Saturday, December 19, 2009
See the People Run and Gather, Something High Has Caught Their Eye
I stumbled on Jim Sullivan, streaming on dinky speakers on my laptop. It's shaggy music, with one toe water-logged in the rippling, sometimes scum-topped, pool of soul-folk -- some damaged DNA shared by Van Morrison, Joe South and maybe even Mac Davis. The other toe, I don't know. It's an adult portion. Sullivan sings in places with that wonderful self-limiting effect used by people like George Jones, it's like applying a volume pedal to your vocals, so that the signal sort of swells and then fades, with a weird tapered curve. The energetic strumming brings to mind Gordon Lightfoot. There's promiscuous harpsichord and strings poking through in places. There's something almost heavy metal about this tune, "Johnny." And Sullivan's singing here reminds me of Ozzy and Ian Anderson. This record, U.F.O., sounds very Blind Faith-ish. The drumming is jazzy, but in that British, overzealous way -- getting busy with the triplets -- that turns from cool to menacing. And the groove starts to come unhinged in places. There's upright bass lurking, not saying much, but shadowing the whole affair. And then the creepy Bobbie Gentry strings come in, adding negative energy to the vocal lines, ballast to the airy subject. Turns out that Jim Sullivan has some major ties to titans of rock and pop. He played on a Walker Brothers record. Get this, he played on "Itchycoo Park" by the Small Faces, he played on "Ferry Across the Mersey" by Gerry and the Pacemakers. Played on Vashti Bunyan tracks. Friends with Tom Jones and Elvis Presley. Got Jim Marshall to make amps. Dude looks like Meher Baba. Evidently Sullivan appears in the commune scene (one of my favorites) in Easy Rider.
"Johnny" - Jim Sullivan
"Roll Back the Time" -- Jim Sullivan