Though I’m a fan of the historical importance of its existence, and early Simon & Garfunkel is damn-near perfect, hardcore folk music has always been one of those illusive and rarely sought-after genres I’ve made attempts to all but avoid throughout my “listening career.” It’s my ignorance, really, or my desire to “waste” my time listening to music of much better quality (again, ignorance rears its daft head), but The Kingston Trio’s 1960 album String Along nicely fits this unwelcomed void, so much so that it’s making me question the sadly inevitable, “getting into folk” chapter of my life. Coming as a “must-have” suggestion, mainly for the side 2 track, To Morrow about a small town in Ohio where the “suggester” spent his glory years, I fear this key is unlocking a folk-sized door that my ears (any my patience) have always intended to ignore. A welcoming error in judgement on my part, we’ll see how long this new storm cloud lingers.
(Is my obsession showing?) When subtle vigor overcomes wasted want, there stands the might Andrew Jackson Jihad. Featured here, again, is the 2nd pressing of AJJ’s first full length, People Who Can Eat People Are the Luckiest People in the World. Necessary ear candy, regardless of the pressing, punk-influences folk transcending 11 blissful, crass, comforting melodies… what more, no, seriously, what more could you ask for?
Same album, different covers, same track listing, same catalog number, 2x art options, because with Jim and Ingrid Croce, options are a-plenty. Likely the Croce-head cover is a reissue of the train track melodies original, but with the same cat. number and zero indication of an identifying year, it’s really anybody’s guess.
Not that any of this matters, because at the end of the day, it all comes down to the music, and beneath both covers is a substantial collection of riveting folk-rock full of country themes, hard time, and beautiful lyrics. Ingrid gets as much, if not more mic time than Jim, (and she kills it), but that’s not to say James Joseph Croce ever takes a backseat, or really, that he ever could. From Vespers to Big Wheel to the emotionally cleansing closer, Spin, Spin, Spin, Another Day, Another Town is a monumental collection for anyone looking to tap square into late 60’s Americana, and with anything Croce related, she comes HIGHLY recommended.
In 1966, Tim Hardin released his first studio album, Tim Hardin 1, and on this radiant release was not a reason to wonder, but instead a Reason to Believe, that Tim Hardin was, in fact, a timeless (and ultimately reckless) force, begging to be messed with.
The album’s third track, Smugglin’ Man, paints a greasy, underhanded picture of a deceitful man, THE man, able and willing to supply illegal substances to, among others, the Indians, the Arabs, and the Jews. This man of opportunity is, of course, Tim himself, or “Timmie” as the song goes. Be it guns, whiskey, gin or blatantly put, “anything illegal,” Tim was your late night go-to guy. Yes, Smugglin’ Man is a hell-of-a rockin’ R&B ditty, sung by a demon with an angel’s voice.
Cut to 1970’s compilation album, Tim Hardin.
Capitalizing on Tim’s breakout success of the late 60s, Tim Hardin (the album, not the man) was yet another repackaged, “Best of,” whose 9 (of 10) tracks made up the bulk of his first two albums (Tim Hardin 1 and Tim Hardin 2, naturally). I’m a completist sucker, so I had to have Tim Hardin, even though I’d already owned these songs two, and some even three times over.
All of this is very well, nice and good, but the (long-winded) message at heart, here, is that there is a hilarious oversight printed on this comp’s front cover. Instead of a rum-runnin’ man with a deviant mind for smugglin’, is instead a jaunty fellow with the habit for snuggling. As it’s printed, Snuggling Man paints a much different, and more family friendly picture than the gin-smugglin’, whiskey-sellin’ scar on the pale face of morality.
So, if you’re familiar with the song, here’s a little gift, smuggled, and snuggled, from me, to you…
I’m an old time snugglin’ man and I know just what to do
I’m an old time snugglin’ man and I know just what to do
I sell guns to the Arabs,
I sell dynamite to the Jews
– Lyrics by Tim Hardin, snuggler extraordinaire.
Because the only way to stop a Tim Hardin train from derailing is a head-on collision with a low-hanging bridge of fate (and that can mean whatever the hell you want it to mean). My latest obsession is now in its third phase of its (six-part) metamorphosis, the phase I call, “The Later Works of Tim that Didn’t Sell Very Well, and That are Generally Difficult to Find.”
The next phase, phase four, is “Formal Completion of Tim’s Studio Albums,” which will kick into gear as soon as my 1970 copy of Suite for Susan Moore and Damion arrives at my doorstep (likely within seven days). The later albums, I’ve come to find, offer much more sentimentality than Tim’s earlier efforts, but still maintain that biting cleverness and songwriting craftsmanship that demand constant and continuous play.
