Gary Higgins - Red Hash [1973] [FLAC]

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Artist: Gary Higgins
Release: Red Hash
Discogs: 1068716
Released: 1973 / 2005
Label: Nufusmoon / Drag City
Catalog#: WMI 3673 / DC295
Format: FLAC / Lossless / Log (100%) / Cue / CD
Country: US
Style: Rock, Folk Rock, Acoustic, Psychedelic Folk

1. Thicker Than A Smokey 
2. It Didn't Take Too Long 
3. Windy Child 
4. Telegraph Towers 
5. I Can't Sleep At Night 
6. Cuckoo 
7. I Pick Notes From The Sky 
8. Stable The Spuds 
9. Down On The Farm 
10. Unable To Fly 
11. Looking For June 
bonus tracks:
12. Don't Ya Know 
13. Last Great Sperm Whale 

This long-lost slice of 1970s folk psychedelia sounds as fresh and innovative as anything on Devendra Banhart's Golden Apples of the Sun compilation. Recorded in 1973, in a brief interval before bearded folkie Gary Higgins had to show up for a two-year prison stint for pot possession, the disc has languished in obscurity for more than 20 years. Traded copies have passed from hand to hand, winning converts like David Tibet of Current 93 and Ben Chasny of Six Organs of Admittance (who covered "Thicker than a Smokey" on this year's School of the Flower). Songs from Red Hash have also made appearances on influential freeform radio stations like WFMU. However, despite a constant murmur of accolades, Higgins was, until recently, more of a rumor than an actual experience for most people. With this reissue, he emerges from his Rip Van Winkle sleep fully justifying the word of mouth. Red Hash is simply one of the loveliest free folk records you'll hear this year or any other. Like all the music in its genre, it evokes timeless, serene pastoral simplicity. The chords mutate effortlessly, major to minor, in patterns that evoke pre-industrial folk songs as much as 1960s psychedelia. The melodies are wholly natural, never forced, breathed against droning, twining, Eastern-tinged strings.

Darker and more mysterious than Vashti Bunyan's work, and somehow grimmer than The Incredible String Band, Higgins's songs shimmer with suppressed emotion. Consider the discordant strumming that opens "Cuckoo" -- it's as claustrophobic and anxious as acoustic music can be. "I've really gone insane," Higgins sings, "Can't even spell my name. The cuckoo is in pain again." With a little amplification and distortion, it could be a grunge song. It's that raw.

However, unlike most grunge songs, "Cuckoo" and the other songs on Red Hash are played with extraordinary musicianship -- not just by Higgins, but guitarist Jake Bell (later of Silver Apples), pianist Terry Fenton, mandolin player and flautist Paul Tierney, cellist Maureen Wells and bassist Dave Beaujon. The delicate mandolin that leads into "I Pick Notes from the Sky" merges effortlessly with the strummed guitar and plangent piano notes. The flute and cello in "Windy Child" lend an additional note of sadness to an already heartbreaking song. The weird, blues-flavored "Down on the Farm", a premonition of Tom Waits if ever you heard one, would not be as compelling without the eccentric drum rhythms beneath it.

The disc supplements the 1973 recording with two additional tracks. "Don't Ya Know", laid down in the 1980s, is more overtly blues-based than the original materials and feels more conventional, yet it has a light-handed, boogie-flavored charm. "The Last Great Sperm Whale" was recorded in 1975, two years after the bulk of the album -- and, presumably, after Higgins got out of jail. "Well, the last great sperm whale, as soon as he was free, tore another mermaid's skirt off saying let us talk, let us talk to thee," the song begins, and though it celebrates freedom, it ends in the whale's death. Higgins's story looks to have a better ending. He's said to be putting together a band and heading out, ISB-style, to meet the next generation of fans. If you're not the kind of person who gets burned CDs from Ben Chasny, or whose collection of private-press 1970s folk is alphabetized and in mint condition, here's your chance to catch up on a long-forgotten genius of free folk.		
01 - Thicker Than a Smokey.flac 23.081 MB
02 - It Didn't Take Too Long.flac 25.122 MB
03 - Windy Child.flac 21.381 MB
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