Battered Ornaments were credited as the backup band to Pete Brown on their first album, 1969's A Meal You Can Shake Hands With in the Dark. For the follow-up, however, they chucked Brown out of the band and released it simply as the Battered Ornaments. It's a disappointment after its flawed but worthwhile predecessor, mostly because of Brown's physical absence; although his presence is still felt as the writer or co-writer of most of the songs, his vocals were erased and re-recorded by other members of the band. Brown's gruff voice might not have been that great, or as accessible to the pop audience as many other frontmen's of the time, but it did have character, which is something you can't say for the merely functional replacement vocals by the other musicians. It's also true, however, that the material on this record isn't as good or imaginative as the songs on A Meal You Can Shake Hands With in the Dark, lacking some of the jazz-blues-psychedelic colorings that made that prior LP interesting. The tunes are eclectic but disjointed, and while you can hear some of Brown's unusual and striking lyrical imagery bob up to the surface on some of the better numbers (especially "The Crosswords and the Safety Pins"), the anonymous vocals make their quality far easier to overlook. (The CD reissue on Repertoire adds two non-LP bonus tracks from 1969 singles, "The Week Looked Good on Paper" and "Living Life Backwards.") AMG.
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