A month ago today, I reviewed Mimi’s other 2016 release, Music Sounds, which I determined rather early in the listening was a simply wonderful collection of songs. Now, here is another Betinis collection, composed of tracks that he’s been working on over the years that have now been finished and gathered together all shiny and vibrant in one place. The treasures on offer are full of life: the achingly beautiful ballad, “All that Glitters,” picked acoustically with care, topped by tambourine and electric guitar shading, and featuring instruments from Mimi’s extensive collection, which, he says, give the song “an eerie and dark feel”; “Ray of Light,” a melodic sweetness sounding like an Andy Partridge outtake off of XTC’s Nonsuch album, and simply lovely covers (Paul McCartney’s song for Mary Hopkin, “Goodbye,” and the Hudson Brothers’ “So You Are a Star” are glorious). Saying that some heritage artists are only getting better as time passes by can sound like rather an empty assertion, but my, how that phrase does indeed fit snug as a bug here. —Alan Haber, Pure Pop Radio
Top 40 Songs of 2016 (Didn’t We 1979), Goldmine Magazine
Basement Tapes Vol. 1 was simultaneously released with Music Sounds by Mimi Betinis a while back, and shares that album’s mixed-bag approach. The Pezband vocalist-guitarist doesn’t use much more than an acoustic guitar on some of these songs, and opts for a lush arrangement on others. There are also some well-chosen covers, as well as a rare, vintage track that should delight Pezband fanatics.
The melodic duet “Didn’t We” was recorded back in 1979 with Cliff Johnson, a distinctive singer who shares Betinis’ Pezband lineage, and who went on to form Off Broadway. Betinis gets down and bluesy for a raw take on the classic “Good Morning Little School Girl,” and captures the massive heartache of “The Sun Ain’t Gonna Shine” with his orchestrated version of The Walker Brothers hit. The catchy instrumental “Shade And Shine” adroitly blends acoustic and electric guitars with keyboards.
“Lost A Love Forever,” like “There Is Love” on Music Sounds, has an infectious techno beat, although this time around, the lyrics are about a relationship going stale. Broken romance is a running theme throughout Basement Tapes; particularly on “Ray Of Light” and the melancholy “All That Glitters.” Love is a lot more fun on the Latin-flavored “Brown Eyes And Bangs,” and Betinis delivers a fetching rendition of “Goodbye,” the Paul McCartney-penned hit Mary Hopkins recorded back in 1969.
—Terry Flamm, Broken Hearted Toy