Friday, November 18, 2011
Here's an excellent release which has come straight of nowhere, or, to be more specific, Sweden ca. 1971 - 1975. Released on the RPM label out of the UK, Stars And Angels compiles the best tracks from Turid Lundqvist's three LPs she released on the Silence label in the '70s. You're unfamiliar w/ her works? I was, too. Born in 1949, she'd been playing around since 1965 and was signed to the Metronome label in the late '60s, although her recordings from the time went unreleased (and were apparently erased). The extensive liner notes paint an interesting picture of the music scene of the time. You may already know of some of them: Parson Sound, International Harvester, Trad Gras och Stenar and the Baby Grandmothers. The Subliminal Sounds label out of Sweden has reissued a lot of this stuff the past decade, as well as recordings by the excellent contemporary Swedish psych outfit, Dungen, and it's well worth digging your claws into. Parson Sound let out an almighty low-end, drugged roar, like White Light/White Heat played at a crawl, and International Harvester could be considered a brother/sister band to the original, communal Amon Duul. The Baby Grandmothers played more high-energy rock & roll, sounding like a strange, Nordic take on '60s garage punk and Blue Cheer's first disc. To tie this all in, The Baby Grandmothers' Kenny Hakansson accompanies Turid on most of the tracks here, lending the songs a sublime, acidic quality they may not have otherwise possessed. And that's not to imply that Turid herself is any slouch: her vocal mannerisms sometimes earned her comparisons to Melanie and Joni Mitchell (the latter is occasionally spot on), although her music is way more fried and exploratory than either, thus equally earning comparisons to left-field troubadours such as Vashti Bunyan and Linda Perhacs. You could even compare her music to that of Joanna Newsom, but A) Turid was there first; B) Newsom's music annoys me; and C) I don't see how comparing an artist of 40 years ago to a contemporary one necessarily paints a flattering portrait for either singer (ie. - you're either saying that Newsom's approach is dated or contrived [a distinct possibility] or that Turid's music is boring enough to sound contemporary). But anyway! There's 17 tracks here of wistful and occasionally fruity psychedelic folk music, and despite the frostbitten conditions they were recorded in, they possess a colourful, sun-drenched aura, and given their accessible nature - there's plenty of great hooks here - it has me thinking the cult of Turid is most certainly worthy of breaking out further than the miniscule following she enjoys outside of her homeland. There were plans for her to move to the UK and sign to John Peel's Dandelion label, but it never came to fruition. She would've made a perfect label mate w/ Bridget St. John, and her music fits in nicely next to other UK u/ground eccentrics of the day such as Comus, Jan Dukes de Grey, Twink, pre-T-Rex Bolan, etc. The liner notes tell an interesting story: there was a musical movement in Sweden in the '60s/'70s known as "Progg"; not "prog" as in progressive rock, but one built on a DIY/anything-goes ethos where musical ability meant little. The movement was also highly political, but like most such movements, whether it's the Yippies, Red Army Faction or Weather Underground (though there's no mention of armed struggle amongst the Swedish Proggers), it petered out by the end of the decade, possibly superceded by punk. I have no interest in pursuing musical obscurities for their own sake in the 21st century - that's a waste of everyone's time - the music Turid Lundqvist recorded in the first half of the 1970s stands on its own, regardless of who has or hasn't heard of her before, as something worth pursuing. Along w/ Jan Dukes de Grey and Bridget St. John, this is one of my fave early-'70s (re)discoveries of recent years.