A posthumous collection of odds and ends, this actually holds considerable appeal for anyone who likes their pair of fully realized albums. The 12 songs include a few studio outtakes, a few solo turns by Mimi on compositions written by Richard but incompletely recorded at the time of his death, a couple performances from the 1965 Newport Folk Festival, and a couple of Joan Baez tracks from sessions for an aborted album Richard was producing with her. These leftovers are generally up to the standard of the two "real" albums, especially "The Quiet Joys of Brotherhood" (covered by Fairport Convention) and "Morgan the Pirate" (a farewell to Bob Dylan, according to the sketchy liner notes). The two cuts by Baez (which Richard wrote or co-wrote), especially the compellingly melancholy "All The World Has Gone By," are excellent, leading one to wonder if the projected album they came from would have been one of Baez's best if it had been completed. These may be leftovers, but it's a worthwhile collection nonetheless.
This album is one of those very few works that truly points towards what might have been had tragedy not struck. Richard and Mimi Fariña had defined a very particular place for themselves by the middle of the sixties: they had released two critically acclaimed and highly influential albums in “Celebrations For A Grey Day” and “Reflections In A Crystal Wind” (both 1965) and Richard's novel Been Down So Long It Looks Like Up To Me had just been published in 1966. However Richard was to die in a motorcycle accident right after the launch party for this novel, never knowing how it would quickly become a cult success and remain in print for decades afterwards.
It is the musical legacy that we are concerned with here, and there can be no doubt that Richard and Mimi were trail-blazers as they were in the absolute vanguard of what became known as folk-rock, and we talk here not of the pop version of the Turtles, Grass Roots and PF Sloan, but of the highly intelligent re-invention of traditional folk music into new forms that would eventually lead to far better-known albums like Fairport Convention's “Liege And Lief”. Indeed Richard and Mimi's albums were amongst a select few in play rotation at Fairport (the house) in the early months of 1967.
After the first two albums, this one was a posthumous release in 1968, and culled tracks from some differing sources. There are some session out-takes, and some that could be called works-in-progress, and there are two live tracks taken from the pair's successful appearance at the 1965 Newport folk Festival. There are also two Richard Fariña productions of Joan Baez (Mimi's big sister) taking lead vocal on ‘A Swallow Song’ and ‘All The World Has Gone By’. The album begins with Mimi's achingly beautiful rendition of ‘The Quiet Joys Of Brotherhood’, associated later by many with Sandy Denny, and these Fairport family connections continue with the inclusion of the a capella ‘Blood Red Roses’ and ‘House Un-American Blues Activity Dream’ which were both reworked later by Ian Matthews. But such links should not take away from the beauty of the original works, as this was an album that proved how exciting their direction could have been with most of the songs written by Richard. Even with an instrumental, ‘Lemonade Lady’, that Richard plays on the dulcimer in an attacking and radical style far removed from the instrument's usual delicacy, there is music here that caught many ears in the sixties and continues to do so in the new century. One song that thrusts forward even more that the others is ‘Morgan The Pirate’, which is apparently Richard's 'farewell to Dylan'. Its structure and attacking framework is arguably the most interesting new direction that the pair could have followed, and could have certainly led them towards further and heavier electrification. With every track here fascinating, it is a release that can lead new listeners to more investigation of their small but incredibly rich catalogue.
|The Quiet Joys Of Brotherhood||4:16|
|Joy 'Round My Brain||3:45|
|Blood Red Roses||2:29|
|Morgan The Pirate||5:45|
|House Un-American Blues Activity Dream||3:50|
|A Swallow Song||2:45|
|All The World Has Gone By||3:40|
|Pack Up Your Sorrows||3:00|
Mimi & Richard Farina - Memories (1968)
(256 kbps, cover art included)