Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Karen Beth - The Joys Of Life/Harvest (Decca Records, 1968/70)

Much under-appreciated still to this day, The Joys Of Life, released on Decca, was the first album by Karen Beth. It was not a commercial success, despite having multiple tracks that seem eligible for the pop charts of the late sixties. Most of the songs on the album are pop-rock influenced folk, but a few of the moodier, more intense tracks have elements of psych-rock. Harvest was Beth's second album, also released on Decca and also under appreciated. It features a steadily folkier sound that occasionaly crosses over the country line. Download here.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Tudor Lodge - Tudor Lodge (Vertigo, 1971)

Tudor Lodge was formed in England in 1968. In 1969, the lineup of the group solidified as a trio featuring John Stannard, Lyndon Green and American flautist and singer Ann Steuart. For two years, they toured the UK folk circuit, and in 1971, released their eponymous debut on the Vertigo label. In '72, Steuart was replaced by Linda Thompson, then Linda Peters, and the new trio toured the Netherlands but disbanded soon after. In 1980, the original trio reunited but Steuart soon left the group and moved back to the States. She was then replaced by Lynne Whiteland. In 1988, Green officially retired from performing and moved to Japan and the band has remained a duo since. Download here.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Nic Jones - The Noah's Ark Trap (Trailer, 1977)

The Noah's Ark Trap was the third release from English folk singer and finger-style guitarist Nic Jones. His interest in folk music began in the mid '60s when he joined the group The Hilliard, and it was during his time with this group that he learned to play the fiddle. Jones started playing professional gigs on his own after The Hilliard split. Between 1970 and '80, Jones recorded three albums for Trailer Records and one for Topic Records. Jones was in high demand as a studio musician during this time, and though only releasing five of his own recordings, he was featured on many other artist's albums. In 1982, Jones was in a car accident that caused serious physical injury and brain damage, rendering him unable to play fiddle and limiting his ability to play guitar. He was forced to abandon his professional career as a musician. He remained inactive for the following 28 years until his return to stage in 2010. He is lauded for his technically proficient finger picking style which is precise and rhythmic, similar to that of one of his greatest influences Martin Carthy. The Noah's Ark Trap has yet to be reissued and the record is sought after by collectors and hard to come by.

Highly recommended - get it here. And please forgive the light surface noise. If I ever find a cleaner copy, I'll be sure to upload a new transfer.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Various - Dennis Hopper in "The American Dreamer" (Mediarts, 1971)

This is the soundtrack to The American Dreamer, a documentary about actor Dennis Hopper. The soundtrack is composed of acoustic tracks by various artists, and features two songs by one of The Byrds founding members Gene Clark. John Manning has two acoustic versions of songs off his album White Bear. The album captures the isolated, individualistic sentiments of the movie and of Hopper himself. This is a rare piece of American folk and I doubt it will ever be properly reissued, so get it here.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Sally Cowan - Yankee Lady (Private Press, 1976)

This private press came out of Lincoln, Nebraska. Yankee Lady, like plenty of other albums by aspiring folk singers from the seventies, contains covers of distinguished artists like Joni Mitchell, Jesse Winchester, and Guy Clark. Sally Cowan sings and occasionally plays rhythm guitar, with accompaniment by a slew of Nebraskan musicians. There's no digital trace of Cowan on the web, but a few other performers on the album can be traced to current bands based in or around Nebraska: Doug Dickeson plays lead guitar on a few tracks; Steve Hanson and Gary Howe play on two country/bluegrass number. The four tracks on the A side have bare instrumentation and a folk sound typical of the times. The B side features the bluegrass-oriented instrumentation, yielding a country sound. This is a pretty hard album to find on vinyl, and you won't see it on disc, so download it here.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Janet Smith - Vol. I: The Unicorn and Other Songs Both Old & New (Takoma, 1970)

Janet Smith's Vol. I was released on John Fahey's Takoma label and has never been reissued. She was the second female artist to be released on the label. The album features a mix of self-penned songs, traditional pieces and covers of material by artists such as Arlo Guthrie and Mayne Smith. Janet plays acoustic and sings, with second guitar accompaniment by Bob Wilson. Little information can be found about either artist, and this may be their only recording. Get it here.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Rich Kirby & Michael Kline - They Can't Put It Back (June Appal Recordings, 1977)

June Appal Recordings was established in 1974 to distribute music from Central Appalachia. It is a faction of Appalshop, a multimedia and education center located in Kentucky. Appalshop produces film, theater, music and multimedia centered around Appalachian culture. They Can't Put It Back is an anthology of mining songs and a rare piece of 70's Americana. Most of the songs are ballads that reflect the struggles of mining towns and their inhabitants. I've included scans of the accompanying book and insert. Download it here.