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28 of 28 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Utterly sublime music....Food of the gods
Heart Food is the second of two albums Judee Sill recorded in the early 1970,s. It was actually released in 1973 but suffered from poor sales and during the recording to it's follow up Sill abandoned the recording sessions and disappeared. A long tine drug user, news eventually surfaced in 1979 of her death from a cocaine and codeine overdose. A collection of those long...
Published on 28 Mar. 2005 by russell clarke

versus
3.0 out of 5 stars Food for thought
the joni Mitchell comparisons are apt, for me I like Judee's voice a lot more, although lyrically Joni shaves it but hey it's a mighty fine record although doesn't achieve the masterpiece descriptions lavished by other reviewers but certainly worthy of any record collection
Published 5 months ago by Richard Clark


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28 of 28 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Utterly sublime music....Food of the gods, 28 Mar. 2005
By 
russell clarke "stipesdoppleganger" (halifax, west yorks) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Heart Food [VINYL] (Vinyl)
Heart Food is the second of two albums Judee Sill recorded in the early 1970,s. It was actually released in 1973 but suffered from poor sales and during the recording to it's follow up Sill abandoned the recording sessions and disappeared. A long tine drug user, news eventually surfaced in 1979 of her death from a cocaine and codeine overdose. A collection of those long lost recordings is to be released under the ironic title, considering her fate, "Dreams Come True". But when you listen to her music you can understand the title, for this is some of the most beautiful, pure, dare I say it spiritual music you will ever hear.
The spiritual thing isn't as hokey as you might think as Sill,s lyrics obsess over alchemy , philosophy and theosophy but it's the wonderful melodies and Sill,s unaffected untainted singing that really make this album so special. The songs arrangements have been compared to Joni Mitchell twinned with Bach but a song like "Soldier of Our Heart" has a gospel feel while "When the Bridegroom Comes" is Laura Nyro with an added melodic edge. "The Donor", an audacious multi harmonic epic backed by sparse piano, wouldn't sound out of place on Gene Clark's wondrous "No other". "There's a Rugged Road" has gliding pedal steel and see sawing fiddle. "The Kiss" is a piano led ballad of such exquisite poise and melodic delicacy that every time Sill sings the songs killer dipping hook your stomach flip flops and the goose bumps on your arms start weeping. It's backed by a string arrangement worthy of Nick Drake which is nice because that's someone else she's been compared to. If you ever do a compilation tape for an object of affection, put "The Kiss" next to "Northern Sky" and they will be yours for ever....if you want them to be. Actually "The Pearl "wouldn't go amiss either, another supremely lovely song which though fuller of tempo has a wonderful swooping string arrangement. There is a soulful aura about "Down Where the Valleys Are Low" with the gospel atmosphere of its backing vocals while "The Vigilante" sees Sill really let her voice go, her vocals pirouetting seamlessly along the pedal steel and harmonica. Why aren't contemporary singers capable of singing with this level of unbridled clarity? Instead of warbling like they've got the hiccups or a tape worms head butting their tonsils.
This is some of the most scorching brilliant music ever recorded. When it's playing you want to rush round forcing other people to listen to it and it makes just about everything else you've heard seem irrelevant. (Yes....even "Hats" or "Abbey Road") I can understand how Sill ended up like she did as it must have been heartbreaking to be making music as sublime as this and getting ignored. Judee Sill obviously never got the food her heart desired. Luckily we get her music. As Jim O, Rourke who has mixed "Dreams Come True" said: "If people sang this stuff in Church, a lot of us might still be there."
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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars More timeless than much of its genre, 6 Dec. 2005
By 
This review is from: Heart Food (Audio CD)
OK, so I've heard Joni Mitchell, Carole King and Laura Nyro, whom Ms Sill was compared to during her brief career, and whilst none of them are without merit,in my mind her legacy tops all three of them.

Rather than an instant sensation, this album is an insidious slow-burner which, on the first two or three listens, can sound pretty but rather insubstantial. Persevere with it, however, and "Heart Food" quickly reveals itself as the richly-layered classic it is.

