Zachary Richard - High Time: The Elektra Recordings
High Time: The Elektra Recordings
- Release Date: 6/27/2001
- An Individually Numbered Limited Edition Of 5,000 (Five Thousand) Copies.
- 17 Tracks (Including 16 Previously Unreleased)
- A Single CD
- With A 20-Page Booklet.
One of the most splendid benefits of working at The Rhino Handmade Institute Of Petromusicology is that, from time to time, Our Archival Adventures sometimes result in the happy, if not stunning, discovery of unissued albums.
With some of these unissued albums it is immediately quite understandable why the album has remained -and should remain- unissued.
But with some of these other unissued albums it is equally immediately quite understandable that it was and remains an unexplainable -and often astonishing- Music Industry Error that such remarkable recordings have gone unheard and have just been collecting dust on an Archive Shelf.
One of the big myths in The Record Business, particularly to those outside it, is the so-called "vault" where recording masters are kept. It always amazed The Archivists that, for instance, somebody could "lose" a BUDDY HOLLY master tape, only to have it re-emerge years, or sometimes decades, later.
How tough could it be, after all, to keep track of a few dozen boxes of tapes clearly marked "BUDDY HOLLY"?
Pretty darned tough, as it turns out.
First of all, many record companies don't actually even have a "vault". They may well have their tapes stored literally in dozens of places. Secondly, musicians are not necessarily their own best allies. When an all-day session finishes up at 2:00AM, musicians and session engineers are just as likely to put "Thu. mix" on the tape box as they are to write out, in tedious detail, all the contents contained therein. On top of that, years pass, people with different philosophies and degrees of fastidiousness wind up taking care of the tapes, and tapes get moved to a variety of locations for a variety of reasons. To free up shelf space, Others want to use a given master in a compilation. The artist moves to another company. In addition, Recording Studios and Record Labels go bankrupt or get purchased by other entities and must move entire libraries of recordings to and fro.
In the years prior to electronic record keeping, the information was all kept solely on paper, which is notoriously susceptible to water damage, fire damage, and negligence. Or just plain being lost. So it is not uncommon to find, among a mass of boxes marked "Safety Master", "2-Track Master", "8-channel rough mix", "Cassette Running Master", "Dupe", "Non-EQ'd mix", "Copy", "Session Raw Tapes" and the like, something entirely unexpected. So it was with this previously unissued ZACHARY RICHARD album.
Monsieur Richard had been signed to Elektra Records in the early Seventies during the first full blush of singer-songwriters, and had recorded a full-length album, which he submitted to the label for release. Apparently it had been assigned a catalogue number and had some artwork created for the cover, but somewhere along the way, for one reason or another, the release got pulled from the schedule. And, to further complicate things, around that same time there was a change of personnel at the label, and the project was then shelved entirely.
Flash forward a quarter century or so.
During the audio investigative process which Rhino Records, Our Corporate Benefactor, undertook to compile the ZACHARY RICHARD 'Silver Jubilee: The Best Of Zachary Richard (1973-1998)' career compilation, Mr Richard sent in a tape of a song called "Six Bullets In Satan" to be considered for use. It was -and is- a terrific song, but Mr Richard's copy was about a fifth-generation tape that couldn't possibly be cleaned up enough for inclusion on the album. It was then that Mr Richard first told The Archivists the story of his "lost" first album. And that, quite tantalizingly, it was possible that Elektra still had the tapes.
Bill Inglot, who would master the ZACHARY RICHARD 'Silver Jubilee: The Best Of Zachary Richard (1973-1998)' album, did a search on Mr Richard's name in the archive database and turned up a big fat goose egg. Maybe the tapes were gone for good. He held out a little hope. But the intrepid Mr Inglot also offered that "When I go back there, I'll have a look myself. There's only about a five per cent chance anything will be there, but I'll see if I can turn anything up". Several weeks later, Mr Inglot was back in New York at the Elektra Vault, and he called with good news. The entire album was there, and it appeared to be in good shape. It had been mixed in with JONATHAN RICHMAN tapes.
Now JONATHAN RICHMAN and ZACHARY RICHARD couldn't be much farther apart musically if they had set out to be polar opposites. But, because their names were so close, someone over the last twenty-five years had decided to co-mingle their tapes. Which, in the end, turned out to be a musical blessing for us.
ZACHARY RICHARD 'High Time: The Elektra Recordings' contains all ten masters Mr Richard recorded in 1974 and that were to have been on the original album. In addition, Mr Richard has been kind enough to scour his personal archives to find an additional seven recordings, some of which are demo versions of songs intended for the original Elektra album release, and others which are demos for songs that have never been released in any form. From the haunting "Deep Night Hole" to the exuberant title track, ZACHARY RICHARD 'High Time: The Elektra Recordings' spans two languages and many, many points along the emotional spectrum. It is the long lost missing touchstone that captures, and finally properly presents, Mr Richard's first chapter of remarkable works.
ZACHARY RICHARD 'High Time: The Elektra Recordings' has been, of course, mastered from the original delivered and mixed and EQ'd Elektra album source. The seven ORIGINAL DEMOs provided from Mr Richard's personal collection were mastered from a 7-inch reels of tape. And, as these are ORIGINAL DEMOs, and not finished masters, you will hear small imperfections in one or two of them here and there. But the insight these ORIGINAL DEMOs provide into Mr Richard's composition and recording of the original Elektra album itself, as well as the sheer joy the ORIGINAL DEMOs themselves contain, overwhelmingly outweigh these very few sonic flaws in them. It includes a booklet with a history of the recording, lyrics to the songs and photographs which were intended for the original Elektra album package.
For those Netizens who are unacquainted with Mr Richard's music, The Archivists do indeed recommend you to the aforementioned ZACHARY RICHARD 'Silver Jubilee: The Best Of Zachary Richard (1973-1998)' compilation, as that is as solid an introduction to his entire canon as you will find.
But if you are already a fan and you already know Mr Richard's music inside and out, or if you are just curious about how such a stunning first album could remain unreleased for so very long, ZACHARY RICHARD 'High Time: The Elektra Recordings' is an unparalleled glimpse into the heart and soul of a very young and very talented singer and performer whose Cajun roots are evident throughout all his compositions.
And with the perspective of nearly thirty years, the recordings finally available in ZACHARY RICHARD 'High Time: The Elektra Recordings' stand as a firm base from which Mr Richard has built a distinguished career that continues to thrive, entertain and thrill to this day.