Saturday, February 03, 2007

Mayonnaise & Tootsie Rolls

Of all the many scratched-up, sleeveless LP's left behind by a wayward dad for his offspring to rummage through and explore (Leadbelly, Ian & Sylvia, Beatles and Stones in thrilling mono-reprocessed-for-stereo), the 1963 Elektra debut album by Judy Henske looms largest in my memory.

Even as a wee swami-in-kneepants, I knew I was in the presence of greatness when that record was on the box, with its rambling, wickedly funny song intros, whacked-out murder ballads, and wryly delivered torch songs and standards - all of it beamed straight to my 8-year-old cerebral cortex by Judy's voice, a formidable instrument which threatened to (in the words of Elektra boss Jac Holzman) "shatter tempered windshields in the parking lot."

In later years, the LP became a much coveted and sought-after item – a task made far easier once internet message boards and email discussion groups came into vogue. In the late '90's a very kind listserv-dwelling soul hooked me up with a cassette of JH's first two albums plus a couple of errant singles, and later with a tape of Judy's and then-husband Jerry Yester's way obscure 1969 pop-folk-psych meisterwork 'Farewell Aldebaran'.

As it happened, quite coincidentally, a Judy who'd spent many years out of the public eye began to resurface in little ways at the same time as I was making this blissful re-acquaintance with her back catalogue. A welcome resurgence of activity since then has produced two CD's of new music, along with websites, CD reissues, a handful of live gigs, musings on whether or not she was the true inspiration behind Annie Hall, and so on.

And now Judy has received the Rhino Handmade treatment - a beautifully realized, cannily compiled, tastefully appointed two-CD anthology is now available in a limited edition of 5000 copies via the Rhino Handmade website. It's as thorough and as effective an introduction/overview as one could hope for, spanning her entire recording career and jam-packed with all manner of JH classics and rarities alike. Now if only Rhino would get moving on a proper reissue of 'Aldebaran'...

New York Press interview, 2000

JH interview with Richie Unterberger for his book ‘Unknown Legends of Rock & Roll’

Courtesy of YouTube: JH performs 'High Flying Bird',Hootenanny! TV show, 1963

Kind regards and many thanks once again to my long-time occasional spiritual advisor, the eminent *Swami Almond Roca for his contributory entry to Crenellation.

*The “Swami” currently lives and works in NYC as a theatre sound designer and has enlightened me in all-things-musical for at least 10-years running. XO forever.


Mr. Cubism Drones said...

This is awesome, Mel. I'll have to check this Rhino reissue out.


xo said...

Awesome thanks to the Swami for sharing with Crenellation and thank you for the comment!

Anonymous said...

More press here:

Some of Judy's early albums are also available at the iTunes Music Store, btw.

Judy Henske said...

Hey Swami...
Judy Henske here..OOOOOO, I LOVE
these compliments.
I am flattered by "Mayo and Tootsie".

How wonderful! It is almost like being John Keats.