Classic Album Review

Lost and Refound Folk Albums of the 1970s

So much music is made in the world, it can be overwhelming. Great albums are bound to be lost to time, especially in the days of physical copies. Thankfully, prolonged dedication has allowed for some lost albums and artists to be refound and given a second chance. Here are some of the greats:

Linda Perhacs: By day a dental hygienist in Beverly Hills in the 1960s, by night a folk-psychedelic singer-songwriter. Leonard Rosenman, a prominent film-composer, was one of her clients and was impressed by a demo tape of recordings she gave him; he then produced her masterpiece 1970 album Parallelograms, the title track inspired by synesthesia on Ventura Freeway and “seeing music”. The album didn’t chart well commercially and she returned to her dental career. In the 2000s, Perhacs was tracked down and Parallelograms was rereleased before she given the chance to record two new albums: The Soul of All Natural Things in 2014 and I’m A Harmony in 2017, both evidence that pure talent never fades.

Listen to: Hey Who Really Cares, Paper Mountain Man

Bill Fay: A college student in Wales in the 1960’s, Bill Fay was less interested in his electronics classes than the music he was making in his spare time. His demos scored him a recording spot at Decca Records, and he released two progressive-folk albums: his gentle self titled debut in 1970 and the more charged Time of the Last Persecution in 1971, the latter of which grapples with moral issues such as the Vietnam War and segregation through a religious lens. After the albums failed to gain attention, he was dropped from Decca and “deleted” from the music industry. He worked as a fish packer and groundskeeper until the late 90s, when he was tracked down by producers Jim O’Rourke and Joshua Henry with help from Wilco’s Jeff Tweedy. He has since been able to release three new albums: Life is People (2012), Who is the Sender? (2015), and his latest release, Countless Branches (2020). 

Listen to: I Hear You Calling, Tell It Like It Is

Rodriguez: Folk songwriter Sixto Rodriguez released two albums with Sussex Records in 1970 and 1971, both with poetic lyrics often discussing life in inner city Detroit. Neither album was an immediate success, leading him to quit music in the 70s and buying a house in a government auction for $50 (which he still lived in as of 2013). Meanwhile, and mainly unbeknownst to him, his records gained massive success in Australia, Botswana, New Zealand, and Zimbabwe, and stood as anti-Apartheid anthems in South Africa. He become the subject of a documentary, Searching for Sugar Man, which chronicled two Cape Town fans searching for him and went on to win a Sundance prize in 2012. Since his rediscovery, his albums Cold Fact and Coming from Reality have been reissued and he has been in talks with producer Steve Rowland about releasing new music. 

Listen to: I Think of You, Jane S. Piddy

Sibylle Baier: Young German actress and singer-songwriter, Sibylle Baier, recorded her songs for her only album Colour Green on reel-to-reel tapes sometime between 1970 and 1973. She never released them, and gave up hopes of a career in artistry in favor of raising her family. Thirty years later, her son Robby compiled a CD of the songs to give to family members and it found its way to the Orange Twin label, who released it in 2006. These fourteen hauntingly beautiful folk songs have since become well loved, which has left Baier “really quite perplexed” but “smitten” according to her son Robby (she prefers to stay off the Internet, it makes her “dizzy”). 

Listen to: Forget About, Tonight

One of the most magnetic qualities about folk music is its everlasting relevance; no matter how much time has passed, a good song will always strike a chord. These lost and refound albums and artists exemplify this trait, as they not only inspired dedicated searches in their name but still make a lasting impression on old and new listeners today.

 -DJ Big Hoss 

(camryn darragh)

i got really into this and it got kind of long