Saturday Single No. 352

The game “Song Pop” is one of my recent fascinations at the massive time-stealer that is Facebook. The premise of the game is simple: You listen to snippets of music and try to identify either the title or the artist – from among four choices – faster than your competition will. Five pieces of music make a game, and once you’ve completed a game, a challenge is sent to your opponent.

In short order, generally, your opponent does his or her thing with that game and you receive the results of the completed game and his or her work on a new game. You respond, and on and on it goes until each Sunday evening, when the week’s games are totaled and the results for the week are set to zero.

I’m playing with about twenty folks from around the U.S., most of whom seem to be similarly aged. I have available about twenty playlists, or categories. The ones I play most often are (and none of this will surprise anyone who knows me even a little): The Fifties, the Sixties, the Seventies, Seventies Albums, Seventies Love Songs, Sixties Folk, Folk Rock, Classic Rock, Classic R&B, Motown, Soft Rock, Blues and Bruce Springsteen.

My opponents generally hang around in those same categories (though I am the only player I know of with a Springsteen playlist in his kit). I get challenged occasionally in Eighties, Nineties Alternative, Christian Gospel, Show Tunes, Classic Country, Seventies Country and in categories that offer current country and current hits. I do okay with the Eighties, better with Nineties Alternative than I might have thought, and I do all right with the older country. As might be expected, I struggle with the gospel tunes, the show tunes, current country and current hits.

Most of the performers’ names have been familiar to me, even those in genres where I’m not particularly well-versed, but two that have kept popping up in the folk and folk rock genres puzzled me. One, Vashti Bunyan, I perhaps should have known. Or maybe not. Wikipedia tells me that she was born Jennifer Vashti Bunyan in Newcastle, England, in 1945 and released the album Just Another Diamond Day in 1970. Wikipedia continues: “The album sold very few copies, and Bunyan, discouraged, abandoned her musical career. By 2000, her album had acquired a cult following; it was re-released and Bunyan recorded more songs, initiating the second phase of her musical career after a gap of thirty years.”

I haven’t followed up yet (although I plan to), so Bunyan’s music remains unknown to me. Given my musical tendencies, which include a soft spot for British folk from the period 1967-1972, I’ll probably like it.

The other name new to me, Sibylle Baier, offers a more interesting story. She’s a German-born actress and musician who quit acting and recording to raise a family. Wikipedia tells us: “The songs that went on to make up her album Colour Green were home reel-to-reel tape recordings Baier had made in Germany between 1970 and 1973. Some thirty years later her son Robby compiled a CD from these recordings to give to family members as presents. He also gave a copy to Dinosaur Jr’s J Mascis, who in turn passed it along to the Orange Twin label. Orange Twin released the album in February 2006.”

At her official website, her son writes, “Sibylle will most likely never see this site . . . She is really quite perplexed by all the attention that her album ‘Colour Green’ has gotten. My father keeps telling her about all the pages and articles that are out there, but she, though smitten, prefers to hear about her accolades through the eyes and ears of her family. The web makes her dizzy, I think.”

As to the album, All Music Guide – with which I agree more often than not – gives it four of five stars:

“A wistful rendering of Vashti Bunyan, Leonard Cohen, and Joni Mitchell, Baier’s conversational voice can be both tragic and comforting, turning the simplest task (“Driving”) into a sepia-toned snapshot of longing. Each track is like a field recording of the highest quality, with every whisper of the locale present, yet unintelligible. Like Anne Briggs with a guitar or Nico without all of the junkie baggage, Baier, who would silently haul out the tape machine and press record late at night when her family was asleep, conveys the purest of intimacies with the kind of confidence only secrecy can afford. From the opening cut, when she sings “tonight when I came home from work/there he, unforeseen sat in my kitchen,” the listener can’t help but be transported behind the soft closed eyes that grace Colour Green’s basement-scavenged, yellowing cover.”

I’ve not yet heard the entire album. I’ve managed to hear a few pieces at YouTube, and I like what I’ve heard, so Colour Green is on my steadily lengthening list of CDs to buy. Here – sweetened by strings somewhere along the way, an augmentation that works – is Sibylle Baier’s “Give Me A Smile,” today’s Saturday Single.

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One Response to “Saturday Single No. 352”

  1. […] the Green Grass and a few others, including Sibylle Baier’s Colour Green, an album featured here not long ago that was made up mostly of home recordings from the early 1970s and released in […]

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