Perhaps the reason why both "Heart Food" and Sill's eponymous debut have aged better than a good deal of her Laurel Canyon contemporaries' output is the downbeat, fatalistic edge to the music which is occasionally present in Nyro's muse bad largely absent from both Mitchell's and King's. There's something lurking here which is just too dark for most of the 70s suburban post-collegiate crowd that their albums largely appealed to. For sure, Judee may have had the cocaine habit but the fact that she carried far more emotional baggage than most troubadours is evident from the desperate redemption-seeking lyrics of "Down Where The Valleys Are Low". Although "Heart Food album is pleasant, even celestial to the ears it's still way too intense to qualify as easy listening.

Stand-out tracks are "There's A Ragged Road", "The Pearl", "The Donor" and especially "When The Bridegroom Comes" which is just one of the most gloriously indelible pieces of soft-rock perfection to emerge from it's era, and a song that could easily have been a huge radio hit in a world where justice prevailed (or had Sill been career-oriented enought to play the game by the iindustry's rules). Highlights aside though, there isn't a single disposable moment on "Heart Food" or "Judee Sill", but if funds are tight and you can only afford one or the other "Heart Food" most likely the one to go for as it sounds fuller and more realised in many ways than it's predecessor.

Currently available affordably from Water Records, for those of you whom (like me) missed out on those expensive Rhino Handmade editions last year. However, although cheaper and easiere to find, this version does have the downside of not including any of the demos that came with the Rhino release.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Judee Sill expands on the promise of her debut, 14 Aug. 2008
By 
This review is from: Heart Food (Audio CD)
Despite garnering favourable reviews and even though the artist performed doggedly as an opening act for a number of established artists, Judee Sill's eponymous 1971 debut album sold poorly and failed to propel the Californian musician to stardom.

Undeterred, she returned for 1973's Heart Food with engineer Henry Lewy (whom she affectionately called the "audio alchemist") and a band of stellar musicians and backing vocalists for a record altogether livelier and more confident than her debut.

Heart Food is similar to its predecessor in that it features Sill's multi-tracked vocals prominently, and that guitar and piano are prevalent, but other than that it's a forward step. There's no mistaking that it's a Judee Sill record, and all her hallmarks are there, but this is also a much more diverse record and Sill sounds more confident in trying new things - see the inner sleeve pictures where she acts as conductor during an orchestral session.

Sill's songs have a hymnal purity to them at times, as on the solo piano "When the Bridegroom Comes," written with then-boyfriend David Bearden. The best of these hymnal songs is surely "The Kiss," a timeless and beautiful celebration of romantic union with painstaking orchestration. It has an eerie, ethereal quality, and is renowned as one of Sill's finest compositions.

The arrangements and orchestrations, done by Sill herself, complement the songs and the music and if there were any doubts about her abilities she certainly proves herself an expert songwriter and visionary with this album. Listen out, for example, for the ebullient backing vocals on "Down Where the Valleys Are Low," her most gospel-inspired song replete with organ licks and vocalists evoking a gospel choir.

Elsewhere, the themes of the first album are recalled on "The Vigilante" and "The Pearl," although they're less fragile and more forthright. The opening "There's A Rugged Road" is possessing of a memorable melody and strong structure, which is the case with every song here. The delicacy of the first album is replaced by something beefier (the rollicking "Soldier of the Heart," which should have been a major hit, which rocks harder than Sill's previous pop attempt, the glorious "Jesus Was A Cross Maker") but the subtle intricacies remain: on the surface, this sounds simple and effortless, and that's testament to Sill's amazing abilities.

The album's defining moment, however, must be the epic "The Donor," which displays the majority of Sill's many talents. The first four minutes or so are devoted to choral chanting and haunting piano lines, and the song becomes a beautiful, grand choral requiem. The chorus of "Kyrie Eleison" is stunning, but the dynamics of the song make it more like a suite and one of the defining moments on any record by any singer-songwriter. It's hard to imagine anybody else even daring to attempt something as grand and opulent as this and having the audacity and skills to pull it off.

The 2004 reissue of Heart Food features demos and unreleased songs as well as informative liner notes. The demos are pared-down and solo, so it's interesting, for example, to hear "The Donor" sans orchestration, and "Soldier of the Heart" without the full band backing. Another strong unreleased song, "The Desperado," is also featured.

This album didn't even get reviewed by major rock critics, and was largely ignored by the public. It's a crying shame, because this music is melodic and pleasant, with Sill's voice never outrageous and her songs beautiful and accessible. The reissue, however, seems to have invigorated new interest in the singer.

