Hollins & Star - Sidewalks Talking LP
I love this record. For me, it has a trace or two of Arthur Lee and Love at their best (‘Krishna Dov’ would not sound out of place on “Forever Changes,” for example), with dashes of maybe Terry Callier in some of the jazzier tunes. I also like that Hollins & Starr wrote a gentle tribute to one of my favorite old-time bluesmen, Mississippi John Hurt. At times this album is a gorgeous, ethereal blend of psychedelic folk and offbeat pop; but there are some funk and avant-garde moves too (where did those crazy orchestrations, wild guitar, and breakbeats on the fierce anti-war rave-up ‘Hard Headed Woman’ come from?), all supported by an odd assortment of instruments, including flute, bells and a generous helping of fuzz guitar. Chicago-based duo Chuck Hollins and David Starr only made this one album, which originally appeared in 1970 on the Ovation label. All we know about them is what the original ads for the album said: “David Starr learned piano when he was three, began composing when he was four. At twenty-one he was playing flute with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. Chuck Hollins picked up a guitar one day and just started playing…. by the time he left Northwestern with his Creative Writing degree he was turning his poetry into music.” Others have said: “Unique blend… with a lovely dreaming, drifting vibe” – the Acid Archives; “Many diverse influences from pop-psych, mystical mellow passages, quasi-classical touches, delightful ethereal flute, trance-like vocals and fuzz guitar… there is much to appreciate on this largely undiscovered gem” – Fuzz, Acid & Flowers. Our deluxe mini-LP sleeve CD edition has four bonus tracks, including a “hidden track” with some rare sound effects plucked from the vaults.
The CD version is limited to 1,000 copies. Our replica LP version (in production as we speak) will come in an old style tip-on jacket, and include an insert with an essay on the album and a little background history on the Ovation label. It is a 180 gram vinyl pressing, mastered from the original tapes; the sad news: this LP version is limited to 750 copies. So, we state that the sole album by Chuck Hollins and Dave Starr, their only known recordings, is a treasure trove of strong melodies and dreamy vocal stylings—an album sure to appeal to fans of acid folk, popsike, and even those who like jazzy funk. Listening to it is a rich, rewarding experience. This is a perfectly produced and arranged record, an ode to the free mind, structured by intelligent considerations. And as another person has said, “No wonder it has been sampled by DJ Shadow.” Ovation said at the time of its release, “Classical artistry rock and sidewalk poetry.” All true. Very cool. Hip, mellow, and stoned.