Susan Pilsbury


Band members                             Related acts

  line up 1  

- Susan Pilsbury (aka Rev. Dr. Susan Pillsbury-Taylor) -- vocals

 

  supporting musicians:

- Richard Davis -- bass

- Jay Berliner -- guitar 

 

 

 

- none known

 

 

 


 

Genre: pop

Rating: 4 stars ****

Title:  Susan Pilsbury

Company: Sweet Fortune

Catalog: SPS 804
Year:
 1973

Country/State: New York

Grade (cover/record): NM/NM

Comments: sealed copy; torn shrink wrap

Available: 1

Catalog ID: 2101

Price: $40.00

 

I don't know a great deal about Susan Pilsbury.  In 1973 she was signed to Gulf and Western's small Sweet Fortune subsidiary, recording her self-titled debut with the help of producer Mike Berniker (best known for his work with jazz artists and a couple of Barbara Streisand's earlier albums).   Reported completed in about a week, "Susan Pilsbury" is one of those album's that take a while to reveal themselves.  I'll be honest and admit I initially hated the collection.  For some reason I was expecting something in the pop-psych spectrum.  As a result, I wasn't all that thrilled to be confronted with a collection of fragile singer/songwriter material.  My fist impressions were along the lines of third tier early Joni Mitchell, or second rate Joan Baez .  I filed the LP away, destined for my for-sale pile and forgot about it.  And then for some reason it reappeared on my turntable during a Sunday morning snowstorm.  For some reason this time around it struck a chord with me.   

Featuring a set of all original material, the majority of the ten tracks had a folk vibe to them, though there were isolated excursions into blues, country, spirituals, and a couple of tunes (' I Thought I Knew the Answers' and 'It's Hard To Be Easy') that at least approached a more conventional rock sound.  The album wasn't the most commercial set you've ever encountered, but on tracks like the opener 'Brown Eyes' and 'Highway' the hooks were actually there.  You just had to slow down and let them sink in.   The same comments were applicable for Pilsbury's voice.  What initially sounded sharp and shrill , slowly revealed itself to own an instrument with considerable flexibility and power - check out her performance on 'Love Never Dies'.  I'm clearly not a big folk fan, but this is one of the exceptions.  Call it folk music for folks who don't like folk music.  

 

Needless to say, the album vanished in a heartbeat.  Pilsbury continued to work in music.  She took several years of voice lessons and toured with guitarist Gene Gambardella and the Tom Russell Band.  She eventually moved to North Carolina where she  married a Methodist minister and eventually became a minister herself.  Today she's known as Rev. Dr. Susan Pillsbury-Taylor.  I found a short 2010 interview clip on YouTube with Pilsbury-Taylor at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aAOIRcQZU6s 

 

"Susan Pilsbury" track listing:
(side 1)

1.) Brown Eyes   (Susan Pilsbury) - 2:58

The folkie chick packaging didn't prepare me for the striking, bluesy 'Brown Eyes'.  Yeah it had an old-timey vibe that won't appeal to everyone, but the combination of Pilsbury's piercing voice and Jay Berliner's acoustic guitar was quite impressive.  Always wondered what she could have done with a more conventional rock sound.     rating: **** stars

2.) Never Say Goodbye   (Susan Pilsbury) - 2:20

3.) Heaven   (Susan Pilsbury) - 2:55

The stark, country-tinged ballad 'Heaven' had kind of a Melanie little-girl feel to it.  While the song didn't do a great deal for me, it served as a nice platform for stand-up bassist Richard Davis.  rating: *** stars

4.) Highway   (Susan Pilsbury) - 2:30

Opening up with some nice Berliner acoustic guitar, for some reason 'Highway' has always reminded me of a mash-up of Joni Mitchell, Judy Collins, and the late Sandy Denny.   rating: *** stars

5.) Love Never Dies   (Susan Pilsbury) - 2:37

Pretty, if understated singer/songwriter number with an unexpected religious lyric (as mentioned above, Pilsbury went on to marry a clergyman and become Methodist minister herself ).   Nice acoustic guitar accompaniment from Berliner ...   rating: **** stars

 

(side 2)
1.)  I Thought I Knew the Answers
   (Susan Pilsbury) - 2:25

Not exactly a rock tune, but 'I Thought I Knew the Answers' was one of the few tunes that framed Pilsbury with a more traditional band sound.  It also gave her a chance to showcase her 'tougher' voice.  Quite impressive and managed to show the kind of insight and sentiments Laura Nyro could only dream of accomplishing.  rating: **** stars

2.) It's Hard To Be Easy   (Susan Pilsbury) - 3:40

The second song that unleashed her pseudo-rock sound.   rating: **** stars

3.) Joe and Luther   (Susan Pilsbury) - 3:48

It took me a while to get my head around the Civil War plotline and I'd probably fail a test on the plotline, which seemed to be making an anti-war and anti-discrimination comment.  Assuming I was right, the result was one of the nicer anti-war tunes you've never heard.  War - what's it good for - ABSOLUTELY NOTHING !!!    rating: **** stars

4.) You Found Me   (Donna Cribari) - 2:58

The lone non-original, 'You Found Me' was a routine ballad that did little for me.  rating: ** stars

5.) Goodnight   (Susan Pilsbury) - 1:57

'Goodnight' may have been the album's prettiest song.  Admittedly there wasn't a great deal going on in the lyric department; basically Pilsbury repeating the title over and over.  Still, there was an endearing beauty to the song's simplicity.  It would have made a dandy lullaby.  rating; **** stars

 

In 2010 Steven Carr and Richard Morton Jack's Sunbeam label reissued the album in CD format (catalog number SBRCD5074).  The reissue included five bonus tracks apparently recorded in 1976 with Gene Gambardella and included a nice interview conducted by Aaron Milenski:

 

1.) Cowboy in Brooklyn   (Susan Pilsbury) - 3:30
2.) Don't Be a Star
  (Susan Pilsbury) - 1:57

3.) Heaven Only Knows   (Susan Pilsbury) - 3:30
4.) Not Exactly Love
  (Susan Pilsbury) - 4:09
5.) Praying for Rain
  (Susan Pilsbury) - 3:16

 


 

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