Σάββατο, 8 Νοεμβρίου 2008

Judee Sill - 1973 - Heart Food

Judee Sill Heart Food [Expanded] 1973 (original release) Jan 1, 2004 (Rhino Handmade expanded edition) Sometimes myths become reality, or apocryphal tales bear enough weight to be documented as fact. Heart Food, Judee Sill's legendary — and up until now very rare — second and final album, was recorded and released in 1973 by Asylum Records when she was 29; she passed away six years later. Heart Food has been equated with Laura Nyro's classic New York Tendaberry, Essra Mohawk's Primordial Lovers, and Carole King's Tapestry as being a definitive moment in the work of female singer/songwriters. Part of this myth comes out of the reality that Heart Food has not been in print in more than 20 years. Rhino Handmade has issued the album on CD, along with its predecessor, Judee Sill [Expanded], for a limited time. The original (second) album is rounded out with nine extra tracks of live and demo material, is accompanied by a handsome package, a complete liner note essay by Michele Kort, and a slew of photographs. Now that it is available again, it is easy to see how that comparison by the critical pop establishment of the day was made: it's because it is accurate. The beautifully rough edges on Sill's debut have all been smoothed out here by an engagement with subtle yet pervasive orchestration, stellar arrangements, tightly crafted songs that open up form the inside their musical frameworks, and draw on influences as varied as Tin Pan Alley to gospel and country to Mozart and Bach. The wildest thing is that Ms. Sill was responsible for all of it. She had complete artistic control and creative freedom in the studio — those who know David Geffen's reputation will be surprised. And the cast of players bears out the confidence in Ms. Sill's abilities: Doug Dillard, Gloria Jones, Ray Kelly, Chris Ethridge, Spooner Oldham, Buddy Emmons, Jim Gordon, and many others. Musically, Heart Food [Expanded] is a song suite whose songs all dovetail one another in relating an ache so deep in the gray matter of the soul that it threatens to burn the listener. One listen to "Down Where The Valleys Are Low" is enough to know that the hounds of hell have left their mark on the singer: "Push me on from the danger that's pullin' me and hold me so strong/Send a song on the wind to deliver me/Take me and rise, when the fire is on/Take the reins and the loneliness fillin' me/And make my fear fuel and the fuel hi-octane...." A church organ, a xylophone, and a Steve Cropper-ish lead guitar slowly hollow out the groove that is filled by a trio of backing vocalists doo-wopping gospel underneath, as Sill sings her heart out into a void only she can see through. Elsewhere, in the honky tonk, funky gospel of "Soldier of the Heart," Sill creates the entire tune in chorus form; each line is a testament: "The battlefield's so cold/Take my love as a token/I want to give it to you...." And as the band slips deeper into the openness of the rhythm track, Sill strides forth with her vocal into the very pit of loneliness and danger, and tries not only to be delivered herself, but to carry her listeners with her. This is naked music; there is no separation between artist and audience, no separation between forces of light and dark, everything is in this glorious pop maelstrom where life and death are just two sides of the same coin, and the desire for holiness and wholeness are nearly overwhelming in their intensity. But her approach is ecstatic, the neediness is in the words, but the music is pure, expressive joy. The bonus material, a series of outtakes and demos, bear out that the process was never effortless, but came easy to one who was adept at baring her soul. Heart Food deserves its rating as a classic because it has so few peers, and as music heard thirty years after the fact, its dignity remains unblemished; its innovation and creativity are still cause for wonder and awe. — Thom Jurek

1. There's a Rugged Road (Sill) - 3:44
2. The Kiss (Sill) - 4:36
3. The Pearl (Sill) - 1:55
4. Down Where the Valleys Are Low (Sill) - 3:52
5. The Vigilante (Sill) - 3:50
6. Soldier of the Heart (Sill) - 3:34
7. The Phoenix (Sill) - 2:37
8. When the Bridegroom Comes (Bearden/Sill) - 4:14
9. The Donor (Sill) - 8:05
10. Jig (Sill) - 1:06
11. The Desperado [#/outtake] (Sill) - 3:57
12. The Kiss [#/demo version] (Sill) - 4:14
13. Down Where the Valleys Are Low [#/demo version] (Sill) - 4:49
14. The Donor [#/demo version] (Sill) - 4:43
15. Soldier of the Heart [#/demo version] (Sill) - 3:06
16. The Phoenix [#/demo version] (Sill) - 2:29
17. The Vigilante [#/demo version] (Sill) - 3:44
18. The Pearl [#/demo version] (Sill) - 1:58
19. There's a Rugged Road [#/demo version] (Sill) - 3:34
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The Kiss from The Old Grey Whistle Test, 20 February 1973.

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1 σχόλια:

Ανώνυμος είπε...

So BEAUTIFUL. Many thanks!