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Pearls Before Swine - These Things Too CD (album) cover


Pearls Before Swine

Prog Folk

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Sean Trane
Prog Folk
3 stars For some reasons, it appears that the PBS lost out Lane Lederer, leaving main songwriter and singer Tom Rapp as the sole original member with Harley on the way out, but still present here, while appearing, is Tom's wife on background vocals. The album probably refers to the jazz standard Things We Like, but the album is a step backwards to Balaklava and being sandwiched on the other side by the fantastic Use Of Ashes is not helping either The group also had changed label, leaving the experimental jazz ESP label for the major international Reprise (Hendrix, Neil Young etc.) and it would remain so until the end of PBS.

While I said the album is a step backwards to both Balaklava and UOA, it is more pure short folk rock song based in the Dylan/Byrds type (as with their first ONU), but appears a few country flavour (which never sits well with me) like the awful If You Don't Want To, but it's never overpowering. Like there is a few Pearls into every Swine album, TTT has its share of superb tracks like the impressive Sail Away (great instrumentation including brass and a harp) the plaintive Look Into Her Eyes, the intriguing Man Il The Tree, but the rare electric (and beautiful When I Was A Child (Tom gets help from his wife Elizabeth in the vocal department) with its superb arrangements and the closing title track, which almost announces the following Use Of Ashes.

Strange little ditties like the opening Footnote or Green And Blue as well as the sung-in-French Mon amour are bringing a touch pf "throw it all in one basket", especially with the two weird Frog In The Window: there are two of these tracks on the album, the first being . and the second being some semi Cajun/Hillbilly

Wayne Harley would leave PBS, leaving Tom Rapp as the sole driver of the group, which at first won't be a bad thingAlthough not quite as mind-blowing (but imperfect) Balaklava, or as astounding as UOA, TTT is still worth an hearing and might fust enthral you enough to own it.

Report this review (#174285)
Posted Wednesday, June 18, 2008 | Review Permalink
Prog Folk Researcher
3 stars Of all the Pearls Before Swine albums, this one exudes the stark beauty of Tom Rapp’s native North Dakota more than anything else he would record until his final solo release ‘A Journal Of The Plague Year’ some thirty years later. It is also one of the more difficult and expensive PBS albums to find, both in the original vinyl and the 2004 Water label CD reissue. Fortunately the iTunes and Amazon downloads are much more reasonably priced and accessible.

Compared to the band’s first two mild acid folk albums this one is more conventional sounding, with plenty of contemporary American folk-rock compositions ala Bob Dylan such as “Mon Amour”, “Look Into Her Eyes”, “Sail Away” and the oft-covered Dylan original “I Shall Be Released”.

This record reminds me a lot of the group’s 1971 release ‘City of Gold’, and like that one this is almost a Rapp solo album considering everyone except banjoist Wayne Harley had checked out by the time it was recorded (and he would leave following this release himself). Rapp’s wife Elizabeth debuts here with a few scattered vocal appearances, most notably on the brief a cappella number “Green and Blue”, and would remain with the group in an increasing role until they disbanded a few years later. She also co-wrote “Mon Amour”.

Most of the album sustains the same somber and barren mood as the opening track “Footnote”, with plenty of lyrical alliteration that makes for hours of deciphering for anyone so inclined. The one exception is the odd and out-of-place “Frog in the Window”, which for some reason appears twice with the first having a sort of vaudevillian aura and the second version being more folksy thanks largely to the replacing of bouncy celesta with a mellow banjo and Elizabeth Rapp’s gentle backing vocals.

I can’t say this album was a treasured discovery when I finally got around to picking up the digital download a while back; I bought it more as a completer piece than anything else. It is pretty decent for anyone who is into Dylan, Richard & Mimi Fari˝a, Val St÷ecklein and the like; or those who found Rapp’s ‘City of Gold’ record to be an appealing one. I think three stars is an appropriate rating, with a small disclaimer that hardcore progressive rock and folk purists may be a bit disappointed.


Report this review (#257912)
Posted Saturday, December 26, 2009 | Review Permalink
2 stars Pearls Before Swine - These thing too (1969)

After two excellent progressive psych folk records PBS returns with an album that is often seen as their least appealing. Quite frankly, this is the PBS albums on which simply nothing seems to work! The production is blurry, the reverbs sound a bit cheap and somehow my thought always a bit distorted whilst listening to this album. The song-writing of Rapp seems to have less focus with some of his lines not making too much sense. The opening song is a direct confrontation with lyrics about Adolf Hitler, which doesn't really work for me. The two versions of Frog in the Window are a bit silly, whilst the first version sounds quite ugly.

Apart from that, this album still has a lot of PBS beauty to offer. Songs like 'Sail away', 'Look into her eyes' and 'Man in the tree' are still attractive (to name some of the good songs of just side one), though the blurry production remains a problem for me. This album also has the first vocal appearances of Elisabeth, which is good.

The album has few psych folk traces left and it's quite a mystery why PBS left the brilliant atmospheric psych folk format of 'Balaklava' when the progressive (folk) movement was just getting started. Looking back on this album one must wonder what went wrong on 'These things too'. Before and after this PBS would record great records with a warm production and I'm tempted to say that this album must have been recorded with inferior means and/or with great haste. There's just lot's of potential in most songs, but I keep getting dizzy whilst listening to this album.

Conclusion. Based on the quality of this product I have to give two stars and I prefer any other album by Pearls Before Swine. For listeners who are less bothered by the sound of this record this might still be a very worthwhile album of Tom Rapp and crew. A real pity, with a good production and stronger performance this might just have been a four star record.

Report this review (#533878)
Posted Monday, September 26, 2011 | Review Permalink
3 stars "These Things too" is a transitional record between the psychedelic/obscure folk period of Pearls Before Swine and the symphonic folk period. The cover is less impressive then on the earlier recordings and the album title suggests that we have to deal with recordings that didn't fit on the earlier recordings or are 2nd rate material. This album may not be Pearls Before Swine's most appreciated record; there are still some gems on it however and should not be skipped by fans of the surrounding works.

There is a great change in sound in comparison with the previous obscure Balaklava record. The addition of a piano and some more traditional singer/song writer material makes this record less interesting, but I must admit I'm still very impressed by about the halve of the songs which do remind me of the great Balaklava. Tom Rapp enters different new territory with a French chanson (Mon Amour), woman backin' vocals (Man in the Tree) and country music (If you don't want to (...)). Like on Balaklava there is one cover song on the record. This time its a Bob Dylan track (I shall be released), which I find one of the weaker tracks of the record. There are two versions of "Frog on the window" on the record: the first one is a psychedelic one and the other an more Spanish/ Greek influcenced one.

Both sides of the record contain some great songs and some mediocre songs. Maybe it is because Tom Rapp devoted this record to his wife Elisabeth (who takes care of the woman vocals) that this record is a bit more "dreamy" in sound and less obscure/ psychedelic then the previous recordings. The recordings themselves are more "difficult" and this record took me longer to appreciate then the earlier recordings. This record is still growing on me however and therefor I'll credit three stars for it. First try out the far more brilliant Balaklava!

Report this review (#919409)
Posted Tuesday, February 26, 2013 | Review Permalink

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