Howard Eynon: so what if im standing in apricot jam

Something of folk-lore, seemingly unknown artist Howard Eynon’s first and only album so what if im standing in apricot jam, originally released in 1974 by Basket/Candle Records, has been brought back to life 40 years later by Earth Recordings. One of the rarest and most sought after folk albums of the 1970’s, the work was released in an era of creative, inimitable trailblazers that include such artists as Nick Drake, Syd Barrett, and Lou Reed. An age of ultimate self-expression, the ability to grasp the profound is only possible when the self itself is explored and Howard Eynon’s story is as unique as they come.

As a boy, Howard’s family moved three times. They first lived in St. Ives, Cambridgeshire, a small village just north-west of Cambridge in England, and then moved to Chichester, all before he was eleven. Their final move, and an obvious inspiration later on in his songwriting, was to Tasmania, Australia. When he wasn’t working on the family dairy farm, Howard would disappear for days on end in the bush, with only himself as company. When he was 17 he got on his motorcycle and moved to Melbourne to pursue a career in acting in which he would become semi-successful, appearing in Mad Max (1979) and The Man from Snowy River (1982). All this time, Howard was playing music, touring with such artists as Hunter S. Thompson and in 1971 he won the Grand Final of Australian New Faces, gaining adoration from his fellow Tasmanians. Having written a guitar piece for his theatre group the Tasmanian Theatre Company, he attended Spectangle Studio in Hobart to record the work. While at Spectangle Studio he met Nick Armstrong. Nick asked if Howard wanted to record a full album and the rest was history.

So what if im standing in apricot jam was recorded in the span of three months and included a plethora of musicians playing a variety of instruments, ranging from the mellotron to the French horn and everything in between. The result was an acid-folk magnum opus, consisting of flourished melodies, and lyrics that tell a story in the oddest of fashions. This invariably unique and strikingly odd album is mysterious in nature due to the fact that Howard Eynon is virtually unknown to anyone outside of Tasmania. In the first track “Wicked Wetdro”, Howard with his friends Wetdro(p)(?) and Tiny Quorange(?) drink tea, talk to black birds, and partake in a number of other activities which paint a hilarious tale of seemingly unknown origin and meaning. His Aussie-Anglo twang and sense of humor make for a peculiar few songs and prove that if a musician is able to make a listener laugh, it’s easier to make a listener cry. Although I don’t think listeners will cry, the more serious tracks have an easier time sinking in (“Nows the Time”). Drawing similarities is easy to do when listening to this album, but whether you compare his voice to Bob Dylan on tracks like “Good Time Son”, or his soundscapes to something that would appear in a Monty Python skit, it’s impossible to equate the uniqueness of his songwriting and the soulfulness of his delivery in a justifying manner. In short, Howard Eynon created something pure.

Thanks to Earth Recordings, it is now possible to own a hard copy of so what if im standing in apricot jam without spending a considerable amount of cash. In doing this, Howard Eynon, the universally unknown, wunderkind Tasmanian, is able to receive the recognition he deserves for a work of music that is genuinely different. Howard’s self-expressive personality is seen in his skilled story-telling ability, and in the complex, folksy melodies which he crafted with the help of skilled musicians. So what if im standing in apricot jam is a stand out in the era it was conceived and thanks to Earth Recording’s it can now be heard by both new listeners, and the generation it missed.

Rating: 8.5/10

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