, I prefer to ignore the song’s actual message and focus on the startling “Go ahead and hate your neighbor / Go ahead and cheat a friend” chorus, which is quite dramatic as it blares from the speakers (the evil-sounding Killdozer really nails these lines in their For Ladies Only cover). There are a few versions of this song floating around: the one I own features the full Coven lineup, the other – from the soundtrack of Billy Jack – just the vocalist and an orchestra. The original, for the record, is by Original Caste, and Coven largely remained faithful to that arrangement.

Meanwhile, the twangy, lazy B-side “I Guess it’s a Beautiful Day Today” lets some male vocalists get in on the action and sounds like something Mike Nesmith might have attempted as the Monkees wound down. It’s a fine wisp of a song – the lyrics mostly consist of the title – but it is of course overshadowed completely by the awe-inspiring A-side.

1 comment:

Donald Brown said...

"Do it in the name of heaven / justify it in the end."

Yeah yeah, as my bro would say: I get preached to in Church...

But it is fun to imagine choirs standing up to sing: "go ahead and hate your neighbor..." that would be at least a truthful hymn, might, like, y'know, change the world... and if not, pound their frigging skulls like Billy Jack would.