Pearls Before Swine – These Things Too (1969)

Artist Credit
Richard Alderson Engineer, Producer
Bob Dylan Composer
Bill Eaton Arranger
Peter H. Edmiston Executive Producer
Elisabeth Composer, Vocals
Jim Fairs Arranger, Celeste, Guitar, Harmony, Producer, Vocal Harmony
Steve Friedman Mixing
Richard Greene Violin (Electric)
Richard Greene & Beryl Marriott Violin (Electric)
Wayne Harley Banjo, Harmony, Vocal Harmony
Pearls Before Swine Primary Artist
Tom Rapp Composer, Guitar, Vocals
Nick Saloman Liner Notes
Bill Salter Bass
William Salter Bass
Grady Tate Drums
Ed Thrasher Art Direction

By the time of their third LP, Pearls Before Swine’s mainstay Tom Rapp hadn’t changed much in his approach. He was still singing inscrutable folk-rock-psychedelic songs with a crackly lisp, with melodies that were pleasant but didn’t really stick in the memory. The chief difference, if any, was that by this point Pearls Before Swine was less of a group and more a front for Rapp working with various other musicians. Only Wayne Harley remained from the lineup on the first album; the drums, in fact, were handled by esteemed jazz veteran Grady Tate. Perhaps working for a major label allowed for more time in honing the arrangements, which employed horns, strings, celeste, lugubrious orchestration, periodic odd sound effects, and some backup vocals by Elisabeth Rapp. At times, Rapp sounded almost normal, as on the cover of Bob Dylan’s “I Shall Be Released” (the only non-original) and the easygoing country-rock of “If You Don’t Want To.” What to make, though, of a song about a “Frog in the Window,” presented in both a hurdy-gurdy good-time version and a more spaced-out one? Or the French-sung “Mon Amour,” in which Rapp wanders into Astrud Gilberto territory? The collision of weirdness and ordinariness is strange enough to make one wonder whether Lambchop, decades later, found some inspiration for their own unfathomable mundane art songs in old Pearl Before Swine albums, though Pearl Before Swine was less self-conscious and more interesting. But on These Things Too, they weren’t that interesting.

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