Side One and Side Two). Side one alone includes so many good tracks: "Present Company" with its groovy piano, the upbeat and fun "Here in Spain." "On The Train," my favorite, is everything I love about folk rock songs: subtle tension and echoing riffs, with the mystery found in Nick Drake's Pink Moon. The album reminds me of Jim Croce's songwriting, yet it also sounds so modern and ahead of its time; "The Seaside" sounds just like Tori Amos. I was disappointed to learn that it's out of print, and although used copies are still available online for $50-60, I can't see any reason why this particular album wouldn't be considered worth printing anymore. In my opinion, the songs in Present Company are all better than many of Ian's more popular hits, like "At Seventeen." The album is full of great tracks and folk rock atmospheres, and I'd place it on the same shelf with The Stone Poneys, Carol King, and James Taylor.
This week's playlist is dedicated to women in folk music, but to spice it up, I've selected very different moods from the usual: the bluesier, grittierier, borderline-garage rock side of female folk musicians.
- Break Out The Wine - Jan & Lorraine
- With You, Honey - Buffy Sainte-Marie
- Boy, What'll You Do Then - The Ace of Cups
- Society's Child (Baby I've Been Thinking) - Janis Ian
- You Can't Do That - The Feminine Complex
- Duncan & Brady - Judy Henske
- An Eye For An Empty Heart - Holly Golightly
- Song Of The South - Melanie Safka
Buffy Sainte-Marie's "With You, Honey" is a kick from the standard tracks in her 1969 Illuminations album. While the other songs are about magic, mysticism, sang with an almost angelic voice, "With You, Honey" and other songs ("Better To Find out For Yourself" and "Suffer the Little Children") reveal a completely different side to Sainte-Marie: psychedelic-blues moods, and a witchy voice, as potent as Glace Slick's. "With You, Honey" is followed by "Boy, What'll You Do Then" by the Ace of Cups. Music blog Record Fiend published a post, The Ace of Cups - It's Bad for You But Buy It!, with background information and history of the band. The Ace of Cups was based in Haight-Ashbury, the heart of hippy San Francisco; yet, they never received much attention. "What'll You Do Then" is an exception to the overall theme in their album, which is mostly gospel, folk, and delicate vocals: in this bluesy track you can hear the subtle feminist grit of Nancy Sinatra's "These Boots Are Made For Walkin'," and a roaring harmonica that anticipated a train-track that leaves you with blues and rock just as good as that of the boys.
I wanted to include a song from Janis Ian's Present Company, but besides the fact that it's out of print and I don't own a copy yet, the tracks almost mash into each other with very little (if any) spacing between them. I'll keep Present Company for a rainy day, but for now I picked a much more popular hit, "Society's Child," a semi-protest song about interracial love which Ian wrote at the age of 13. Ian's talent at such an early age is what's most fascinating; check out this video of Janis Ian performing "Society's Child" at 16 on the Smothers Brothers show.
The Feminine Complex is an all-female garage band from the '60s. Melodically, "You Can't Do That" sounds like a garage recording of an early Beatles song, but instead of serenading a bunch of fan girl they sing about putting a boy in his place. Judy Henske follows with "Duncan & Brady," which begins with a rather funny mock parody of "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star." If there is one voice I love above any other, it is Judy Henske's. And if there's one attitude I adore most, it is Holly Golightly's: "An Eye For An Empty Heart" is from Golightly's album Main Attraction. Released in 2001, but sounds timeless: with a bit of country twang, and lyrics about broken hearts that never mention broken hearts. Since we're in theme with my personal favorites, I ended the playlist with "Soung of The South" by Melanie Safka, where we see the young songwriter mature from subtle sexual innuendos in "Brand New Key" to haunting traditional folk instruments and moods.
Because I love the Folk Off playlists so much, I'm thinking of making them a recurring category, along with Record Hunting and cover songs. For now, enjoy the playlist, and feel free to suggest awesome ladies in folk music!