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Free Design-There Is A Song -'72 SOFT PSYCHEDELIA-NEW CD

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Free Design:There Is A Song -SOFT PSYCHEDELIA-NEW CD
 The Free Design: There Is A Song


* Gloriously Remastered
CD Features:
    * Deluxe Color Booklet
    * Unseen Photos
    * New Liner notes by The Free Design¿s Chris Dedrick

The Free Design¿s beautiful ultra-rare final album, recorded in 1972 on the small New York label Ambrotype. 

THE FREE DESIGN remain one of the true masters of all things soft-pop-psych! Hailing from New York, THE FREE DESIGN were a late '60s/early '70s family pop group, releasing seven brilliant albums and influencing countless musicians (Beck, Belle & Sebastian, Cornelius, Stereolab...). Fans of The Beach Boys and The Association take note...

1.) Canada In Springtime
2.) Kum Ba Yah
3.) Peter Paul and Mary
4.) Pineapple Crabapple
5.) The Symbols Ring
6.) Stay
7.) I Wanna Be There
8.) There Is A Song
9.) A Child Is Born
10.) Love Does Not Die
11.) Chorale
12.) Fugue

The Free Design¿s beautiful ultra-rare final album, recorded in 1972 on the small New York label Ambrotype.

Excerpt from CD Liner Notes (by The Free Design¿s Chris Dedrick):

Chris: There Is a Song came about as a result of my dad getting a deal with a small label in Rochester, New York, called Ambrotype. We did do some of the recording in Rochester; I think ¿A Child is Born,¿ ¿I Want to be There,¿ and perhaps one other song.

The occasion to do this album coincided with my having moved to Canada, and some of the songs were really an indication of a change that was happening for me at that point, somewhat of disillusionment with the New York scene at the time. Not so much the in-studio, but just the city itself, and what it took to try to live in or near that city. And as I looked for some alternatives, I was invited by a friend, David Green, who had been lured up to Toronto to be the chief engineer and to help with the finishing touches of building Manta Sound, which for many years was my favorite studio in Toronto. And while visiting again, I liked it a lot, so I decided to come up to Toronto, after my stint in the Air Force, after living in Maryland. Within about a year, I met some musicians, some of whom were philosophy students and one in particular, Kenneth Mills, became my mentor and co-writer for a lot of my music.

Soon after, my sisters came up and visited, and we sang at a Christmas party that Dr. Mills had, and within six months after that, sang for him some more. Since we were eager to sort of get off of the plateau that we felt we were on, he was willing to continue to work with us. He began to work on our voices and began to work with us on sort of a level of self-discovery that could free us of some of the personality and egotistical traits that everyone grows up accumulating and that tend to stand in the way of further progression, musically. We had actually let go of our identity as The Free Design and became the core of a vocal group that just sort of grew up around us, and really around this technique for freeing the voice, opening the voice. We started singing without microphones in big halls and started putting on concerts with what became known as the Star-Scape Singers. There Is a Song is a concept album leading up to that period. And some of the songs refer to finding a new way of looking at life - a yoga of the absolute, if you will - that we were starting to learn.

Design for living by Kimberly Chun

"The perfect vocal pop, latest comeback, and brilliant failed career of the Free Design.

THERE'S A KIND of bittersweet poetry in the fact that the Free Design's Christopher Dedrick wrote the award-winning score to the recent Guy Maddin film The Saddest Music in the World, because the story of the Free Design, the composer's "hobby" group of his youth, has until recently been one of the saddest around.

The astonishingly talented late '60s-early '70s vocal group should have at least been as big as the Association, Spanky and the Gang, and the Fifth Dimension - if not other real and pseudo happy "family" groups like the Beach Boys and the Mamas and the Papas - but instead their life span was marked by commercial failure, despite local radio hits and great word of mouth. Their albums were earmarked for the cutout bins despite Dedrick's remarkably complex and sophisticated arrangements and light-handed, inventive songwriting; the considerable vocal and musical talents of his sibling bandmates; and engineer and booster Phil Ramone's positively sparkling production.

Part of the problem for the otherwise musically well-endowed and well-connected New York band - father Art Dedrick was a horn player and an arranger for Vaughn Monroe's band, and uncle Rusty Dedrick played trumpet with Red Norvo, among others - was that they were so quickly snapped up by hi-fi pharaoh Enoch Light and his Project 3 label. Despite the positive response to their first, blissfully breezy 1967 single, "Kites Are Fun," the geriatric-centric Project 3 was at a loss when it came to getting records by their token youngsters into the hands of their fans.

The fact that the well-meaning but hapless record company was owned by Singer, the sewing-machine manufacturer, led to one particularly outrageous frustration. "If you went to a Singer sewing-machine store, you could find our albums, and then you'd go across the street to the record store, and you couldn't find them," Christopher Dedrick said from his home in Caledon East, Ontario, last year. "How many people go looking for records at the Singer sewing-machine store?"

