Year of Release: 1968
I hate "MacArthur Park". I hate it with a passion even though I've been told not to, by my Dad (who seems to think it's some kind of piece of epic genius), by my English Literature lecturer at university (who felt that the lyrics were a fantastic piece of abstract lyrical expression about the constant, life-long reminders and nagging pull of first love) and by friends who have some peculiar Richard Harris fetish going on. I've ranted about the bloody song so many times that a friend of mine made me a special birthday present one year - a double CD of cover versions of "MacArthur Park" from people as varied as Vic Damone, who unintentionally emphasised the comedy potential of the track, to Frank Sinatra to Jack White's old band Goober and the Peas. Whatever his intentions were, it's safe to say that the "Best MacArthur Park Album In The World... Ever!" did little to convert me to the cause.
Somewhere along the way, however, he missed out this one. Russ David was an accomplished bandleader and pianist who left a litter of pieces of easy listening and easy jazz on American record shelves everywhere, and this version of the tune is probably one of the only ones I actually find bearable - but then given that the overblown lyrics always were my main snagging point, this is probably inevitable. Both sides of this snatch at the numerous riffs and melodic hooks throughout the original epic track and manage to get it done and dusted in quicktime. There is a slight whiff of cocktail parties and cheese and wine gatherings about the affair, but the arrangements and general performance can't be faulted, and this takes something which was once grand and pompous and turns it into something welcoming and pleasant. In doing so it possibly misses the point completely, but you won't find me complaining.
Incidentally, before any of you burn me as a witch I should add that I do like a lot of other Jimmy Webb tracks.