Farewell Aldebaran

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Farewell Aldebaran
Aldebaran.jpg
Studio album by Judy Henske and Jerry Yester
Released 1969
Genre Psychedelic rock, folk rock
Length 34:33
Label Straight
Producer Jerry Yester, Zal Yanovsky
Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
Allmusic 4/5 stars[1]

Farewell Aldebaran by Judy Henske and Jerry Yester is an album issued in 1969 on Frank Zappa's innovative Straight record label. It contains a wild mixture of styles, as though recorded by ten different bands, all featuring Henske's almost gothic lyrics and remarkable vocal range, which might lead one to think there were also ten different singers. Instrumentally the songs are held together by Yester's piano. The album, which has achieved a cult following, is also notable for its early use of synthesisers. Although the album got some good reviews it failed to sell in large quantities, purchasers possibly having been driven away by its sheer eclecticism.

Background[edit]

Henske and Yester met while working in the West Coast folk scene in the early 1960s, Henske as an uncategorizable solo singer recording folk, blues, jazz and comedy, Yester as a member of the Modern Folk Quartet. They married in 1963. A few years later Henske's career was faltering as a result of ill-advised forays into cabaret while Yester had produced albums by Tim Buckley and The Association, and replaced Zal Yanovsky in The Lovin' Spoonful.

The pair, with their new-born daughter, moved to Los Angeles in 1968. Henske shared a manager, Herb Cohen, with Frank Zappa, who suggested to her that she should put music to some of the verse she was writing. Yester, at this point, was working with Yanovsky on the latter's first solo album, and experimenting with new electronic and other sound effects. The couple combined to put together Farewell Aldebaran, drawing on a varied selection of their musician friends, and it was issued on Zappa and Cohen's new label.

In the UK, the album was broadcast by John Peel who played Three Ravens on more than one occasion on Radio One.

Henske and Yester went on to form a more conventional band, Rosebud, before they went their separate ways at the start of the 1970s. The album was bootlegged on CD by Radioactive Records [2] in 2005, before being re-issued officially on Omnivore Records in 2016.

Music[edit]

The opener, "Snowblind", issued as a single, is a guitar driven rocker that is enough in itself to establish Henske as a peerless rock vocalist and an able, witty lyricist. This is immediately followed by "Horses on a Stick", an almost parodic piece of "sunshine pop", Yester's polka harmonium reminiscent of a fairground steam-organ. Next is the sombre, spacious, marxophone-fractured "Lullaby" and then the melodramatic "St. Nicholas Hall", its satirical anti-clerical lyrics matched by choral samples from the Chamberlin keyboard. "Three Ravens", a sublime slice of baroque pop, fully orchestrated, based upon a Scottish folk lyric, is especially revered.

"Raider", which has been described as an "acid sea shanty", has a bluegrass feel created by bowed banjo and dulcimer backing a folksy-sounding but surreal lyric. "Mrs Connor" strays into jazz-balladry, piano-led, as Yester details stark old age. "Rapture" is a highly atmospheric rock waltz with lyrics comparing the magic of love to the moment of death. The upbeat "Charity", sung by Yester to acoustic guitars and powerful vocal harmonies, tells of a sailing ship doomed to sail for ever. Finally the title track, featuring electronically treated vocals and Moog synthesizer, is a unique piece of "space-rock" based upon an insistent bass-drum, full of rushing, wailing and bleeping sounds as Yester intones "the comets cling to her, the fiery bride, she is the mother of the mark and the prize, the glaze of paradise is in her eyes, her mouth is torn with stars..." before the track fades into chaos.

Album cover[edit]

The album cover is a solarised negative photograph of Henske, Yester, their daughter and cat posed in a garden; the back cover is a color positive of the same picture. The photograph was taken by Ed Caraeff.

Track listing[edit]

All lyrics by Judy Henske, music by Jerry Yester; except where indicated

  1. "Snowblind" (Henske, Yester, Zal Yanovsky) - 3:07
  2. "Horses on a Stick" - 2:10
  3. "Lullaby" - 2:55
  4. "St. Nicholas Hall" - 3:35
  5. "Three Ravens" - 3:30
  6. "Raider" - 5:12
  7. "Mrs. Connor" - 2:17 (also listed as "One More Time")
  8. "Rapture" - 4:09
  9. "Charity" - 3:17
  10. "Farewell Aldebaran" - 4:21

Personnel[edit]

  • Larry Beckett - drums (track 1)
  • Ry Cooder - mandolin ? (6? - credited in Unterberger's book but not by Yester)
  • John Forsha - 12 string guitar (2,5,9)
  • Toxie French - drums (6,7,10)
  • Judy Henske - vocals
  • Eddie Hoh - drums (2,9)
  • Bernie Krause - Moog synthesizer programming (10)
  • David Lindley - bowed banjo (6)
  • "David's friend" (Solomon Feldthouse ?) - hammer dulcimer (6)
  • Joe Osborn - bass (2,9)
  • Dick Rosmini - guitar (2,9)
  • Jerry Scheff - bass (6)
  • Zal Yanovsky - bass (1,10), guitar (1,10)
  • Jerry Yester - vocals, guitar (1,2,8,10), piano (2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10), harmonium (2), toy zither (3), Marxophone (3), Chamberlain Tape Organ (4), orchestra (5,10), organ (7,8), banjo (8), bass (10), Moog synthesizer (10)

Credits[edit]

  • Produced by Yester/Yanovsky for Hairshirt Productions
  • Recorded at Sunwest Studios - Hollywood
  • Recorded and Mixed by Gary Brandt - except Farewell Aldebaran: mixed by John Boylan
  • Executive Producer: Herb Cohen
  • Cover Photo by Ed Caraeff
  • Special Effects: by Litholab
  • Album design by John Williams

[2]

References[edit]

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