BETTER LATE THAN NEVER

1968’s Late Again was the ninth studio album by Peter, Paul & Mary and saw the folk trio at their most folk-rockiest yet. With backing from musicians such as Bernard Purdie, Herbie Hancock and Elvin Bishop it obviously wasn’t going to sound like the ‘Leaving On A Jet Plane’ type stuff they’re mostly remembered for these days.

The most well-known track on the LP is a cover of Dylan’s ‘Too Much Of Nothing’ by virtue of it being released as a single and making it into the top 40. It’s a great version, but Dylan wasn’t too happy with it since they changed the name ‘Vivien’ to ‘Marion’ in the line ‘Say hello to Valerie/Say hello to Vivien/Send them all my salary/On the waters of oblivion.’ To make matters worse, Spooky Tooth and Sandy Denny’s Fotheringay both covered the song in the next couple of years, keeping the name ‘Marion’ per PP&M’s version. Oops. Dylan’s version finally came out on The Basement Tapes in 1975, featuring the lyric Mr Zimmerman had intended. But I digress…

What I really want to talk about is the little known number that closes Side 1, Paul Stookey’s ‘Love City (Postcards To Duluth)’. Also released as a single (which failed to break the top 100) it’s the song on the album that best suits the – let’s be honest – pretty cool / weird / trippy art gracing the front sleeve. Just like that image has a floaty and slightly disturbing feel to it, so does ‘Love City’. Orchestral-style drumming, perhaps inspired by Pet Sounds, carries the song forward, bringing dynamics to what is essentially an acoustic ballad – albeit one with a wonderfully understated string arrangement. It’s sad, delicate, simple and gorgeous. Like many tracks on dollar records, it would go for some proper money if it was by an unknown loner who only put out one album (which would no doubt be described as something like acid-downer-folk). But instead it was by a formerly hugely successful folk trio who by 1968 were considered passé, hence why you’ll find it in bargain bins the world over. Have a listen below, and snag it next time you’re at your local record shop.

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