Monday, August 30, 2010
Jango Song Of The Day-Pearls Before Swine
Album:Constructive Melancholy: 30 Years Of Pearls Before Swine
Pearls Before Swine started out as a psychedelic folk band in the mid-60s. But by the time they signed with Reprise Records in 1969, it wasn't really a band anymore. The Jeweler is probably their best known song but they were never more than a cult band. Group leader Tom Rapp was born Mar. 8, 1947 in Bottineau, ND and grew up in Rochester, MN. When his family moved to Melbourne, FL in 1963, he formed a band with high school pals Wayne Harley on banjo & mandolin, Lane Lederer on bass and Roger Crissinger on piano. The group name Pearls Before Swine came from the bible and Rapp was heavily influenced by The Fugs. Rapp sent demos to ESP-Disk in New York and they released two albums on that label. They were a small jazz label and though Pearls Before Swine was successful, they didn't have the distribution to take them any farther. Rapp and his wife Elisabeth were living in The Netherlands. So when Rapp signed with Reprise Records in 1969, the original band had disbanded and Rapp was just using the Pearls Before Swine name and recorded with Nashville session musicians like Charlie McCoy and members of Area Code 615. The Jeweler is from the 1969 album Use Of Ashes. Rapp wrote the song after watching his wife clean a piece of jewelry with a paste made of ashes. You may have heard The Jeweler when it was covered by This Mortal Coil in 1991. Another song on the album Rocket Man was acknowledged by lyricist Bernie Taupin as a direct influence on the Elton John hit Rocket Man. After recording a couple of Pearls Before Swine albums at Reprise, it came to an end when Reprise released some demos without Rapp's knowledge. This comp is a good intro to the Reprise years. Rapp signed with Blue Thumb Records and after releasing two albums as Tom Rapp, he quit the music business. He graduated from Brandeis University law school and became a civil rights lawyer in Florida. He still does that today but he has returned a few times with his son's band Shy Camp and Rapp recorded an album in 1999. Here's a video of The Jeweler by Pearls Before Swine.