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San Francisco - The Very Best of Scott McKenzie

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Album Review

There was more to Scott McKenzie than "San Francisco," though this album came out so long after that single peaked on the charts that few people ever bothered to buy it. There's nothing here quite like the title song, and none of the rest captures a magical mood or moment the way that the single did, though there is some very pretty music. McKenzie's rendition of Donovan's "Celeste" has a languid beauty, while his version of John Sebastian and Zal Yanovsky's "It's Not Time Now" is a more standard, rhythmic folk-rock piece. For reasons perhaps best known to himself, however, McKenzie's voice doesn't have as much range or flexibility on those two numbers as it seemed to show on "San Francisco." But when he does one of his originals, his expressiveness blooms, and he stays fairly strong on all of the rest. That includes Tim Hardin's "Reason to Believe" (one of the better renditions that song has ever received) and "No, No, No, No, No," a hook-laden piece about sexual pursuit and frustration with an exquisite orchestral accompaniment behind a lean, punchy acoustic band sound; and Hardin's haunting, cautionary "Don't Make Promises." Still, the songs that McKenzie does best here are the John Phillips-authored works — beyond the title cut, those include "Like an Old Time Movie" and "Twelve-Thirty." The latter has a poignancy here that the more familiar version by the Mamas & the Papas misses; one gets the illusion of a personal confessional, so closely does McKenzie seem to embrace the lyric. Some of his singing is still a bit too bland, but overall this would have been a promising first effort, had McKenzie been of more of a mind to follow it up quickly. The album was later repackaged in England as San Francisco, with a different song order, and has been reissued by Sony U.K. under that title.

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Born: 10 January 1939 in Jacksonville Beach, FL

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '60s

Scott McKenzie was the perfect example of a one-hit wonder, although his talent and voice made him worthy of (and ultimately did earn him) somewhat more. Born Philip Wallach Blondheim in Jacksonville, Florida, in 1939, he was raised in Virginia, and was drawn to music and singing from an early age. Among the friends and acquaintances of his youth was John Phillips, who -- in addition to being a rebel from the military family in which he grew up in Alexandria, Virginia -- was also pulled toward music....
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San Francisco - The Very Best of Scott McKenzie, Scott McKenzie
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