Buzzy Linhart

Buzzy

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Linhart's debut album is a strange, unfocused affair, the kind of thing that would have only been issued by a major label in the late '60s. The singer varies between relatively short songs and way-extended workouts that mix folk with rock, Indian music (Big Jim Sullivan plays sitar), and even some mellotron. Linhart uses drawn-out blues-folk phrasing that owes quite a bit to Village folk-rockers like Tim Hardin and Fred Neil, and in fact a five-and-a-half-minute workout on Hardin's blues, "Yellow Cab," opens the LP. The ten-minute "Willie Jean" is next, and actually Phil Ryan's mellotron here gives the song an unusual lift that helps to differentiate what would otherwise be an OK but unremarkable anguished folk ballad. The 18-minute "Sing Joy" takes up most of side two, and its Indian-oriented improvisation gets tedious after a promising opening burst of ominous orchestral drone. When he milks that drone for an entire, albeit three-minute, song (the closing "End Song," overlaid with mellotron), the result is more interesting, recalling Fred Neil at his most despondent, but with freakier production. It's no mystery as to why Linhart favored these elastic, spontaneous-sounding folk/jazz/blues/Indian/rock fusions; he had no doubt played that kind of music when one of his bands, the Seventh Sons, backed Fred Neil live in the mid-'60s. Still, his singing, songwriting, and editing capabilities were not quite up to the point where he could shine on an album all his own.

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