Exposé Online banner

Pearls Before Swine — Balaklava
(ESP Disk ESP 1075-2, 1968/2002, CD)

Pearls Before Swine — One Nation Underground
(ESP Disk ESP 1054-2, 1967/2002, CD)

by Peter Thelen, Published 1998-07-01

Balaklava Cover artOne Nation Underground Cover art

A slice of the past, but certainly one that shouldn’t be overlooked. Pearls Before Swine was essentially the vehicle of guitarist / composer / poet / singer Tom Rapp, which over the course of six albums (two for ESP Disk, and four for Reprise) devolved from a four-piece band to essentially a solo project with studio musicians helping out (Rapp would release a few more albums under his own name later in the 70s). These first two on jazz label ESP Disk were by far the most interesting and adventurous of the bunch, with more than their share of 60s weirdness and experimentation. Rapp is probably one of the only singers in rock with a lisp (at least the only one this writer can think of...) and at least on these early albums the sound was fairly unique, instrumentation consisting of acoustic guitar, banjo, cello, string bass, organ, light drumming, and other odds and ends (sitar, celeste, autoharp, and other typical 60s-ish embellishments), plus flute (on Balaklava) provided by none other than Joe Farrell. The style is psychedelic folk-rock by any measure, with an extra heavy dose of 60s' eclecticism. Dated, for sure, but not your standard fare by any means.

The second album carries on from the first, even more warped, strange, and diverse. Songs like “Transluscent Carriages” with its other-worldly whispered backing vocal part, or “Guardian Angels” sounding as if taken from an old 78RPM scratches and all, with string quartet backing offer a more tempered vision and better overall production than the first. And one of the best covers of Leonard Cohen’s “Suzanne” this writer has heard. Good to have these two available again.


Filed under: Reissues, Issue 15, 2002 releases, 1968 recordings, 1967 recordings

Related artist(s): Pearls Before Swine / Tom Rapp

Latest news

2018-09-05
Krautrock Documentary Seeks Funding – The next installment of the Progressive Warriors documentary series will focus on the vast body of music that falls under the banner of "krautrock." As most of our readers will know, previous films have tackled RIO and the Canterbury scene, as well as what we might call "mainstream" prog rock. » Read more

2018-07-31
Tomasz Stańko RIP – Tomasz Stańko, one of the greats of Eastern European jazz, has died at the age of 76. Stańko's career started in Krzysztof Komeda's quintet, where he contributed trumpet from 1963-1967, when he formed his own group. He worked extensively with Edward Vesala, Don Cherry, Zbigniew Seifert, Chico Freeman, Howard Johnson, Cecil Taylor, and many others. Many of his recordings have been released by ECM, an association that began in the mid-70s. » Read more

2018-07-09
Soft Machine Set to Release New Music – It's been 50 years since The Soft Machine changed the face of music with their first album. Their blend of psychedelic rock and jazz was unique, and while the band went through many changes before disbanding in 1981 — by which time there were no original members remaining — they remained an innovative force with a style all their own. » Read more

2018-07-01
7d Surfaces Happy Rhodes Back Catalog – We've covered singer Happy Rhodes before, both for her solo work and recently with The Security Project, but her 11 albums have been hard to track down. Until now. 7d features high-quality downloads of all her releases, and several of them are also available on CD. » Read more

2018-06-25
Fred Chalenor RIP – We have news of another sad passing in the world of creative music. Bassist Fred Chalenor, whose creativity featured on albums by Tone Dogs, Caveman Shoestore, and many more, died on June 23, 2018 after a long battle with Alzheimer's. Tributes have poured in from the many musicians and fans whose lives he touched. » Read more


Previously in Exposé...

Level ∏ - Electronic Sheep – Electronic Sheep is Uwe Cremer’s (aka Level ∏) second release and though firmly rooted in the Teutonic and Berlin-school of electronics, it is quite a departure from Entrance. Gone are the...  (2011) » Read more



Listen & discover



Print issues