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Good Thing Lost: 1968-1973

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A Good Thing Lost: 1968-1973 is an excellent best-of collection from the Poppy Family, a great, if largely forgotten, late-'60s Canadian soft rock/psychedelic group. The meticulous songwriting, production, and arranging skills of guitarist/mastermind Terry Jacks (who later had a huge solo hit with the classic pop single "Seasons in the Sun") lift these recordings above the work of many of the group's better-known contemporaries. Singer Susan Jacks has a beautiful voice that sometimes sounds like (but predates) Karen Carpenter, but is eminently more soulful. Although characterized in the liner notes as a "soft pop" band, the Poppy Family was also capable of a somewhat tougher sound that sometimes recalled Surrealistic Pillow-era Jefferson Airplane and folkier material in the Kenny Rogers & the First Edition/Roger McGuinn vein. Throughout, Jacks frames the songs with creative, if often dated, arrangements that compare favorably to his obvious influences, the Beatles, the Beach Boys, and Phil Spector. In addition to "Which Way You Goin' Billy," the group's biggest hit (number two in 1970) and a generous helping of singles and high-quality album tracks, the disc includes an alternate, wildly psychedelic mix of "There's No Blood in Bone" and two different versions of "That's Where I Went Wrong" (the second of which features some cool country guitar leads). Overall, A Good Thing Lost: 1968-1973 is a fantastic find -- one of those hidden gems that record fanatics always hope to discover. ~ Pemberton Roach