Monday, March 16, 2009
Bob Gibson - Where I'm Bound (Elektra, 1964)
An important founder of the late 1950s-early 1960s folk scene, Bob Gibson today is unfortunately a nearly forgotten figure. Perhaps best-known for his At The Gate of Horn live album with Hamilton Camp, Where I'm Bound is Gibson's follow-up LP on Elektra and was to be the folk singer's last album before a lengthy drug-induced hiatus from the music business. Yes, despite the singer's relatively clean-cut appearance, he was also a serious alcoholic as well as a speed freak and heroin addict. Although he seemed to have conquered his demons in the 1970s, by this time he had long ago missed the boat and was consigned to being just another folkie who should have had a more successful career than he did.
For awhile, he had it all: a pleasantly earthy singing voice; capable of playing the 12-string guitar and banjo; a residency at Chicago's leading folk music club of the early 1960s (the aforementioned Gate of Horn); and the strong-armed management of Albert Grossman (whose most famous client would eventually be Bob Dylan). Where I'm Bound does a good job of showcasing Gibson's musical talents, although the LP's first side is a stronger collection of songs than what appears on the second. The title track that opens the album is classic Bob Gibson with his ringing 12-string guitar and lyrics that recall old-time black spiritual numbers. Songwriter and poet Shel Silverstein co-wrote the chilling "Waves Roll Out" and contributes to six other songs that appear here, including the somewhat hokey "Wastin' Your Time," "The New 'Frankie and Johnnie' Song" (which relocates the dysfunctional lovers' tale to the streets of Chicago), the atmospheric "Fog Horn," the banjo-infused "Baby, I'm Gone Again" (admittedly a bit dated-sounding), the traditional-derived "Some Old Woman" (often done by other folk singers as "Babe, It Ain't No Lie"), and the yearning "What You Gonna Do?" "12-String Guitar Rag" is a brief instrumental that demonstrates Gibson's picking prowess, while "Stella's Got a New Dress" and "The Town Crier's Song" are two songs co-written with the aforementioned Hamilton Camp. Among the pair of compositions written solely by Gibson, the story line of "Betsy from Pike" proves to be more memorably enduring than the sentiments of "Farewell My Honey, Cindy Jane." The album closes on a very strong note with a winning version of the oft-covered "Fare Thee Well." This is sadly a most appropriate song to conclude Where I'm Bound since Gibson was essentially saying goodbye to fame and fortune at this point in his musical career.
1. Where I'm Bound (Gonna Be Singing in That Land)
2. The Waves Roll Out
3. 12-String Guitar Rag
4. Wastin' Your Time
5. The New "Frankie and Johnnie" Song
6. Fog Horn
7. Baby, I'm Gone Again
8. Farewell My Honey, Cindy Jane
9. Some Old Woman (There Is a Woman)
10. Stella's Got a New Dress
11. The Town Crier's Song (Ten O'clock All Is Well)
12. What You Gonna Do?
13. Betsy from Pike
14. Fare Thee Well (Dink's Song)