Addiss and Crofut
Band members Related acts
line up 1
- Stephen Addiss -- vocals, harpsichord, flute
- Bill Crofut (RIP 1999) -- vocals, banjo, French horn
- Stephen Addiss (solo effors)
- Steve Addiss And Phạm Duy
- Bill Crofut (solo efforts)
- Benjamin Luxon and Bill Crofut
Rating: 2 stars **
Title: Addiss and Crofut
Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+
Catalog ID: 1183
Produced by John Hammond, for the most part, 1966's "Addiss and Crofut" wasn't a major change from the pair's two earlier albums. That meant most of these 14 tracks were heavily geared towards adaptations set to mid-'60s acoustic folk arrangements, with early touches of world music thrown in for good measure. To be truthful, the album sounded like a concept album; actually separate concepts for side one and for side two. On the first side the pair sounded as if they'd been hired by the Agency for International Aid, or the State Department to give a shout out to as many foreign countries as possible. Their sheer earnestness quickly became a source of irritation. Side one included songs that seemingly touched on countries as diverse as Austria, India, Malaysia, and Vietnam. (Ironically as part of the US Cultural Exchange Program, the pair had actually undertaken an international tour at the behest of the State Department.) Side two featured a musical tour through history with stops in the 16th, 17th, 18th, and 20th centuries. Listening to this side reminds me of what a college introduction to musical history course must have sounded like. Painful. Admittedly the pair had wonderful voices and there was no doubt as to their dedication to the music. That said, their sense of dedication to music just kind of took the fun out of the experience and don't believe any of the crap you may read on dealer lists about this being folk-psych. This is straight forward folk with no interest for rock fans.
and Crofut" track listing:
1.) Simple Gifts (Stephen Addiss - Bill Crofut) - rating: ** stars
Geez, I can remember singing this traditional tune in elementary school. Yeah, these guys sounded way better than we ever did. Still, this is straightforward folk without a trace of rock, or any other genre. "Steve and Bill agree that 'Simple Gifts' the first song on Side One, sums up what they are striving for in their medium: "'Tis the gift to be simple, 'tis the gift to be free." The song is an old Shaker hymn that Aaron Copeland used so effectively in "Appalachian Sparing". In their own arrangement for two voices, banjo, guitar, and recorded, Addiss and Crofut create a hymn of stirring strength."
2.) A Man of Words (Bill Crofut) - rating: *** stars
Even if you didn't like traditional folk, 'A Man of Words' was worth hearing. Pretty, if a bit heavy handed. Yeah, they were saying something important. " ... an anonymous children's poem ... Bill set the poem to a sweeping melodic vocal line, with arpeggio-like accompaniment on banjo and guitar chords."
3.) Innsbruck (Stephen Addiss - Bill Crofut) - rating: * stars
I have no idea why they felt the need to take on a tune with German lyrics ... Clearly sung phonetically, their love of the city of Innsbruck was so bad as to be entertaining. " ... a traditional fifteenth century Austrian tune that tells if a sad farewell to the city of Innsbruck. Steve and Bill have taken a four part setting of the song as arranged by Heinrich Isaac, a sixteenth century composer, and reduced it to two voices. Steve plays harpsichord on this track and the horn solo is by Willy Ruff."
4.) Malaysian Flute (instrumental) (Stephen Addiss - Bill Crofut) - rating: ** stars
Well the banjo and tin whistle arrangement didn't sound particularly Malaysian to my ears. " ... a medley of two folks songs from Malaya. The wooden flute is played by Steve, the banjo accompaniment by Bill." rating: ** stars
5.) Sita Ram (Stephen Addiss - Bill Crofut) - rating: ** stars
I'm sure there were earlier raga-influenced tunes, but 'Sita Ram' has to be one of the earliest ones. Call them pioneers on this one. Not that I'm a big fan of the genre. "Pete Seger taught them 'Sita Ram'. This hymn was a favorite of Mahatma Gandhi and popular in India's Nationalist movement. It states that although there are many different religions, essentially we worship the same God. The song is traditional, but the arrangement is by Addiss and Crofut. They performed 'Sita Ram' with great success in Africa where these is a sizable Indian minority community. The bongo drums are used here to create the atmosphere of Indian tabla drumming."
