Wednesday, January 16, 2013


YEAR:  1973
LABEL:  Asylum
TRACK LISTING:  There's A Rugged Road,  The Kiss,  The Pearl,  Down Where the Valleys Are Low,  The Vigilante,  Soldier of the Heart,  The Phoenix,  When the Bridegroom Comes,  The Donor
IMPRESSIONS:  Another of those tragic figures of rock who died relatively unknown and years later became celebrated a la Nick Drake.  I first heard (and saw) Judee Sill on the DVD of "THE OLD GREY WHISTLE TEST" where she performed what I consider her greatest song:  "The Kiss".  For someone who wrote and sang such vulnerable music, Sill was rather tough and no nonsense.  On the programme, she asked people to please buy her record so she wouldn't have to open for all those snotty rock stars anymore.  When she was 15, Judee became involved with an armed robber and held up liquor stores before being sent to a reform school and learning how to play the organ.  Her natural talent emerged and she would become the very first artist David Geffen would sign to his new Asylum record label.  Unfortunately, her first album didn't go anywhere and neither did her second a couple years later.  Long addicted to heroin and in a state of depression over her lack of success, Sill died of a drug overdose in 1979.  It's really intriguing to think what her music would've evolved into had she been more successful and lived to work at it.  "HEART FOOD" has a more mature sound than her debut album whose sound I've always described as Elton John's "FRIENDS" album crossed with Dory Previn.  Her lyrics here still evince her fascination with Christian imagery mixed with occultism but several songs (like the Bach-like "The Kiss") display a sure melodic hand.  Musically, Sill was heavily influenced by Bach's metric forms and hymnody while also managing to include several country-western influences (on the album opener "There's A Rugged Road" and "The Vigilante") as well as more pop sounds (as on the rather disappointing "Soldier of the Heart").  Unlike her previous album where an outside arranger was provided, Sill arranged all the orchestral strings herself and the stress of making this album apparently started her back on heroin and discouraged her from wanting to create more music.  She did write and record demos for a never-realised third album (which has since been released in recent years) but essentially this second album was it for Judee Sill.
MY FAVOURITE TRACKS:  There's A Rugged Road,  The Kiss,  The Pearl,  Down Where the Valleys Are Low,  The Vigilante,  The Phoenix,  The Donor
FACT SHEET:  HEART FOOD is Judee Sill's second album.  The lyrics to "When the Bridegroom Comes" were written by Sill's then-boyfriend David Omer Bearden; to whom the album is dedicated. 

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