It saddens me that such a great composer, well-acclaimed in that era, is now largely forgotten.
In truth, he made the mistake of having a huge pop megahit called "Feels so Good" in the late seventies and subsequently was totally identified with that song, with his silly bowler hat and beatific smile, tight T-shirt (with a big rainbow on it of course) and long ponytail and beard. Yet before that he was a highly inventive and skilled composer who worked with an orchestra in Rochester, NY, from whence he hailed, and a gorgeously talented vocalist called Esther Satterfield, and made some very beautiful, painfully heartfelt and incredibly naive songs-- normal for the times, of course. Every few years I pull out my collection of his work and am newly amazed at some of the compositions. Back when my children were babies I used to sing to them his out-of-this-world, supernaturally beautiful Lullaby for Nancy Carroll.
For me this 1971 album has always been the most dynamic and fascinating on account of the variety of styles on display as well as the quality of the songs, which would later often reappear on albums in the future.
Lullaby for NC was an instrumental back here, but the subsequent vocal version when he hooked up with Esther Satterfield, was much better, from the later album Land of Make Believe:
Another song called Look to the Children has always been a big favourite:
I find the chord changes so so entrancing in their unexpectedness, the 3/4 time so perfectly suited to the playful theme, and the slow buildup in intensity so effective emotionally. Tragically, for myself, after experiencing the agony of (shared, thankfully, with my wife) child care for so many long boring years, the romanticism of childhood is totally lost on me, instead replaced by memories of poop spilling out of diapers onto carseats, babies vomiting in the middle of malls, boys fighting every day, screaming about inequality in splitting a pie slice, and, to bring up something that happened this very morning, bizarre sulks over supposed 'insults' such as one calling the other a parrot. Perhaps after they are grown and gone one can have the luxury of being nostalgic for childhood, but it's a rare emotion now when you get home late every evening following soccer practice and face screaming over having to do 5 minutes of homework. So look to the children, indeed, because one is about to boom the other guy on the lip if you leave them alone for more than 45 seconds.
Really, yet another composer who should get more respect today.
What the heck, I'll add a couple of the best albums as bonuses: