on 8 April 2006
This is a compilation of Paul Siebel's two legendary albums, "Woodsmoke and Oranges" and "Jack-Knife Gypsy". I can't remember when I first heard Paul Siebel's music, probably around 1970. Howcver, I'll never forget the song. It was "Bride 1945" played over an FM radio station. The song was hauntingly beautiful, and I immediately bought "Woodsmoke and Oranges" and found that every song on the album was unique. The lyrics, music, and David Bromberg's exquisite guitar made each song a jewel captured in time. I used to listen to that LP in the dark at night in my little university apartment and tried to imagine the kind of man who could write such sensitive and sometimes cynical lyrics and sing with such feeling. I guess I had an aural crush on Paul Siebel. I thought his music was terrific and expected him to become famous. Eventually I came to the conclusion that I was possibly the only person on the west coast of America who knew who he was. His second album Jack-Knife Gypsy" came out a couple of years later and showcased his versatility. "Hillbilly Child", which he allegedly wrote with his friend Linda Ronstadt in mind is reminiscent of Hank Williams at his best. "Legend of the Captain's Daughter" has incredible original lyrics and a Cajun feel. I particularly like his songs, because they are not angst-ridden, self-indulgent drivel. Songs like "Pinto Pony" are visual stories that unfold like little motion pictures in your mind. They are often filled with allegorical allusions; the miners in "Jasper and the Miners" may really be about the CIA, FBI, IRS, or any diggers into one's privacy. "Ballad of Honest Sam" (allegedly about Richard Nixon) is just as timely today given most American's disillusionment with current politics. Paul Siebel's voice is unique - kind of raw and pure. He was one of the best American singer/songwriters of the 60's and 70's but didn't get the recognition that he deserved. However, he was much appreciated by fellow musicians who recorded his songs, among them: Emmylou Harris, Linda Rondstadt, Iain Matthews, Jerry Jeff Walker, David Bromberg, Bonnie Raitt, Rosalie Sorrels, Kate Wolf, and Leo Kottke. I hope the reissue of his albums on CD will lead to his discovery by new listeners and delight by old fans like me. Time hasn't diminished the impact of these songs. They sound fresh and original with fabulous lyrics and compelling melodies.
on 29 November 2005
When I bought this album in the early 70's none of my friends liked it compared to the PROG ROCK that was the "diet of the day". When I bought it a second time last month I realise how narrow minded the 70's listener was (including me). This is a gem for collectors. Solid Folk/CW music by a man who would not bend to the commercial call of compromise music. Paul Siebel, whose music would influence Bob Dylan, Woody Guthrie and the like and has been recorded by the best CW artists around, must rate as a refreshing taste of "SOUL" music in its clearest form. This album was made for pleasure not profit and the artist suffered financially for being so bold. It is a musical statement that must be heard to capture the essence of the mood of it's day. Dylan had it and also the commercial success (without compromise?). Listen to Long Afternoons and rate it as a Love Song in the Folk/ Country style that US singers master in and you may agree with my mate Dennis who told me in the 70's that this album was 30 years ahead of its time. I have added it to my list of lesser known genius that the 70's sidlined for the drivel that sold in the millions.
A little like Fred Neil – New Yorker PAUL SIEBEL made a couple of rather gorgeous but commercially unsuccessful albums and then left the industry abruptly.
This truly beautiful sounding CD for Siebel is part of the '2 Classic Elektra Albums' Series that started in late 2001 and continued into the summer of 2004 (see list below). The series primarily gathered together two rare Elektra Records Folk albums from the Sixties and Seventies onto 1CD (including some Blues and Country acts too). Paul Siebel's two lone albums "Woodsmoke And Oranges" (1970) and "Jack-Knife Gypsy" (1971) are firmly in the Country Rock vein with occasional flourishes of Folk Tunes and singer-songwriter Rock. Both have been compared both vocally and stylistically to Bob Dylan's "Nashville Skyline" from 1969 where the Bobster embraced Country Music big time – and that’s an accurate comparison. Let’s get to the nasal details...
UK released August 2004 – Elektra/Warner Strategic Marketing 8122 76507-2 (Barcode 081227650728) breaks down as follows (77:15 minutes):
1. She Made Me Loose My Blues
2. Miss Cherry Lane
3. Nashville Again
4. The Ballad Of Honest Sam
5. Then Came The Children
6. Louise [Side 2]
7. Bride 1945
8. My Town
9. Any Day Woman
10. Long Afternoons
Tracks 1 to 10 are his debut album "Woodsmoke And Oranges" – released February 1970 in the UK and USA on Elektra EKS 74064. Produced by PETER K. SIEGEL – all songs were written by Paul Siebel.
PAUL SIEBEL – Acoustic and 12-String Guitar
DAVID BROMBERG – Acoustic, Electric Guitar and Dobro
DON BROOKS – Harmonica (on "Then Came The Children")
RICHARD GREENE – Violin (on "Miss Cherry Lane" and "The Ballad Of Honest Sam")
JEFF GUTCHEON – Piano And Organ
WELDON MYRICK – Pedal Steel Guitar
GARY WHITE – Bass
JAMES MADISON - Drums
11. Jasper & The Miners
12. If I Could Stay
13. Jack-Knife Gypsy
14. Prayer Song
15. Legend Of The Captain’s Daughter
16. Hillbilly Child [Side 2 – see Note]
17. Pinto Pony
18. Miss Jones
19. Jeremiah’s Song
20. Uncle Dudley
21. Chips Are Down
Tracks 11 to 21 are his 2nd album "Jack-Knife Gypsy" – released March 1971 in the UK and USA on Elektra EKS 74081. Produced by ZACHARY – all songs were written by Paul Siebel.
