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17 Jan 2017

Hollins & Starr “Sidewalks Talking"1970 US Psych Folk Rock







Hollins & Starr “Sidewalks Talking"1970 US Psych Folk Rock
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Here’s a quick one mostly due to the fact that I can’t really find much information on the duo of Chuck Hollins and Dave Starr. Chicago folk label Ovation put out their sole LP in 1970 and it’s an eccentric blend of lite-psych folk with occasional left-field outbursts. A Nick Drake gloominess prevails throughout but some cuts, like the title track, have a real groove that reminds me of downer hip-hop act Basehead’s first CD. Makes sense then that DJ Shadow used a loop from ‘Twin City Prayer’ for his epic track, 'What Does Your Soul Look Like’. 

For your listening pleasure, choose between the side one/side two transfer (recommended for the full experience as the tunes tend to flow into each other) or edited into individual tracks for today’s short attention span ipod listening youth…………… 

First let me warn you that Chuck Hollins and Dave Starr are folkies at heart and much of 1970’s Norm Christina produced "Sidewalks Talking” showcases those musical tendencies. I also have to admit that I’m surprised I like this album as much as I do. The first couple of times I played the LP Dave Starr’s omni-present flute proved a major stumbling block to my ears, particularly those segments where he’s give the spotlight to cut lose (the end of 'Hard Headed Women’ and the band’s odd decision to cover Bach’s 'Vivach’). Luckily I tend to play an album at least four times before making a decision as to whether its a keeper or not. By the fourth spin the flutes remained a source of irritation, but the album’s other charms compensated for that particular distraction. With the pair splitting writing duties, acoustic material like 'Twin City Prayer’, 'John Hurt’ and 'Lovable’ (the latter recalling something Nick Drake might have done) was pretty and quite listenable. Hollins and Starr were both gifted with pretty voices and on tracks such as the pretty ballad 'Cry Baby Cry’ and 'Feelin’ Good’ they turned in some truly gorgeous harmonies. That said, the collection’s highlights came courtesy of their occasional discordant, psych and rock splashes - if you want to hear all three genres collide at once then check out the wild 'Hard Headed Woman’. Equally impressive were the surprising fuzz guitar propelled 'Home?’ and “. A real charmer that rewards repeated visits … okay, okay you might want to skip 'Digress’. ….by…RDTEN1 ………. 

This is a perfectly produced and arranged popsike concept, an ode to the free mind structured by intelligent reconsiderations. It is an album that grows in depth with each listen. The pop songs are working on a different, almost meditative level, at times directing towards awareness in advance of a conscious dream state, with gateways of instrumentals like paths that direct this way, with a fundament of strummed guitar and flute improvisations, and lots of arrangements. “Hard Headed Women” is one of the most ambitious and longest tracks, starting with a more rockier singing, and with parts of almost classical & contemporary classical arrangements of brass with and without percussion, and another part with drums and kettle drums, while turning this again into something (prog)rockier, on “Home?”, in a progressive and ever changing way. This is followed by another flute part which sounds like a baroque improvisation, which is a Bach composition returning to a classical foundation. “Digress” is more up tempo and rockier as well, is almost avant-garde with its lyrics, like an anti-intellectual-chitchat song, powerful again, just like an ode to real expressions, evolving over a sound collage of thunder and street noises to a somewhat jazzier laid back song. The whole albums is mixed like a perfect musical story with lots of facets hanging together on many levels from a variety of experiences……….. 


Chicago-based duo Chuck Hollins and David Starr only made this one album, which originally appeared in 1970 on the Ovation label. All we know about them is what the original ads for the album said: "David Starr learned piano when he was three, began composing when he was four. At twenty-one he was playing flute with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. Chuck Hollins picked up a guitar one day and just started playing…. by the time he left Northwestern with his Creative Writing degree he was turning his poetry into music.” 

Others have said: “Unique blend… with a lovely dreaming, drifting vibe” – the Acid Archives; “Many diverse influences from pop-psych, mystical mellow passages, quasi-classical touches, delightful ethereal flute, trance-like vocals and fuzz guitar… there is much to appreciate on this largely undiscovered gem” – Fuzz, Acid & Flowers. The deluxe mini-LP sleeve CD edition has four bonus tracks, including a “hidden track” with some rare sound effects plucked from the vaults, and it is limited to 1,000 copies. 

