In the liner notes of this CD reissue, John Darnielle from the Mountain Goats argues against calling these old recordings "demos", because they're wonderful and fit for release. Of course, he's right, which is hardly a surprise. Looking a bit further into Darnielle's semantic discussion, one could argue that Erickson did not intend these recordings for release; they were intended as demos, and the term is thus appropriate. The recording was executed under less than perfect circumstances, and the performances are rough in places. Some would argue that a more technically accurate recording and a more careful performance would benefit the songs. Others would point out that it would have been easy for a cliched arrangement or production to hide so many of the songs' subtler qualities. And, since neither type of rendition exists, everyone would be correct. But, instead, we can only ponder what we do have. Home recordings of performances which contain both wonderful subtlety and some minor mistakes. Unlike so many carefully crafted recordings from the nearly 30 years since many of these performances were committed to tape, the CD release of these tapes is relevant today. A relaxed performance of 14 great, unreleased Erickson songs from the 70s and 80s is welcome on my stereo anyday. (Emperor Jones, PO Box 49771, Austin, TX 78765)

Tape Op is a bi-monthly magazine devoted to the art of record making.

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