Omnivore Recordings is gearing up for a busy summer, with releases from The Kingbees, The Bangles, Velvet Crush and many more. Two of the label’s most exciting titles, however, come from a pair of remarkable duos.
Farewell Aldebaran arrived in 1969 on Frank Zappa’s Straight Records label from the duo of Judy Henske and Jerry Yester. Henske was the onetime “Queen of the Beatniks” whose distinctive, bluesy voice earned her legions of fans on the folk circuit. She appeared alongside Johnny Cash and The Brothers Four in the big screen MGM musical Hootenanny Hoot, and guested on The Judy Garland Show on television. Elektra Records took notice, and she recorded a pair of albums for the label before moving on to Mercury and Reprise. In 1963, Henske married Jerry Yester, a member of The Modern Folk Quartet and veteran of The New Christy Minstrels. When the MFQ broke up, Yester busied himself as a producer, helming albums by Tim Buckley and his brother Jim’s band The Association, and in 1967, he replaced Zal Yanovsky in The Lovin’ Spoonful.
Henske and Yester joined forces for the first time on record with Farewell Aldebaran. They welcomed co-producer Yanovsky as well as musicians David Lindley, Paul Beaver (of electronic music duo Beaver and Krause) and jazz bassist, Ray Brown. With its unusual instrumentation (much of it played by Yester) and defiant genre-bending from track to track, it was hardly what anyone would have expected from the two folk-pop artists. Though the album didn’t make many waves upon its release, its reputation steadily grew over the years. Henske and Yester released one album as part of the band Rosebud in 1971 before divorcing; Henske married Rosebud member Craig Doerge two years later.
Despite its confirmed stature as a cult classic, Farewell Aldebaran never made it to CD (officially, at least) until now. (Four tracks appeared on Rhino Handmade’s 2007 Henske retrospective Big Judy: How Far This Music Goes, further whetting appetites for a full reissue.) On August 12, Omnivore will re-present this lost LP in a new edition remastered from the original master tapes, with liner notes by Barry Alfonso and five previously unissued demo recordings. A vinyl reissue will be released simultaneously, presenting the original album sequence on multi-colored vinyl. Taking in styles from baroque pop to rock and psychedelia, Farewell Aldebaran is in a class of its own. (Beware the unauthorized editions of this title currently on both Amazon U.S. and Amazon U.K.; we will update with an Amazon link to Omnivore’s official release as soon as one is available.)
One month earlier, on July 1, Omnivore will bring back into the print Pronto Monto, the 1978 album by another folk pair: Canadian sisters Kate and Anna McGarrigle. The McGarrigles’ third album, it was also their final LP for Warner Bros. Records. Featuring A-list musicians including Steve Gadd, David Spinozza, Bernard Purdie, Gary Mallaber, Grady Tate and Tony Levin, Pronto (so titled for the rough pronunciation of the French “prends ton manteau,” or “take your coat”) was produced by David Nichtern, who added a bit of pop flair to the folk duo’s compositions. In addition to the McGarrigles’ own songs, Pronto offered Nichtern’s “Just Another Broken Heart,” a cover of the oldie and Elvis Presley favorite “Tryin’ to Get to You,” and “Cover Up My Head” from Hair composer Galt MacDermot.
Like Farewell, Pronto has never before been available on CD or digital formats. Omnivore’s CD reissue features the release’s original 12 tracks, newly remastered by Michael Graves, plus a booklet with photos, lyrics, and a new essay from Mark Leviton drawing on remembrances by Anna McGarrigle, David Nichtern, Lenny Waronker and Joe Boyd. It’s available on July 1.
You can pre-order both titles at the links below! Farewell is not yet available at Amazon; we will update with links shortly!
Judy Henske and Jerry Yester, Farewell Aldebaran (Straight STS 1052, 1969 – reissued Omnivore, 2016)
- Horses on a Stick
- Nicholas Hall
- Three Ravens
- One More Time
- Farewell Aldebaran
- Merry-Go-Round (“Horses on a Stick” Instrumental Demo)
- Charity (Instrumental Demo)
- Zanzibar (“Farewell Aldebaran” Instrumental Demo)
- Moods for Cellos (“Three Ravens” Instrumental Demo)
- Divers Asleep (“Rapture” Instrumental Demo)
Tracks 11-15 previously unreleased
- Oh My Heart
- Side of Fries
- Just Another Broken Heart
- Na Cl
- Pronto Monto
- Stella by Artois
- Bundle of Sorrow, Bundle of Joy
- Come Back Baby
- Tryin’ to Get to You
- Fixture in the Park
- Dead Weight
- Cover Up My Head