Billy (Hallquist)


Band members                             Related acts

  line up 1 (1972)

- Bill Hallquist (RIP 2015)-- vocals, guitar

 

  backing musicians:

- Karl Ausland -- backing vocals

- Debbie Barton -- backing vocals

- Beckey Borchardt -- backing vocals

- Tom Byrd -- backing vocals

- Steve Crawford -- backing vocals

- Tom Hatcher -- guitar

- Kim Hines -- backing vocals

- John Holmquist -- backing vocals

- Rick LiaBraaten -- drums, percussion, backing vocals

- Neil Iverson -- vocals, guitar

- Jerry Johnson -- vocals, guitar

- Dan Melford -- backing vocals

- Rich Miller -- bass

- Lee Sterner -- backing vocals

- Kathy Weingarden -- backing vocals

 

 

 

- Cimmaron

- The Good Idea (Bill Hallquist and Rick LiaBraaten)

- Billy Halliquest (solo efforts)

- The KO Band

- Thundertree (Bill Hallquist)

 

 

 


 

Genre: psych

Rating: 3 stars ***

Title:  Persephone

Company: Orion

Catalog: S80-462-2823S

Year: 1972

Country/State: Sioux Falls, South Dakota

Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+

Comments: --

Available: 1

Catalog ID: 2277

Price: $175.00

 

 

Point of order - the guy's name was Billy Hallquist, not Billy Persephone as the cover would have you believe ...

 

So, this was one of those albums I picked up because I remembered William Stille's wild cover art from a Hans Pokora book.   I can remember playing it a couple of times and being less than impressed; thinking it was an okay slice of singer/songwriter material that just wasn't very distinguished.  It sat in my what-to-do-with-it pile for a couple of years.   Luckily during the middle of a Virginia blizzard I started cleaning up piles of records and decided to give this one another spin.

 

Hallquist's probably best known for his work with the early Minneapolis-based Christian band Good Idea, who morphed into Thundertree.  Following the latter's 1971 breakup, he began writing and recording his own material, eventually culminating with this hard-to-find 1972 solo album.  

 

Released on Hallquist's own Orion label (reported 2,000 copies were pressed), anyone expecting to hear another set of Thundertree styled pop/psych was probably going to be somewhat disappointed by 1972's "Persephone".  Showcasing ten original selections, unlike his earlier efforts, most of these tunes were straightforward singer/songwriter efforts showcasing Hallquist and acoustic guitars with occasional backing vocals from friends.  Songs such as 'Desert Rats' (sporting some wild lyrics), the pretty ballad 'Smiley', and 'For the First Time' all showcased a rather stark set of acoustic singer/songwriter material.  Lyrically most of the album was pretty downbeat ('You and I'), but it was saved from oblivion by the combination of Hallquist's sweet voice, engaging presentations and some decent melodies.  Perhaps due to the fact they sported atypical rock arrangements (including support from ex-Thundertree drummer Rick LiaBraaten), 'Help You Now' and the title track were the two highlights to my ears.  (By the way, I had to look up the title - Peresphone was the daughter of the Greek God Zeus - she's best known as the queen of the underworld - the cover art makes sense once you know that.)

 

"Persephone" track listing:
(side 1)

1.) Desert Rats   (Bill Hallquist) - 2:07   rating: **** stars

I'm normally a sucker for a nice strummed acoustic guitar so 'Desert Rats' grabbed me from the start.   Add in Hallquist's dry vocals and the goofy, slightly disturbing  lyrics (how often have you heard a couplet linking whores and kittens ?) and what wasn't there to like?

2.) For the First Time   (Bill Hallquist) - 2:40   rating: *** stars

I wonder how much time singer/songwriters have spent writing love songs to old girlfriends ...  Well, at least this one had a sense of humor.   There's no date on it and the sound quality is poor, but YouTube has a clip of Hallquist performing the tune: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SX3n-hbufEE 

3.) You and I   (Bill Hallquist) - 4:20   rating: ** stars

Well, what a surprise ...   another pretty acoustic ballad seemingly inspired by an ex.   

4.) Blanche   (Bill Hallquist) - 4:54   rating: ** stars

'Blanche' added a bluesy feel and Southern twang to his acoustic repertoire, but to my ears the results weren't particularly memorable.   

5.) Smiling Lady   (Bill Hallquist) - 7:05   rating: *** stars

Another stark acoustic tune, but 'Smiling Lady' was probably the album's most lysergic tune.  Strange effort with kind of an Eastern feel (and a touch of Crosby, Stills, and Nash thrown in - listen to the guitar), and quite beguiling.  

(side 2)
1.) Help You Now   (Bill Hallquist) - 2:54
    rating: **** stars

One of the few tracks to sport a full band arrangement, 'Help You Now' was also one of the album highlights.  The tune had a great folk-rock melody and a nice showcase for what a sweet voice the man had.   Should have been tapped as a single.

2.) Buddah's Rosary   (Bill Hallquist) - 3:22    rating: *** stars

The lyrics were printed on the back panel and I've read them dozens of times - Biographical ?  I still don't have a clue.  Still, it had a bouncy acoustic melody and except for the brief scatting segment, once again Hallquist sounded great.

3.) Smiley   (Bill Hallquist) - 5:23    rating: **** stars

Backed by some of the sweetest background harmonies you'll ever hear, the stark 'Smiley' was one of his prettiest numbers.   

4.) Middle Lothian Folk Ballad   (Bill Hallquist) - 1:45   rating: *** stars

Another pretty acoustic ballad that was highlighted by some truly depressing lyrics ...  like is this person suicidal?   The lengthy fade out made made the effect even more disturbing.

5.) Persephone   ( Bill Hallquist) - 8:36    rating: **** stars

Another full band number, image what Pink Floyd would have sounded like had they been raised in Minnesota ...  Like the best Floyd material, 'Persephone' had a pretty, pastoral melody and the kind of obscure, but disturbing lyric that drilled into you head and kept cropping up throughout the day.  I suspect Roger Waters would have approved.

 

Hallquist subsequently become a staple on the Minneapolis music scene, but by late 2014 he'd been was diagnosed with colon cancer.  He passed on in October 2015.   

 

 

 

 

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