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Pearls Before Swine

Prog Folk

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Pearls Before Swine Tom Rapp: Stardancer album cover
2.62 | 7 ratings | 2 reviews | 0% 5 stars

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Studio Album, released in 1972

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Fourth Day of July (4:55)
2. For the Dead in Space (4:05)
3. The Baptist (5:00)
4. Summer of '55 (2:13)
5. Tiny Song (2:33)
6. Stardance (5:42)
7. Marshall (2:15)
8. Why Should I Care (3:07))
9. Touch Tripping (4:55)
10. Les Ans (1:50)

Total Time 36.35

Line-up / Musicians

- Tom Rapp / vocals, guitar

- Florence Warner / harmony & backing vocals
- Charlie McCoy / guitar, tenor banjo, dobro, harmonica, organ, toy piano, vibes, session leader
- Reggie Young / guitar
- James Colvard / guitar
- Steve McCord / guitar
- Weldon Myrick / steel guitar
- Harry Orlove / guitar, mandolin & backing vocals (3,6,7)
- David Briggs / piano
- Bobby Wood / piano
- Buddy Spicher / fiddle, electric viola, electric violin
- Bill Rollins / cello & backing vocals (3,6,7)
- Brenton Banks / violin (10)
- Sheldon Kurland / violin (10)
- Gary Van Osdale / viola (10)
- Byron Bach / cello (10)
- Art Ellis / flute, wind chimes, congas & backing vocals (3,6,7)
- Mike Leech / bass, string arrangements
- Jimmy Isbell / drums, bongos, congas, percussion

Releases information

Artwork: "Descent of the Rebel Angels" by Pieter Bruegel the Elder (c. 1525-1530 - 9 Sept. 1569)

LP Blue Thumb Records ‎- BTS 44 (1972, US)

CD Lemon Recordings ‎- CDLEM 128 (2009, UK)

Thanks to friso for the addition
and to Quinino for the last updates
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PEARLS BEFORE SWINE Tom Rapp: Stardancer ratings distribution

(7 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(0%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(17%)
Good, but non-essential (67%)
Collectors/fans only (17%)
Poor. Only for completionists (0%)

PEARLS BEFORE SWINE Tom Rapp: Stardancer reviews

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Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Sean Trane
3 stars Although released under his own name, Stardancer deserves the PBS moniker (it was his new Blue Thumb label that decided against it), if only for the logical musical continuity of what came before. Of course it had been a while since the bnd had stopped having a stable studio line-up, even if its touring version had a semblance of stability. Sure, by this time, the superb psych/prog folk of the first two albums and Use Of Ashes was long-gone, but we can still find a few trace in the course of Stardancer, well hidden under the fairly wide-ranging songs that grace this album. Strangely enough, it appears that the Cherry Red CD reissue reverses the side playing order as opposed to the original vinyl, so I will tell you I reviewed the album in its CD form

Among the better prog-folk songs is the opening title track, which grows out of chimes into a soft guitar and a very personal complaint. Sweet flutes, hypnotizing cellos, windy cymbals and haunting melodies are what make this song magic. However the spell is broken with the awkward Marshall ditty filled with Caribbean percussions. The following Why Should I Care sounds like a goofy 40's Music Hall thing with an insufferable twangy/country/jazz feel. Touch Tripping and the French-sung Las Ans (sounding like n Eleanor Rigby version) closes the A/B side. The flipside opens on the poignant (and album- proggiest) Fourth Day Of July with plenty or eeriness and dramatics to boot. The Dylan-esque For The Dead In Space is present a semi-folk ambiance in its first part and a semi-country feel in its second half. The country-esque Baptist is definitely not up my alley, but I can understand why this song might gather a lot of support, but it overstays its welcome to my ears. Summer Of 55 features some rapid- fire percussions and some sax and other horns, while the closing goofy Tiny Song goes nuts.

Although SD is hardly as good as an early PBS album, there are a few outstanding tracks (three actually) that make it investigable and certainly worth considering investing in it. But I would consider not doing so either, because the album lacks a clear musical direction, because of its all-too-wide spectrum and therefore the hole lacks cohesion.

Review by friso
2 stars The first two Pearls Before Swine albums ('One Nation Underground' and 'Balaklava') are highly recommended psychedelic rock / prog folk albums. Among my favorite sixties records. I can also enjoy listening to later contemporary folk PBS albums like 'City of Gold' and 'Beautiful Lies'. The next go to album was said to be 'Stardancer (1972)', released under Tom Rapp's own name. The band's line-up had been in constant flux since Rapp started recording in Nashville for 'The Use of Ashes' in 1970. Tom Rapp is one of my favorite vocalists; he has a truly original voice and his emotional - almost whimsical - singing always grasps me. Even when he sings a country song (which is about the biggest compliment a singer could get from me).

On this album there's a slight return to the psychedelic rock leanings of the debut, though contemporary folk remains the main genre here. The recording quality and mixing varies a lot, excluding the possibility for these songs to really hit the jackpot. Buried under the lo-fi sound there are some pretty cool songs; like the dark and gloomy opener 'Fourth Day of July' with its phasing effects. Somehow this song also showcases how bitter and long-overdue the lingering hippy scene had become - and how its political message became a burden. 'Stardance' than really is a song that would have fitted on that magical Balaklava album that many love so much. The other songs all have psychedelic elements but they don't always mix well with the Dylan-esque country feel. Some of the lighter songs are a bit annoying, like the silly 'Why Should I Care'. The final song 'Les Ans' with its baroque feel leaves the listener with that emotive 'what if' feeling. Simple and beautiful song.

In the end, the promise of Tom Rapp and Pearls Before Swine was to fade slowly and rather grimly with a string of albums that just aren't that well made. From these same recordings the 1973 equally plagued 'Sunflower' would be released and after that Rapp would focus on his work as a civil rights lawyer. Fans are left to image what could have been achieved by this amazing performer in the seventies. In hindsight Rapp's main problem must have been living in the USA in stead of England at that time, where folk and prog remained lively for many years to come.

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