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1 Aug 2017

Eric Andersen “Avalanche” 1968 US Psych Pop Rock

Eric Andersen “Avalanche” 1968 US Psych Pop Rock

Eric Andersen virtually invented the modern singer songwriter. In an era when most folksingers were either writing chronicles of daily life a` la Woody Guthrie or singing anti-Establishment anthems a` la Bob Dylan, Andersen displayed a fluent romantic vein. His art triumphed with Blue River (1972), that ranks among the masterpieces of the era. Stages, originally recorded in 1973 but only published eight years later, is equally stunning, as is the later Ghosts Upon The Road (1988).

Eric Andersen is perhaps the first modern singer songwriter. His introspective and philosophical songs had little in common with the folk singers of his time. Barely influenced by Woody Guthrie - the myth of that moved all the others - and virtually unconditioned by the success of Bob Dylan, Andersen remained at the edge of the great mass phenomena of that period. 

Born in Pittsburgh, Andersen began his musical growth in the college town of Cambridge (next to Boston), then moved to Greenwich Village in 1964 and immediately recorded Today Is The Highway (Vanguard, 1965). This first album rendered homage to the tradition of Guthrie and Pete Seeger (Dusty Box Car Wall, Plains Of Nebraska, Today Is The Highway), although some love ballads (On My Bedside, Everything Ain' t Been Said) showed a maturity that even Dylan was yet to reach. 

With the affirmative album ' Bout Changes And Things (1966), Andersen continued in the romantic vein with delicate introspective poems (Violets Of Dawn) and protest songs without the anger (Thirsty Boots),. The tender Close The Door Lightly When You Go stands above the rest, perhaps destined to remain his most famous song. 

Unfortunately this rich vein dried immediately after. Two insignificant albums came out, the excessively arranged More Hits From Tin Can Alley (1968), and To Country Dream (1968), a nod towards Nashville. 

Andersen's reputation is entrusted above all to Blue River (Columbia, 1972), a concept album of love songs that remains, together with Joni Mitchell's Blue and few others, one of the milestones of folk avant garde. Blue River is a collection of compositions for small chamber ensemble, stylistically situated between Leonard Cohen and Donovan: the most delicate Is It Really Love At All, the classical Florentine, the anxious serenade Sheila, the country ballad More Often Than Not, the piano and bass experiment Wind And Sand. The record winds up with the title-track and Round The Bend, two powerful gospels dripping with universal pain. Illuminated and resigned, the former restless romantic of the highways finds his true vocation in the serene folk wisdom expressed on Blue River. 

Victimized by recording industry swindles, Andersen's career declined little by little, in spite of the sweet Moonchild Riversong, from the album Be True To You (1975), and the gloomy Sweet Surprise, from the album Sweet Surprise (1976). The album Stages (1973) disappeared mysteriously before its release. 

In the 80s Andersen moved to Norway. In Europe he released Midnight Sun (Wind And Sand, 1979), Tight In The Night (Wind And Sand, 1985), and Movin' With The Wind (EMI, 1985). 

After years of begrudged silence, Eric Andersen finally released Ghosts Upon The Road (Gold Castle, 1988 - Plump, 1995), a record conceived in the intimate vein of Blue River - a great return to the scene, a rare occurrence in the history of rock. Belgian Bar is a rhapsody in the style of Warren Zevon, while the fist shaking diatribe Too Many Times rests on one of his most glorious melodies. The ethereal lullaby Spanish Steps (with traces of Tex-Mex by way of Dylan's Desire) and the modest parable Six Senses Of Darkness express the metaphysical longing of all his music, the same longing that transforms the monumental title-track into an all-consuming romantic autobiography, confirming the stature of this most refined and lyric poet. This record has the prophetic tone of a sage who studies the present, and reads in it the fine characters, minutely inscribed, of the future. 

Two years after he released a record co-written with Jonas Fjeld and Rick Danko (of the Band), Danko Fjeld Andersen (Rykodisc, 1990). The trio later recorded Ridin' On The Blinds (Rykodisc, 1997). 

In 1991 Columbia finally found the tapes of Stages, the album that should have followed Blue River (that Andersen suspected had been intentionally destroyed by the record company). Tender caresses like Moonchild River Song and melancholy waltzes like It' s Been A Long Time are in the same lyric tradition as the mythical masterpiece that preceded it. Wild Crow Blues leaps out in an ironic saloon-style boogie. Baby I' m Lonesome is a standard melody modestly sung by a tenor on the verge of tears, while the rhythm section seems to imitate the ticking of a clock, the guitar hisses like the wind and the organ climbs baroque chords. Andersen seems to reflect the early, very suffused Leonard Cohen in the lyric portrait Woman, She Was Gentle, with the spectral unfolding of the music, and that almost metaphysical "la la la". The stream of consciousness in Dream To Rimbaud pushes the limits of the psychedelic trip and the Indian raga. 

