The New Folk Sound Of Terry Callier


Soul Jazz
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The classic 1965 Prestige album now with three previously unissued tracks.By Dean Rudland

As I walk into a rehearsal studio in North West London I am dreading hearing a clapped out guy who hasn't sung in ten years mauling songs that I was beginning to hold very dear to my heart. A bearded figure clad in jeans and a sweatshirt, with a woolly hat on his head - surely Chicago was colder - was strumming his guitar. "Well here's a mystery / And maybe you can help to make it clear to me". The opening lines of Ordinary Joe and it didn't even take me that long to realise that Mr Callier was very special. A performer whose live performances over the next decade would bring whole audiences to tears through the sheer overwhelming brilliance of it all.

At the time Terry was barely known apart from his Northern Soul classic Look At Me Now. I had his Elektra albums and Ordinary Joe on a Cadet 45, while his last - to that date - recording I Don't Want To See Myself had been the first record I had worked on when I left college. It was that record - a storming, gospel-filled slice of uptempo soul - that had spurred Acid Jazz to track him down and re-issue the 12 inch single, and that had led to a few gigs in Britain. Over the next five or six days, it was my duty as some sort of A&R person at Acid Jazz to look after Terry and his daughter Sundiata. I think it was then that I first heard of his solitary album for Prestige.

The album had been recorded by the blues producer Sam Charters in Chicago, and the first Terry knew of its release was when his brother saw it for sale in a local book shop some months later. I learned about the peculiar line up on the record. Terry recorded with two bass players. He had been experimenting with this whilst playing at folk and blues clubs in Chicago because he had seen Coltrane using two bass players. That album showcases Terry's unique style. He takes on standards such as Bowling Green and 900 Miles. His rendition of It's About Time has become popular 30 years later in his live sets where he fills large venues and plays the biggest festivals.

BGP have released this album before. In the mid-90s Terry had a major label deal and his entire catalogue was re-issued. This album was given an especially warm welcome, and has been loudly praised by Beth Orton as a major influence. However at the time of its first issue we were not able to find the unreleased tracks, which have now been located and added to this expanded edition. These tracks are Be My Woman, Jack O' Diamonds and The Golden Apples Of The Sun. All three tracks are fine additions to the album-.-the latter two are folk club standards.

Terry Callier is still recording and making records today and is signed to the Brighton-based Mr Bongo label. He's one of the finest singers I have ever had the pleasure to have seen live and he's a lovely chap to boot. What's more, if you buy this album you really are doing yourself a favour as well.


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