It took me 49 years to really appreciate the album "United States of America" by the same name as this L.P. There are certain artists that take years for me to feel comfortable with. The other artist is Van Dyke Parks. Both Parks and the United States of America gave me nothing but confusion. The thing about this band is that they were one of the first electronic bands. Not in the sense of Kraftwerk electronics, but their acoustic instruments being filtered through electronics or stuff like an electric violin, electric drums (whatever that means in 1968) and so forth. I was a young teenager when I first heard this album, and it's clearly not meant for the teenies. This is adult pop, but one with an edge.
Joseph Byrd and band brings a cynical and bad mood that yells out New York City of that era. I'm not sure if the band was from that part of the world or the West Coast, but for me, at least on vinyl, I hear NYC. The music is sophisticated with a capital "S." Dixie land meets small town brass meets something in a very dark part of the mind. I suspect the entire band is college educated professionals or drop-outs. Nevertheless, a smart bunch.
Dorothy Moskowitz is the man singer and kind of have that 1960's folk-era voice but clearly trained. There is something very academic in their approach to their music. Not in a stuffy with jacket leather patch elbow type of music, but smart. On the other hand, there is something disturbing about their overall aesthetic. I can't really place my finger on it. Which explains why I keep coming back to this album for four decades. The United States of America can remind one of Parks or the more experimental aspect of The Beach Boys or The Beatles - but the truth is, they're original.