At the apex of his own philosophical-musical abilities, Andersen intones Time Runs Like A Freight Train for eight and a half minutes, as if in a dream, barely musical, in a sonorous evanescent trance. This is a slow, nostalgic dedication to the flowing of time, gently rocked by a few meager strokes of guitar, bass and Hammond organ. Stages is brimming with poetry of the human condition. If the record had been released in its proper time, most likely it would have established Andersen as one of the greatest songwriters of all time. 

Memory Of The Future (Appleseed, 1999) and You Can' t Relive The Past (Appleseed, 2000) are records of gloom and pessimism. The second in particular is a strong statement, its title track written in collaboration with Lou Reed; it plays as a requiem for passing friends Rick Danko and Townes Van Zandt..

In 1970 the fabulous seventies were just gone and not just because of a mere matter of dates: it was the idea of confining the world and its stories in the few minutes of a song that was ending. Instead, the world was welcoming the rise of the Me-Generation and its obsessive way to focus on the private life of authors, anxieties, hopes and disillusions of individuals rather than whole movements.
Eric Andersen, born in Pittsburgh, PA in 1943 and moved in his early years to New York to chase the river of words of Bob Dylan and the sung journalism of Phil Ochs, had already recorded 6 albums without, however, having taken nothing for granted. After having already given voice (and what a voice! sour, low, tenor, male and suffered) to the ones who, behind a coffeehouse windows in Greenwich Village, were dreaming to change the US political scene with the pacific weapons of folk and country, he was ready to reconsider ideas and doubts .

His best seller, the still marvelous Blue River (1972), will soon see the light although Avalanche and Eric Andersen (released three years before in 1968) were still exemplifying a beautiful, confused and rived transition, non replicable operas of a time when also majors – Warner Bros – could pay the rent of a recording studio for a folksinger whose only goal was to carve the perplexities, torments and forebodings of a whole generation on the polymers of a vinyl acetate.

San Francisco based DBK reissues these albums with their usual slovenliness, carefully avoiding any chronological information and forgetting even to reference the musicians and technicians involved. However, considering the mess that has been ruling the reissuing process of the artist’s work so far, a little inaccuracy will not prevent the fans of Eric Andersen from enjoying two, often forgotten, pages of his travel: a creative route that in its best moments is worth as much as the most revolutionary Bob Dylan, the most intimate Joni Mitchell or the most sharpened Lou Reed.

Avalanche, the first record released out of the historical partnership with Vanguard, comes out after the exquisite rootsy experiment of A country Dream (1969) whose chirpy and joyful traditionalisms are partially disowned by this new work.
The paths taken are the ones of a delicate and introspective folk song, often lost in the spiral of the one’s own dreams and thoughts. It’s Comin’ And It Won’t Be Long is a meaningful Dylan’s apocryphal, although the homeless folky passages of So Hard To Fall or Think About It, soften by female choruses and light orchestrations, are not worried to represent monologues that the author addresses to the most intimate part of the one’s being.

As if Andersen’s inspiration was following a tough personal confrontation or a snake of reflections ready to bite its own tail at any time, there’s not a ray of light apart from the bohemian elegy of (We Were) Foolish Like The Flowers, while the anguished vertigo of the meditations grows until it explodes in the visionary eight minutes of For What Was Gained, a long confessional mourning of a boy who died in Vietnam that clears off the optimistic antimilitarism of Thristy Boots or Violets Of Dawn and overthrows on it a ton of pessimism.

The upcoming Eric Andersen is more accessible, again focused on a soft and light country-rock enriched with steel, off-beats, percussions and honky-tonk steams. It Wasn’t A Lie, Secrets and I Will Wait are harsh ballads that don’t winkle to the listeners who are not tuned on the minimalist poetry of Andersen. On the other hand, the electric rockabilly of I Was The Rebel (She Was The Cause) or the distinguishing country-soul footprint of a Don’t Leave Me Here For Dead, which Spooner Oldham would have liked, catches Andersen in one of his most outgoing phases of his career. Sign Of A Desperate Man and She Touched Me, with those inserts of an almost funky organ, could easily compare in the catalogue of Dusty Springfield or Charlie Rich and the piano tenderness of Go Now, Deborah reveals instead a clear influence of Revolver by The Beatles (1966), especially referring to For No One.

These two record are surely not a must have especially because if you really want to explore Andersen’s catalogue you should surely pick first Blue River, the raw debut Today Is The Highway (1965), the underrated Upon The Road (1989) or the recent Memory Of The Future (1998). Nevertheless Avalanche and Eric Andersen represent meaningful steps in the journey of a musician that only a cynical and cheating destiny managed to imprison in the disheartening exile of the “cult heroes”........Gianfranco Callieri.......

