Sunday, July 17, 2022

David Hollis - After All These Years (1979)

'Lost Classic' is a term thrown around a bit by self-appointed taste merchants. Heck, I've posted 50+ forgotten masterworks at Switched Out. Come along then, listener, and enjoy yet another recovered quintessence. 

A coupla decades ago, I left New York and the mushrooming 'New Weird America' scene: a big hazy hug of variegated freaks playing free-jazz, -noise, and -folk. Arriving in Aotearoa as the Chris Thompson s/t album was first re-ished, I was psyched to hear EnZed's take on psych-folk. After All...'s opening track 'You Said I Love You' is totally vibe-ulous with that Thompson: tinkling labyrinthine finger-picking in a lightly mediæval-ish mode. 'Phantom Lover' trips further along l'ancien phantastique, frilled with flute, mandolin murmurs and a rubbery bass drum thumping a measured, unembellished 'bwawmp'. Hollis's voice is soft and high, gentle and warm -- even on the slightly mean-spirited blues rocker 'Streets of Desire'. 'Sounds Beneath the Leaves' is a wordless return to idyll form, segueing through sweet birdsong into the heaviest mind-folker on the record, 'Song to Siddhartha': guitar, vocals and 'synthesizor' by Hollis, with hypnotic tabla by the mysterious Dr. Balachandran.   

Side two opens with the title track, a wee sweetmeat easily imagined as a tv famcom theme song -- just conjure up your own 80s suburban domestic mind-montage! The soulful 'Rendezvous' slots comfortably amongst the Ramsey Najm record recently posted here: dual-tracked sax and tenderness. 'I Want To Make Love Loving You' is a super-cute country song: harmonica, fiddle and slide summon a sunny snapshot of country courtin'. Then whoa, 'Who Knows' takes us to flowerchild church, floating in a capella polyphonic wide-eyed 60s-style wonderment, Hollis's sun-soaked mellifluity reverberating in your chest and cerebrospinal cavities. 'Deepening' like, keeps us there -- in that kaleidoscopic grassfed sunspotted timelessness; mandolin, tabla and mournful french horn redoubling the sweet reverbed melancholy. 'You Lift Me With Your Love Babe' is the second blueser, then a slow-motion smoky tumble back to the heavy seventies -- drifting along on the feathery 'Sail Cloud'.

My minor quibble about this record is that the compiled order presents a range of styles -- all well-represented, -arranged and -performed -- which are together a bit disjointed. And this is a record that needs to be jointed, got me? Like, the title track is sorta schmaltzy, and the jumpy blues numbers would've made a solid seven-inch a- & b-side -- so why drop 'em in amongst the sleepy-deep stonedness and guileless philosophisin'? 

For you, I've rearranged the tracks into a slightly longer psych-pside (ptwenty-psix minutes) and a pop'n'rock side (twenty minutes) [feel free to re-rearrange -- the magic of empeethree!].  

Side one: highest recommendation! Side two: [bonus tracks]

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