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Jeff Liberman - Jeffery Liberman (1975) review


(Original release on Librah/1975; reissued by Out-Sider/2016)

Our esteemed editor has written the liner notes to the reissue of Liberman’s debut album, so I turn your attention there for all the details. I will just add that Liberman’s deep voice delivers his emotional, autobiographical lyrics with such conviction that you can almost feel the pain, sorrow, and nostalgic longing for kinder, gentler times (the album was originally recorded 40 years ago) flowing out of every track. ‘Evanescent’ was inspired by Carlos Santana and allows Liberman to show off his nimble fingers and rapid scale progressions, and if you close your eyes and listen closely, you can easily appreciate his affection for Santana’s own flashy guitar runs.

     ‘Catherine’ is a tender love song about his platonic relationship with a dancer, again delivered with quivering sentimentality and honest emotions. ‘Phenaphen #3’ is an ode (if once can call it that) to the pain medication Liberman took for a sports injury, and you can feel his pain and anger in every verse, all accompanied by stellar guitar work inspired by John McLaughlin. They also reversed the tapes and played with the pitch to imbue the track with an eerie vibe commensurate with the drug’s potentially dangerous, addictive side effects, especially when coupled with codeine.
Liberman was born in Chicago, so he knows a thing or three about the local blues scene, and he lets his freak flag fly on the white-hot jam, ‘Boogie Blues’, while ‘Safari’ is a bunch of bleeps, bloops, and blunders that Liberman coaxed out of a synthesizer. Avant garde, experimental, and quite out of step with the rest of the album, as is ‘Tasty Vortex’, which sees Liberman going all Clapton on us over a pre-programmed Moog riff on the local college’s synthesizer. Finally, ‘All That Jazz’ is a precursor for the direction Liberman would pursue on future albums (all reissued on Out-Sider with wonderfully informative liners from our editor).

- Jeff Penczak
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