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The Neon Philharmonic

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Such was the influence of psychedelic music in the late '60s that even pop-based acts like the 5th Dimension, Kenny Rogers, and the Association felt obliged to put in their two cents' worth. Such was the case with the Neon Philharmonic, which was primarily a vehicle for songwriter/arranger/keyboardist Tupper Saussy. Also featuring singer Don Gant, the group had an easygoing, not-too-memorable Top 20 pop hit in mid-1969, "Morning Girl." Their debut album, The Moth Confesses, was a much stranger piece of work, sounding something like Jimmy Webb on acid. For all of its ambitious orchestral arrangements and operatic lyrical reach, it has dated in the most embarrassing and silly of fashions, sounding like the aural equivalent of the middle-class accountant who decides to take acid with his kids in a misguided attempt to get with it. The Nashville-based Saussy's primary credit prior to the Neon Philharmonic was his contributions to The Swinger's Guide to Mary Poppins, which featured jazz renditions of songs from the children's film. This, and even the "Morning Girl" single, weren't exactly the sort of resumé credits that led one to expect an ambitious song cycle. That's what he cooked up with The Moth Confesses, however, though the bloated arrangements, Gant's white-bread vocals, and the overwrought, sentimental lyrics came closer to Rod McKuen than Van Dyke Parks. The NH did manage another album, as well as a few singles, and were active as late as 1975. Gant was a session vocalist before dying in the mid-'80s. Saussy, as befitting a man with such unpredictable interests, became an anti-tax activist, going underground to avoid Federal authorities in the 1980s. ~ Richie Unterberger

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