6.) Blues On the Ceiling (Fred Neil) - rating: *** stars
Yes it was an acoustic blues number, but actually managed to exhibit some energy. Even though they managed to misspell Neil's name, it was one of the album's standout performances. " ... sung by Steve, is an unusual city blues attributed to Freddie Neal. It has an unsettling thirteen-bar structure in the instrumental interlude, while the vocal part varies the traditional twelve-bar blues form."
1.) Ballad from Vietnam (The Rain On the Leaves) (Pham Duy - Stephan Addiss) - rating: *** stars
Originally titled 'Giọt Mưa Trên Lá', this track was written with Vietnamese singer Pham Duy; Addiss seemingly getting writing credits for translating the lyrics into English/. With Vietnamese instrumentation and the pair's harmony vocals, musically 'Ballad from Vietnam (The Rain On the Leaves)' had an obvious tni-war lyric, though it wasn't nearly as blatant, or aggressive as other period tunes. The track was also released as a single, but did little commercially. " ...a compelling song composed by Pham Duy, Vietnam's foremost performer-composer. We had the rare opportunity of hearing the composer himself perform the song with Bill and Steve, while in the United States. During the 1965 Buddhist crisis, [the song] had the distinction of being one thing that both sides of the controversy could agree upon. Each faction sang the song as its own --rightly so because it has noting to do with politics; it tells with beautiful simplicity of the human suffering that accompanies war. The strange instrument you hear is a Vietnamese classical instrument called a dan-tranh, which is related to the Japanese koto. Steve spent most of the summer of 1965 in Vietnam and continued his study pg the stringed instrument of ancient linage." Neither the sound, or video quality are very good, but YouTube has a black and white clip of the pair performing the song with Duy: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WLmPLVZDuWQ
A somewhat daring move given the subject matter,Columbia tapped the song as a single:
- 1966's 'A Ballad from Vietnam (The Rain On the Leaves)' b/w 'Simple Gifts' (Columbia catalog number 4-43744)
2.) I Sing of a Maiden (Stephen Addiss - Bill Crofut)
3.) Non Nobis Domaine (Stephen Addiss - Bill Crofut) rating: *** stars
Pretty a capella ballad - think the lyrics were in Latin. "A sixteenth century melody by English compose William Byrd, "Nom Nobis Domaine: is reverently treated with the simple blending of two voices and string bass accompaniment (Willie Ruff is the bassist). The song states "Not to us, Lord, but to your name be glory."
4.) To Have a Wife (Stephen Addiss - Bill Crofut) rating: ** stars
Bad Simon and Garfunkle ? "Moving up to the seventeenth century, Steve took the original amusing words of the poem "To Have a Wife" and set them in the style of Robert Jones (circa 1609), a composer of the period."
5.) Mail Myself To You (Woody Guthrie) - rating: * star
"... an abrupt and thoroughly delightful jump to the twentieth century Americana. In the recording studio bassist Willis Ruff caught by the infectious spirit of this Woody Guthrie song began to "play the bones". The improvised spirit of the song is evident. This is one our favorites." Personally I didn't find it delightful, or a favorite, though I agree the ending was abrupt.
6.) Crusaders of Joy (Parts 1 and 2) (Stephen Addiss) - rating: ** stars
"Two songs from the French Crusades follow. Arranged by Steve as close to the style of the period as an educated guess can calculate, the tunes feature Bill's excellent French horn playing."
7.) Joys of Love Plasir d'Amour) (Stephen Addiss - Bill Crofut) - rating: ** stars
One of the enduring favorites in the Addiss and Crofut repertoire is 'Joys of Love', and eighteenth century song by Giovanni Martini, which they have arranged with a song from Martinique a t the suggestion of dance-choreographer Geoffrey Holder.
Only 64, Crofut died of cancer in January 1999.
Addiss seems to have turned his attention to education and art, working as a Professor of Art History at Richmond, Virginia's Richmond University. He's also written a slew of books on Japanese art and history.
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