Shawn Phillips - Transcendence (1978)
A re-up of this splendid and underrated album. Catch it here. The new Shawn Phillips site is here. Lyrics from the album there.
Somewhere between Donovan and Marvin Gaye but with something/anything of Zappa meets Todd Rundgren, was (and is still) Shawn Phillips. This LP, that can be considered as his dawn one, is for me his masterpiece. Terrible that such a gem was so overlooked and forgotten. It contains some of the most moving of his songs and more largely, of the rock history. He might have been suddenly under a divine influence since his previous efforts were at best uneven. But here, he touches something essential in music, helped by the superb orchestral arrangements of Michael Kamen (with a Barry Ryan flavor sometimes). Among the whole setlist, "American Child", "Implications", "Lament" and "Motes of Dust" are fave of mine and are not far each time I listen to them (at least once a year) to draw tears from my old and tired eyes. So, it seems unavoidable for me to post this LP here since it really belongs to the long list of forgotten ones. I hope to help it to be back in everyone's memory. In streaming, 2 totally opposed climaxes. But both wonderful.
American Child. I was born in Fort Worth, Texas with a silver spoon / The war was rollin,' and the deaths were tollin' and Crosby crooned / The year was '43, I started learnin' how to be and I was on my way / Partisans in Italy were fighting Mussolini's team and making hay / Then another two years of people shedding tears and it had all begun / This bludgeon of insanity, power into vanity, to make the sun / I started comprehending the beginning of the ending of the human race / Now all I want to do is stop the follow-through I want to save my face / 'Cause I'm an American child on a nuclear pile / I been pampered, I been hampered, now I'm slandered, yeah! / Children of the twenty-first haven't got sense enough to raise their minds / Too busy gettin' crazy, or learnin' to be lazy, or tryin' to find / A way of bein' funny so to make a lot of money off another man's spine / Capitalist prigs and communist pigs, well you are all so fine / Always hypocritical, I think you're hypothetical, I will not climb / Cannot get in here, can't get out of there and there is no more time / And like the man said it's a pity he is dead, that all the world's a stage / So if you want to keep it for the next performance, you had better rage / Now I got a feelin' that what we're really needin' is a lot of love / And the little man to say he can, regardless of the master plan or velvet glove / Stand up his integrity, and fight the things that he can see are oh so wrong / There is a good solution, and it's not a revolution, and it won't take long / Let loose that want to fight go slobber through the night with their neutron bombs / There is more creation in the face of devastation, there are just more slums / And if you want utopia, you cannot have myopia, it must be clear / And a little isolation, so to prop a falling nation, from its only fear.
Implications. She brought me love like no one else has ever / Brought me through these many years / She made me sound and took me 'round in ever upward swirling chandeliers / At the pain of an ending is like a cauldron seething in fire / For no one else could ever take me higher The roses sent were never meant as offerings of peace for all the tears / Nor solace for the years alone / I cannot bring myself to voice my fears / Oh, but life you are sacred, you are the only the we bear / You are adamant implication that we care / The winds of life have brought me strife, I must face up to what / I think is real, and if she wants to go to him I will not hold her back from what she feels / Ah the love gives me courage, it stops the pain and heals me inside / My very soul is a thing I cannot hide / The windows in her eyes are dark / The stars are never there as they appeared and gone is all the joy for me / She's found another man and I am here / Ah the pain of an ending is like a cauldron seething fire / For no one else could ever take me higher / In the sky to the blue of God's eye where the winds begin to blow / And the earth is brown and green and gold / With the universe above and I must not lose my love / No I must not lose my love again.