Do Look Back | Brute Force: Confections Of Love
Sometimes when I receive records for review, I throw it on before even looking into the artist or any sort of context for the album. Such was the case with Brute Force. Half way through Confections Of Love I was convinced Brute Force was a contemporary artist. It seemed too slick, too clever for an undiscovered relic of the past. However, a quick glance at the liner notes proved me wrong. Brute Force (born Stephen Friedland) was a singer and songwriter, mostly active in the 1960s. In the early 60s he wrote for and performed with The Tokens (best known for their 1961 hit “The Lion Sleeps Tonight”) and also wrote songs for many artists including Del Shannon. Confections Of Love was the first of only two solo albums he recorded before fading back into obscurity. It wasn’t until the late 90s when Brute appeared again, mostly through his connection with The Beatles, which we will cover later.
Confections Of Love is a bizarrely grandiose 60s pop record full of full string arrangements, horns and of course Brute’s voice right up front. Songs about loving mechanics, the pleasures of sitting on sandwiches and tapeworms of love fill up the 11 tracks that make up the record. At times the record almost gets theatrical, such as “The Sad Sad World Of Mothers And Fathers” with it’s dialog between Brute’s choruses: “Don’t disturb me / can’t you see I’m watching the game?” father responds to mother, who replies back “Don’t disturb me / can’t you see I’m watching James Cagney?” over a full Cagney movie impression. Style isn’t really limited in any way on the album, such as the Spanish influenced “Tierra Del Fuego” and the almost circus sounding chorus of “Brute’s Party”. The album hits it’s bizarrest point with the bouncing “Tapeworm Of Love”. “I know I should get an operation / but I enjoy the sensation” Brute sings over a sitar playing the lead on the track before launching into the chorus “It’s the tapeworm of love / eating my heart out over you”.
This reissue adds five bonus tracks, the most notorious of these tracks in the last bonus track “King Of Fuh”. “King of Fuh” is the tale of the mythical land of Fuh and more importantly, it’s king. The King Of Fuh. The Fuh King. You get it. Originally picked up by George Harrison and John Lennon and pressed as a limited single on their Apple Records, “King Of Fuh” was only released in a very limited quantity knowing that Apple’s partner EMI records would never release such a song. “King Of Fuh” is actually a pretty clever track, an almost Nilsson-esque ballad complete with overdubbed strings. The rest of the bonus tracks are a little more serious than the album itself, especially the vaguely psychedelic pop of “Nobody Knows” which Brute almost gets a little too dramatic for.
Confections Of Love might not quite be a long lost masterwork, but it is an amazingly interesting and weird document of an artist who never got his due. As the internet and media makes it easier for lost classics and records a bit ahead of their time to finally see some notice of their lost works. There’s lots to love about this record, a charming and bizarre look at a unique lost songwriter of the 1960s.