In a 1968 interview, John Lennon named The Appletree Theatre’s concept masterpiece Playback as one of his favorite new albums at the time. It’s not surprising, as much of the album taps directly into that same style of twisted sunshine pop that we love dear ol’ John for. You can be sure that if that interview had taken place in the age of the internet, Playback would likely have been eaten up by millions. But how many fans actually came across that interview? Probably not too many. Like many of the great albums of that era, the album was a commercial failure, and following its release founding members Terry and John Boylan went off to become session musicians. Playback is a concept album, divided into three acts, an overture, and an epilogue, that sounds as though its rolling through the radio dial in a late 60s episode of the Twilight Zone. The album moves between full songs and snippest of music that range from sunshine pop to jazz, to soul, all sewn together with a series of strange vocal narratives. It’s an album that demands to be listened to as a whole, and those who do will enjoy a rather interesting trip.
Sidenote: Woods covered The Appletree Theatre’s “Who Do I Think I Am” on their 2011 album Sun & Shade.