Sill never released another album in her lifetime and sessions for a third record were aborted. She died in obscurity and poverty in 1979 at the age of 35 leaving behind two small-selling but extraordinary records. If you don't buy or listen to Heart Food, it's your loss.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Real Deal., 6 Mar. 2007
By 
William J. Walker "Billyjay" (England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Heart Food (Audio CD)
Having worked my way through several "lost" albums and "over-looked classics" with varying results I am happy to report that this is as good as the best of its era and still sounds fresh today.

I would recommend this as the first purchase for any one unfamiliar with Judee Sill as the demos and extras that you get on Abracadabra are more useful to fans desperate for more.This version also comes with well written liner notes from Andy Partridge which I preferred to those on Abracadabra.

If you are already familiar with the albums( say looking to replace an old vinyl or lost copy)then Abracadabra represents better value for money.

Which ever you end up choosing I would suggest you can't really go wrong because you'll be getting a fabulous album either way.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Food for the Heart, 8 Jun. 2007
This review is from: Heart Food (Audio CD)
If I had to take ten albums to a desert island, the two albums by Judee Sill would be among them. Sill's music came from the right source: her soul. Musically, she had an exquisite control of songwriting techniques: melody, harmony and how to fuse both to heighten her own lyrical imagery. She once said that she could only write a few songs a year. Unlike some others, she wasn't out to make a commodity of her music. Listen to The Kiss, The Donor and The Phoenix and you're hearing sonic alchemy. Listen to The Vigilante and you're in the territory of archetypes. This is clearly what the title states: it's heart food.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A flawless gem!, 17 Jun. 2004
By 
Malcolm Ostermeyer "Malcolm" (Lancaster, UK) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
I first heard Judee Sill in 1973 and bought her LPs on Asylum. A few years later, while browsing through a music reference book, I was distraught to find that she'd died of a heroin overdose. Her first, self-titled album is wonderful - "Heartfood" is sublime. The imagery in the lyrics is highly spiritual - though she herself denied that they were 'Christian' as such. The melodies are exquisite, and her vocal delivery lovely. I rate one particular track, "The Kiss", as one of the best three songs ever written, and it's going to be played at my funeral (along with Fairport Convention's "Who Knows Where The Time Goes" and "Complete Control" by the Clash - eclectic or what!).
Lovely music and beautiful vocals - this album will enhance your life!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A folk artist with a spiritual heart., 18 Jun. 2012
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This review is from: Heart Food (Audio CD)
The album is flawless, every track is nourishing and accessible, the only one which may not be everyone's cup of tea is the long piece at the end of the album. Judee's voice is so soft and true, you feel her spirit in the songs and alongside the words and sentiments, she was a gifted artist, sadly quite obscure these days as well. Get this one, her self titled debut also has quite a few fantastic songs as well and is a worthy purchase.
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5.0 out of 5 stars absolute wonder, 3 July 2009
This review is from: Heart Food (Audio CD)
i'd go for the "asylum years" compilation, if only because of the alternative remix of "the Donor".

This is one of the best albums ever made. When so much attention is lavished on far more fragile talents such as Vashti Bunyan, Judee Sill continues to be laregely overlooked. What a pity. Wry, self-destructive, with a deep sense of lyrical harmony and a poclet full of bitter life experience, Judee Sill bucked the hippie folk trend of the time but this second album was her last shot at fame, and most unfortunately it was a commercial flop.

Do yourself a favour and listen to "the Donor". This remarkable song, suffused with melancholy and deep spirituality, has few parallels, but is mesmerising and so deeply moving. What a talent.

But the asylum record package is a better deal...
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3.0 out of 5 stars Food for thought, 28 Sept. 2014
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This review is from: Heart Food [VINYL] (Vinyl)
the joni Mitchell comparisons are apt, for me I like Judee's voice a lot more, although lyrically Joni shaves it but hey it's a mighty fine record although doesn't achieve the masterpiece descriptions lavished by other reviewers but certainly worthy of any record collection
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5.0 out of 5 stars A Unique Talent, 5 Feb. 2014
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This review is from: Heart Food (Audio CD)
Beautiful melodies and a sweet voice. Carefully considered arrangement. It's a late night listening classic. I have on vinyl but played it to death.

What's not to like.
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