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Pearls Before Swine - The Use Of Ashes CD (album) cover


Pearls Before Swine


Prog Folk

4.20 | 39 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
3 stars Pearls Before Swine - The Use of Ashes (1970)

PBS is an English (psych)folk band around Tom Rapp (who proved to be the only remaining member over the years). Their debut and second are both great psych-folk records, but in the seventies Rapp changed direction to more traditional folk and rock arrangements. The Use of Ashes still has some reverb-arrangements, but the focus lies on professional production instead of the intimate and psychedelic feel of the PBS records of the sixties. I've become quite a fan of PBS and it's mastermind Tom Rapp, but a second hand vinyl collector can't always decide in which chronology he get's it's records. Actually, this was my last PBS record. The hopes were high, because of the high ratings of other well respected users.

To be honest, I don't really get the hype (it is praised as the best PBS record all over the internet) around this record. The production is good, the arrangements are professional and the use of some symphonic sounds are nice. But the song-writing is way below the level of earlier (and in my honest opinion) later records of the band. The praised 'Rocket Man' leaves me quite cold and most other tracks have melodies that just don't sound touching. On side two the band regains momentum with a string of reasonable songs 'The Old Man', 'Riegel' and my favourite 'When the War began', but even those songs are a bit too simple and sound too professional (instead of intimate). The band now sounds a bit static and the total absence of psychedelic influences makes this another band. Where are the days of simple, but effective moody/atmospheric songs like 'Another Time' (from the debut)?

But let's not get apocalyptic here. The voice of Tom Rapp, one of my favourites, still shines in most songs and the records doesn't have any weak song either. Some arrangements are quite clever (though never too touching). It's the bluesy/folky voice of Rapp that still changes lead into gold. But if one would ask me, I would still prefer the more eclectic and playful 'City of Gold' (which in turn is somehow widely known to be a low-point for the band) and the more intimate 'Beautiful Lies you could live in'.

Conclusion. A good but non-essential album by folk-rock legend Tom Rapp that somehow works very well for others. If you like slightly symphonic arranged songs with a focus on great folky/bluesy vocals this might be a great entry to the band, for progressive or psych leanings I would recommend 'One Nation Underground' and 'Balaklava'. This one will have to settle for three.

friso | 3/5 |


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