Monday, 21 March 2011

Ted Lucas

One mailing list I hope never to be unsubscribed from is that of the Drag City label. The latest missive from them brought tales of the new album from Six Organs of Admittance and single from Bonnie 'Prince' Billy and the Cairo Gang. Let's not forget also that it is this imprint that supports many Alasdair Roberts' releases.

But it is their reissues that have been causing me the most frissons of excitement. Of course, it was Drag City (and indirectly, Six Organs Of Admittance) who allowed the world to hear Gary Higgins' Red Hash, when they oversaw its re-release in 2005. That album's dazzling magnificence has seen it become relevant to the constant inner dialogue that is the tumultuous and fatuous debate over the best album I have ever heard. Red Hash is up there.

Anyway, the latest Drag City email contained details not of one of their own reissues, but pointed in the direction of the Sebastian Speaks label (run by former Silver Jews guitarist William Tyler). They have put out a curious thing from 1975 by Ted Lucas. Lucas was a meandering soul who drifted between a few nondescript bands in the 60s to become quite a big deal as a sessioner in the 70s, according to a his tribute website, working with Frank Zappa, Yes, Ravi Shankar and a few others. Here, for starters, is a song:

His 1975 eponymous album, apparently known as The OM Album among many, is a delightful thing. Sebastian Speaks put out the album earlier this year, and it hits a vaguely similar spot to Higgins, if a little less spacey and textured. The LP is full of short examples of woozy songwriting by a man for whom life must have been one long stretch of calm, with quite a lot of weed thrown in too. On that note, Lucas even managed the difficult trick of coming up with a song extolling drug use that isn't wretched:

Some other interesting reissues in recent times from Drag City include that from Vernon Wray:

along with that from good old Mickey Newbury:

and a wonderful load of nonsense from Ed Askew, the prototype for Daniel Johnstone:

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