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

2019-03-25
Scott Walker RIP – Noel Scott Engel, better known as Scott Walker, was one of the most intriguing and enigmatic musical figures in the second half of the 20th Century. His strange career started with The Walker Brothers, an American pop group that featured no one named Walker and no brothers. After moving to England in 1965, they had a series of hit singles. Scott's solo work started with Scott in 1967. Starting in the 80s, his work took an increasingly avant-garde turn. » Read more

2019-03-20
Freedom to Spend Unearths June Chikuma's Archives – Jun (June) Chikuma is well known for her video game and anime soundtracks, but she also released an album of experimental electronic music back in 1986 called Divertimento where she indulged the kind of spontaneity that wouldn't work in a soundtrack. RVNG Int'l label Freedom to Spend is bringing this overlooked item to broader attention with a deluxe reissue. » Read more

2019-03-03
Seaprog 2019 Lineup Almost Complete – The Seaprog festival in Seattle is scheduled for June 7-9 this year, and they've announced their lineup of performers. The revitalized Trettioåriga Kriget will cap Friday night, perennial favorites Marbin are on Saturday, and District 97 will finish off the fest on Sunday night. In support, they've booked a stellar variety of artists from the Northwest and around the world, including EchoTest, Markus Reuter and Trey Gunn, and the live debut of the amazing Troot project. » Read more

2019-02-21
You Can Be Part of an Ambient Electronic Project – The Gesture of History is a new electronic project put together by Sam Rosenthal of Black Tape for a Blue Girl, Steve Roach, and violist Sam Shadow. The music started as an instrumental track Rosenthal was working on for a Black Tape album, but took on a life of its own and demanded further enhancements. The majority of the funds raised will go to manufacturing costs for LP and CD editions, as well as other items as detailed on the Kickstarter page. » Read more

2019-01-31
Keyboardist Ingo Bischof R.I.P. – Keyboard player Ingo Bischof, best known as the longtime keyboard player of German band Kraan, passed away on January 29th, 2019. Bischof was born January 2, 1951 in Berlin-Kreuzberg and joined Kraan in 1975. » Read more


Previously in Exposé...

Strawbs - The Broken Hearted Bride – Over the last ten years or so, Strawbs have toured and recorded in various configurations, from a three-piece acoustic trio to a fully amplified five-piece electric band. The Broken Hearted Bride...  (2008) » Read more



Listen & discover



Print issues