Judee is an in­flu­ence to many

Rutherglen Reformer - - The Ticket -

Who? One-time armed rob­ber/heroin ad­dict, Judee Sill mel­lowed out enough by the early seven­ties to re­lease two of the finest al­bums of a con­tem­po­rary style that switched eas­ily from baroque pop to lilt­ing coun­try.

The first artist signed to David Gef­fen’s Asy­lum la­bel, Sill’s epony­mous de­but, in­clud­ing the Gra­ham Nash pro­duced sin­gle,‘Je­sus Was A Cross Maker’, lent heav­ily on mul­ti­ple vo­cal over­dub­bing giv­ing it a dis­tinctly cho­rale feel. What?

Her se­cond (and fi­nal) al­bum fol­lowed in 1973, eigh­teen months af­ter its pre­de­ces­sor.

Writ­ten, or­ches­trated and ar­ranged by the artist her­self,‘Heart Food’, re­flects in­ter­ests in both the oc­cult and Chris­tian the­ol­ogy, preva­lent in tracks like‘The Donor’ and‘Down Where The Val­leys Are Low’.

Else­where,‘Sol­dier of the Heart’ fea­tures a fuller band sound, while ‘When the Bride­groom Comes’, co-writ­ten with then-boyfriend David Omer Bear­den, is a solo-pi­ano ex­cur­sion more evoca­tive of Ca­role King or Laura Nyro than Joni Mitchell, to whom she is more of­ten com­pared. When?

Re­leased in March 1973. Where?

De­tails are sketchy as to where the fin­ished ar­ti­cle was ac­tu­ally recorded, al­though Crys­tal Sound in Hol­ly­wood is where Judee laid down her demos. With?

Joni pro­ducer Henry Lewy shared con­sole du­ties with Ms Sill, whilst a plethora of fa­bled LA ses­sion men, in­clud­ing Doug Dil­lard, Spooner Old­ham and Jim Gor­don, stood by to lend an ex­pert hand. Stand-out?

Ir­re­sistible though that trade­mark western beat run­ning through the al­bum tends to be, Judee’s haunt­ingly am­bi­tious‘The Donor’ pro­vides a glo­ri­ous fi­nale to the al­bum. What Hap­pened Next?

Sadly, and with a fol­low-up to ‘Heart Food’in the mak­ing, drugs con­spired to re­claim Judee Sill and she died of an over­dose in North Hol­ly­wood the day af­ter Thanks­giv­ing in 1979. Legacy?

A colos­sal in­flu­ence to many, Judee’s songs have been cov­ered by artists right across the spec­trum, from Cass El­liot, Linda Ron­stadt and Shawn Colvin to the Fleet Foxes, Judie Tzuke and War­ren Zevon.

‘Lady-O’from the first al­bum even reached num­ber 78 in the Bill­board Top 100 for the Tur­tles in 1969.

The year 2006 saw the re­lease of ‘Abra­cadabra: The Asy­lum Years’, which com­bines both al­bums with loads of bonus tracks.

‘Dreams Come True’from the year be­fore in­cludes eight stu­dio demos for that prospec­tive third LP.

Haunt­ing work The al­bum cover for Judee Sill’s ‘Heart Food’

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