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


Pearls Before Swine


Prog Folk

2.84 | 17 ratings

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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.


ClemofNazareth | 3/5 |


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