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Judy Henske & Jerry Yester 

Farewell Aldebaran

Wednesday, Dec 28 2005
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In the late '60s, Warner Bros. formed this subsidiary, Straight Records, in order to release albums by that maestro of scatological art-rock Frank Zappa, as well as an assortment of visionaries and eccentrics Zappa was then digging: Tim Buckley, Captain Beefheart, Alice Cooper, and this duo of Judy Henske & Jerry Yester, whose sole title for the label, Farewell Aldebaran, has just been reissued on CD. Now, even for Straight's liberal standards, Farewell Aldebaran is a bizarre little collection of hard rock, baroque pop, AM-friendly pap, anthemic marches with vital social messages, and uptempo country-folk. What's more, Henske and Yester (the latter briefly served time in the Lovin' Spoonful) designed and constructed these tunes in the studio, creating massive musique concrète structures, with Henske's deep, muscular alto serving as their foundation. I mean, these are bombastic, no-room-to-breathe performances replete with intricately layered electronics and Yester's primitive use of synthesizer technology. Of course, some of this stuff will drive you batty if your head ain't prepared, especially such relentlessly plodding wails as "St. Nicholas Hall" and "One More Time." But, all in all, Farewell Aldebaran is a gloriously freaky trip worth the price of admission -- your mind!

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Justin F. Farrar

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