AVALANCHE (1968) is not the most prominent record in the canon of folk-rock chameleon Eric Andersen--it did not even make the transfer to CD until 2007. However, this unjustly overlooked record stands as a perfect example of Andersen's unique skill at pouring himself into an extraordinary numbers of the folk world's far-off corners, though never coming off as an insincere dabbler. AVALANCHE opens with the San Francisco-via-Buffalo singer channeling Dylan on "It's Coming and It Won't Be Long," journeys to bluesy psychedelic rock on "Louise," throws in some majestic Beatlesque pop on "So Hard to Fall," and gets silly on the title track

Eric Andersen was born in Pittsburgh in 1943. His main instrument is the guitar, but he also plays harmonica and piano. 
Andersens career formed as he began playng the emerging folk scene in Greenwich Village, New York while in his early 20'ies. In 1964 he gave a concert at Gerdes Folk City, a central venue during the folk revival of the 60'ies. Following this concert, Anderson appeared on the Newport Festival and in the following years he began touring with Janis Joplin and other stars of the time. 
His songwriting qualities began being noticed by other singers. Especially "Violets of Dawn" and "Thirsty Boots" became standard repertoire of upcoming folk singers. 
In 1972 Eric Andersen released his most successful album, Blue River. His career was set back as the recordings for the next album disappeared and wasn't found until 19 years later. In 1991 they were released as Stages: The Lost Album. 
Andersen keps releasing albums during the 70'ies and early 80´ties and appeared as support act for Bob Dylan and as a part of the Woodstock Mountains Revue. 
In 1988 he released the albm Ghosts upon the Road, that was praised as one of the best albums of the year by the critics, but didn't become a commercial success. 
In the early 90'ties Anderson moved to Norway, where he formed a trio with norwegian singer Jonas Fjeld and Rick Danko, formerly with the Band. They released three albums during the 90'ties. 
In 1998 Anderson released another solo album, Memory of the Future. From then until present (2011), Andersen has released albums frequently, presenting a blend of his own songs as well as songs by colleagues. 
Eric Andersens songs has been covered by many artists, among other Pete Seeger, Judy Collins, Gillian Welch, Johnny Cash and Fairport Convention......

Arranged By – Eric Andersen (2), Gene Paige*, Jerry Goldstein
Art Direction – Ed Thrasher
Artwork [Cover] – Eve Babitz
Bass – Steven Anander
Bass, Acoustic Guitar, Tambourine – Bruce Langhorn*
Drums – Nick Gefroh
Electric Guitar, Acoustic Guitar – Andy Johnson
Engineer [Mixing] – Stan "Cracker" Weiss*
Engineer [Recording] – Chris Huston
Piano – Debby Green*, Lee Crabtree
Producer – Eric Andersen (2), Jerry Goldstein
Steel Guitar – Jaydee Manness*
Written-By, Electric Guitar, Acoustic Guitar, Piano – Eric Andersen (2)

A1 It's Comin' And It Won't Be Long 5:15
A2 An Old Song 4:30
A3 Louise 3:50
A4 Think About It
Arranged By – Paul Harris (2)
Bass – Chuck Rainey
Drums – Herb Lovell*
Guitar – Eric Gayle*
A5 So Hard To Fall 3:18
B1 Good To Be With You 3:08
B2 (We Were) Foolish Like The Flowers 5:35
B3 Avalanche
Backing Vocals – The Naked Apes
B4 For What Was Gained 8:07 


Today Is the Highway (1965)
'Bout Changes 'n' Things (1966)
'Bout Changes 'n' Things Take 2 (1967)
More Hits From Tin Can Alley (1968)
A Country Dream (1969)
Avalanche (1969)
Eric Andersen (1970)
Blue River (1972)
Be True To You (1975)
Sweet Surprise (1976)
Midnight Son (1980)
Tight In The Night (1984)
Istanbul Soundtrack (1985)
Ghosts Upon The Road (1989)
Stages: The Lost Album (1991) nahráno 1972-1973
Danko/Fjeld/Andersen - Rick Danko, Jonas Fjeld a Eric Andersen (1991)
Ridin' on the Blinds - Rick Danko, Jonas Fjeld a Eric Andersen (1994)
Memory Of The Future (1998)
You Can't Relive The Past (2000)
One More Shot - Rick Danko, Jonas Fjeld & Eric Andersen (2001) (2 CD's)
Beat Avenue (2002) (2CD)
Street Was Always There: Great American Song Series, Vol. 1 (2004)
Waves: Great American Song Series, Vol. 2 (2005)
Blue Rain - koncertní album (2007)
So Much on My Mind: The Anthology (1969–1980) (2007)
Avalanche (2008, reedice)[1]
The Cologne Concert - koncertní album (2011)

johnkatsmc5, welcome music..







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