Listen -The Neighborhood – You Could Be Born Again – MP3
As promised I’d like to close out the week with something Free Design-related.
Some years back, while out digging (at a record show, I think) I happened upon a 45 by a group I’d never heard of (the Neighborhood) , performing a song with a title that was vaguely familiar. It was only when I scanned the label closely that my interest was piqued.
The song in question ‘You Could Be Born Again’ was written by Chris Dedrick, one of the members of, and the main songwriter for the Free Design. I considered the Free Design to be so obscure I was shocked that anyone else had recorded their material*, so – since the record was 25 cents – I put it in the keeper stack and took it home. I never was able to track down any information about the Neighborhood.
Flash forward a few years, and I’m getting my fingers dirty digging at one of the Asbury Lanes record swaps and what do I find but an entire LP by the Neighborhood. Entitled ’Debut’, it was the first LP to be released on the then new Big Tree label (also home to a wild mix of artists including Dave and Ansil Collins, Lobo, Steeleye Span and the Sugar Bears).
Looking at the LP (the centerfold of which I photographed, above) the Neighborhood was a nine-piece, soft-rock ensemble. The LP is composed largely of cover material – Laura Nyro, Beatles, Joni Mitchell, Hair soundtrack, Simon and Garfunkel), all recorded in what was unfortunately a lackluster, poorly produced fashion, rendering what could have been a very interesting find merely a curiosity.
The Free Design cover is the most curious of all, being a non-LP b-side to the single release of ‘Big Yellow Taxi’, which was a (very) minor hit. The Neighborhood version is interesting, but ultimately can’t hold a candle to the original (which I’ve included above). The Neighborhood’s singing is pretty good, but the instrumental backing is a little on the loose side and the arrangement lacking the imagination and precision of the original.
I hope you dig it (or at least find it interesting), and I’ll be back on Monday.
**The Free Design had their songs covered by Fred Waring’s Young Pennsylvanians (Thanks Porky!) and as mentioned in Monday’s post, guitarist Tony Mottola.