London based multi-instrumentalist Gary Lover released his debut album Songs of Fortune, Songs of Pain via Some Other Planet Records last week, following last year’s lead single ‘Diana Check The Weather‘, which led us to proclaim it “an intoxicating mix of woozy innuendo and bare-bones post-rockabilly” on its release in August.
Lover is an impulsive record store crate digger, and the LP is heavily influenced by the trove of little-known country and blues artists that his forrays into the capital’s independent vinyl emporiums have thrown up. We asked him to share some of his favourite finds and he kindly took the time to put together an extensive playlist and expand on three songs that particularly stand out for him.
Lavender Country – Back In The Closet Again
I can’t quite remember how I stumbled across this one, but the archival record label Paradise of Bachelors put a reissue out in 2014 which I quickly jumped on and snapped up straight away. It’s undoubtedly the first openly gay album within country music to ever exist, and if that wasn’t enough to tweak my interest what struck me most was how brutally honest the lyrics and songwriting was, not to mention the outstandingly beautiful melodies that run throughout every single track on the LP. Patrick Haggerty is the guy behind the vocals/guitar, an interesting piece of narrative on bandmate Michael Carr was hearing about him being discharged from the Peace Corps in 1966 for quite literally being Gay.
Other members on the album are credited as Eve Morris and Robert Hammerstrom, all giving to a sound that is quite addictive to say the least, it’s one of those records that makes you feel like you’re watching a painting come alive with each listening.
The track which I included for this playlist of mine, and also the track to be the intro for the entire playlist is the number Back in the Closet Again
..But the liberation forces got uptight
They screamed, “You fags ain’t got no human rights
We think you guys are sick
‘Cause all you want’s a prick”..
The Kossoy Sisters – Bowling Green
My good friend and likely minded obscure vinyl digger Kenny introduced me to this one. I never really knew a great deal about The Kossoy Sisters until I read about them recently in that they were a quick to turn professional folk duo in the 50’s, merely in their teens.
Being identical twins, they started singing at the age of just 6 years old, taught by their mother and aunt and what strikes me most is their perfected harmonies. Come to think of it the only other duo I’ve ever felt that had quite the same impact on me in terms of harmony delivery and writing true country/folk songs would be The Louvin Brothers. Like Lonnie and Charlie, Irene and Ellen have this amazing ability to know exactly where each other were heading in their vocal melodies and through that, being able to naturally decipher each other’s vocal path effortlessly, all resulting in something quite unbelievably poignant and rare to say the least.
The track I’ve put in here is Bowling Green
..Wish I was in Bowling Green sittin’ in a chair
One arm round my pretty little miss
‘Tother ’round my dear
‘Tother ’round my dear,
Oh you good old Bowling Green..
Circuit Rider – Dirt Farmer
It depends what you really class Country/Blues/Folk as and it’s not that I feel Circuit Rider fit into any one of those categories, I’d say they’re more sniffing around in outsider biker/r n r/a strange Jim Morrison reincarnation unit. Nevertheless, the one track of theirs I’ve picked out is the song Dirt Farmer,to me it’s even more country than a lot of the so called country crap that’s floating around in modern day country today.
If it’s not the superb delivery of the lyrics or bizarre use of instrumentation to counteract those lyrics, it’s that shuffling feeling of momentum and movement in the composition that rides the song from A to B, and I’ve always felt themes of travelling and going somewhere are just as much a true message of country and blues as is the retelling of day to day life. Especially when you consider just how clusters of people (many being country, blues and folk players) were constantly trying to pave out entirely new lives and horizons, battling with the Great Depression and always having to be ready to get up and start a new life anywhere they’d see possibly fit during what must’ve been the truest test of their existence.
..Put my seeds down in the ground
And no good does it do
Crows on my corn
Fox in my coop
Trust your dog don’t bark..
Gary Lover’s debut album Songs of Fortune, Songs of Pain is out now on Some Other Planet Records. Get it now as a digital download via Bandcamp.
Introduction by Paul Maps