Maffitt/Davies was a short lived duo who released one album via Capitol Records in 1968. Judging by the cover you’d expect psychedelic fireworks but The Rise and Fall of Honesty is really an Ameriana folk-rock record. This is another good one that never saw release in the CD era. I found a vinyl copy in the Boston area for only $15 though lately this lp has been somewhat hard to come by. While labelmate lps by the Common People and Food attract more attention I think that Maffitt/Davies was a much, much better group.
Kicking off with a brilliant cover of Bob Dylan’s “Just Like A Woman,” Maffitt/Davies transform the standard into a heartbreaking orchestrated folk track that must surely rank as one of the best versions of the tune. “Forest Lawn,” the album’s failed single, has a distinct Face to Face Kink’s sound though it’s notable for its dobro and freaky church organ. “Tom Thumb’s Blues,” the other Dylan cover on this record shows the band taking a Byrds/Everly Brothers vocal harmony approach. The playing is topnotch throughout (check out instrumental “Lungi Dal Caro Beni“) and the duo’s vocal harmonies are tight if a bit unconventional. This is a quiet, tranquil record that never bores, reminiscent of prime late 60’s Dillards on their folk-rock outings.
One of the albums highlights is “Landscape Grown Cold.” This is a visionary slice of American music that predates the alt.country/folk boom with dark lyrics, strings, phasings and a vibe similar to Texas band Euphoria. Other noteworthy tracks include “Kingswood Manor,” a good folk-rock track that flirts with psychedelia by way of tabla, while country-rocker “City Sidewalks” is very trancey and will appeal to any true Byrds fan. The Rise and Fall of Honesty is time worn, ancient and has that lived in feel, yet remains consistenlty inventive and never short on ideas. If Americana or folk-rock is your bag, prepare yourself for a really good one. words/ j.nardelli