Jim & Jean

Jim & Jean

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Jim & Jean sounded like a minor-league Ian & Sylvia on their rare debut album, probably released around 1965. Of course, they also sounded like a minor-league Ian & Sylvia on their 1966 Verve album, Changes. The difference is that on Jim & Jean, they were derivative of the very early, folk-oriented Ian & Sylvia, while on Changes they sounded far more like Ian & Sylvia did when they started to get into folk-rock. It's not the hugest difference, granted. But it's enough to mean that Changes -- which had electric instruments by top session men and stronger, more contemporary material by emerging singer/songwriters -- is a considerably more interesting album. For all that, Jim & Jean was a likable late-folk revival period effort. The resemblance to Ian & Sylvia's early Vanguard recordings was yet further ensured by the use of Bill Lee (who had played on numerous Ian & Sylvia sessions) on bass, and occasional autoharp by Jean Ray, just as Sylvia Fricker had sometimes played autoharp on Ian & Sylvia releases. Additional contributions by Dick Rosmini on guitar and Patrick Sky on harmonica also helped make the sound fuller than it often was on folk albums of the era. There's no original material here, as the program was divided between traditional folk-bluesy numbers like "Alabama Bound" and covers of compositions by developing 1960s singer/songwriters Buffy Sainte-Marie ("Welcome, Welcome Emmigrante"), Tom Paxton, and two from their good friend Phil Ochs, "The Bells" and "There But for Fortune." They sounded better on the earnest Ochs-Paxton-Sainte-Marie covers than they did on the good-time folk revival tunes, but in any case they were not destined to be remembered as the most original interpreters of either new or old folk songs, or as the strongest harmonizing male-female duo in their idiom, although they're not bad here.