Wednesday, 20 July 2016

Judee Sill - Abracadabra: The Asylum Years (2006 compi of 1971-73 releases)

Taking another quick diversion now from business as usual to spotlight one of my favourite singer-songwriters.  This 2CD reissue contains Judee Sill's entire back catalogue, so thought I may as well post it all at once.  Abracadabra also adds some live recordings and fascinating demos/works in progress, making this the only Judee Sill release you'll ever need - an archive set of shelved recordings came out about a decade ago but didn't come near the magic of these two original albums.

Rather than recount the tragic lost-soul story of Judee Sill's life (plagued by addiction which would claim her life at 35), I prefer to just focus on how good her music was.  Both of these albums showcase just how unique her synthesis was of folk, blues and a dash of country with more baroque and hymnal influences from her upbringing singing in church.  Her voice carried both a homely twang and a gossamer beauty - especially when recorded in multiple overdubs on several songs.

Both albums stay in understated ballad mode for the most part, but Sill could turn up the energy too on songs like Jesus Was A Crossmaker (her best-known song, covered by The Hollies) and Soldier of The Heart from the second album, Heart Food.  Heart Food for me has an ever-so-slight edge over the self-titled debut, with slightly more adventurous arrangements (this time all handled by Sill herself), indeed much more adventurous on The Donor, seven minutes of spine-tingling overdubbed chorale.  Also on Heart Food is The Kiss, simply one of the greatest love songs ever written.

Holy breath touching me, like a wind song...

....sweet communion of a kiss


  1. I remember reading about this when the reissues came out but for some reason I totally missed it. Holy shit. So good. Thank you!

  2. Hi, me again. Sorry for the repeat comments, but I've been listening to this for the past week and I'm truly wondering how I got to be nearly 50 years old without having heard "The Kiss". I mean, good Lord. There are very few perfect things in this world, but that might be one of them. Thanks again, RIP and respect to Ms. Sill.

    1. Great to hear from you both times Bill!

      About ten years or so ago I was watching a compilation of Old Grey Whistle Test (or something similar) performances from the 70s, mostly familiar singer-songwriters. Then along comes a woman with long straight hair and glasses at the piano, singing "Love, rising from the mists..." - by the time the song finished I'd already looked her up online and placed an order for the album.

  3. Thanks for sharing. Unfortunately link#2 is dead. Would you please re-up? Thanks again!

  4. Hi, Great Post. Link 2 is dead. Could you fix?

  5. Link 1 is dead. Could you please repost?
    Thank you.