Husband and wife folkies Jim Glover and Jean Ray were the real deal. For instance: he taught Phil Ochs to play guitar; she was the girl in Neil Young’s ‘Cinnamon Girl’. And more likely than not they inspired the married folk singers Jim and Jean of ‘Inside Llewelyn Davis’, the Coen Brothers dark comedy about the folk scene set in New York’s Greenwich Village in 1961. Indeed, the real Jim and Jean met and lived in the real Greenwich Village in the real 1961. So yeah, they were the real deal.
After playing the folk club circuit for a few years, the couple’s first album came out on Philips in 1965. That eponymous LP featured no original material but was rather a collection of traditional songs and covers by the likes of Tom Paxton, Phil Ochs and Buffy Sainte-Marie. It’s nothing special to be perfectly honest.
For their second album the duo switched to Verve, opting for a hipper folk rock sound by employing session musicians like Al Kooper and Harvey Brooks. Again, we get lots of cover versions of songs by some of their better known contemporaries (Phil Ochs, David Blue, Eric Anderson, Bob Dylan). But it’s the original material that makes the record a keeper. You know it’s a keeper before dropping the needle on it though, because any record from 1966 that credits a player for contributing ‘fuzz bass’ has to be special.
And right off the bat that fuzz bass is put to excellent use on ‘Loneliness’, a song credited on early pressings to Glover but corrected to Steve Baron on subsequent pressings. It’s garage-folk at it’s best, the gnarly bass sound and exquisite blending of male/female voices a contradiction that is so wrong it’s right. And hold on to your hats, ‘cos that fuzz bass gets a solo that John Entwistle would be proud of.
The second Glover original, ‘It’s Really Real’, is poppier but moves along very nicely thanks to another great bass part and some basic but solid drumming. A great melody, especially on the melancholy chorus, and again those blended voices help create a little folk-pop gem you won’t be able to get out of your head.
The last original is the best known of the three, by virtue of it being a highlight of Fairport Convention’s debut LP a couple of years later. Co-written by Jean and Harvey Brooks, ‘One Sure Thing’ is a song of two halves. The first two and a half minutes are the ‘song’ part, with a powerful Jean vocal delivered over a barebones backing. The next couple of minutes are a gently psychedelic journey up and down the fretboard with glimpses of the inspiration for Richard Thompson’s mindbender of solo on Fairport’s cover.
So all in all a very worthy addition to your record shelf, and remarkably cheap to boot. Have a listen…