JUDY HENSKE & JERRY YESTER Farewell Aldebaran (Radioactive)

Judy Henske had already recorded folk for Elektra and pop for Mercury and had a relationship with Woody Allen (allegedly inspiring the titular character in “Annie Hall”) by the time she teamed with her then husband Jerry Yester (once of The New Christy Minstrels, The Lovin’ Spoonful and Modern Folk Quartet) for this 1969 spaced oddity. It’s not a huge shock to discover “Farewell Aldebaran” was originally released by Frank Zappa’s Straight label and executive produced by his manager, Herb Cohen.

Taken as a whole, “Farewell Aldebaran” is a mad acid-folk-psych curio, somewhere between Jefferson Airplane and Pearls Before Swine, or Linda Perhacs fronting The Pink Floyd. On “Snowblind” Henske screams and hollers like a female Jim Morrison; “Horses On A Stick” is all thin, tiny keyboards and string instruments playing distorted sunshine pop, like a lysergic musical box. “St. Nicholas Hall” is perhaps the album’s most initially approachable moment, a biting satire on organised religion joined by what sounds like a Mellotron choir. “Three Ravens” and the banjo-pickin’ “Raider” are more conventionally attired and gently persuasive folk rock, like a Californian Steeleye Span. There’s a rolling, red carpet majesty to “Rapture”; “Charity” reaches for, and receives, a heavenly chorus, before morphing into some kinda cosmic sea shanty. The closing title track reminds me, perhaps somewhat unfairly, of the “Pigs In Space” theme from “The Muppet Show”, all early Moog action, mystical astronomy and crazy vocal effects.

Radioactive’s vinyl reissue is a goodie – a numbered, limited edition (of 1,000), pressed on 180g vinyl, with a gatefold sleeve containing lyrics. Somehow, though, despite its many qualities, I can’t see “Farewell Aldebaran” selling out in a hurry.