Not "Harold" but "Horald".
I spent some time googling before I noticed my error.
The correct "Horald" did not provide that much more information, in fact he is often listed as “Harold”
I even picked myself up and went and consulted my music library. Horald Griffiths does not appear anywhere.
This is unusual as he was signed to a major label, but stranger things have happened.
His history prior to the album is murky …
All I have, and then it took some time is that he provided music and lyrics and appeared in Doug Dyer's off Broadway play "Blood" in 1971.
"Blood" was an anti-war piece about a Vietnam veteran's homecoming done as an updated version of the Greek trilogy "The Oresteia" by Aeschylus. It seems to be yet another spin off and attempt at gaining the audience of "Hair".
The label saw something in him and were taking a chance.
This was his only album.
It seems, though, that subsequent to this he gigged. He played, and may have been a regular, at Caffè Lena, the small bohemian coffeehouse run by Lena Spencer in Saratoga Springs, upstate New York, from 1960 until her death in 1989. (apparently it was the oldest continuously running coffeehouse in the country … and is still going).
So much music comes with preconceived notice.
Well, apart from the sleeve, the rustic New York come country Americana sleeve sucked me in.
This is of its time. Country folk (Americana) though with a lot of quirk. The genre hadn’t been established clearly yet so there was a lot of experimentation, or fumbling in the dark, going on. And this is endearing. There is folk, folk-psych, rustic country, rockabilly, singer songwriter.
It is not dissimilar to Bob Dylan (naturally enough) and Arlo Guthrie with more rock n roll references and Griffiths has a good expressive voice on both the straight forward and personal songs.
The playing is superb with Griffiths on acoustic guitar, David Spinozza (session guitarist who had just come of working on Paul McCartney's Ram album during 1971), Bill Salter (Pete Seeger, Miriam Makeba, Harry Belafonte), Ron Carter (jazz bassist and former member of Miles Davis Quintet), Ray Lucas (backed Aretha Franklin, Otis Redding, The Supremes), Ralph McDonald (songwriter and sessionman who has backed Harry Belafonte, David Bowie and others). Producer Joel Dorn was an American jazz and R&B music producer who worked at Atlantic exclusively in the early 70s which explains while all the session men with the exception of Spinozza, are Afro-American jazz men.
All songs are by Griffiths unless noted otherwise.
Tracks (best in italics)
- Broken-Down Horse Thief – a great start and very Dylan and not surprisingly Arlo Guthrie in fact it predates similar Arlo a little.
- White Flag – some great playing going on here which sounds quite simple. The song is quite subservient, a flag to wave on the fourth of July with no stars or bars, it's just "plain old white".
- Frozen Corn – singer songwriter rumination which is quite stark.
- I Found Out Where They Chased Them Indians To – another winner with some sharp observations.
- Give Back The Song – a weird one which sounds like it is a sung soliloquy from some sort of Broadway show
- Final Score After Two Overtimes – (Patrick Fox) – a fight between "black" and "white" is another catchy tune with more Arlo influences.
- Watching Pigeons Chasing Shadows On The Ground – like a cross between Tom Lehrer and John Sebastian. Quite enjoyable, very enjoyable.
- One Way Street – nice
- Kansas City Star – (Roger Miller) – Roger Miller's humorous song fits in well with Griffiths who is similar. The song is short though.
- Love Buzz – very catchy
- Prisoner Of War – a dramatic, dark turn.
- Another Dream – a solemn ballad with psych overtones you would expect to hear in 1968.
- Gravity Of The Times – (Patrick Fox & Horald Elman Griffiths) – dramatic and so so.
- Carter Cat Blues – and for something totally different a rockabilly type song which is very catchy and a lot of fun but absolutely different to the rest of the album.
A incredibly overlooked release (from a major label) … not perfect but really, really good … I'm keeping it.
Broken-Down Horse Thief
Prisoner Of War
- Griffiths may have been from Utah originally. There is another Horald Elman Griffiths who passed away in 2007 and who was born in 1921 which would fit the age of a father. The obituary makes specific reference to a Horald Elman Jr who has already passed. Is this the one in the same I have no idea. http://archiver.rootsweb.ancestry.com/th/read/OBITUARIES/2008-06/1212479802
- US records indicate there was a Horald Griffiths born 10 February 1947 (in Nevada perhaps) who died May 1977.
- Session men: Vocals, Guitar – Horald Griffiths / Drums – Ray Lucas / Electric Bass – Ron Carter, Bill Salter / Guitar – David Spinozza / Percussion – Ralph McDonald.