Sunday, May 16, 2010

Pearls Before Swine - Beautiful Lies You Could Live In (us 1971)

Pearls Before Swine - Beautiful Lies You Could Live In (us 1971)

Formed: 1965, Melbourne, FL, United States
Disbanded: 1971

* Tom Rapp (Guitar, Vocals),
* Elisabeth (Vocals),
* Bob Dorough (Piano),
* Grady Tate (Drums),
* Amos Garrett (Guitar),
* Morris Brown (Bass),
* Steve Grable (Piano, Keyboards, Programming),
* Gordon Hayes (Bass),
* Gerald Jemmott (Bass),
* Michael Krawitz (Piano),
* Herb Lovelle (Drums),
* Billy Mundi (Drums),
* Stuart Scharf (Guitar),
* Jon Tooker (Guitar),
* Robby Merkin (Piano, Organ),
* Gerry Jermott (Bass).
* Peter H. Edmiston (Producer),
* Mark Henry Harman (Engineer),
* Jim Rooney (Engineer),
* Joe Phillips (Liner Notes),
* Patrick Roques (Reissue Art Director, Reissue Design).

Genres: Psychedelic Folk, Folk Rock

A1. Snow Queen 4:00
A2. A Life 2:57
A3. Butterflies 2:46
A4. Simple Things 2:55
A5. Everybody's Got Pain 2:47
B1. Bird on a Wire 3:33
B2. Island Lady 4:01
B3. Come to Me 2:57
B4. Freedom 3:03
B5. She's Gone 2:11
B6. Epitaph 1:24

