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Pearls Before Swine - One Nation Underground CD (album) cover


Pearls Before Swine


Prog Folk

3.43 | 23 ratings

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Sean Trane
Special Collaborator
Prog Folk
3 stars 3.5 stars really!!!

Debut album released on the famous ESP label (normally an experimental jazz label) in the summer 67 from PBS, a group that focused on Tom Rapp and his taste for mystic, gothic texts. If this debut album sees the group as quartet (plus an invited drummer), including multi-instrumentalist Wayne Harley and Lane Dederer, giving a fairly wide scope for a normal folk rock group at the time. Because ONU is definitely not yet PBS at its purest, often still taking much inspiration from Dylan and The Byrds, but there was a definite will to offer more than that, just their potential had not yet bloomed to its full later self. But the mystic and profound nature of the music is already apparent and not only through the splendid Flemish artworks being represented on the sleeve and the texts.

If it is obvious that Dylan's stature hovers all over side 1, it's quite easy to see in Playmate and the almost jug-band Miss Moore, where PBS almost sound like Dylan's crew on H61R, at other times (Drop Out) it's more The Byrds (Turn, Turn, Turn); but there are also more personal moments like Amber Lady (a collab with keyboardist Crissinger) with its bed of guitar arpeggios under delicates multi-layered vocals that actually is the highlight of the opening side. What might not be really apparent is that Lederer and Harvey are playing a wide array of instruments that allow the tracks to exist on their own

The flipside is much more interesting starting on the haunting Morning.Song, with its gloomy organ, and far-out sitar and a haunting flute. Regions Of May is laying on layers of solemn English horn, and support the The more upbeat Uncle John sounds like an LA garage band track complete with the Vox Continental organ and savage yelling. Totally un-like PBS, yet so much part of them as well. I shall not care is bit in that same frame of mind after a quiet intro and before an astounding middle passage digging in the nightmarish world of Bosch's Gardens of Delights (artwork of the sleeve), before returning to the garage sound. Closing the album is Surrealist Waltz penned (and sung) by bassist Lederer and keyboardist Crissinger.and is yet another highlight on this album.

While its potential is not fully developed yet, PBS put out a highly influential album, PBS made a remarked debut, but it was buried in with the hippie counter-culture. A good debut , but much better is to come.

Sean Trane | 3/5 |


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