Light In The Attic have teamed up Vanguard Records for a series of collaborations under the umbrella Vanguard Vault. A peruse of their vaults page will reveal many well known names such as Buffy Sainte-Marie, Country Joe & The Fish, Doc Watson, Lightning Hopkins and many more. Also scattered amongst those names are legendary guitarists such as John Fahey, Sandy Bull and Peter Walker who, despite having released two albums on Vanguard, is missing from their website.
Walker was born into a musical family and pursued guitar from a young age. By his early 20’s he was performing publicly and touring. By the mid 60s he was a regular fixture on the thriving Greenwich Village music scene opening at such renowned venues as Café Au Go Go. He also became close friends with Karen Dalton and experimental guitarist Sandy Bull. In 1965 Peter was introduced to legendary LSD researcher Timothy Leary who was so taken by Walker’s music that made him a sort of musical director of ceremonies up at his Millbrook estate with the purpose of giving particpants a nice acid trip. The following year Peter released his first album on Vanguard ‘Rainy Day Ragas’. It was after seeing a Ravi Shankar performance in San Francisco that he embraced eastern music and went through extended periods of study of Eastern raga under both Shankar and Ali Akbar Khan.
On Peter’s first album ‘Rainy Day Raga’ there’s a quote from Leary:
“Peter Walker plays on the ancient protein strings of the genetic code”
Leary has a way with words alright he once declared that “The Beatles are mutants. Prototypes of evolutionary agents sent by God, endowed with a mysterious power to create a new human species, a young race of laughing freemen.”
His second album ‘Second Poem To Karmela’ Or Gypsies Are Important was released in 1968, whilst his debut has seen several reissues ‘Second Poem To Karmela’ has become something of an obscure album and rare as hen’s teeth. This is all slightly ironic as the combination of folk, raga, psychedelia, Eastern and Modal sounds was very rare which made this album so ground-breaking. Well that’s all going to change now.
This reissue has been carefully re-mastered from the original tapes, and it also includes a book-deep essay for the CD and LP liner notes from guitar scholar Glenn Jones who recently interviewed Peter Walker for hours. It details Walker’s association with an incredible cross-section of 1960’s counter-culture icons, most mentioned above. Jim Pepper plays flute on Second Poem (he also recorded with The Fugs and Don Cherry), other accompaniment to Walker’s guitar, Sarod and Sitar playing includes violin, organ, tablas, and tamboura.
This is true “acid folk” as interesting, progressive, and memorable as fellow 1960’s world travelers Robbie Basho, Davy Graham, and the Incredible String Band.
The opening track from the album is our Song of the Day:
1. Second Song
2. I & Thou
6. Gypsy Song
7. Circus Day
8. Blake Street
9. Socco Chico
If you’re like me and want the vinyl you can order via Amazon UK and get an instant digital copy (also for CD):