Although he'd been a fixture in the West Coast rock & roll scene since his teens, Terry Melcher only issued two solo long-players. His 1974 self-titled outing indeed reflects the unique tastes of one-time 'Golden Penetrator,' -- an elite group of Los Angeles scene-makers consisting of Melcher, Beach BoyDennis Wilson and Gregg Jackobson. Melcher calls on a notable cast of support from his days as a staff producer for Columbia Records in the early- to mid-'60s, where he worked with the Byrds as well as Paul Revere & the Raiders. Chief among the luminaries is singer/songwriter Bruce Johnston, with whom Melcher had previously collaborated in the short-lived surf-rock combo Bruce & Terry, which evolved into the Rip Chords. The latter aggregate is best remembered for the Top 40 entry "Hey, Little Cobra." Johnston co-produces and provides the occasional vocal alongside Spanky & Our Gang's Spanky MacFarlane and Melcher's mother Doris Day (yes, that Doris Day). The project is split between the artist's compositions and eclectic reworkings of familiar tunes, such as the rural rock reading of "Roll in My Sweet Baby's Arms," recalling latter-era Byrds-meets-Tower of Power horns. Conductor/arranger Jimmie Haskell's refined string score accompanying the cover of Jackson Browne's "These Days" gently unfurls with an added hue of wistful nostalgia. "Dr. Horowitz" -- co-penned by Johnston -- is a derisive observation of 'cure-all' psychic physicians and the intentionally schmaltzy melody is assuredly a sonic send-up, matching the tongue-in-cheek lyrical content perfectly. The dubious down-home lamentation "Beverly Hills" is given an incongruously twangy rural feel and the opening line "Beverly Hills is funky/Just plain folks, livin' close out there" is equally surreal and perhaps depicts Melcher's point of view better than any documentary or bio ever could. Granted,Melcher's interpretation of "Arkansas" doesn't bear the same authenticity as the Osborne Brothers orthe Wilburn Brothers respective renditions, yet it remains a standout, mirroring a Randy Newman-like introspection with Melcher's expressive leads. The countrified waltz infused into the remake of Bob Dylan' s "4th Time Around" is a recommended spin, as is the medley containing Melcher's own "Halls of Justice" and the Dylan titles "Positively 4th Street" and "Like a Rolling Stone." AMG.
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