Monthly Archives: May 2006

The best record you never heard (and you’ve heard that one before, right?)

Okay, first, apologies — one more neglected blog in the wasteland. And I’m not going to promise to do better.

In the mid-seventies, I was a folkie. I liked Pete Seeger and Chris Smither and loved the British folk/rock stuff like Fairport Convention and Steeleye Span. And there was one record that I truly loved that was really unlike any record I’d ever heard prior or have ever heard since – Fraser and DeBolt. Fraser and DeBolt were Allan Fraser and Daisy DeBolt, and this was about the most surreal folk duo I have ever heard. The music was strumming guitars and violin and harmonious male/female lead vocals and the songs were about love and life – could be any boring couple with guitars and some friends for a backing band. Except that what they put together was unique. The beautiful melodies strained into orgasmic, out of tune wails in places, and the lyrics maintained a healthy level of wittiness and absurdity. The result was about 60% pretty folk-country, 20% acid folk, and ten percent pure kitsch. And the artists clearly enjoyed the hell out of making this absurdist masterpiece. You can hear them laughing at the lyrics as they sing them, in places. But take it all in – the record is funny and it’s ridiculous, but there are ample moments that are pure, devastating heart.

Old Man on the Corner is their surrealistic masterpiece.

Well, I got no need for time these days
You know the day ain’t worth a damn, oh no no no
Because my wristwatch ain’t got no secondhand

Them Dance Hall Girls is a killer honky-tonk about loneliness in Baltimore.

My sense of time – Oh I’m a week behind
I’d send you a letter home, but this all takes time, you know
I wanna get some money, I wanna go back home
These dance hall girls know how to make a man feel alone
Is this the way it always is here in Baltimore?

For close to thirty years, I have somehow managed to keep alive a scratched up LP and a beat up cassette of the album. It never hit the radar of anyone capable of marketing a CD. Fraser and DeBolt were, and still largely are, lost to the world at large. So you can imagine how pleased I was a few months ago to discover their new web page. And even more elated to find their two albums digitized for free, legal downloading.

The web page is at http://fraserdebolt.com

The music is at http://fraserdebolt.com/audio.html