Do you have those records that you spot on your shelves as you flick through, looking for something else, prompting the thought, "Oh yeah, I remember that… but only just — I wonder what I'd think of it now." Except that the faint memory trace it leaves suggests it was just middling, and that's not enough to take it out of the sleeve. That pattern repeats itself a few times, and before you know it a couple of decades have passed.
I'd say I've got a few hundred that fall into that box. The nagging frequency of that experience was one of the things that triggered Music Arcades: to go through and remind myself of them all, one by one.
I was looking forward to reacquainting myself with this, probably for the same reasons I bought it originally, when it first came out (I've got the old eleven-track version on vinyl): that mix of Thompson's folk with the "avant" (what else would you call it?) of Frith and French. At the time Henry Kaiser was the one I knew least about. What an enigma he is: combining careers as improvising guitarist and underwater researcher/cameraman. Since he's also a friend of Werner Herzog's, it doesn't seem too big a stretch to assume that he was involved in recruiting Richard Thompson and others for the Grizzly Man soundtrack.
A couple of the songs sound more familiar than they have any right to, if indeed I haven't listened to this record since 1987 or '88. Where's the Money? and Drowned Dog Black Night, for example: has the latter also featured on another Richard Thompson album, or is it part of his live repertoire? Tir-Nan-Darag sounds like the kind of Beefheart track that John French might have played on Doc at the Radar Station.
In general, though, L, L, L & L inhabits that strange micro-genre of avant-folk. The other occupants might include David Thomas's albums in the first half of the eighties, that Grizzly Man soundtrack (Richard Thompson being a common denominator in both those), then more recently the likes of Gastr Del Sol, Loose Fur (both Jim O'Rourke projects) and maybe Directing Hand. Curious. Now back to the shelf.
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