The psychedelic folk band Pearls Before Swine was the brainchild of singer, composer and cult icon Tom Rapp, born in Bottineau, ND in 1947; after writing his first song at age six, he later began performing at local talent shows, and as a teen bested a young Bob Dylan at one such event. Upon relocating to Melbourne, FL, Rapp formed Pearls Before Swine in 1965, recruiting high school friends Wayne Harley, Lane Lederer and Roger Crissinger to record a demo which he then sent to the ESP-Disk label; the company quickly signed the group, and they soon travelled to New York to record their superb 1967 debut One Nation Underground, which went on to sell some 250,000 copies. The explicitly anti-war Balaklava, widely regarded as Pearls Before Swine's finest work, followed in 1968; the group -- by this time essentially comprising Rapp and whoever else was in the studio at the moment -- moved to Reprise for 1969's These Things Too, mounting their first-ever tour in the wake of releasing The Use of Ashes a year later. Two more albums, City of Gold and Beautiful Lies You Could Live In, followed in 1971; moving to Blue Thumb, Rapp resurfaced as a solo artist with 1972's Stardancer, but upon the release of Sunforest a year later he then retired from music, subsequently becoming a civil rights attorney. Frequently cited as a key influence by the likes of Damon & Naomi, the Bevis Frond and the Japanese psych band Ghost, Rapp made an unexpected return to live performance in mid-1998 when he appeared at the Terrastock festival in Providence, RI, joining son Dave and his indie-pop band Shy Camp; he soon began work on 1999's A Journal of the Plague Year, his first new LP in over two decades. Constructive Melancholy, a retrospective of Pearls Before Swine's tenure on Reprise, also appeared that same year. This sparked renewed interest in the band, with Water music releasing a box set of the Reprise material in 2003 (Jewels Were the Stars) as well as a set of unreleased demo and live recordings entitled The Wizard of Is. ESP also remastered and combined their first two albums as The Complete ESP-Disk Recordings in 2005.
~ Jason Ankeny, All Music Guide.
Album Review:Released in 1971, Beautiful Lies You Could Live In was the final release of Tom Rapp (guitar/vocals) and Pearls Before Swine. This discounts the 1972 LP Familiar Songs, which was compiled from scraps by Reprise Records and put out as a solo Rapp effort despite protests from Rapp, who has all but disowned it. Unlike the previous pair of PBS Nashville outings, the band -- whose core had been condensed to only Rapp and wife Elisabeth (vocals) -- had returned to New York and a new set of backing musicians, notably former Mothers of Invention member Billy Mundi (drums), Stu Scharf (guitar), Bob Dorough (piano), Grady Tate (drums), and Amos Garrett (guitar), among others. Rapp's originals continue to reflect his distinctively personal and poignant folk-rock style, apparent on the starkly introverted and haunting "She's Gone" and the Baroque-tinged opener, "Snow Queen." This is contrasted by the laid-back rural "A Life," highlighting Rapp and Elisabeth's tight harmonies, as well as the midtempo narrative "Simple Things." However, it is the cover of Leonard Cohen's "Bird on a Wire" that may garner the most spins. The plaintive lyrics are swaddled in a homey waltz arrangement, capturing the spirit of the piece like few readings have done. The succinct "Epitaph" concludes the album, and is marked by a rare lead vocal from Elisabeth, who set A.E. Housman's "Epitaph on an Army of Mercenaries" to a beautifully mysterious melody that lingers long after the tune has stopped. It is likewise a fitting way to have ended Pearls Before Swine, as Rapp retired the moniker prior to recording Stardancer for Blue Thumb the following year. In 2003, Beautiful Lies You Could Live In was included as part of the four-volume Jewels Were the Stars compendium, anthologizing their final era and output.
~ Lindsay Planer, All Music Guide.
Tom Rapp’s sixth studio album ‘....beautiful lies you could live in’ marked the last time he would credit the by-now notional-only band Pearls Before Swine on the cover; the subsequent sporadic releases would be issued as solo recordings. And this record was pretty much a solo release as well, with his wife Elizabeth being the one near-constant in the group’s lineup.This is a decidedly American-sounding modern folk album, unlike the previous release ‘City of Gold’ which had a more European feel. The list of studio musicians is rather impressive: it includes guitarist Amos Garrett whose impressive credits include the guitar lead on Maria Muldaur’s massive 70s hit “Midnight at the Oasis”; former Mother of Invention Billy Mundi, who appeared on Todd Rundgren’s hit “Hello, It’s Me” of the same period; and pianist Bob Dorough who cashed in during the 70s himself with a series of compositions that ended up being recorded as episodes of the popular Saturday morning cartoon series Schoolhouse Rock. Despite the pop-folk street cred of his guests, Rapp fashioned the album as a remarkably understated electric folk offering that presented some of his more coherent poetry set to music. One of the few knocks on some of the earlier Pearls material was the abstract and occasionally banal tenor of Rapp’s lyrics; here he plays things a bit more conventional, though still manages to display his unique ability to record songs that are multilayered and lyrically complex while retaining their decidedly (and intentional) Dylanesque vibe.There were no hits resulting from this record, and no singles even that I’m aware of. Instead Rapp seemed content to craft his personal thoughts into beautiful, unassuming vignettes without strong regard for popular acceptance. This is easily one of my personal favorites, along with the aforementioned ‘City of Gold’.Despite his own considerable songwriting talent, Rapp never shied away from covering songs and poetry of artists he respected, and this album is no exception. His rendition of Leonard Cohen’s "Bird On A Wire" ranks only behind the original of the many versions of this song that I’ve heard over the years. And the brief but poignant acoustic rendering of A.E. Housman’s "Epitaph on an Army of Mercenaries" is a luxurious thing to behold, particularly since the vocals are delivered by the underused Elizabeth Rapp herself.Its unfortunate Reprise Records never managed to provide the kind of promotion that could have given Pearls Before Swine a better chance to establish themselves in the early 70s. Rapp didn’t help by avoiding touring for much of his career, and his irregular recording tempo probably didn’t help much either. But he did manage to get out six very good records before sliding permanently into obscurity, and this is one of the two or three best of those. Four stars are quite appropriate, especially if you are a fan of modern folk in the vein of Dylan, Van Morrison or even Randy Newman. Well recommended if that’s the sort of stuff you’re interested in.peace.
~ ClemofNazareth (Special Collaborator, Prog Folk Researcher from

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1 comment:

mauro said...

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