The Carolyn Hester Coalition

Band members                              Related acts

  line-up 1 (1968-69)

- Skeeter Camera -- drums, percussion

- Carolyn Hester -- vocals, guitar

- Dave Mauney -- vibes, bass 

- Steve Wolfe (aka Victor Batty) -- lead guitar 


  supporting musicians: (1968)

- Dave Blume (RIP 2006) -- bass, keyboards, vibes 




- Abracadabra (Steve Wolfe)

- Carolyn Hester (solo efforts)

- Jungle Jim (Steve Wolfe)

- David MacKay, Scott & Wolfe (Steve Wolfe)

- Montreal (Skeeter Camera)






Genre: psych

Rating: **** (4 stars)

Title:  The Carolyn Hester Coalition

Company: Metromedia

Catalog: MD 1001

Country/State: Waco, Texas

Year: 1968

Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+

Comments: still in shrink; opened corner

Available: 1

Catalog ID: --

Price: $75.00


Anyone into Carolyn Hester's folk singer phase was likely to find her decision to turn to a more happening' and commercial sound a shock and a disappointing.  On the other hand, anyone into this late-1960s psych-oriented effort is liable to find her eight previous folk albums trite, if not outright dull.  Regardless, life as a starving folkie couldn't have been much fun.  Who can blame Hester for trying to find a bigger, album buying audience.  Wonder if life as a starving psych band was any better ...


The thought of a folkie turning to psych is probably a major turnoff to many folks.  That's unfortunate since once you get over Hester's thin, little girl lost voice, 1968's "The Carolyn Hester Coalition" proved surprisingly enjoyable.   The first album release on Len Levy's New York-based Metromedia label, the album was produced by Dave Blume who played bass and keyboards and co-wrote five of the songs.  (I think he's the guy on the cover with the cap and striped shirt).  Blume also became Hester's second hubby, enjoying a long union until Blume's death in 2006.  Collectively know as The Coalition, Blume, along with drummer Skeeter Camera and lead guitarist Steve Wolfe provided stellar support throughout the set.  Material such as acid dripping opener 'Magic Man.' the radical update of Hester's earlier recording of 'East Virginia' and 'Be Your Baby' offered up some surprisingly accomplished psych/rock numbers.  Sure, tracks like 'Tomorrow When I Wake Up' and a nice cover of Ed McCurdy's blazing anti-war tract 'Last Night I Had the Strangest Dream' made it clear Hester had not totally abandoned her folkie roots.  Less impressive, on tracks like 'Big City Street' Hester bore an uncomfortable resemblance to Petula Clark and the hit 'Downtown.'  Luckily, those were the exceptions rather than the rule.  Having listened to some of her earlier works, the biggest surprise for me was Hester's voice.  Yeah, it was thin, but on tracks like the original 'Buddha (Was Her Best Man)' she displayed a deeper range that was well suited for the album's more rock-oriented arrangements.  


If this had been a release by an established rock band, I probably would have graded it lower.  The fact Hester managed to make such a drastic artistic change is one of the things that impressed me the most.  Change is difficult and seldom goes smoothly, but she and her cohorts pulled it off.  Moreover, the timepiece album cover is a hoot.  Extra star for all of that.


"The Carolyn Hester Coalition" track listing:

(side 1)

1.) Magic Man (Steve Wolf - Dave Blume) - 2:10 rating: **** stars

Anyone expecting to hear something along the lines of the ballad 'She Moved Through the Fair' was going to be shocked.  In spite of her "little girl" voice, Hester's performance on 'Magic Man' proved surprisingly psychedelic and when combined with Wolfe's fuzz guitar, Skeeter Camera's frenetic drumming, lysergic lyrics and Blume's wild production which included a healthy dose of echo police sirens and other sound effects ... wow, it was all here.  Interesting choice for Metromedia to have tapped as the album's lone single:





- 1968's ;Magic Man' b/w 'Big City Streets' (Metromedia catalog number MM-120)






2.) East Virginia  arranged by Carolyn Hester - Dave Blume) - 2:58 rating: **** stars

Artists often revisit their past catalogs, but the resulting updates are seldom as radical as 'East Virginia.'  First recorded for Hester's 1963 "This Life I'm Living" the original was a straightforward, barebones folk tune.  While the melody remained recognizable, I'm pretty sure that anyone who put this version on expecting to hear the 1963 version was going to have a heart attack.  Wolfe's fuzz guitar took this one in directions her folk fans never have thought of back in 1963.

3.) Tomorrow When I Wake Up (Carolyn Hester) - 2:27 rating: **** stars

Powered by some nice Dave Blume keyboards and a great Dave Mauney bass line, the combination of a glistening folk-rock arrangement and Hester's sweet vocals made this ballad one of my favorite performances. The real surprise was hearing Hester handled the tune ion a deeper vocal range.  Nice.

