Saturday, November 04, 2006

John Ylvisaker "Cool Livin'" (US Christian Psych 1967)

The Lama Reviews:
With the recent advent of the "Archivist" collector guide and the "Holy Fuzz" compilation the pagan world may be prepared to discover what a handful of open-minded collectors already know, namely that the seemingly unhip field of 1960s-70s Christian psychrock contains some of the greatest records ever made. I'm not gonna tally that amazingly heavy roster here - see the aforementioned book for that - but ask you to simply take my Word for it.

Archivist (Vintage Vinyl Jesus Music 1965-1980):
Archivist, written by Ken Scott is a guidebook to obscure and classic albums of the Jesus movement specifically written with the collector in mind.

Before boarding the X-ian (dealer spelling to make it seem cooler) Ark one should bear in mind the genre's original visionaries, a decent churchgoing couple who cut fully realized integrations of swinging folkrock with verbatim Luke & Matthew lyrics at a time when secular rock groups were still debating the prospect of going 12-string. I'm talking, of course, about Mr John Ylvisaker and his lovely wife Amanda. Though I'm kinda low infowise on the Ylvises it seems they came out of Minnesota, and from that Gomorrah-ish vantage point spread the Logos across the Nation - at least that's what the liner notes to this debut LP indicates. John writes the songs, sings and plays guitar while Amanda plays keyboards and Strawberry AC-ish flute and session pros provide the rhythm section.

To prepare yourself for the full Ylvisaker experience, contemplate the idea of Elvis ditching his mid-60s Hollywood crap and reinventing himself as a TV evangelist, then recruting P F Sloan and Curt Boettcher to provide songs in a Greenwich Village-meets-Southern-sermonizing style. And no clichéd comments about dorky Christians please, cause John Y is smart, suave and has a clearer view than most atheists. He also has a wonderful rich tenor voice which does whatever he asks of it. The arrangements are atmospheric and varied with acoustic guitars and flute on top of a typical upscale Grassroots folkrock soundscape, while the performances are classy and tasteful. Forget Jello Biafras incorrect sarcasms about sloppy playing in the "Incredibly Strange Music" book, seems Jello had had one Heino record too many when uttering that nonsense.

Wrapped in an early 60s style blue filter photo sleeve, side 1 of "Cool Livin'" deals almost exclusively with problems of urban life from a realistic and intelligent modern religious perspective, culminating in the marvy "Who cares for the city", which is like Bohemian Vendetta backing Scott Walker tackling P F Sloan at his peak - this track is gonna floor you, christian or heathen. Best remain horizontal and pop a DMT joint in yer mouth to prepare for the next track, "Do you know what I have done", a musically advanced and almost chaotic acidpunk dramatization of a New Testament episode (forgot chapter & verse, sorry) - yer not gonna believe this piece of tormented confusion.

Over on side 2 we get a more mixed bag, with J Y mocking modern ways in an ultracool NY nightclub comedian fashion, an atypical ballad, and two jubilant rockers on the virtues of leading a x-ian life - dig those hypnotic flute ornaments and garage Vox organ riffs. We also get another acidtinged excursion in "Highly polished tin" whose strange complex mood approaches Peter Grudzien-land, especially when a sentimental carousel organ sails into the soundscape. All over a solid, sophisticated early x-ian folkrock LP with three awesome tracks the top attraction. No exact reissue exists, but an excellent vinyl compilation of the first two Ylvisaker LPs appeared a few years ago on the Mystic label, bearing the title of this debut while utilizing the sleeve design for the follow-up.

Sample pic: 1, 2



Anonymous db said...


04 November, 2006 22:19  
Anonymous TM - France said...

Thank you for this record, not great album but very likeable (and also very rare). So, I'm surprised by the quality of your choices. Can I suggest you some requests ? They are some albums on vinyl never reissued or just one time : The Good Rats - Same (1968) ; Fusion - Border Town (1969) ; Music Asylum - Commit Thyself (1970) ; Touchstone - Tarot (1972). Thanks a lot and all the best for your beautiful blog.

05 November, 2006 16:09  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Lizardson
Thanks for your Paul Brady reseed, but what do you mean with "the "Archivist" collector guide"?
What is it exactly?

06 November, 2006 21:14  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


10 November, 2006 13:14  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great post. However the track list does not correspond to the one on



19 December, 2006 14:29  
Anonymous Aggeliki said...

Thanks for this! It sounds right up my alley plus it's a record I wanted to listen to for a long time!

Having said that I'm as confused as Per as regards the track listing.

26 May, 2007 08:39  

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