[amtap amazon:asin=B0040T7C94] It would be easy to pass off former Tokens keyboardist and Jersey City native Stephen Friedland’s supernova solo debut under the moniker Brute Force as a novelty album. After all, it certainly harbors many of the earmarks of such, especially when you come across songs with titles like Tapeworm of Love and To Sit On A Sandwich when perusing the track list. However, to place I, Brute Force – Confections of Love alongside such jokey fare of its time as Bobby “Boris” Pickett’s Monster Mash and Allan Sherman’s Hello Muddah, Hello Faddah would be discounting the pure majesty of this lost treasure of 1967. Produced by the esteemed John Simon — who worked on such milestone recordings as The Band’s Music from Big Pink, Leonard Cohen’s Songs From A Room and Big Brother and the Holding Company’s Cheap Thrills — I, Brute Force is an insanely catchy tapestry of orchestral pop that might remind one of Scott Walker with a strong sense of humor, evident on such soaring numbers as In Jim’s Garage, No Olympian Height and As Long As My Song Lives.
Remastered by Individuals frontman Glenn Morrow’s Hoboken-based Bar-None label, this expanded version (released October 12) contains five bonus tracks, including Brute’s highly controversial (for its time) but painfully clever single for Apple Records, King of Fuh, which was arranged by George Harrison and endorsed by John Lennon, along with its subsequent b-side, a cover of The Chiffons’ Nobody Knows, as well as a previously unreleased mono version of Brute’s equally eyebrow-raising Hello Moscow, a tune that may or may not have been pivotal in the thawing of U.S./Soviet relations at the end of the 1960s.
I, Brute Force – Confections of Love is definitely worth seeking out for those in search of both a good laugh and an unheralded cornerstone of Brill Building-era pop. Brute is a guy who helped to make it possible for the likes of Frank Zappa, They Might Be Giants and Ween to be able to straddle the line between humor and credibility without becoming permanently banished into the purgatory of Dr. Demento’s playlist.