In 1965, my family moved from Milwaukee to north New Jersey. Life changed in many ways for me, some small number of them good, far more detrimental. I never felt at home there, and, other than finding a wonderful lady whom I married, left it and all it offered as soon as possible. But my mom received far more benefits than I. Among those, for a not-too-well-off family, was access to New York radio, access my mother took full advantage of. She was a folk music fan, and Odetta, Cisco Houston, The Clancy Brothers and the Limeliters had been part of my life since my earliest days. But with a direct feed from the big city, more obscure performers showed up on the Clark playlist.
Among those were Jim and Jean. Their first LP arrived shortly after we did, and I heard it for years. I never recognized how much I liked it. And I grew older, moved into my own music, and forgot Jim, Jean, Cisco, Tommy, and all the rest. Until recently. Over the past few years, I have been acquiring CD versions of the LPs that formed the soundtrack to my childhood. There's a little Cisco out there and that which is available, I have and listen to when alone (my wife's mom did not bring the same radio stations in, though they were available to her too...) Got some Odetta. Sam Hinton. Ian and Sylvia. Others of that era. Just no Jim and Jean.
Several songs from that long unheard LP entwined themselves into my DNA, and still strike me as wonderful little vignettes, perfect combinations of music and words. (Which ones? Well, The Bells and Blackfly Song are the two I liked best back then, and still find most memorable. Click on the titles for an MP3 of either song. Tintinnabulation indeed! I also really like Welcome, Welcome Emigrante and My Ramblin' Boy.) And thus began my Internet searches. And Internet disappointments. There just is not much information about Jim and Jean out there. They appear to have had a brief, not-very-successful career, playing a largely outdated music to a largely uninterested audience. Even facts are hard to find...they released three albums, but in what order?
Of course, here he is on the same site, acknowledging this earlier effort, though not liking it much. (And nothing at all about People World.) I would agree with his assessment of some of them, they are too limp on the Leadbelly numbers. But the contemporary material they deliver quite well!
Jim and Jean Singing and Playing 6 and 12 String Guitar, Banjo and Autoharp, as the LP is titled, is a charming and quirky folk album, complete with Bill Lee (who seems to have recorded non-stop back then; apparently he was the stamp of authenticity) on bass. Another album called People World came later, as did Changes. I have not heard PW, though judging by the cover photo, it appears earlier than Changes. But I have listened to Changes many times now, thanks to Mad Haiku, enjoying it more and more with each listen. While not perfect, there is a lot to like. Jim really is a fine singer, and the arrangements fit their vocal styles quite well, supporting without overwhelming. But the trying-to-keep-up-with-the-Dylan qualities of Changes, with electric guitars and bass, lots of drums, and bigger arrangements, and a prominent Al Kooper harpsichord, point to a later release date. I don't think they would have used a harpsichord in 1965. And on a first album.
Note the cover images....innocent, bright-eyed couple, then vaguely sexual couple, and finally looking in different directions couple. According to one source, they broke up after the release of their final album, with drugs playing a role in that breakup (though I don't know which LP that was). But, which image looks as if the couple is about to separate? And those haircuts....they certainly look as if this is the logical order to me.
(I have received much new data in the years since I posted this, but I will leave this content as is, but after communication with Jim Glover, I have learned I am wrong. People World was their final LP. And with CD versions of all three LPS, I am one of the few owners of the COMPLETE Jim Glover and Jean Ray Collection. Lots of great music in there.)
|Jim and Jean||People World||Changes|
I have scoured the LP, and there is no copyright information on it. Nothing to show when it came out. But the notes, written by Phil Ochs' wife and available here in full, clearly indicate this is an initial release.
LP Notes by Alice Skinner Ochs
Richie's entire biography of them is as follows (from: http://www.artistdirect.com/music/artist/bio/0,,449381,00.html?artist=Jim+%26+Jean)
Jim & Jean were Jim Glover and Jean Ray, who recorded a couple of albums for Verve in the 1960s. The duo's approach was sort of reminiscent of a more commercial, pop-oriented Ian & Sylvia, emphasizing harmonies and careful arrangements. Jim Glover (who also played guitar) had played in a duo with Phil Ochs, the Sundowners, around 1960, long before either singer recorded. They maintained their friendship for a long time, however (Ochs stayed in Jim & Jean's apartment when he first moved to New York). Jim & Jean acted as champions of sorts for Phil's work on their first album, Changes, which contained three Ochs compositions, including a couple that Phil himself had yet to record; Ochs, in turn, wrote the liner notes.
Jim & Jean had good taste, recording material by Ochs, David Blue, and Eric Andersen before any of those songwriters were too widely known. They also recorded with several musicians who had worked on Bob Dylan's first electric sessions. But their style -- with a repertoire that included little original material -- was already a bit passé when they began recording (though one of the two original cuts on their debut LP, "One Sure Thing," would be covered on Fairport Convention's first album). They never had much commercial success, although some of their tracks (especially their electric folk-rock version of Ochs' "Changes") were very pleasingly crafted.
~ Richie Unterberger, All Music Guide
When I contacted Richie for clarification, he said he would check. Fine. He also said he is a consultant to Collector's Choice, a prodigious reissuer of obscure music for aging hippies who can't admit they're old, fat, and mortal. He will suggest a Jim and Jean re-release! We can only hope.
Flash! That dream is now reality. Changes and People World have been released on 1 CD. See: Collector's Choice on one of the slowest web sites ever. Good quality transfer, interesting notes, it is a great option for all of you hoping to find that copy of Crucifixion.
I have transferred the first LP to CD, but my mom really did play that thing to death, and it sounds dreadful, or at least if you're used to listening to CDs it does. Like Mad Haiku, I would really appreciate a clean transfer from the original tapes. Best of? Wow, what a concept....I'm in!
The communication with Jim provided some remarkable stories of his recording days (including the statement that they never made a dime off any of the LPs), but the most peculiar was a lengthy autobiography he sent. Read it here, and be prepared to invest some time.
I do have LP #1 on CD (along with Changes...probably not going to try that again any time soon.) I have also made a CD copy of their appearance on Hootenanny with Jack Linkletter (which also includes David Crosby's first appearance on LP.) If you want these, e-mail at the address below and I'll let you know if they're still available. It is a time-consuming and expensive process.
Jim Glover Today
Final note: Jim has released another CD this year, his first in many a-year. Called Outsider, it demonstrates surprisingly strong vocals, reasonable guitar playing, recording a bit close, and (for this conservative/Christian/Libertarian) lyrics that are generally naive and lame. However, there are many pleasures to be found in it. To get a copy, try this link: CD Baby, and no, I don't make a dime if you click, but maybe Jim will.
To see images from the first LP and from People World, click Here.
Several people have e-mailed with questions about what was on which LP. Here is a complete track listing.
Someone asked about Friend and Lover...were they Jim and Jean? Here's Jim's Reply.