Pearls Before Swine – Jewels Were The Stars

Lavishly annotated four-disc box collates albums 3-6 from Tom Rapp's gently stoned psych-folk collective

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Departing notoriously eccentric label ESP Disk, Pearls Before Swine signed to Reprise in 1969, having sold 250,000 copies of second album Balaklava. None of the five subsequent records made lynchpin/ideologue Tom Rapp a star (the fifth was a collection of demos put out without Rapp’s consent) but these and the two ‘solo’ albums he made for Blue Thumb before retiring from music are wondrous things. Rapp’s wistful, sibilant tone is hugely affecting, and though there are a handful of Leonard Cohen covers here, Rapp’s own songs?delicately arranged, conjuring a perfectly judged pastoral lushness?better them effortlessly. It’s impossible not to be moved by “Rocketman” or “The Jeweller” (as covered by This Mortal Coil), Rapp filtering the radicalism of the times in exquisitely drawn character studies of the individual at odds with circumstance.

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