Tim Hardin – This Is Tim Hardin (1967)

OriginalFrontCover1A gentle, soulful singer who owed as much to blues and jazz as folk, Tim Hardin produced an impressive body of work in the late ’60s without ever approaching either mass success or the artistic heights of the best singer/songwriters. When future Lovin’ Spoonful producer Erik Jacobsen arranged for Hardin’s first recordings in the mid-’60s, Hardin was no more than an above-average white blues singer, in the mold of many fellow folkys working the East Coast circuit. By the time of his 1966 debut, however, he was writing confessional folk-rock songs of considerable grace and emotion. The first album’s impact was slightly diluted by incompatible string overdubs (against Hardin’s wishes), but by the time of his second and best LP, he’d achieved a satisfactory balance between acoustic guitar-based arrangements and subtle string accompaniment. It was the lot of Hardin’s work to achieve greater recognition through covers from other singers, such as Rod Stewart (who did “Reason to Believe”), Nico (who covered “Eulogy to Lenny Bruce” on her first album), Scott Walker (who sang “Lady Came From Baltimore”), Fred Neil (“Green Rocky Road” has been credited to both him and Hardin), and especially Bobby Darin, who took “If I Were a Carpenter” into the Top Ten in 1966. Beleaguered by a heroin habit since early in his career, Hardin’s drug problems became grave in the late ’60s; his commercial prospects grew dimmer, and his albums more erratic, although he did manage to appear at Woodstock. His end was not a pretty one: due to accumulated drug and health problems, as well as a scarcity of new material, he didn’t complete any albums after 1973, dying of a drug overdose in 1980.

TimHardinHardin’s very earliest recordings from approximately 1964, not issued until the late ’60s, when he had achieved some success with his albums for Verve. Accompanied by nothing besides his own guitar, Hardin’s arrangements are far sparser and bluesier than his folk-rock work for Verve. Over half of the ten tracks are traditional blues numbers like “Hoochie Coochie Man” and “House of the Rising Sun,” and even the four originals (one co-written by future Holy Modal Rounder Steve Weber) are in a very similar straight blues style. The material isn’t nearly as distinctive as the best of Hardin’s work, but the performances rank with Dave Van Ronk and Fred Neil as the best white blues/acoustic folk to emerge from the early-’60s Greenwich scene (indeed, Hardin covers Neil’s “Blues on the Ceiling” here). The hollow, reverbed, one-man-sitting-alone-in-an-empty-room production gives this album a haunting, somber feel (though not to its detriment). While not as good as Fred Neil’s similar material from this era, it’s still well worth tracking down. (by Richie Unterberger)

BackCover1Personnel:
Tim Hardin (vocals, guitar)

AlternateFrontCover1
Alternate frontcover
(“electronically re-recorded to simulate stereo”)

Tracklist:
01. I Can’t Slow Down (Hardin) 3.25
02. Blues On The Ceilin’ (Neil) 3.55
03. Stagger Lee (Traditional) 3.10
04. (I’m Your) Hoochie Coochie Man (Dixon) 4.20
05. I’ve Been Working On The Railroad (Traditional) 2.47
06. House Of The Rising Sun (Traditional) 4.07
05. Fast Freight (Hardin) 4.05
06. Cocaine Bill (Traditional) 2.53
07. You Got To Have More Than One Woman (Hardin) 2.00
08. Danville Dame (Weber/Hardin) 2.05

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