Note: Side 2 of original UK and US vinyl LPs had the track running order as follows 21, 17, 16, 20, 18 and 19. For some unexplained reason the CD track list lines them up in a different configuration (as listed above).
PAUL SIEBEL – Rhythm Guitar And Vocals
BOB WARFORD and CLARENCE WHITE – Lead Guitars
JIMMY BUCHANAN – Violin and Viola
BUDDY EMMONS – Pedal Steel Guitar
DAVID GRISMAN – Mandolin
RALPH SCHUCKETT – Piano and Organ
BILLY WOLFE – Bass
RUSS KUNKEL – Drums
Other Sidemen – Paul Dillon, Peter Ecklund, Doug Kershaw, Peter Kuvashka, Bernie Leadon (of Dillard & Clarke, Flying Burrito Brothers and Eagles), Ralph Lee Smith and Gary White
22. Nervous (Take 5 - Previously Unreleased Outtake)
The card-wrap that accompanies all of these '2 Classic Elektra Albums' CDs lends the release a very classy feel. The 12-page booklet features most of the original artwork for these two rare early Seventies albums - the track lists, musician credits and a small essay on the reclusive singer by Peter Doggett of Record Collector magazine fame (author of several music books too). There’s even lyrics to "The Ballad Of Honest Sam" and "Louise" against the backdrop of colour photos. It’s nicely done. But the really big news for fans is a truly gorgeous remaster from original tapes by DAN HERSCH – an Engineer familiar to many collectors who’ve bought any Rhino CD reissue in the last 30 years. This CD sounds stupendous – clear, warm and never over-amped for the sake of it. When you play the two stunning acoustic-only tracks on "Woodsmoke And Oranges" – "My Town" and "Long Afternoons" – the audio can only be described as perfection.
The first album opens with the hick Country of "She Made Me Loose My Blues" with the Pedal Steel of Weldon Myrick to the fore. We get a little Randy Newman with "Miss Cherry Lane" which was actually put out as a single in the UK (B-side) in March 1970 on Elektra EKSN 45085 with "Bride 1945" on the A-side. Of all the Country tracks on here my personal fave is "The Ballad Of Honest Sam" – a song about a card cheat who fooled sad-eyed losers by appearing to be 'honest' (Siebel sounds identikit to Dylan on "Nashville Skyline" – a good thing in my book). Both the lovely "Louise" and "Any Day Woman" were covered by an 18-year old friend of Siebel – Bonnie Raitt (as well as others after her). But my crave on this superb debut album is the two acoustic-only tunes – "My Town" and "Long Afternoons" – both as gorgeous as Seventies singer-songwriter gets. "My Town" laments a friend who gave his life in Vietnam while "Long Afternoons" is a straight-up love-song about a lady with a kindly touch and "...soft brown hair in the sun on long afternoons..."
Despite the larger crew of musicians (some big names too) - the second LP is weaker in my eyes than the first. On the upside you get “Prayer Song” where he successfully mixes Pedal Steel with Richard Green strings – a lovely builder of a song. “Pinto Pony” jaunts along nicely too while “Chips Are Down” pours on the melodrama about being a man when the "chips are down". The Bonus Track turns out to be Take 5 of a song called "Nervous" - it's good but hardly great. In fact Siebel’s nasal whine and the over-reliance on Country Rock with Pedal Steel can make some of the songs seem repetitive – but that first album “Woodsmoke And Oranges” has magic on it more than once or twice - it really does. And with that gorgeous audio – and those powerfully humane lyrics - this CD reissue is a shoe-in to touch your heart more than you would guess. Dig in and enjoy...
PPS: other titles listed in the '2 Classic Elektra Albums' CD series are:
1. David Blue (1966) / Singer Songwriter Project (1965) - DAVID BLUE
2. Tim Buckley (1966) / Goodbye And Hello (1967) - TIM BUCKLEY
3. The Paul Butterfield Blues Band (1965) / East West (1967) - THE BUTTERFIELD BLUES BAND
4. The Resurrection Of Pigboy Crabshaw (January 1968) / In My Own Dream (August 1968) - THE BUTTERFIELD BLUES BAND
5. Heads & Tails (March 1972) / Sniper And Other Love Songs (October 1972) – HARRY CHAPIN
6. A Maid Of Constant Sorrow (1961) / Golden Apples Of The Sun (1962) - JUDY COLLINS
7. Judy Collins No. 3 (1963) / The Judy Collins Concert (1964) - JUDY COLLINS
8. Wildflowers (1967) / Who Knows Where The Time Goes (1968) - JUDY COLLINS
9. Back Porch Bluegrass (1963) / Live!!!! Almost!!!! (1964) - THE DILLARDS
10. Earth Opera (1968) / The Great American Eagle Tragedy (1969) – EARTH OPERA
11. Judy Henske [Live] (1963) / High Flying Bird (1964) - JUDY HENSKE
12. The Incredible String Band (1966) / The 5000 Spirits Or The Layers Of Onions (1967) – THE INCREDIBLE STRING BAND
13. Blues, Rags & Hollers (1963) / Lots More Blues, Rags & Hollers (1964) – "SPIDER" JOHN KOERNER, DAVE "SNAKE" RAY & TONY "LITTLE SON" GLOVER
14. All The News That's Fit To Sing (1964) / I Ain't Marching Anymore (1965) - PHIL OCHS
15. Ramblin' Boy (1964) / Ain't That News (1965) - TOM PAXTON
16. Outward Bound (1966) / Morning Again (1968) - TOM PAXTON
17. Tom Rush (1965) / Talk A Little Walk With Me (1966) - TOM RUSH
18. Woodsmoke And Oranges (1970) / Jack-Knife Gypsy (1971) - PAUL SIEBEL