We know D.C. Get our free newsletter to stay in the know.
On There’s an Innocent Face, Curt Boetcher’s solo debut, the erstwhile ’60s-pop production wizard strikes a David Gates-like pose—even though his idea of a “Lost Without Your Love” is “I’ve Been Wrong,” a folk-gospel number whose humble title gets canceled by the refrain, “But I’ll be right again.” The singer intones in his lovely, soft-focused warble throughout, but more than Boetcher the vocalist, it’s Boetcher the producer/arranger who struts his stuff here. Originally issued on Elektra in 1973, the disc features myriad reflections of the way life used to be. We get the Big Star-ish “She’ll Stay With You,” which fades amid a doo-wop coda that’s equal parts homage and fromage; “Bobby California,” a studio-crafted “live” track that laces Raspberries-style glam-pop through hippie chord changes; and the mushroom-damaged “Wufferton Frog,” which comes with actual croaking sounds and “a horny toad [that] played the sitar.” Boetcher receives songwriting co-credits on just two tracks, but, along with co-conspirator Web Burrell, he helped craft an influential sound, one that anticipated and surpassed the welterweight pop of lesser lights such as Bread and America, which scored big hits with it. Not so Boetcher. Despite critical hosannas when There’s an Innocent Face first appeared, industry indifference and the singer’s refusal to tour quickly relegated the album to cutout bins and cult status. Thirty years out, it seems slight but affecting, a testament to the strange staying power of disposable radio pop that never made it to the radio. —Shannon Zimmerman