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Thursday, June 28, 2012

Tom Rapp - Stardancer (1972 us, excellent progressive folk rock with baroque traces, 2009 issue)

The word underscore comes to mind when I hear Pearls Before Swine. Here lies a wooden expression lightly fused with jazz tempo, but solidified exoterically with remarkable poetry, the ultimate impression of Tom Rapp.

Tom got it together quite early when he recruited high school friends Wayne Harley (banjo, mandolin), Lane Lederer (bass, guitar) & Roger Crissinger (piano, organ) as Pearls Before Swine. Tom a folk nurtured disciple was strongly influenced by a group of beat poets called The Fugs which gave rise to Pearl Before Swine's EP styled 1967 debut One Nation Underground that reflected mysticism, solitary love and protest. 

The controversial "Miss Morse", spelled out an obscenity in code while the opening "Another Time" was sheer angelic tears. Largely an experimental album with varied sounds, the real strength of the album was its hippy sincerity ("Drop Out") and un- pretentious avante -garde message. With tears in my eyes I have rarely heard anything this beautiful ("Morning Song"), it pierces heart and cleanses the soul.

Rapp stated that Stardancer was the first album since the first Pearls album One Nation Underground over which he had full control. The fierce anti-war song "Fourth Day of July", with its references to "the broken children of Vietnam", was widely played in "underground" circles of the time. The lighthearted "Summer of '55" contains some of Rapp's cleverest aphorisms, such as "When the day breaks / the pieces fall on you". 

Two of his other songs, "Stardancer" and "For The Dead In Space", reflect on themes of loss against a background of space travel and can be seen as reworkings of Like most of the Pearls Before Swine albums, the sleeve design used classic art works, in this case the painting "Descent of the Rebel Angels" by Pieter Brueghel the Elder on the front sleeve, and a William Morris background design on the reverse.Pearls Before Swine's earlier "Rocket Man".

1. Fourth Day Of July - 4:55
2. For The Dead In Space - 4:05
3. The Baptist - 5:10
4. Summer Of '55 - 2:13
5. Tiny Song - 2:33
6. Stardancer - 5:42
7. Marshall - 2:15
8. Why Should I Care (John Osborne, John Addison) - 2:54
9. Touch Tripping - 4:55
10.Les Ans - 1:50
All songs by Tom Rapp except as else listed.

*Tom Rapp - Vocals, Guitar
*Charlie McCoy - Guitar, Dobro, Organ, Banjo, Harmonica, Toy Piano
*Mike Leech - Bass Guitar, String Arrangements
*Steve McCord - Guitar, Musical Advisor
*David Briggs - Piano
*Bobby Wood - Piano
*Jim Isbell - Drums, Percussion
*Buddy Spicher - Fiddle, Electric Viola, Electric Violin
*Weldon Myric - Steel Guitar
*Florence Warner - Vocals
*Reggie Young - Electric Guitar
*Jim Colvard - Electric Guitar
*Roger Crissinger - Organ, Piano
-Pearls Before Swine (on tracks 3, 6, 7)
*Art Ellis - Flute, Wind Chimes, Congas, Vocals
*Harry Orlove - Guitar, Mandolin, Vocals
*Bill Rollins - Cello, Vocals
-String quartet (on track 10)
*Brenton Banks - Violin
*Gary Van Osdale - Viola
*Sheldon Kurland - Violin
*Byron Bach - Cello

For Pearls Before Swine releases see here:
1967 One Nation Underground (Japan remaster)
1968  Balaklava (Japan remaster) 
1970 The Use Of Ashes

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