Album – PERFECT HIGH
THE PERFECT HIGH
Funny, great performances recorded live at Charlotte’s Web in Rockford, Illinois and The Earl of Old Town in Chicago, this album again demonstrates what Bob did best – singing in front of a live audience. The album features delightful guest appearances by Tom Paxton on Box of Candy (and a Piece of Fruit), a rowdy duet telling the tale of Bob’s Yuletide incarceration in a Canadian jail, and by Anne Hills adding hauntingly beautiful harmony to Leaving for the Last Time and Army of Children. The songs include collaborations with Shel Silverstein, Tom Paxton and Jo Mapes.
Mountain Railroad 1980
Bob Gibson Legacy (Re-issue) 2008
NEWS, REVIEWS & NOTES
…an epiphany in motion. Gibson’s voice, humor, playing, sense of high harmonics, and general exuberance surpass anything he’d done to the point, infectious to a incredible degree: witty, sarcastic, campy, warm, tender, caustic with a panoply of incisively humorous takes and opinings, not mention a continuance of his own folk stylings. Gibson at his absolute zenith….
Folk & Acoustic Music Exchange
Review by Mark S. Tucker
The third in the Bob Gibson Legacy series, The Perfect High centers itself in the devastating wit Gibson loved to fall back into. The CD, originally an LP independently released, is a live gig from the Charlotte’s Web venue (Rockford, Ill.), backed by Tom Paxton and Anne Hills, and a delicious exhibition of the perfect synchrony he and Shel Silverstein had achieved at this point (1980), a pairing I daresay has never been quite equalled, so flowing are the sympathies and multi-level harmonies.
Silverstein’s not once really been accorded proper recognition for his uncanny poetry, but I use his Where the Sidewalk Ends in my third-grade to high school tutoring, and it’s been extremely efficacious, especially the title piece, as an introduction into language and poetry interpretation. GIbson—having mentored Joan Baez, Paxton, and others—obviously knew significant artists when he saw and heard them, and Silverstein may have been his most unusual discovery. Garreting himself away to write with the guy, then, was a master stroke and this CD is the hallmark emblem of it.
You might hear Perfect High as a redemption record, and indeed it was, as Gibson had gone through the hell of addiction and emerged alive; thus, it was much more than just a rehab statement, Perfect was an epiphany in motion.
Gibson’s voice, humor, playing, sense of high harmonics, and general exuberance surpass anything he’d done to the point, infectious to a incredible degree: witty, sarcastic, campy, warm, tender, caustic with a panoply of incisively humorous takes and opinings, not mention a continuance of his own folk stylings. There’s a serious side as well, though, and his and Silverstein’s Rock Me Sweet Jesus is staggering in its heartfelt delivery, a companion to the messianic paeans by the Doobies and others penning humanistic odes to the anarchist so miserably represented by the Christian religion itself. Here, as with such righteous odes a Jesus is Just Alright, the Christ gets his due, and the song dynamically centers a rollicking and rhythmically hypnotic release – for my money, his shining moment.
The Legacy quintet is a necessary and laudable work, but start with this release if you want Gibson at his absolute zenith and you’ll have any keys you might need in understanding the full breadth of his labors.
[For an extensive historical intro to Gibson’s place in the folk firmament, see the review for Funky in the Country- here.]
Mark S. Tucker (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Mark S. Tucker
The Perfect High is pretty much the perfect album, again recorded live before enthusiastic audiences at Chicago’s Charlotte’s Web and the Earl of Old Town clubs. It is by turns hilarious, touching, angry and whimsical — sometimes in the same song…
Review – Rambles Magazine
Michael Scott Cain
The Perfect High is pretty much the perfect album, again recorded live before enthusiastic audiences at Chicago’s Charlotte’s Web and the Earl of Old Town clubs. It is by turns hilarious, touching, angry and whimsical — sometimes in the same song.
By this time, Gibson had his problems under control. Clean and sober, he resumed touring and in 1980 issued another live album, The Perfect High. By now, he had regained enough confidence in himself and his sobriety to let his sense of humor loose, with himself mostly as the butt of the jokes. “Just a Thing I Do” is about a bad experience he had with a lady but actually it takes on universal overtones; it is about all of the times that we’ve all fallen madly in love with people who only wanted to have a good time. In “Mendocino Outlaws,” he gives us a couple of middle-aged men out trying to relive their youth on a wild night, while the brilliant “Box of Candy & a Piece of Fruit” has its origins in the time when Gibson spent the Christmas season in a Toronto jail, with nothing to look forward to but the appearance of the Salvation Army Santa Claus.
In the middle of this fun and games approach, though, Gibson drops three very serious and very fine songs “Army of Children,” “Rock Me Sweet Jesus” and “Heavenly Choir.” Anne Hills sings harmony and Tom Paxton provides backing vocals, as well as dueting on “Box of Candy….” The highlight of the album,.though, is the title track, a six-minute recitation of a madly hilarious Shel Silverstein poem about the search of a druggie named Get ‘Em Up Roy for the perfect high. While you’re laughing at the extent to which Roy will go to get loaded, you’ll begin to realize that what you’re listening to is a strong anti-drug message delivered to you by a man who knows exactly what he’s talking about. (Gibson was very proud of the fact that the song was used in as part of an anti-drug program in the Chicago public schools.)
Michael Scott Cain