The second in the Bob Gibson Legacy reprint series and a 1978 indie release (a revolutionary concept at that time) of folk legend Gibson and pop tunemeister Hamilton Camp, a great, if marvelously eccentric, pairing. Studs Terkel loved these guys, naming them "a tectonic phenomenon" and the reason's not hard to discern. In '61, the duo's Gibson & Camp at the Gate of Horn had gone gold, so Homemade Music constituted a reunion, a revisit Billboard was not slow to note, taking to the drolly witty elements immediately. In fact, no sooner does Shel Silverstein's Jimmie Rodgers pop up as the first cut than the listener knows he's in for a treat.
In many ways, this disc is a Paul Williams-level release, a great showcase of ground-level writing and musicianship. Especially when singing harmony with Gibson, Camp's voice takes on an almost eerily Williams cast, and when he affects that tremulous high falsetto…yow! Gibson complements him not only vocally but on 12-string as well, and listen to the stunning Spoon River for a very brief but haunting backing vox chores as well. With this record, Gibson's partnership with Shel Silverstein was increasing, and the two fit as handily as he and Camp, so there's an exponential effect here. Too, one finds why Steve Goodman took so solidly to Gibson in many of the cuts on Homemade, an almost unnerving sympathy demonstrated.
The CD is not unlike what Dean Parks and other lauded-but-commercially-ignored craftsmen emit, a blend of many elements in a genre not easily defined, being not quite folk, not quite pop, not quite chart, and not quite novelty though it embraces all. We know that every decade since the 50s has seen a cocksure market attitude that 'branding' constitutes profitable surety, so a piece of art like this was destined to be a risk commercially and artistically. As only a single listen reveals, the aesthetic component succeeded marvelously, critiques joining in a chorus of approval, though I'm not sure what the sales figures were and suspect they weren't terribly impressive. Interesting when you think about it: their live gig was the first folk album to go gold, and now they had quite a bit of difficulty locating that same market. Times had changed, they had not, and therein lies a story not flattering to the consuming herd.
Yet Homemade Music is a delight, topped only by Gibson's The Perfect High (here), and the sort of potpourri that should have brought them massive sales spanning the various splinter genres so adeptly tunesmithed. Well, blame corporate radio for that. Had Gibson robbed a bank for the payola he then could have turned over to the Music Mafia, that estate probably would have occurred, but, now, this reissue will have to hope to rectify the matter. We know the market, it's dubious this will happen, but it should…dammit.
[For an extensive historical intro to Gibson's place in the folk firmament, see the review for Funky in the Country, here.]
Edited by: David N. Pyles
Copyright 2009, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
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