Exposé print issues (1993-2011)
Shawn Phillips — Live in the Seventies
(Bandcamp Think Like a Key TLAK1129, 1978/2022, 3CD / DL)
by Henry Schneider, Published 2022-08-10
It has been quite a number of years since the last Shawn Phillips release. I remember seeing his album Second Contribution with him wearing a black cape facing away from the camera on a dry lake bed with cracked mud in the record store when it was released while I was in college. It fascinated me, but being on a tight student’s budget, I passed on it. Then when I moved to Houston in 1972, Shawn was hitting his stride and the local FM radio station KLOL gave him a lot of airplay. And over that decade, he established his presence. This new triple CD set presents nearly four hours of music from eight unreleased live performances between 1972 and 1978. 51 songs from his discography: Contribution, Second Contribution, Collaboration, Faces, Bright White, Furthermore, Rumplestiltskin’s Resolve, and Transcendence. This set of live recordings covers most of these albums, and I am sure some die hard fans will lament that some songs did not make it, for example “Man Hole Covered Wagon,” but that is not a great loss as the majority of the well-known songs are here. Lovingly restored from the source tapes by Prof. Stoned (you should check out his blog), the sound quality is quite good overall. I saw Shawn perform live in February 1978 at the Houston Music Hall, but the performance unfortunately is not on this set. What I do remember is that Shawn played hard on both his acoustic and electric guitars, just like you will hear on Live in the Seventies. He also was a great story teller between songs, which sadly is not on this set. He enthralled his audiences, even on his most quiet of ballads. There is barely any audience chatter, except for some moments at the Texas Opry House in Houston. And Shawn was very appreciative of that. What we have here are several FM broadcasts (Majestic Theater in Dallas on April 4, 1973; The Nugget in Rochester, NY on April 10, 1972; Ivanhoe Theatre in Chicago on March 31, 1977, and Texas Opry House on December 11, 1978), some soundboard recordings (unknown venue in 1973; Municipal Auditorium in San Antonio on October 28, 1973: Municipal Auditorium in Austin on November 1, 1973; and The Forum in Inglewood on January 30, 1974). Despite the muffled sound on some of these old recordings, Shawn’s Texas drawl and crystal clear multi-octave vocals stand out. And you can tell that his various audiences loved every minute of each performance. One thing does puzzle me though. John Williiams’ iconic five-note sequence from Close Encounters of the Third Kind was well known after its release on November 16, 1977. Yet when Shawn included the sequence in the intro to “Maestoso” a year later on December 11, 1978, the audience did not react. Very odd. Think Like a Key should be applauded for rejuvenating these performances and releasing them nearly 50 years later. Many of Shawn’s albums are out of print, so this set is an easy way to delve into his discography. And it is a wonderful companion to Shawn’s other live albums released between 2007 and 2009.
Related artist(s): Shawn Phillips
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