4.) Be Your Baby (Carolyn Hester - Dave Blume) - 2:32 rating: **** stars

'Be Your Baby' had the most conventional rock melody and arrangement Hester's sassy delivery (think Nancy Sinatra and 'These Boot were Made for Walking') combined with Wolfe's snarling lead guitar made this one a keeper.  Seriously, was this the same Carolyn Hester who recorded all those folk albums?  Would have made a dandy single.

5.) Big City Street (Tom Moore - Carolyn Hester - Dave Blume) - 2:50 rating: *** stars

Opening up with some pretty Vox organ, the ballad 'Big City Street' was a sweet tale of female empowerment.  On this one Hester's delivery reminded me a bit of Petula Clark (think 'Downtown').


(side 2)

1.) Half the World (J. Maitland - J. Scott) - 3:13 rating: *** stars

Opening up with some tasty Wolfe guitar, the accompanying lyrics were heartfelt, but perhaps a little sophomoric:  "half the world is starving, half the world is overfed, half take sleeping pills at night, half don't have a bed."

2.) Let's Get Together (Dino Valenti) - 2:38 rating: *** stars

I always thought the song title was 'Get Together', but I guess it doesn't matter.  Hester's arrangement echoed The Youngbloods' hit version so there wasn't anything earth-shattering here, but her voice sounded strong and confident on this one.

3.) Hey Jay (J. Wagner - D. Judge) - 2:46 rating: ** stars

A moody, jazz-tinged ballad 'Hey Jay' just didn't connect with me.  That album's first outright disappointment.

4.) Last Night I Had the Strangest Dream (Ed McCurdy) - 3:00 rating: *** stars

No sixties folkie would dare record an album without at least one anti-war performance.  The same was apparently true for ex-folkies.  Anyhow, there's no doubt Hester's heart was in the right place.  The sad thing is some six decades later Ed McCurdy's lyrics should still resonate with listeners.  After her husband's death Hester started performing again.  YouTube has a September, 2019 performance of the song at the Southern Indiana Folk Review: Carolyn Hester & Nina Ricci sing "Last Night I Had the Strangest Dream" (Ed McCurdy) Columbus, IN (

5.) The Journey (Tom Moore - Carolyn Hester - Dave Blume) - 2:30 rating: *** stars

Thankfully 'The Journey' found Hester returning to her pop-rock experiments. Nice melody that would not have sounded out of place on a Mamas and the Papas album.  Interesting echo effect on her vocals.

6.) Buddha (Was Her Best Man) (Carolyn Hester) - 2:19 rating: **** stars

The title and lyrics always make me smile.  Hester's performance reminded me of someone and for years I couldn't make the connection - it finally came to me.  On this one her smiley performance recalls The Bangles Susanna Hoffs.  My only complaint on this one stemmed from the abrupt fade-out.  The song was just beginning to generate some real steam and then ...





Genre: psych

Rating: *** (3 stars)

Title:  Magazine

Company: Metromedia

Catalog: MD 2200

Year: 1970

Country/State: Waco, Texas

Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+

Comments: minor ring wear

Available: 1

Catalog ID: not listed yet

Price: $100.00


Musically Hester's second LP for Metromedia, 1969's "Magazine" isn't all that different from the previous release.  Once again, Hester's little girl voice is an acquired taste (to our ears, on material such as "Dedicated" and "Plant the Crops In the Garden" she recalls Kate Bush).  Perhaps a little more subdued than the previous set, like the previous album, Hester's at her best when blending her folk roots, with late-60s psych moves.  Highlights include "Rise Like Phoenix" (with some tasty fuzz guitar from Steve Wolfe) and "St, James Infirmary".  Fascinating in an offbeat way ...  the only real misstep is the goofy Otis Redding cover.  One of Hester's lesser known releases, the LP may be even rarer than her self-titled release. 


"Magazine" track listing:

(side 1)

1.) Rise Like Phoenix   (Carolyn Hester - Dave Blume) - 3:09

2.) Dedicated   (Steve Wolfe) - 2:58

3.) Plant the Crops In the Garden   (D. Newburge - David Blume) - 2:54

4.) Beadmaker   (Carolyn Hester) - 2:44

5.) St. James Infirmary   (J. Primrose) - 5:13


(side 2)

1.) Just Follow Me   (T. Moore - Steve Wolfe - Dave Blume) - 5:04

2.) (Sittin' On the) Dock of the Bay   (Otis Redding - Steve Cropper) - 3:42

3.) Sire Robert, the Lost Knight   (C. Parisi -  Dave Blume) - 3:36

4.) Calico Sky   (S. Davis - David Blume) - 2:32

5.) Swing Low, Sweet Chariot   (traditional - David Blume) - 2:44


Hestor's continued to record through the years, though later efforts are in a more traditional vein.