The sole album by Chuck Hollins and Dave Starr, their only known recordings, is a treasure trove of strong melodies and dreamy vocal stylings an album sure to appeal to fans of acid folk, popsike, and even those who like jazzy funk. Listening to it is a rich, rewarding experience. This is a perfectly produced and arranged record, an ode to the free mind, structured by intelligent considerations. And as another person has said, “No wonder it has been sampled by DJ Shadow.” Ovation said at the time of its release, “Classical artistry rock and sidewalk poetry.” All true. Very cool. Hip, mellow, and stoned…………. 

At times this album is a gorgeous, ethereal blend of psychedelic folk and offbeat pop; but there are some funk and avant-garde moves too (where did those crazy orchestrations, wild guitar, and breakbeats on the fierce anti-war rave-up Hard Headed Woman come from?), all supported by an odd assortment of instruments, including flute, bells and a generous helping of fuzz guitar. Chicago-based duo Chuck Hollins and David Starr only made this one album, which originally appeared in 1970 on the Ovation label. All we know about them is what the original ads for the album said: “David Starr learned piano when he was three, began composing when he was four. At twenty-one he was playing flute with the Chicago Symphony Oras four. At twenty-one he was playing flute with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. Chuck Hollins picked up a guitar one day and just started playichestra. Chuck Hollins picked up a guitar one day and just started playing…. by the time he left Northwestern with his Creative Writing degreeng…. by the time he left Northwestern with his Creative Writing degree he was turning his poetry into music.” Others have said: “Unique blend. he was turning his poetry into music.” Others have said: “Unique blend. with a lovely dreaming, drifting vibe” - the Acid Archives; “Many diver with a lovely dreaming, drifting vibe” - the Acid Archives; “Many diverse influences from pop-psych, mystical mellow passages, quasi-classical se influences from pop-psych, mystical mellow passages, quasi-classical touches, delightful ethereal flute, trance-like vocals and fuzz guitar. touches, delightful ethereal flute, trance-like vocals and fuzz guitar. there is much to appreciate on this largely undiscovered gem” - Fuzz, Acthere is much to appreciate on this largely undiscovered gem" - Fuzz, Acid & Flowers. Our deluxe mini-LP sleeve CD edition has four bonus tracksid & Flowers. Our deluxe mini-LP sleeve CD edition has four bonus tracks, including a “hidden track” with some rare sound effects plucked from t, including a “hidden track” with some rare sound effects plucked from the vaults. The CD version is limited to 1,000 copies……….. 

Personnel 
*David Starr - Vocals, Flute, Piano 
*Chuck Hollins - Guitar, Piano, Vocals 
*Ross Salomone - Drums 
*Ed Shedowski - Trumpet 
*Ron Steele - Guitar 
*Bob Surga - Guitar, Bass 
*Warren Kime - Trumpet 
*Jim Atlas - Guitar, Bass 
*Bobby Christian - Percussion 
*Pat Ferrara - Guitar 

Tracks 
1. Talking To Myself (Chuck Hollins) - 2:28 
2. Krishna Dov (Dave Starr) - 1:54 
3. Cry Baby Cry (Chuck Hollins) - 3:25 
4. Twin City Prayer (Dave Starr) - 1:39 
5. John Hurt (Chuck Hollins) - 2:16 
6. Hard Headed Woman (Dave Starr, Chuck Hollins) - 9:10 
7. Home? (Chuck Hollins) - 3:37 
8. Vivace (Dave Starr) - 3:00 
9. Lovable (Chuck Hollins, Dave Starr) - 3:54 
10.Digress (Chuck Hollins, Dave Starr) - 2:50 
11.Stayin High (Chuck Hollins, Dave Starr) - 2:27 
12.Sidewalks Talkin (Chuck Hollins) - 3:35 
13.Feelin Good (Dave Starr, Chuck Hollins) - 3:16 
14.Feelin Good (Single Version) (Dave Starr, Chuck Hollins) - 2:53 
15.Lovable (Single Version) (Chuck Hollins, Dave Starr) - 3:18 
16.Hard Headed Woman (Outtake) (Dave Starr, Chuck Hollins) - 9:10 
17.Sound Effects - 3:33 

johnkatsmc5, welcome music..