Thursday, April 28, 2011

Richie Havens Richard P. Havens,1983 1969

I was never a huge fan of Richie Havens, but this record stuck in my craw. I purchased it in 1969 or shortly thereafter, and I loved it because it was so different that it made me cool.

Then I got tired of it, and retired the pretense that made me love it in the first place. And I sold it off.

Twenty years later I'm in a used record store and they have a pristine copy. How else could this end?

That was almost ten years ago, and I've revisited the record many times. I don't usually make it through the entire double LP, but there's always some tracks that are uniquely Havens in a good way.

Four Beatles covers, one Dylan, one Donovan, one Cohen, and still, the two best songs- Stop Pulling And Pushing Me and Indian Rope Man- are Havens originals. Pretty impressive. His covers are fairly straight versions of the songs, but always go somewhere new. Sometimes to alarming effect, sometimes to the sublime.

This music is very much of it's time, and Haven's voice goes from interestingly captivating to annoying pretty fast. But Haven's guitar tunings are different, and his rhythmic sense is almost jazz-like. And it's folk music. As folk music, it was pushing the boundaries, and that can only be a good thing for folk music any time.

A remarkable artifact of the sixties, and at least half the songs are good. The original Verve vinyl is a sonic delight, and the record sold fairly well, so there are usually used copies around to be snapped up. A risky purchase perhaps, but sometimes therein lies a unique reward.

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