Justen O'Brien handled engineering and mixing at his own 'Justen Other' studio, reportedly co-wrote several of the (uncredited) songs, and played bass.
With "I Dreamed I Went Sailing Last Night" we are swept into what sounds like a lost outtake from Justen O'Brien's Time Will Tell LP.
Any fan of that highly original piece of work will instantly recognize the odd nocturnal vibe, the flowing basement sound, and the lyrics about journeys of the imagination.
For a pure Justen OB buzz, this is the high point of the LP, but fact is that for its full duration, Lady Free is good or even very good.
There is a certain folk influence that combines with the '70s late-night Midwestern vibe most intriguingly, as heard on side closer "I Am Just A Spirit", which revisited some of the Justen feel as combined with a solid dose of Tom Nehls.
A tribute to Sir Thomas More (!) anglifies the folk theme, while over on side 2 cutting fuzz leads opens the door to the most rocking track, "A Friend I Have".
Moments like this may bring Michael James or even side 2 of Marcus to mind, although Doc's excellent, mellow vocals gives the music a distinct identity.
"Kathleen" takes a Pearls Before Swine approach to a melody reminiscent of Dylan's "Tomorrow Is A Long Time", with excellent use of violin, while the Donovan strain from the Thomas More tune resurfaces on another Albion-themed song about Queen Victoria.
True private press appeal arises from the combination of '60s folk, nocturnal singer-songwriter, and spooky Midwestern late '70s DIY FM rock production; had the Doc been picked up by a record label the outcome would have been completely different.
As it is, the unexpected marriage makes the album difficult to figure out at first, but with several plays a consistent, homogenous experience emerges.
Lady Free has some things in common with the Richard Kneeland LP and may appeal to the same type of '70s private press collector, once the news of Justen O'Brien's presence has been digested.
(From Acid Archives 2nd Edition)
Some excellent tracks listenable on youtube :
Don't miss this very great and rare LP !!!
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