Palmer, John - Shorelines (Vinyl)
Regular price €14,90
U.S.VOID RECORDS 2009
LIMITED EDITION 500 COPIES
BRAND NEW LAVISH REISSUE OF LEGENDARY CANADIAN DOWNER FOLK PSYCH FROM EARLY 70'S. JOHN PALMER'S SHORELINE HAS BEEN A MASSIVELY RARE LP SINCE IT'S RELEASE ON THE CELEBRATION LABEL WAY BACK WHEN. HERE IS THE LP IN IT'S ENTIRETY BROUGHT TO YOU FROM JOHN HIMSELF. COLOR COVER, INSERT...SONGS COLOURS FOR THE SHORELINES, BETTER LATE THAN NEVER MORE....FANS OF DOWNER FOLK WILL DIG THIS ALL NITE LONG DADDIO...
Having seen this Canadian LP in lists a few times I had made a mental note of checking it out, should the opportunity arise, even though I was a bit weary of descriptions along the lines of Skip Spence-like downer psych - those seldom turn out to be much more than dealer fantasies, with little or no resemblance to reality. Anyway, I eventually traded for a copy and let's just say I wasn't disappointed; while I don't think it's terribly reminiscent of Oar I can understand the comparison, and as for downer you can't get much more of that kind of headtrip than what's on offer here.
Opening with Clouds, complete with backwards bits, heavy keys & drums, fuzz, and a voice that just sucks you right in, Palmer chills your mind and body with a truly tormented lament over a life no longer what it used to be:
Well I guess it's over
I'm not dreaming
It's just over
Somewhere a voice is screaming
In the dead of night
It sounds like mine
The nightmare trip through a shattered psyche never stops for a break throughout the rest of the album either. The musical setting may vary from the seriously heavy monster fuzz/pounding drums/howling vocals of Free Me to 12-string raga-esque bits, complete with chanting by pals from the local commune, but they're all important parts of the puzzle and the whole that eventually comes out of it is one of the most amazing personal musical documents I've ever heard.
Most of the keys & strings are handled by John himself, with drums usually added later on, which may explain the somewhat rudimentary percussion style. Yet very apt they are, like if the drummer had tuned into John's demons and wanted to help him get rid of them by pounding the skins as heavily as possible. The songs are usually folkbased, though the end product is much more than a folk LP; the arrangements are rich and purposeful with lots of nice keyboards, great electric and acoustic guitars, effects, some almost proggy bits... and those vocals. John Palmer is certainly not your average coffee-house singer, I tell you.
Better Later Than Never is one of the acoustic tracks, with droning guitars, echoing hand percussion and amazing background vocals, like if a few angels had dropped by the studio and decided to give the underground music biz a shot. So beautiful. The last track, Salvation's Den, might by comparison to what went down before offer some refuge, but it's still a bleak and painful road ahead:
I have looked over
The long and winding ways toward salvation
And I have been over
A final line that some would call damnation
Some have called it godless - when I'm lost in it
But I've paid them the loss in the process
I emailed a bit with John last year and he confirmed that his life wasn't easy at the time of Shorelines. Love, confusion, and drugs all played their part, but luckily things improved later on and he now seemed to be doing fine. A reissue is in the works and hopefully that will help to get this masterpiece the recognition and respect it's long been devoid of. Perhaps some of the recording anecdotes John told me will be presented along with this new edition - background details are pretty interesting in this case.
(from: Farm Faves