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- Libby Titus (aka Elizabeth Jurist) -- vocals
- none known
Rating: 2 stars ***
Title: Libby Titus
Company: Tiger Lily
Country/State: New York
Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+
Catalog ID: 2716
Another rare, if not necessarily great Tiger Lily tax scam release ...
At first glance Libby Titus would seem to be an interesting candidate for a tax scam release. She attended Bard College and dropped out of school after getting pregnant. Married to novelist Barry Titus at the time she recorded her 1968 debut (she went on to long term relationships with Dr. John, the late Levin Helm and is now married to Donald Fagen who was a contemporary while attending Bard), she somehow attracted the attention of producers Charles Koppelman and Don Rubin. The pair signed her to their newly formed, New York-based Hot Biscuit Disc Company label. With backing from Capitol Records, Titus' debut album found her working with David Klein and the Koppelman-Rubin team sharing production duties. The Hot Biscuit Disc Company label quickly went down the tubes and without any backing 1968 "Libby Titus" (catalog number ST 9101) vanished without a trace.
Nothing more than speculation on my part, but given that background, it becomes easier to understand why Tiger Lily would have latched on the the album. The tapes were already there so the recording costs were ... well there weren't any costs. Add to that the Hot Biscuit release sold next to nothing, meaning Titus was largely unknown ... who was there to know they'd repacked the album ? Let alone, who was going to let Titus know her album had been re-issued without her consent ?
So 1976's "Libby Titus" was basically a re-packaged version of Titus' self-titled 1968 album. Musically the album featured a collection of then-popular hits, including three Beatles tunes, two Loving Spoonful numbers, and material from the usual assortment of "cool and happenin'" mid-'60s writers - Leonard Cohen, Tim Hardin, Joni Mitchell, Paul Simon, etc. All nine tracks were ballads; many buried in heavy orchestration that only served to underscore Titus' high and fragile voice. The general feeling is dark and sad, perhaps a reflection of the fact she was getting divorced at the time. Imagine a less quirky Kate Bush and you'll get a feel for the general sound. There were a couple of differences in the track listing. Who knows why, but the Tiger Lily release added a cover of Leonard Cohen's 'Suzanne', but dropped 'Fancy Dancing Man', The Loving Spoonful's ''You Didn't Have To Be so Nice', and Tim Hardin's 'It'll Never Happen Again'. Also worth pointing out, while the writing credits reflected three Titus originals, they were all in error. All nine tracks were covers.
Titus" track listing:
1.) Cloudy (Paul Simon) - rating: ** stars
'Cloudy' was taken from Simon and Garfunkel's third album "Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme". The original was pretty wispy, but Titus' heavily orchestrated version sounded like something taken off a Barbara Streisand album. By the way, the writing credits were wrong. Simon co-wrote the song with New Seekers member Bruce Woodley.
2.) Fool On a Hill (John Lennon - Paul McCartney) - rating: ** stars
The first of three Beatles covers, Titus' version of 'Fool On a Hill' sounded like it had been recorded for a Broadway show. Her voice was nice enough (actually reminding me a little of Kate Bush with a cold), but the arrangement managed to take one of the Fab Four's most mawkish tunes and turn it into complete slab of MOR dreck. Yech.
2.) Suzanne (Leonard Cohen) - rating: ** stars
Ah, one of the late Leonard Cohen's most beloved tracks ... This version of 'Suzanne' was fragile, fey, and quite irritating. Wonder of Titus was an English major since this had they same kind of self-indulgent poignancy that sends sensitive folks into ecstasy. As mentioned, this was one of the tracks not on the original Hot Biscuit release.
3.) Younger Generation (Libby Titus) - rating: * star
It was shown as one of three Titus originals, but 'Young Generation' was actually a John Sebastian song. Musically it sounded like something Jimmy Webb might have written for Glenn Campbell with the string section "borrowed" from a McCartney tune.. This was one of those deep, sensitive songs that aged horribly. Add to that, Titus' "little child" vocals were dreadful.
4.) Baby Close It's Eyes (Tim Hardin) - rating:: ** stars
Okay, as a young mother at the time this was recorded, I can see why Titus might have identified with this Tim Hardin composition. Yeah, 'Baby Close It's Eyes' was another one where the songwriting credit was wrong.
1.) Michael from the Mountains (Judy Collins) - rating: * star
For goodness sakes, 'Michael from the Mountains' was a Joni Mitchell tune. Why would the credit it to Judy Collins ? Not that the songwriting credit did anything to improve the performance. Could you have picked something that was more sensitive ?
2.) Here There and Everywhere (John Lennon - Paul McCartney) - rating: * star
Her second Beatles cover sounded like a 12 year old trying to sound like an adult. Simply dreadful.
3.) Holiday (Barry Gibb - Robin Gibb) - rating: * star
Never liked The Bee Gees original and her version failed to make the song any more enjoyable. Imagine Melanie singing this one and you'll have a feel for the sound.
4.) Strawberry Fields Forever (John Lennon - Paul McCartney) - rating: *** stars
If I had to listen to one song from the album, I guess it would be this Beatles cover. I'm not saying this was great, or even good. Titus vocals were shrill and irritating, but the instrumentation was okay (harpsichord, Indian percussion, crisp drumming).
5.) Cocoanut Grove (Libby Titus) - rating: ** stars
Geez, she turned a nice Lovin' Spoonful tune into bland cocktail jazz. Not only were the songwriting credits wrong (The Loving Spoonful's John Sebastian and Zal Yanowsky wrote it), but hey didn't even get the song title right .. "Cocoanut" ???
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