I’m in a Tim Hardin-sized coma, and I hope I never open my eyes again.
Short retort tonight, as the warm, guilty rays from the Hardin Sun cast fervent necessity that borderlines an acute obsession upon me and mine during these last few (years) weeks. I’ve gone so far as to hunt down the “Electronically Re-Recorded to Simulate STEREO” version of This is Tim Hardin to accompany the original mono version, and I have, today, decided it was worth a few good, conscious hours to digitize both albums for digital enjoyment. I’ve yet to find the proper ear-apparatus to showcase the difference between the two, but as with any obsession, logic gets second billing.
RIP James Timothy Hardin.
How a “Best of” album can be fathomed (let alone released) after only two studio albums (out of nine) is far beyond my feeble comprehension, yet, such is the case with The Best of Tim Hardin. Comprised of a single disc cutdown of Tim Hardin 1 and Tim Hardin 2, this 11-track comp, although magnificent beyond all audible understanding, lies through its teeth with its brags and boasts that this is in fact the best that Tim Hardin had to offer. Does it contain his early, and most pop-centric hits? Sure. Does it contain If I Were A Carpenter and Reason to Believe? Of course. Is it a well-rounded sense of this man’s brilliant songwriting ability, well thought out, considering his lengthy body of work? Not a chance in hell. For my money (I own it twice, and bought it three times), it doesn’t get any better than This is Tim Hardin, a worthy and presentable alternative as an adequate “Best of.”
I was able to find a stereo copy of This is Tim Hardin today at a thrifty little (unorganized) shop down in Long Beach. Already having been the owner of the original mono version, I couldn’t turn my back on this artificial (only because it was electronically re-recorded to simulate STEREO) stereo version for a cool $6. Possibly the best record I’ve ever laid ears on, I managed to acquire both copies the guy had (stereo for me, mono for a fellow Hardin-admiring buddy).
I am currently in possession of three This is Tim Hardin albums, and something tells me, it’s not enough.
“Are you ready to check out? You want both copies?!” – Guy
“Yes, guy! I have cash… why do you question the willing?” – Me, in my head
Mellow Yellow, the 1967 album by the Glasgow born, Scottish revolutionary, Donovan Phillips Leitch (as apposed to Mello Yello, the refreshing citrus beverage enjoyed during the bike riding summers of yesteryear), carries with it an aura, a golden, warming glow of sandal-wearing, ankle-wading, mind-clearing, beach-yearning temperaments of folky goodness, perfect for soaking in the warm, skin-kissing rays from that mass of incandescent gas we call the sun.
Certain times throughout the annual revolution of our inhabitable rock, the specific craving for particular sounds eclipses that of everyday listening pleasure. In December, it’s the Monks, in May it’s Vacuum Scam, and for whatever unknown (however wholeheartedly welcomed) reason, March is the perfect time for Donovan.
Dear Mr. Hardin AKA my current crutch,
Why? Thank you, sincerely, and from the bottom of my soul, but why? Did you know… did you see… that death was easier than the inevitable? Was it easier to give in, than to exploit and disrupt? Love, being only a four-letter word, seemed easily disregarded, be it, perhaps, for only in three minute intervals.
Mr. Hardin, certain voices cannot be silenced, and certain feelings cannot be ignored. I carry as much sorrow as I do gratitude, and your voice, provided with fevered esteem, will carry on where your will could not. Seemingly out of nowhere, the soundtrack to the bulk of my existence, my self-indulgent, unconscious darkness, is produced by you. You did what was needed. Your demise is not in question… certainly, for, who am I to judge? Instead, the painted roadmaps that lead to your inevitable doom, and ethereal glory, is what, above all else, I can’t figure out… be it my ignorance, or your selfish neglect.
Tim, for what you’ve provided, and, what I imagine, will continue to provide via your essentials, AKA record albums (the Record Album?), for that body of work, a body I assume you were never able to see from afar, I am extremely grateful… to put it mildly.
The words, “Tim Hardin” will never be far from thought, and I will do all that I can to suggest, to convince, to sway, to push, to assure, and to drop the needle for any and everyone I feel necessitates your comforting tone.
Mr. Tim Hardin, I was only one year, six months and two days when you passed, but until the day in which I leave this mottled agony, I will not forget your soulful message. This adolescent gesture is but a scuff on the shoe of creative genius, but please rest assured, your music will forever have a home so long as these lungs are able to draw in the dank, desperate air.
The Prudent Groove