Racking up some great installments of the Hidden Gems series as we come into the end of the year. This time Tony Molina picks out a record that he feels has been overlooked and reveals how its impacted him personally. Tony’s pick, Judee Sill’s nuanced, 1971 eponymous debut. The record has been a longtime collector’s favorite and only recently come back into the popular canon through some much needed reissues. Those who’ve heard Molina’s latest EP for Slumberland would note the shift in tone from his earlier songwriting and it seems that Sill’s masterpiece would have quite a bit of impact on his migration to a softer sound. Tony explains how the record came into his sphere of influences and just how much it’s made an impression on how he approaches songwriting.
It seems the record popped up from several sources, as he recalls, “It was recommended to me by some friends, mainly Sheri from the Bay Area black/death metal band Cloak, Joe from Wildhoney and my friend Zed.” “There isn’t anything that should be obscure about Judee Sill,” Molina muses, “because she was the first act to sign to Asylum back in the day, Graham Nash produced the first single, etc. I am surprised that I was never aware of the two LP’s and various other recordings she had made earlier on, as it’s completely everything I look for in music. I would guess that maybe her short career, troubled life, and possibly the religious aspects of her lyrics would explain why she hasn’t caught on like she should. She might have been too unique or too advanced for people to understand. Most likely she could not compete with the other Asylum artists that were huge at that time.”
As to what impact the record’s had on him, Molina jumps at the chance to note, “It absolutely changed my whole shit. There are only a few records that have done that in my life. Judee’s approach to pop/folk with beautiful classical undertones in the melodies and the fact that she had such a troubled life and could turn it around to make beautiful music that comes from a spiritual place are all things that have inspired me greatly. One of the most criminally underrated and underappreciated American songwriters of all time.”
The record has been lovingly put back into print by 4 Men With Beards of late, with the label reissuing the album true to its ’70s gatefold glory. As Tony notes, the record was the first release on David Geffen’s fledgling Asylum label (home to The Eagles, Joni Mitchell, Linda Ronstadt) and despite employing both Nash and ex-Turtles member Jim Pons in production roles, it, along with its follow-up, failed to make a dent in the general cultural view of the early ’70s. Its just now starting to gain notoriety as one of those lost classics that’s truly worth the time. As for Molina, he’s recently released the lovely Confront The Truth EP on Slumberland, a collection of songs that leans into his own folk-pop impulses and serves as some of his greatest material yet.
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