But the Free Design's low profile is certain to change with the continuing release of the group's remastered albums on CD (and heavy vinyl with their meaty, original gatefold covers) by Seattle's Light in the Attic. Kites Are Fun (1967) and Heaven/Earth (1969) came out on CD for the first time in the United States last winter, followed by You Could Be Born Again (1968) and Stars/Time/Bubbles/Love (1970) this past summer. All are lovingly packaged with new liner notes by admirers such as Peter Yarrow of Peter, Paul and Mary; Cornelius; and Sean O'Hagan of the High Llamas (the latter two being partly responsible for the first '90s-era Free Design rediscovery) and rarities like Sandy Dedrick's version of beatnik Jesus ode "Nature Boy." The last three '70s albums - the children's record Sing for Very Important People (1970), One by One (1971), and There Is a Song (Ambrotype, 1972) - will come out later this year. Adding to the group's growing relevance (already enhanced by Japanese, English, and Spanish reissues and the score-settling raves by bands like the Polyphonic Spree, Stereolab, and Pizzicato Five) are two volumes of The Free Design Redesigned (Light in the Attic), vinyl EPs of Free Design remixes by the likes of Danger Mouse and Murs (rapping in defense of Mason Dixon on "To a Black Boy"), Madlib, and Chris Geddes of Belle and Sebastian.

These days, true to Free Design form and spirit, composer-producer Dedrick prefers to rise above rather than remain embroiled in negativity. I wouldn't expect anything less from the leader of an ensemble that was known for their transcendent approach to positive pop, singing songs about kites, bubbles, starlight, and umbrellas; espousing freedom, fun, and levelheadedness; advising us to forsake materialism ("Proper Ornaments"); and prodding us with the momentum of their darting harmonies and driving intelligence to "get to know the people in your house, you might like them!" ["Close Your Mouth (It's Christmas)"]. Though Dedrick says his written vocal charts were more influenced by Benjamin Britten than by Brian Wilson, he's lyrically right in line with the feel-good optimism of Wilson's 1967 toasts to vegetables and staying in shape. Not surprisingly, amid the brewing cultural revolution, around the same time, the Free Design unfurled their debut, Kites Are Fun.

It was a commercial bust, but it was also, some might argue, the band's best. The title song was a credit not only to engineer and booster Ramone's production prowess on the super-tech-at-the-time eight-track mixing board ("They had to custom-make the board to handle that many tracks," Dedrick recalled. "One track would be drums and bass, whereas today you'd have at least eight tracks of drums. Yet all that said, the sound is just amazingly brilliant"), but also to Dedrick's ideas about arrangements, something he'd learned at a young age from his father. "It was just this free-flying song, so there was this light, floating falsetto opening and this kind of transparent, weaving kind of sound that suited that feeling, and all the words that followed were almost stream of consciousness," he explained. "I think that having thought about who was going to play what and creating space for each instrument made a difference," he added. "I think a good arrangement always tremendously enhances how the chart is going to sound and how it's going to play and how it's going to go down to tape."

Still, back in the day, Project 3 had other arrangements in mind, like slapping extremely unhip seals of approval ("The New Group") on the band's debut. You could have counted the cool and the countercultural out of the Free Design's grand design - except that established musicians like Richie Havens often praised them once they heard them. Even now, in part due to their pristine production and highly arranged vocals, but also because of their very superficially Up with People sound and image, the Free Design get dismissed as a hopelessly "square" family band in the style of the Brady Bunch and the Partridge Family by, for instance, an allmusic.com writer who ought to know better. Songs such as "Tomorrow Is the First Day of the Rest of My Life" may draw a direct musical line between the Free Design's harmonies and the Carpenters', but don't hold that against them. Tricked out with the time-signature switch-arounds, changed-up harmonies, and energetic, locked-in performances by NYC session regulars like keyboardist Dick Hyman and guitarist Bucky Pizzarelli, the Free Design's songs possess pop smarts and an inventiveness that have inspired some to compare them both to Lambert, Hendricks, and Ross and the Zombies, and to Miles Davis and the Monkees. Maybe our ears have finally caught up to the Dedricks'. How else to explain why the Free Design still sound so refreshing, as bright and visionary as Wilson's recently released Smile (Nonesuch), which hailed from the same year - 1967 - as Kites Are Fun: just lend an ear to the perfect pop of "My Brother Woody," the surprisingly barbed poke at the music industry of "2002 - A Hit Song," the funky virtuosity of Powerpuff Girls' fave "Bubbles," the elegantly hued "I Like the Sunrise" and "Dorian Benediction," the sheer, shrieking euphoria of show tune "Butterflies Are Free," and the dazzling cry for Summer of Love sanity, "Make the Madness Stop":

Whoa, whoa, walk the way of love, eyes open
Fly the skies above with hope and heart and sense
Whoa, whoa, blow your mind but not completely
Make the madness stop
Deplete we must the store of hate immense and men's grouping groping nonsense
Honesty and purity, beauty and sincerity
Doesn't that sound corny?
Wish that I were corny!

Corny might describe the Beatles' overplayed "Michelle" at this point; so why does the Free Design's rendition send my heart into my throat? Is it the swooping cello and fluttering woodwinds, or Sandy Dedrick's right-on vocals, once again, as Christopher Dedrick says, "getting things off the page"? Sadness doesn't choke me up - it's the thrill that comes from listening to these prodigies, so long ago, achieve emotional liftoff. "

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