A gentle, soulful singer who owed as much to blues and jazz as folk, Tim Hardin produced an impressive body of work in the late '60s without ever approaching either mass success or the artistic heights of the best singer/songwriters.
When future Lovin' Spoonful producer Erik Jacobsen arranged for Hardin's first recordings in the mid-'60s, Hardin was no more than an above-average white blues singer, in the mold of many fellow folkys working the East Coast circuit. By the time of his 1966 debut, however, he was writing confessional folk-rock songs of considerable grace and emotion. The first album's impact was slightly diluted by incompatible string overdubs (against Hardin's wishes), but by the time of his second and best LP, he'd achieved a satisfactory balance between acoustic guitar-based arrangements and subtle string accompaniment.
It was the lot of Hardin's work to achieve greater recognition through covers from other singers, such as Rod Stewart (who did "Reason to Believe"), Nico (who covered "Eulogy to Lenny Bruce" on her first album), Scott Walker (who sang "Lady Came From Baltimore"), Fred Neil ("Green Rocky Road" has been credited to both him and Hardin), and especially Bobby Darin, who took "If I Were a Carpenter" into the Top Ten in 1966.
Beleaguered by a heroin habit since early in his career, Hardin's drug problems became grave in the late '60s; his commercial prospects grew dimmer, and his albums more erratic, although he did manage to appear at Woodstock.
In 1973 he released a totaly different album, one of his rarest and most interesting recordings. For such an accomplished songwriter to record an album of all covers always makes for a compelling project. Hardin doesn’t disappoint on this 1973 album. The covers are esoteric and show his various influences from Randy Newman to Jesse Winchester with nods along the way to Willie Dixon and Badfinger. It looks strange on paper, but he makes it work.
His end was not a pretty one: due to accumulated drug and health problems, as well as a scarcity of new material, he didn't complete any albums after 1973, dying of a drug overdose in 1980.
by Richie Unterberger
1. You Can't Judge a Book by the Cover (Willie Dixon) - 4:12
2. Midnight Caller (Pete Ham) -3:09
3. Yankee Lady (Jesse Winchester) - 4:27
4. Lonesome Valley (Traditional) - 4:29
5. Sweet Lady (Ralph Dino, John Sembello) - 3:47
6. Do the Do (Willie Dixon) - 4:20
7. Perfection (Pete Ham) - 3:03
8. Till We Meet Again (Neil Sheppard) - 3:13
9. I'll Be Home (Randy Newman) - 5:43
10.Nobody Knows You When You're Down and Out (Jimmy Cox) - 6:38
*Tim Hardin – Vocals, Guitar, Keyboards
*Peter Frampton – Guitar
*Don Brooks – Harmonica
*Rebop Kwaku Baah – Percussion, Conga
*Tony Carr – Percussion
*Alun Davies – Guitar
*Tristan Fry – Vibraphone, Background Vocals
*Cissy Houston – Background Vocals
*Liza Strike – Background Vocals
*Bobbie Whitaker – Background Vocals
*Dennis Lopez – Percussion
*Tony Meehan – Organ, Piano, Percussion, Chimes, Drums, Vibraphone, String, Horn, Choir, Woodwind*Rod Murfield – Percussion
*Larry Packer – Fiddle
*Alan Ross – Guitar, Mandolin
*Jean Roussel – Organ, Piano, Keyboards
*Bruce Rowland – Drums
*Jeff Schwartz – Pedal Steel Guitar
*Neil Shepherd – Piano, Harmonium
*Chris Stewart – Bass
*Twenty-First Century Singers – Choir
1969-70 Suite For Susan Moore / Bird On The Wire