Friday, November 06, 2009

Lawrence Hammond

Coyote's Dream (1976)

Not a very well known entity in the Takoma catalog, this LP is a solo outing by a singer, songwriter, and picker who had previously been involved with a psychedelic country combo based originally out of Antioch, Mad River. The Ohio group predictably flowed its way onto the San Francisco scene during an era when hippies and, more importantly, hippie musicians embraced country & western.

The music of this cultural fusion was well documented and includes some famous masterpieces. Despite some obvious drawbacks, Coyote's Dream rates right up there with any great country rock moment, sometimes even surpassing the threshold with a track such as "Trucker's Nightmare," a superb, hard-edged ditty that doesn't appear to have ever been included on any of the numerous compilation sets devoted to songs about truckers. Ignoring this album may have been something of a religion, yet certain listeners seem to cling to it. For example, a highly accomplished steel guitarist carefully copied the vinyl to distribute in burned CD form to other prospective fans, complete with hand-drawn cover and notes in which no knowledge of any particular sidemen accompanying Lawrence Hammond is admitted. Actually, some of the sidemen are the same dudes who played on similar material from the period that achieved much more commercial success, particularly fiddler Byron Berline. The fine pedal steel player is Bill Weingarden.

Hammond`s singing style may have been one of the problems if reactions of music critics can be trusted, not always the right philosophy but basically considered reasonable in this case following careful comparison of said voice and said criticism. Yes, "a voice to crisp an aardvark's nose hairs" is a little mean. Meanness may be excused as a reaction, however, after absorbing a few of the man's stylistic mannerisms, among them a falsetto maneuver as uncomfortable as someone unwanted sitting down at a campfire.

"I spent the entire album listening to each word, waiting for another one of those falsettos in sheer dread" commented a member of the network that had received dubs of the project as a further distribution of the steel guitarist's original donation. The reactions of a varied group of enthusiastic music listeners is interesting in any case, demonstrating the great appeal of this LP as clearly as it underscores the frightening aspects of Hammond vocalizing.

A critic who had always seemed kind of kinky -- yet an expert in country & western of all sorts nonetheless -- admitted that he had become a prisoner of the first track, unable to proceed further, not out of dislike but the total opposite. Feelings like this about a song entitled "George Gudger's Overalls" will not seem extreme to anyone who has experienced the song itself. It is one of the few songs in the history of music about a pair of pants, and if that is not enough includes a round of indecent exposure , the songwriter coming up with good rhymes for both "in the raw" and "in the nude." Another reaction touches on lyrics as well, speculating whether even the great Roger Miller had managed to come up with a rhyme based on the name of union thug Jimmy Hoffa. Unfortunately, the latter listener became more enamored with Hammond than was emotionally healthy, lapsing into a severe depression when nobody actually showed up to "sit a spell" and "drink a few" as promised in an endearing portrait of "Uncle John Mills." Not exactly sure of what to make of the following reaction, it is included because of the relevant reference to twangy guitars, a really attractive part of the entire album: "Hey this was the first thing I listened to after replacing one of my headphone ear pieces with a wad of scotch tape. I am not sure what happened to the earpiece, I think it got dragged the length of the corridor in a hotel on a marble floor. Anyway I like the scotch tape better, it twitches and tickles my ears when the guitars are twangy, I like it so much I am going to revisit my entire country collection."

The record also sounded good to a film projectionist who while not admitting it actually was experiencing even worse playback deficiencies then the aforementioned head-taper, as opposed to home-taper. "I had the soundtrack to Exodus playing in the background, it sometimes drowned out Coyote's Dream." Finding a copy in pristine audio conditions to form an individual judgment will no doubt take longer than listening, the album features only eight songs and lasts just a bit longer than a half-hour. ~ Eugene Chadbourne, All Music Guide



Anonymous Anonymous said...

Link has been removed.

07 November, 2009 11:07  
Blogger tek said...

link removed just as i was about to grab it! and a pity - i would love to hear this. is there even a remote chance of a reup?

07 November, 2009 11:57  
Blogger Steve Wolfe said...

Why in the world would this out of print/probably sold 10 copies/scratchy LP link be removed?? How ridiculous.

I had no idea this even existed and have been a Mad River fan since their records were released. Now to track it down somewhere else...

07 November, 2009 14:47  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't understand why Rapidshare have done this - it simply emphasises to me why Rapidshare should be avoided! It is available on other hosts - for a fast and efficient download try:

07 November, 2009 16:40  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't think Rapidshare cancel links alone,certainly asked by artist himself,a member of the family or a label who is going to issue the album or cd.

08 November, 2009 01:14  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

someone have janet smith - the unicorn on takoma?

08 November, 2009 02:29  
Blogger Steve Wolfe said...

Thank you so much Donnatv! New link much appreciated- very curious about this LP.

08 November, 2009 07:58  
Blogger Private Beach said...

Magaupload may be fast and efficient where Donnatv lives, but in Hong Kong it doesn't work at all - just says service is "not available in your area". Rapidshare works fine here.

08 November, 2009 17:35  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree with all those who constantly experience problems "thanks" to Rapidshare, not least the long awaits between one download and the other. After all I consider Megaupload really the best available, although shame that in China doesn't work. The best thing is to load the files on Sharebee, so that people all over the world have the chances to download the stuff. And moreover, I would like to know why are so often things deleted by Rapidshare, while the other Companies (Z-share, Megaupload, Deposit, etc...) keep their files available... This, I believe, is the evidence that Rapidshare cancels the files alone, not because of family members (of the authors) or record companies. And this also happens for files that have been uploaded recently, not only for those long-time there.
Thousand thanks to Donnatv, not only for the album, which I already have, but for the principle of helping the community of us real music lovers.
Cheers, Franz.

08 November, 2009 18:48  
Blogger moxnix said...

rapidshare usually only removes links when either requested to do so or someone tips them off. I have had experience on different forums losing links where users have done so for whatever reason only they know.

11 November, 2009 23:28  
Blogger Mama Sky said...

I bought this record in Berkeley in 1977 and played it to death. Something jogged my memory of it last night and I got it out--cover worn but original inside sleeve pristine. Lyrics and a photo of the Whiplash band: Janet Bryson,James Louis Parber, Al(lonzo) McShane, Alan Lane (no instrument attributions). Listening, I enjoyed the phenomenon of being able to sing every word of a record I hadn't heard in many years. I wondered what happened to Hammond, which led to my Googling him this morning in hopes of finding he'd made more albums. I hope Merle Haggard somehow heard this piercing tribute to the great San Joaquin valley. Maybe I'll finally learn how to use Garage Band to transfer the record to CD--I still want to share it with friends. And I adore Hammond's falsetto!

26 November, 2009 04:59  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for new link and let us know if there is somewhere: To Know A Man.

23 December, 2009 02:05  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for new link, and if someone know where to dl To Know A Man, let us know.

23 December, 2009 02:08  
Anonymous Oddy said...

Country-rock majesty!

26 December, 2009 02:17  
Blogger da mccue said...

Coyote's Dream, was written for his friend in Oakland named Kathy Thompson. She had long yellow hair that went down to her.......

A real Looooooker!

She related this story to me and led me to his music. She still has hair.

25 November, 2010 14:27  

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