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. Its not a huge shock to discover Farewell Aldebaran was originally released by Frank Zappas 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 albums 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. Theres 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.
Radioactives 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 cant see Farewell Aldebaran selling out in a hurry.