Saturday, March 01, 2008

by Jhonny #4

"Dick Fariña & Eric von Schmidt" 1963
Vinyl RIP

This was an impromptu recording made in London on January 14 and 15, 1963. Joining Fariña and von Schmidt were Ethan Signer (of the Charles River Valley Boys) on fiddle, mandolin, and guitar, and occasionally Blind Boy Grunt. Blind Boy Grunt was of course the pseudonym of Bob Dylan, whose Columbia contract prevented his real name from appearing on the album.

This is a crude, one-track, one-microphone recording, and although it is an enjoyable collection of American folk songs, it's quite a stretch from the unique style that Fariña later developed with Mimi. It doesn't offer any great revelations into Fariña's art or vision, but it does provide some early samples of his dulcimer playing, which is featured on "Old Joe's Dulcimer," "Wildwood Flower," and "Lonzo N'Howard," and less prominently in "London Waltz." Fariña sings lead vocal on "Wobble Bird," and "XMas Island" and unaccompanied vocal on "Riddle Song." He contributes back-up vocals and harmonica on other tracks. Fariña gives himself a writing credit for "XMas Island" and "London Waltz," but ironically these are two of the most negligible tracks. The most interesting songs for Richard & Mimi fans are the medley "Old Joe's Dulcimer," which is a forerunner of "Celebration for a Grey Day," and "Wobble Bird," which is an adaptation of "The Cuckoo," upon which "The Falcon" was based. His alteration of the lyrics in "Riddle Song" also gives a foretaste of his creative adaptation of traditional tunes. Another interesting connection with later work is "Stick With Me, Baby" (an adaptation of Furry Lewis' "Dry Land Blues"), which includes the lyrics,

"I been down so long, seem like up to me,
Gal of mine got a heart like a rock in the sea"

But, again ironically, it is Eric von Schmidt who sings this song. In fact, the songs featuring Eric solo or prominently are the most professional-sounding tracks!

Dylan fans should be advised that Bob's contributions are minimal, and his presence on the record really cannot be felt in any significant way. He supplied back-up vocals and/or harmonica on four tracks: "Glory, Glory," "Overseas Stomp," "Xmas Island," and "Cocaine."

1.) JOHNNY CUCKOO (4:27) adaption of a children's game song learned from Bessie Jones, a negro woman from St. Simon's Island, Georgia
2.) JUMPING JUDY (3:55) an ax song, sometimes called "Drive it On," from the unaccompanied singing of convicts, Cummins State Farm, Arkansas, 1934. Played in an open G-tuning.
3.) GLORY, GLORY (2:34) traditional negro hymn, the tune relating closely to the Southern white hymn, "Will the Circle Be Unbroken?"
4.) OLD JOE'S DULCIMER (2:55) a medley of dance tunes including "Old Joe Clark," "Swing and Turn," "Darlin' Corey," etc.
5.) WOBBLE BIRD (2:44) a variation on "The Cuckoo," in 3/4 time.
6.) WILDWOOD FLOWER (1:56) instrumental on the well known Carter song.
7.) OVERSEAS STOMP (2:43) in the spirit of the 1927 Memphis Jug Band.
8.) LONZO N'HOWARD (3:30) learned from Tom Shoemaker of Harlan, Kentucky, who heard it there from a mountain fiddler called Blind Jim. This is probably its first recording.
9.) YOU CAN ALWAYS TELL (3:00) a tune based on Furry Lewis' "Dry Land Blues," with additional verses.
10.) XMAS ISLAND (3:18) a twelve-bar written by Fariña.
11.) STICK WITH ME BABY (3:32) played in an open G-tuning, adapted from the 1928 Lewis, "I Will Turn Your Money Green."
12.) RIDDLE SONG (1:10) traditional, with new answers to fit the old questions.
13.) COCAINE (4:03) learned from Rev. Gary Davis at Indian Neck, 1960.
14.) LONDON WALTZ (3:10) a blues in 3/4 time, music by Fariña, words spontaneous.


Mimi Fariña & Tom Jans "Take Heart" 1971
Vinyl RIP

On this album Mimi finally returned to the spotlight from the silence that followed Richard's death. Although she only had one writing credit with Richard ("Miles") and an arranging credit for "Dog Blue," on Take Heart Mimi emerged as a strong songwriter with four original songs and three more co-written with Tom Jans. One of the most appealing elements of Mimi and Tom's musical collaboration was how well they blended their voices. Mimi and Richard had often arranged their harmonies in fourths and fifths for the dulcimer. This is part of what created their striking and unique sound, but on Take Heart Mimi and Tom sang more soothing harmonies in thirds, and a warm, intimate mood bathes the songs. We are also treated to some beautiful guitar playing from both performers, especially on the instrumental, "After the Sugar Harvest," a brilliant dual-guitar reverie that recalls the old Richard & Mimi duets but nevertheless has its own unique sound. "In the Quiet Morning," Mimi's requiem for Janis Joplin, came to be her most famous song. It was recorded by Joan Baez shortly afterwards, and decades later by 10,000 Maniacs and Holly Near. Mimi came to regard Take Heart as her best work. Although it doesn't have the bold originality of her work with Richard Fariña, it has a warmth and humanity that is perhaps closer to the core of her artistic vision.

1. Carolina (Tom Jans) - 4:10
2. Charlotte (Mimi Fariña) - 3:29
3. Kings And Queen (Mimi Fariña, Tom Jans)
4. The Great White Horse (Buck Owens, L. Scott) - 4:03
5. Reach Out (For Chris Ross) (Mimi Fariña) - 3:33
6. Madman (music by Mimi Fariña; lyrics by Fariña and Tom Jans) - 4:00
7. In The Quiet Morning (For Janis Joplin) (Mimi Fariña) - 3:10
8. Letter To Jesus (Mimi Fariña) - 3:19
9. After The Sugar Harvest (Mimi Fariña, Tom Jans) - 3:28
10. No Need To Be Lonely (Tom Jans) - 4:58


Blogger ignacio esteban said...

Hola Jhonny:
Muchas gracias por tu esfuerzo, tiempo y la excelente música.
Los mejores deseos.
Salud, triunfo y lo mejor para los tuyos.

01 March, 2008 11:26  
Blogger Kadek55 said...

Thanks a lot for these two great albums!

02 March, 2008 01:12  
Blogger James said...

vinyl rips in lossy mp3 at 160kbps seems pointless

22 May, 2010 08:02  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

thanks a lot

long time searching for Dick & Eric`s album...

roger from Brazil

28 August, 2010 12:48  

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