Take a Picture
Unless you recall ”Sunday Morning,” a dose of ’60s hippie pop by Spanky & Our Gang, you’ve probably never heard of Margo Guryan. Guryan penned that and a few other obscure hits of the era and made an album of her own, Take a Picture, in 1968. Recently, the indie rock crowd that loves a good cult figure rediscovered ”Take a Picture,” which, just reissued, turns out to be a beguiling little gem.
It’s easy to understand why ”Take a Picture” was a flop 33 years ago (and why Guryan is now a piano teacher in LA). Her breathy wisp of a voice (think one of the ABBA women gone solo) is a placid instrument, and her porcelain melodies and introspective, almost childlike lyrics were surely too subtle for AM radio. But heard now, the album sounds ageless (notwithstanding several dips into ersatz psychedelia) — chamber-pop melancholia wrapped in strings, flutes, and a few folk-rock beats. ”Love Songs,” about emotions brought on by music, is exquisite, as are her L.A.-cowpunk ”Sunday Morning” and ”Think of Rain,” in which she asks her partner to imagine bad weather if he even thinks of leaving her. First issued during a year in which rock was heavier and Vietnam-conscious, ”Take a Picture” must have felt like a throwback. It still does, but that’s its charm; as the old slogan goes, Guryan wanted to make love, not war.