Toulouse Engelhardt - Toullusions

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Toulouse Engelhardt
CD / Album
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The term "lost classic" is bandied about a lot in the rock world, but in the case of the Toullusions album, the phrase is appropriate. At the time this album was released on the tiny Briar Records, Toulouse Engelhardt was playing to huge audiences, and along with John Fahey and Leo Kottke, was regarded by some critics as one of the three acoustic instrumental guitarists who really mattered. The album was greeted with ecstatic reviews, and it's easy to see why. Engelhardt picked up ideas from bluegrass, flamenco, ragtime, and surf music in a way that nobody else was doing then. He moved easily between acoustic six- and 12-string guitars and an electric Mosrite, playing both with such dexterity that it sounds like the man must have at least 15 fingers. Though multi-instrumentalist Chris Darrow of the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band plays on a few tracks and even tap dances on one cut, on the majority of the tracks there is only one guitar and no overdubs. Engelhardt's natural compositional style is the tone poem, making each cut a soundtrack for incidents that happened only in his mind. "The Fire in O'Doodlee's Popcorn Factory" is as frantically percussive as, well, a fire in a popcorn factory, and "Sailkatz Lament" is the musical depiction of a cat dashing through city traffic. The simply but warmly recorded album was a showcase of his technical brilliance, and as a masterpiece of both composition and performance, the album seemed unstoppable. Unfortunately, distributor Takoma Records was completely unprepared for Toullusions to take off, and copies weren't available when Engelhardt went on the road for the tour that was supposed to break the album into the mainstream. This and other difficulties with the label made Engelhardt decide to quit the music industry, and he didn't play in public again for several years. Briar nearly disappeared due to bad distribution, and the album became an almost legendary collector's item, both for the music and the fact that cover artist Rick Griffin went on to fame in the field of comic books. Copies of the LP in good condition were routinely fetching 200 dollars when Sierra Records (a re-named Briar) decided to reissue the album in 1994. Engelhardt responded with four new tracks, three of which have more orchestration and instrumentation than anything on the original album. The fourth, "Autopia," is a wonderful little blast of fun, a loopy musical depiction of getting thrown off a children's ride at Disneyland for being drunk. New listeners will find the album as fresh as the day it was made, still compelling evidence of a talent who was and is unique. Highly recommended. ~ Richard Foss

1) Air to the Quiver of Angel Wings - Toulouse Engelhardt (00:44)
2) Rocky Mountain Bringdown - Toulouse Engelhardt (01:42)
3) Prelude to a Yawn - Toulouse Engelhardt (01:30)
4) Pressed Hams - Toulouse Engelhardt (01:52)
5) Margie Wasn't Worth Asteroids - Toulouse Engelhardt (01:54)
6) Fifteen Years Is Twenty Up the River - Toulouse Engelhardt (01:55)
7) Young Goodman Brown Joined the Confederacy Today - Toulouse Engelhardt (02:14)
8) Sailkatz Lament - Toulouse Engelhardt (01:38)
9) Revelations at Lunada Bay - Toulouse Engelhardt (02:54)
10) Disposable Rag - Toulouse Engelhardt (01:54)
11) Knoxville Blues - Toulouse Engelhardt (02:23)
12) Peewater Springs Nocturne - Toulouse Engelhardt (01:19)
13) Fire in O'Doodlee's Popcorn Factory - Toulouse Engelhardt (01:58)
14) Sketches from Natalie's Room - Toulouse Engelhardt / Four Novelettes (03:25)
15) Autopia - Toulouse Engelhardt / Four Novelettes (02:43)
16) Las Fantasia del Caribe - Toulouse Engelhardt / Four Novelettes (04:56)
17) Lavender Ascension - Toulouse Engelhardt / Four Novelettes (04:35)

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Keyword Index
Toullusions | Toulouse Engelhardt