Friday, February 12, 2010

MIJ and the Musical Flowering of 1969

Originally posted on September 15, 2008

Freeze frame to January 1969. Folk-rock was going pretty strong, with much of the emphasis on originals, and not much in the way of the traditional songs folk was defined by earlier. ESP Records brought an obscure dude into the studio, one MIJ, aka Jim Holmberg. The album recorded that day hardly revolutionized the music scene. In fact it passed almost unnoticed, the audience and the record missing a rendezvous like ships in the night.

And yet there is something about that music, just reissued (The Yodeling Astrologer). It’s Mr. MIJ’s voice and 12-string acoustic, nothing else. You could call it folk-rock without the rock. It’s rather out in its lyrics, a set of quirky originals that could only have been made back then. Tim Buckley, early Donovan, early Al Stewart are certainly contemporaries that resonate with what he was doing. After a few hearings, at least for me, the music begins to grab you. Here we have a surprise that will appeal to anyone with a liking for the summer of love music of the period. And the 12-string adds a texture that blends nicely with his vocals.

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