You’ll find a Suicide Bridge in almost any big city you care to visit, but few are more impressive than the Colorado Street Bridge connecting Pasadena to Los Angeles, which earned its nickname by being the scene of suicides in triple figures. It’s also the scene of a photo shoot in which singer-songwriters Eric Caboor and David Kauffman posed on the deserted structure, capturing an image that would eventually inform the spare, detached mood–and title–of their majestic debut album, 1984’s Songs From Suicide Bridge. Indeed, there’s a fatalistic quality to this LP that has much to do with its origins.
Kauffman, from Madison, New Jersey, and Caboor, from Burbank, California, met in 1982 playing the coffee houses of Los Angeles. Each was painfully used to playing to half-empty venues, which is a situation only half of the partnership would have been at peace with. “Dave had come to California to have a career in music,” Caboor says. “I don’t think it was quite the same for me. I was always kind of reluctant to go all out.”
Every week, the pair met in a converted utility shed in the backyard of Caboor’s childhood home in Burbank to play each other the songs they wrote. They were never a duo in the conventional sense–rather, as Kauffman put it, “two loners who happened to join forces.”
After two frustrating years of trying and failing to catch a break in a music industry that was focused on new wave, pop, AOR–anything but the folk-rock the duo were offering–the pair conceded defeat. One of them suggested, half joking, that they should put all their darkest and least viable works together on one record, if only to spite the industry that had rejected them.
The more they thought about it, the better an idea it seemed, and when they started to plot out a tracklist from their vast catalog of songs, something unique and special begun taking shape. The opening track, “Kiss Another Day Goodbye,” in particular, set out the stall: “I don’t know how much longer/ I can feel the way I feel/ And never cry/ I don’t know how much longer/ I can kiss another day goodbye,” it says.
Home-recorded on a four-track, Songs From Suicide Bridge was released on the pair’s own Donkey Soul Music in 1984. If this were a movie, the album would have been a huge success. Instead, the 500 copies pressed found their way to few willing ears. Though real life encroached, Caboor and Kaufmann continued to work together, releasing albums as The Drovers in 1989 and 1992. Now, their debut is to be released by Light In The Attic Records with brand new liner notes by Sam Sweet. Hopefully, it will finally find its audience–a listener who can see hope in the darkness. “People would tell us those songs were depressing,” Caboor says in his interview with Sweet, “but it wasn’t depressing to us. In a lot of cases, playing those songs in that little room was one of the only things that made us feel better.”……………… Notes: Despite the release year, this is excellent early ‘70s-sounding melancholic drifter folkrock from California. The top tracks are outstanding and all over this is an above average album that has gained many fans in recent years.Beautiful textured gatefold cover. Will be in the next Acid Archives. KAUFMANN & CABOOR made 2 more albums under the name DROVERS…….. Original 1984 private pressing on Donkey Soul Music (matrix # DSM101). Very dark and mysterious stoner/loner acid folk LP from this duo of singer-songwriter-guitarists. Instrumentation includes acoustic, electric, slide and steel guitars, mandolin, dulcimer, piano and bass. There are several bursts of psych guitar woven into the compositions.
The epic “Life and Times on the Beach” makes Lou Reed’s Berlin or John Cale’s Music for a New Society sound like a day at the beach.
from what little exists on the web about this LP:
“Excellent Folk Duo. Really A Very Special LP Filled With A Dark And Desperate Sense Of Urgency And Melancholy, Some Burning Electric Guitar Parts Here And There To Heighten The Intensity. A Very Unique And Brilliant LP!!! Very Highly Recommended!!!!”……………. (mid-80’s U.S. privat-release of top of the heap loner-downer Singer-Songwriter album by 2 californian guys charming 'em knots 'n plots of mere existential ties, straining 'em poetic whiskers for basic clues … the way any other’s mynd surely fries … but David & Eric seem to have paid some honest dues!! it’s americana Folk 'w/ spills of ramblin’ Blues, nightmarish epistles, roses of woe, shreds of euphoric potion, words 'n strings in motion, thorns 'n thistles breakin’ eyes in the frozen laughter of a drunkard’s whayl dodgin’ society’s hayl … a looming cross but no hammer 'n nail … mostly acoustic strummin’ w/ some eerie fuzz-tone switched on somewhere…; quite an exeptional piece and a real find in this field!! the duo went on to release 2 albums as THE DROVERS some miles furthur down the line … be sure to check these out too!!)………… Eric Caboor and David Kauffman were two hapless mid-80s LA singer songwriters who liked each other’s songs and who played to tiny audiences for free at places like the Basement in Echo Park. The Basement (literally a basement of a church) had one microphone round which the duo would sit and sing, making fun of themselves in between numbers. They were hilarious; the audience always took it for masterful schtick. After all, the songs (which they played and sang very well) were completely undeserving of their authors’ insults. The greater the audience, however, the more comical their self-loathing. I shared the bill with them a few times, splitting the fee 50/50. Backstage they revealed how they simply could not understand why anybody could enjoy a collection of songs that would soon be released under the title Songs From Suicide Bridge. That’s what I mean by hapless. In this instance, it is a synonym for authentic.
The album was recorded at Eric’s house on a four-track cassette port-a-studio and mixed at the late great Hillside Recording by Norman Stepanski. “He saved our project, man,” Eric told me when I had a project that also needed saving.
They should have gone Somewhere, these two. They were intense. They had talent. Hopefully it’s at least some solace that SFSB is now a highly sought collectors item. ~ CollectorsFrenzy…………….
Credits Guitar, Mandolin, Dulcimer, Vocals – Eric Caboor Guitar, Piano, Bass, Vocals – David Kauffman
Tracklist 1 Kiss Another Day Goodbye 4:48 2 Neighborhood Blues 4:00 3 Life Without Love 5:11 4 Angel Of Mercy 4:57 5 Life And Times On The Beach 7:55 6 Backwoods 8:09 7 Midnight Willie 6:54 8 Where’s The Understanding? 2:09 9 Tinsel Town 5:42 10 One More Day (You’ll Fly Again) 4:22