Jan and Lorraine
Jefferson Airplane, Joni Mitchel
1969 was an incredible year for music; the world saw releases from King Crimson with In the Court of the Crimson King Crimson, The Stooges debut record and Jethro Tulls’ Stand Up just to name a few. Gypsy People from Psychedelic folk duo Jan & Lorraine was released within the same year with virtually no recognition at all. This was their only release and could be one of the most obscure albums of this generation. Little is known about Jan Hendin and Lorraine Lefevre, the album was noted as being recorded in London, while the others believe they originated from Canada. Either way, this is an album that deserves to be noticed some 45 years later. Gypsy People is ten acid-tinged folk and pop songs ranging from delicate ballads to stimulating folk melodies. Performed and written by Jan & Lorraine with additional guest musicians, these two artists were in synch as their beautiful and complex vocal harmonies is the foundation for this album.
1. Break out the Wine
2. Bird of Passage
3. Gypsy People
4. Foolin' Myself
5. Old Tyme Movie
6. Life's Parade
7. Snow Roses
8. The Assignment Song-Sequence
9. Number 33
10. Don't You Feel Fine
Gypsy People kicks off on an upbeat, lively note with “Break out the Wine”. This song is a good mood-setter; it exudes a positive and free-spirited vibe, very common for this era. The next two songs, “Bird of Passage” and “Gypsy People” are amazing folk gems with intriguing lyrics and wonderful vocal arrangements. They also throw in some Middle Eastern sounds through the uses of a tamboura and tablas, bringing wonderful life to these songs. “Foolin’ Myself” is a short sad ballad with upfront solo vocals, very Karen Carpenter like. The whimsical “Old Tyme Movie” comes out of nowhere with its 1940s ragtime era sound. It’s fun for a couple listens, but it takes us out of the psychedelic flow. The production of this song is spot-on; they definitely capture that ragtime era quality. We bounce back big time with the hypnotic “Life’s Parade”. The vocals here are amazing; the background soft echoed chant off in the distance is quite captivating. Track seven, “Snow Roses” has poetic storybook lyrics, making this one a loner song that will put you at ease for 3:06 minutes.
Track eight, “The Assignment Song-Sequence,” clocking in at an impressive 8:59 minutes is a pleasant listen, it’s actually nice to hear a song of this length. It combines Zepplin-like acoustics and exquisite vocal harmonies, which we have come to expect from these two artists. The drums on the last minute of this track just keep building and building to a slight drop-off to a worn out sounding bass to end, adding a psychedelic rock element to the album. “Number 33” is a child-like ditty sung by Jane and Lorraine with the addition of children in the background. It’s short enough that it doesn’t hurt the album; so you can take it or leave it. The last song, “Don’t You Feel Fine?” is psychedelic and buoyant as it provides the listener with a touch of folk and rock, a satisfying close to a delightful hidden gem.
Jan & Lorraine had an unusual and distinct style of folk rock. Interestingly enough the album never gained momentum. It is never too late, however, to grab this one and spread the word. It's a keeper. 11/20/2014
Standout Tracks: The Assignment Song-Sequence, Gypsy People, Life's Parade