Terry Callier

Now for today’s album of the month…I kid, I kid, well a little bit, there’s something special about Chicago’s own Terry Callier. No other artist quite sounds like him and in all honesty deserves his own time in my spotlight. Since 1964 he has combine soul, jazz, folk, and funk so effortlessly that you’d think he’d had hit upon some secret stash of lost John Coltrane and Nick Drake recordings. Coltrane and Nick Drake from a guy raised in the Cabrini-Green projects? Once again proving that location should never define you, Terry’s whole discography just screams with ties to unseen Folk music seams running through all styles of music. A good friend of Minnie’s, he also had the great pleasure of recording nearly all his album with the genius Charles Stepney. Together, they created a folk-soul sound that points at some direction I’m looking at for October.

My track of the day, the cello and acoustic counterpoint driven “Blues for Marcus” from the outstanding Occasional Rain points to something intrinsically beautiful about the simple acoustic guitar. No other instrument like this one can blend in so naturally with any other instrument you place it with. Playing like the soul brother to Nick Drake’s “Cello Song”, but in all honesty <<prepares for arrows to be thrown>> is the better/smarter song, Terry clawhammers his acoustic through a beautiful pastoral melody as Charles conducts around him those bracing cello strings.

Occasional Rain album cover.

There’s something about Terry’s magnificent vocal delivery, so thoroughly unique, a strong whispering type of voice that hovers between an English folk singer and his own Chicago blues roots, that makes you think we all have more in common than you’d think. All those parts combine together to create a sound no one quite knew what to make of during his time. There’s a reason his mom agreed to let him quit college and tour the folk circuit from a young age…Terry’s unique voice was much too talented to be stuck teaching English to school kids like he would later wind up doing.

I just love Terry, if you even remotely think that’s the only type of song he can do with his folk influences, I highly recommend you take the time to check out his first four albums, heck pretend its September and see what beautiful gems you discover! For now, I’ll give you a taste of the new folk sound of Terry, and in a way start unraveling a certain vibe I’ll let you explore with me…

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Listen to Blues for Marcus at Grooveshark.

Bonus track time, how about a quick primer on why those other albums are so special, first the only version of “Cotton Eyed Joe” you ever need to hear…

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Listen to Cotton Eye Joe at Grooveshark.

then from his best album What Color is Love, the wonderful country-soul of “I”d Rather Be with You”…
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Listen to I’d Rather Be with You at Grooveshark.

and finally from the not far behind in quality I Just Can’t Help Myself, the epic John Martyn meets Roy Ayers track “Until Tomorrow”.

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Listen to Until Tomorrow at Grooveshark.