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Nice to Be With You

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Album Review

Jim Gold's voice and songs steer this 12-song album from his group, Gallery, who amazingly launched three Top 40 hits in 1972 and 1973. None of the material stands up to the simple beauty of the title track, the Top Five "Nice to Be With You," though there are a couple of decent tunes mixed in with the filler here. Released on a Buddah Records subsidiary, Sussex Records, the Detroit-based group was a post-bubblegum lightweight pop effort. Motown guitarist Dennis Coffey (who had a couple of hits himself on Sussex at this point in time) co-produced and arranged this effort with Mike Theodore. In the era of Looking Glass and Helen Reddy, Jim Gold's voice sounds like a watered-down Dennis Yost, when he's not emulating David Gates of Bread. There's very little personality here, so covering Jerry Butler's 1960 hit "He Will Break Your Heart" and an obscure Neil Diamond title like "Sunday & Me" works better than some of Gold's other originals, though the island feel to "Lover's Hideaway" has charm. They followed up the success of "Nice to Be With You" with the Mac Davis chestnut "I Believe in Music," coming off like a prototype for Davis' 1974 Helen Reddy hit "Keep on Singing." That Gallery and their producers got it into the Top 25 and followed that success with yet another Top 25 hit, "Big City Miss Ruth Ann," is what's really the stunner. The cover photo could have been put on an album by Flaming Ember or any number of Detroit-based bands and no one would have known the difference. Interesting that they couldn't come back with more chart hits, but maybe the world was waiting for the coming of Blue Swede. Still, "Nice to Be With You" is as poppy as it gets with a simplicity that probably subconsciously influenced Nick Lowe's "Cruel to Be Kind."

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