thu 30/05/2024

Music Reissues Weekly: Mark Eric - A Midsummer’s Day Dream | reviews, news & interviews

Music Reissues Weekly: Mark Eric - A Midsummer’s Day Dream

Music Reissues Weekly: Mark Eric - A Midsummer’s Day Dream

Flawless but belatedly lauded Beach Boys-style California pop from 1969

Mark Eric takes it easy

In June 1969, The Beach Boys released “Break Away” as a single. A month earlier, they had announced they were leaving Capitol Records, who they had been with since 1962. The split with their long-term label came after the band sued for unpaid royalties and other business failings. “Break Away,” the last Capitol single, was aptly titled.

After the rupture, The Beach Boys were without a label – they went on in early 1970 to secure a deal with Warner/Reprise for their own Brother imprint. Between the release of “Break Away” and the new agreement, there was a Beach Boys-sized hole in American pop. Mark Eric’s sole album A Midsummer’s Day Dream, released in August 1969, had the potential fill this gap.

Mark Eric- A Midsummer’s Day DreamA Midsummer’s Day Dream was barely known about until the late 1990s, when interest in it began picking up. By around 2010, original pressings were selling for $40 to $50. Then, in 2012, prices began shifting to around $70 and $80. Now, it’s up to $125 – or more. The first CD reissue arrived in 2002. Another, more in-depth, CD package came out in 2009. Now, it’s out on vinyl with a sharper, more dynamic sound than the previous CDs.

As hardly concealed here, Mark Eric Malmborg’s album is very like The Beach Boys. Specifically, the reflective side of the 1965 Beach Boys of The Beach Boys Today! and Summer Days (And Summer Nights!!) were it filtered through a Pet Sounds sensibility. In 1969, those holding a torch for the California pop of Brian Wilson and co of a few years earlier would have gone wild for A Midsummer’s Day Dream. If they had heard it, that is.

Unfortunately, this wonderful 12-track album was barely promoted and hardly sold. It was issued by Revue, a side-label of Universal City which, in turn, was a subsidiary of MCA Records. Revue was mainly concerned with jazz and soul. The Chi-Lites, Darrow Fletcher and The Mirettes were amongst the acts they had signed. Mark Eric, with his blond hair, side parting and casual shirts was atypical for Revue. Like its two attendant singles – “Night of the Lions” and “Where do the Girls of the Summer go” – A Midsummer’s Day Dream made no waves. And that was it for Mark Eric. Nothing else by him was released.

Decoupled from its contemporaneous musical context – of hippie-rock, hard rock and brown-toned rootsy, sincere stuff – A Midsummer’s Day Dream stands as one of the Sixties’ great lost albums. Every track is a winner, a grade-A silken aural dream. Dip in anywhere and the reaction will inevitably be along the lines of “how did this get away.” But get away it did. This despite the beautiful singing, lush arrangements and yearning atmosphere.

Mark Eric- A Midsummer’s Day Dream_side oneThe album hadn’t quite arrived from the blue. Santa Monica-born Malmborg had encountered his favourite band The Beach Boys in 1965 at the taping of an episode of The Andy Williams Show – a neighbour of his family working at the TV studio arranged it. He then began hanging around Hollywood’s Goldstar Studio, and was present at Association and Mamas and Papas recording sessions. He was writing and one of his songs, “When School Is out This Year,” was recorded in 1968 by the Beach Boys-influencing Four Freshman.

Malmborg’s leap to becoming a recording artist came through an engineer at radio station KHJ who was keeping an eye on the new songwriter. Some demos were recorded and, ultimately, through them and the KHJ connection, he ended up with Revue. Once signed, the label teamed him with – bizarrely but, as it is turned out, magnificently – former Animals member Vic Briggs, who arranged A Midsummer’s Day Dream. But once the album was out, a buffer was hit due to the low sales. Malmborg recorded some demos in 1970 and 1971 (heard on the 2009 CD) but turned his attention to modelling and acting. On billboards, he was seen advertising Magnum Malt Liquor and the cigarette brand Kent Golden Lights. On TV and in cinemas, he was seen in The Partridge Family and, with Rock Hudson and Angie Dickinson, in Pretty Maids All In A Row. Once that petered out he became a military pilot, flying transport planes. He returned to music in the late Eighties.

Back in 1969 with the magnificent A Midsummer’s Day Dream Mark Eric Malmborg really could have found an audience had he been marketed. “Break Away” showed that there was an appetite for this type of California pop. Yet the break did not come. More happily, the continuing reissues of his only album have raised his profile. Better late than never.

@MrKieronTyler

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