Phase 2 of today’s pre-holiday Corporate Hell soundtrack is the ‘Sidewalks Talking‘ album by Hollins and Starr.
Chicago-based duo Chuck Hollins and David Starr only made this one album, which originally appeared in 1970 on the Ovation label. All I know about them is what I saw on the original ads for the album when I Googled it:
“David Starr learned piano when he was three, began composing when he was four. At twenty-one he was playing flute with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. Chuck Hollins picked up a guitar one day and just started playing…. by the time he left Northwestern with his Creative Writing degree he was turning his poetry into music.”
And that’s doesn’t tell me a whole lot.
So, yeah, total mystery.
This sole offering by these two seemingly phantom musicians is a actually treasure trove of strong melodies and dreamy vocal stylings, sure to appeal to fans of acid folk, pop, and even lovers of avant-garde funk. I think I also read somewhere too that DJ Logic borrowed samples from this album as well.
So there’s that.
However, listening to it now is a rich, rewarding experience, similar to what you might expect to hear from Arthur Lee and Love, especially when you consider some of the other bullshit currently going on on other conference calls going on around me.
‘Twin City Prayer‘ starts off with wind chimes and flute and, yeah, you just know this is going to be something “special”. ‘Hard Headed Woman‘ (originally by Elvis Presley and later by Cat Stevens) is one of the most ambitious and longest tracks, started with a more rockier singing, and with parts of almost classical and contemporary classical arrangements of brass with and without percussion, and another part with drums and kettle drums, while turning this again into something almost Prog-like.
And then there’s ‘Home‘ with lots more flute and baroque foundations and – if I’ve hit my mark here – it’s a Bach composition. And it just goes on from there; some rockier, some jazzier, some trippy thunderstorms (‘Stayin’ High‘), talking spiders (‘Sidewalk Talking‘) and some, well, just…wow, man (‘Digress‘). Let’s just say it’s fucking out there. The whole album is mixed like some bizarre musical story with lots of different facets hanging together on many different levels some weird musical patchwork quilt.
I’m really diggin’ this.