The Carolyn Hester Coalition – Same (1968)

FrontCover1Here´s a wonderful and excellent  rarity from the late Sixties !

Carolyn Sue Hester (born January 28, 1937) is an American folk singer and songwriter. She was a figure in the early 1960s folk music revival.

Hester’s first album was produced by Norman Petty in 1957. She made her second album for Tradition Records, run by the Clancy Brothers, in 1960. She became known for “The House of the Rising Sun” and “She Moved Through the Fair”.

Hester was one of many young Greenwich Village singers who rode the crest of the 1960s folk music wave, helping launch Gerde’s Folk City in 1960. She appeared on the cover of the May 30, 1964 issue of the Saturday Evening Post. According to Don Heckman of the Los Angeles Times, Hester was “one of the originals—one of the small but determined gang of ragtag, early-’60s folk singers who cruised the coffee shops and campuses, from Harvard Yard to Bleecker Street, convinced that their music could help change the world.” Hester, dubbed “The Texas Songbird,” was politically active, spearheading the controversial boycott of the television program Hootenanny when Pete Seeger was blacklisted from it.

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John H. Hammond signed Hester to Columbia Records in 1960. That same year Hester met Richard Fariña, and they married 18 days later. They separated after less than two years. In 1961, Hester met Bob Dylan and invited him to play on her third album, her first on the Columbia label. Recorded at Columbia Studios, New York City, in September 1961, this album was Bob Dylan’s first official recording. Hammond, her producer, quickly signed Dylan to the label. Hester turned down the opportunity to join a folk trio with Peter Yarrow and Paul Stookey, who then found stardom with Mary Travers as Peter, Paul, & Mary. Hester collaborated with Bill Lee and Bruce Langhorne, but she concentrated exclusively on traditional material. In the late 1960s, unable to succeed as a folk-rock artist, she explored psychedelic music as part of the Carolyn Hester Coalition before drifting out of the music industry of the period.

Carolyn Hester at the Newport Folk Festival in July, 1967 in Newport, Rhode Island:
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Hester has disputed David Hajdu’s depiction of her marriage to Fariña in his book Positively 4th Street: The Lives and Times of Joan Baez, Bob Dylan, Mimi Baez Fariña, and Richard Fariña. She has claimed that there are exaggerations in his description of the relationships among Dylan, Baez, Hester, and the Fariñas. She has denied that Fariña was as close to Dylan as some rock historians claim and has strongly disputed that Fariña was in any way responsible for Dylan’s success as Hajdu suggested.[2] Hajdu also suggested that Hester had an ongoing rivalry with Baez and her sister Mimi. To this day, Hester maintains that, on the contrary, she did not and does not know Baez well and that they never were rivals personally or professionally.

In 1969, Hester married the jazz pianist-producer-songwriter David Blume, the composer of The Cyrkle’s 1966 Top 40 hit “Turn Down Day.” Together Hester and Blume formed the Outpost label. They also started an ethnic dance club in Los Angeles.

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In the 1980s she returned to recording and touring. She and Nanci Griffith performed Bob Dylan’s “Boots of Spanish Leather” at Dylan’s Thirtieth Anniversary Tribute Concert at Madison Square Garden in 1992.

In 1999, Hester released a Tom Paxton tribute album. She appeared on the A&E television Biography of Bob Dylan in August 2000. Hester was awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award by the World Folk Music Association in 2003.[4]

Blume died in the spring of 2006. Hester closed the dance club Cafe Danssa a year after his death.

She continues to perform and tour with her daughters Amy Blume and Karla Blume. They recorded an album We Dream Forever, released in 2010. (wikipedia)

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After a handful of Folk albums, The Carolyn Hester Coalition was a completely different beast, taking her in a Psychedelic direction. The album is a fine West Coast-style Hippie fuzz Folk Rock/Pop affair with Hester singing in a decidedly non-folky Acid Bubblegum style. Solid all the way through, this album should appeal to any fan of Neighb’rhood Child’n, Birmingham Sunday, Daisy Chain and similar semi-light trips. The opening “Magic, Man” is well known due to its inclusion on the Hippie Goddesses compilation. Erubus. (diversevinyl.com)

Anyone into Hester’s earlier incarnation as a folk singer is likely to find her decision to turn to a more happenin’/commercial sound disappointing. On the other hand, anyone into this late-1960s psych-oriented effort is liable to find her earlier folk albums trite and dull.

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The thought of a folkie turning to psych is probably a major turnoff to many folks. That’s unfortunate since once you get over Hester’s little girl lost voice, 1968’s “The Carolyn Hester Coalition” is surprisingly enjoyable. With excellent backing from The Coalition (bassist/keyboard player Dave Blume, drummer Skeeter Camera and lead guitarist Steve Wolfe), material such as “Magic Man”, the fuzz guitar propelled “East Virginia” and “Half the World” offered up some excellent psych/rock numbers.

Sure, Hester’s folkie roots were occasionally on display (“Tomorrow When I Wake Up”), and on tracks like “Big City Street” she bore an uncomfortable resemblance to Lulu. Luckily, those were the exceptions rather than the rule. Besides, Hester deserved an extra star for the album cover’s revealing blouse. (bad-cat)

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Carolyn Hester had been away from the recording scene for a few years when she re-emerged in the late 1960s as the centerpiece of the Carolyn Hester Coalition, a psychedelic- and folk-tinged rock group. It’s hard to read this as anything but an attempt to keep up with the times on the part of someone who missed the boat that made folk and folk-rock a commercial proposition. Purism aside, this unexpected move wasn’t a bad thing; Hester wasn’t the greatest or most original folksinger anyway, so why not try something different? Her voice is still thin and almost unnaturally high, although not unappealingly so, on both rocked-up versions of folk songs she probably sang acoustically at one point (“East Virginia,” “Let’s Get Together”) and tunes that are closer to fairly commercial psychedelic folk-rock. It’s not the most organic combination, with trendy fuzz guitars flitting in and out of the arrangements from time to time. It’s not bad, though, and the brooding cover of Ed McCurdy’s anti-war song “Last Night I Had the Strangest Dream” is an effective interpretation of a significant composition that was overlooked by other folk-rock acts. Indeed the album, on that track and others, is more downcast than might be expected, Hester moaning at one point “half the world is starving, half the world is overfed, half take sleeping pills at night, half don’t have a bed.” (by Richie Unterberger)

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Personnel:
Dave Blume (keyboards, bass, vibrapühone)
Skeeter Camera (drums, percussion)
Carolyn Hester (vocals, guitar)
Steve Wolfe (guitar)

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Tracklist:
01. Magic Man (Wolf/Blume) 2.11
02. East Virginia (Traditional) 3.03
03. Tomorrow When I Wake Up (Hester) 2.30
04. Be Your Baby (Hester/Blume) 2.33
05. Big City Street (Moore/Hester/Blume) 2.49
06. Half The World (Maitland/Scott) 3.17
07. Let’s Get Together (Valenti) 2.31
08. Hey Jay (Wagner/Judge) 2.48
09. Last Night I Had The Strangest Dream (McCurdy) 3.03
10.The Journey (Moore/Hester7Blume) .2.32
11.Buddha (Was Her Best Man) (Hester) 2.19

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LinerNotes

The official website:
Website

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