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United We Stand

The Brotherhood of Man

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Album Review

Tony Hiller assembled Brotherhood of Man as his own spin on the 5th Dimension, or perhaps the Southern California soft pop of Roger Nichols. Either way, Hiller's Brotherhood of Man — a coed group of professional singers top-lined by studio pro Tony Burrows (later a singer with the First Class, among many other studio-bound bubblegum sensations) and Sue & Sunny, a pair who had a single prior to this group, backed by anonymous Brit session men — are a prime example of how peace and love were turned into MOR fodder at the turn of '60s, and not necessarily in an unpleasant way. With all these layered harmonies, sweetly trilling strings, and soft insistent melodies, United We Stand is the furthest thing from unpleasant, even if there is a heavier than expected quotient of fuzz guitars that give this a swinging mod sheen lacking from some of the squarer SoCal sounds. Not that United We Stand is hip — looking back, it seems impossible that anyone above 12 or under 30 was sucked into this — but it does unwittingly capture its time with its fuzz tones, paisley harmonies, and songs about singing in the sunshine as you love one another in the land of love. Yes, the songs on United We Stand are that cheerfully over the top, sometimes seeming like latter-day parodies of hippie homogenization, but the chief attributes of the record are Hiller's lush production and happily commercial melodies, which really do help make this a prime piece of pop archeology. That's not the same thing as making the album good, but this is a rare album from a studio-crafted one-hit wonder where the album tracks actually follow through effectively on the sound of the hit.

The 2008 RPM reissue offers even more soft pop hits, as it adds 13 bonus tracks to the original 11-track album. All these are singles that followed the release of the LP, including the six songs issued as Sue & Sunny singles and the B-side to "Sing in the Sunshine." By and large this material isn't as hippy-dippy as the United We Stand LP, as it dips into very very soft MOR pop, cleaned-up Gamble & Huff, and bubblegum. Sometimes the Sue & Sunny material gets a bit too syrupy, but there are some excellent trashy treasures here, including the blaring cinematic "Reach Out Your Hand," Sue & Sunny's bouncy bubble-soul single "Freedom," and the dreamy "California Sunday Morning," which occupies that vast uncharted territory between Glen Campbell and the Jackson 5.

Customer Reviews

Forget 'Eurovision', this is MUCH better

This is a collection of the Brotherhood of Man's output before they were repackaged as ABBA clones to represent us at Eurovision in '76. In the late 60s and early 70s, this group recorded for Decca's progressive Deram label (believe it or not!) and this album represents much of their work from this period. Typical early 70s middle of the road stuff, but wonderfully nostalgic in 2007! Everyone knows "United We Stand", give the rest a whirl. It's great.

Biography

Formed: 1969 in London, England

Genre: Vocal

Years Active: '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

The Brotherhood of Man ranks among the United Kingdom's most successful pop groups of all time, their long career spreading across two very separate incarnations of the band, together with a string of highly infectious hit singles that carried the group through much of their first decade together, and success at the 1976 Eurovision Song Contest. The original Brotherhood of Man was formed by record producer and songwriter Tony Hiller in 1969, specifically to record a song he had recently written with...
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United We Stand, The Brotherhood of Man
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