Sunday, November 6, 2011

November 6: The Millennium, "It's You"

Artist: The Millennium
Song: "It's You"
Album: Begin
Year: 1968

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All throughout the final years of the 1960's, the so-called "psychedelic" sound was splintering off in countless different directions, as every style of music was trying to incorporate these new ideas into their own particular form.  While this led to a massive number of sub-genres within music, the reality is that it is in the more pop-based fusions of the psychedelic sound where one can find the clearest and finest examples of the style itself.  It is with this in mind that one can easily argue that for whatever reason, it was California that managed to produce a number of the greatest psychedelic bands of the era, and yet one of the most impressive also remains one of the most overlooked.  In many ways, once one looks into the actual membership of the group, there is no question that The Millennium were one of the few bands of their generation that were deserving of the title "super group."  Though the band only released a single record during their exceptionally brief period of existence, few can argue that Begin is anything short of musical perfection; and while the album was at the time the most expensive record that Columbia ever made, one would be hard pressed to say that it did not completely live up to such a level.  Almost every single song on Begin is pure "sunshine pop" bliss, making it difficult to point to a single track as the best; and yet one can quickly understand why The Millennium hold the place they do in music history by experiencing their superb 1968 song, "It's You."

"It's You" wastes no time in setting the mood for the song, as after a quick drum count-in, the song almost explodes with a warm, beautiful guitar riff.  Played by Joey Stec, one would be hard pressed to find a brighter sound ever from any point in history, and it is the power and emotion that this brings which allows "It's You" to almost instantly captivate the listener.  In fact, it is the way that the acoustic guitars seem to almost bounce lightly behind the perfectly paced electric lead that makes "It's You" take on a unique flow and swing that completely captivates the listener.  Yet it is the way that the rest of the band fills out the remainder of the musical space that sets "It's You" aside as such an exceptional musical achievement, and there is no question that the arrangement is easily on par with the greatest songs of the era from any artist.  Whether it is the almost saloon-style keyboards or the drums which manage to build a fantastic level of tension without ever getting aggressive, there is no question that the song is as perfect a pop construction as any other song in history, and it is almost impossible to not be completely taken away by the sound.  Yet there is also a great deal of sonic presence that comes from the bass guitar, as it moves forward and back in the overall mix, giving "It's You" even more depth, and serving as the ideal finishing touch to the overall sonic structure.

However, while the music is absolutely as good as psychedelic-pop gets, one can also easily make the argument that the vocals found here stand among the finest in all of music history.  Though many of the peers of The Millennium have received massive amounts of credit for their work in harmonies of this sort, within moments of "It's You" beginning, there is no question that this group stands among the finest.  Though there is clear separation between the lead and backing vocals, it is the way that they blend together, yet simultaneously present such fantastic sonic contrasts.  The lead vocal is perfectly doubled throughout the track, and this in itself makes it stronger than most other singing at the time.  However, it is during the points where the rest of the band joins in on the vocals, often singing completely different sounds and words, where "It's You" becomes a vocal achievement far beyond almost any other song.  The energy that one can feel coming from every angle is what gives the track much of its personality, as the brightness and overall upbeat feeling is stronger in this area of the song than any other.  Yet it is the final element of the song, the lyrics, which firmly cement "It's You" within the psychedelic sound, as the verses found here manage to strike the ideal balance between the rather "out there" wordplay of the era, with lyrical hooks that are as unforgettable as the music and singing around them.

Though both the song and band have been somewhat overlooked due to the runaway success of many of their peers, there is no question that The Millennium are as quintessential a psychedelic-pop band as any other in history.  Whether it was due to their mesmerizing vocals, or the swirling musical arrangements over which the singing is placed, there is simply no arguing just how perfectly this group fits into their own time period.  Furthermore, the impact of the band can be seen in many of the most important acts that followed, and one cannot deny the striking similarity between the main guitar riff on "It's You," and the rhythmic sound that sits at the core of Peter Gabriel's 1977 hit, "Solsbury Hill."  Yet even without this reality, one can make the case that the entire Begin album represents the pinnacle of the psychedelic-pop sound, as The Millennium clearly took notes from previous efforts in this arena, and created the ideal balance in every way.  The orchestration that runs throughout the song is as good as pop music gets, as the hook instantly grabs the listener, and the uplifting mood does not dip for even a moment at any point on the song.  Combining this with the fantastic vocals that take the song to an even higher level, and there is no question that The Millennium's 1968 song, "It's You" stands as one of the most beautiful, yet somewhat unknown songs in all of music history.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Recently discovered "It's You" and it is just outrageously good. It's both completely in tune with the sound of sunshine pop (vocally speaking) and way ahead of its time (in terms of instrumentation). It's phenomenal pop music, really, that I hope more people come to know, appreciate, and love.