If you’re not already watching the rolls at Scissor Tail, especially their reissue work, then you damn well should be. After breathing new life into the indispensable Hired Hand Soundtrack and last year’s gem from Marc Emory, the label already has an essential on the decks for 2023. John Fizer’s sole album was almost lost to time. The recordings on the A side were laid down at Mountain Ears studio in 1977, then spent the better part of their life molding in John’s possession until a chance encounter with producer James Johnson in Berkley, CA. Locally, John’s become known as The Treasure Man, due to his habit of hanging semi-precious stones, crystals and jewelry from a tree in which children were invited to take treasures with them as they passed by. Over time he’d become a beloved figure in the community, but it seems that his true treasures were sitting in storage on that tape.
After striking up a conversation with Johnson and his daughter, the pair eventually came to discuss John’s career as a musician in the late ‘60s — opening for Jerry Garcia, playing in the same circles as Dylan, and contributing a song to Smithsonian Folkways’ Original Folk. Through extensive efforts, Johnson was able to work to restore the ’77 recordings, sending them off to Tardon Feathered to have the mold removed and the tapes cleaned. The songs sound as vibrant as ever, weathered folk that sits between James Taylor, Cat Stevens, and Jim Sullivan. The b-side captures a ‘90s show at Freight and Salvage, recorded to an equally hard-loved tape, restored this time by mastering engineer Bob Katz. The studio and live cuts give a full picture of Fizer’s works, coming together into an album that may have never been were it not for the dedication of those who were enraptured by Fizer’s songs. Pretty early in the year, but Treasure Man is already leading the charge on top reissues for the year.
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