FAME Review: Peter Walker - Has Anybody Seen Our Freedoms?
Peter Walker - Has Anybody Seen Our Freedoms?

Has Anybody Seen
Our Freedoms?

Peter Walker

Available from Amazon.com.

A review written for the Folk & Acoustic Music Exchange
by Mark S. Tucker

Well, this is a month for great rediscoveries. First, Kinky Friedman & The Texas Jewboys' recovered recording, Lost and Found: The Famous Living Room Tapes (here), wafted my way, and now this highly eccentric lost LP has me rather ensorcelled in a time machine. I've quite an extensive library of recordings (+/- 50,000) but had never heard of Peter Walker. Perhaps that's because he released only two then and now very hard to find LPs in the 60s, then disappeared for 40 years, re-emerging in 2008, only to fade away again until deciding to tour a bit here and there of late. Once highly regarded as at one with Kottke, Fahey, and Basho, a sentiment with which I would not disagree but would add Toulouse Engelhardt to the prospectus, the guy is presently almost a complete unknown. Even Larry Coryell had immense respect for him, and the Beatles' press agent, Derek Taylor, cited Walker as "Perhaps the greatest guitarist in the world".

Pete highly favored, and still favors, Carnatic music and played in a dominantly raga mode (also sings that way), and guitarists like Thurston Moore and James Blackshaw have come to be admirers of this gent who was once musical director for Timothy Leary's LSD sessions at Millbrook. The recording presented here is fairly primitive, Walker had stored the tapes for all these decades, but that crypto-estate does not rob the listener of anything, merely makes him/her listen more closely, the gent's vocals interestingly often acting almost as an ersatz tanpura, with his convoluted hypnotizing guitarwork up front. The LP was done in one day, one take, no overdubs, and there's no one but him.

Let me draw your attention to a righteous bonus: the fascinating 20-page booklet written by Walker in April this year (2013) is the kind of work I think rock writing will have to take now. DVDs are already setting the tone. It's in the first person, revelatory, and what's called 'oral history' or 'oral tradition'; that is: from the horse's mouth rather than a so-called "journalist" or idiot critic (heyyyyyy…wait a minute…I'm a critic!…what the hell???). And not only music but you also get some history, y'all, as Walker was friends with Bill Kunstler (shown on the CD cover shot) during the Larry Davis trial, relating a hilarious true anecdote. The music, though, is the main attraction and there's even a bonus track of Pete in a Lord Buckley/Moms Mabley/Dick Gregory mode, telling a shaggy dog joke with a moral. Heh! He was difficult to pigeonhole back then, and he's just as enigmatic now…though perfectly populist.

Track List:

  • Me and My Lady
  • Johnny Cuckoo
  • Early in the Morning
  • Pretty Bird
  • Grey Morning Sun
  • Fifty Miles
  • Wonder
  • [Untitled]
All songs written by Peter Walker
except Pretty Bird (traditional).

Edited by: David N. Pyles

Copyright 2013, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
This review may be reprinted with prior permission and attribution.
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