Review Summary: A gorgeous time machine.
How much music escapes our ears? As an avid critic and consumer of music of all kinds, it’s a thought that’s always dwelling in my mind. We tend to focus on the “big releases” – and with so
much music out there that it’d be next to impossible to hear it all – understandably so. Still, it’s an amazing feeling to stumble upon the next gem, and in this particular case, it’s one that has managed to evade the entire world for forty-eight years. This batch of songs was recorded in 1975 by the virtually unknown Mad Anthony; it was supposed to be the folk band’s “big breakthrough” which never materialized, resulting in the group fading into oblivion aside from some demo tapes that remained within the family. Fast-forward to 2023, and Ben Schwab (a musician himself with Drug Dealer, Golden Daze, and Sylvie) has finally released the music of his father’s band.
The way that The Lost Tapes
gorgeously crackles is a reminder that well-crafted songs are capable of prevailing through time, even without the benefit of proper production. ‘Harriet Ann’ shines as an immediate standout here, sounding like a highly melodic yet forgotten Crosby, Still, Nash & Young tune being played on a rickety old-fashioned record player, with a few scratches here and there. That’s sort of The Lost Tapes
’ whole appeal – the sensation of tapping into that vintage style, only it’s real and not merely feigned for effect. Despite the age of the recordings, acoustic guitars ring out with a pastoral beauty and are occasionally cut with the most breathtaking accents – from the classical piano’s pristine clarity on ‘Rina’ to solemn flutes that swirl throughout ‘Someday.’ The emotional color of the piece evolves throughout as well, whether it’s the pure romance of ‘Harriet Ann’ or ‘Loving You’, the mysterious and haunting refrain of ‘Nobody Knows’, the Simon & Garfunkel-esque storytelling delivery of ‘Take Care of Yourself’, or the breeze-in-your-hair “leaving home” vibes conjured by the winding acoustics of ‘Going Away’. In a succinct thirty minutes, Mad Anthony seems to traverse the entire folk landscape.
The Lost Tapes
primarily benefit from the strength of the vocal harmonies and overall songwriting – these aren’t complex tracks, but rather simple ones that effortlessly navigate the pathway from one’s speakers into their long-term memory. That’s the power of great music; even amid its cracks and flaws, it can spellbind us with its pure, organic beauty. Schwab’s decision to release the lost tapes of his father’s band provides us with the rare opportunity to enjoy something that nearly disappeared from the annals of history without leaving a mark. So dim the lights, pour a bottle of your finest wine, and sink into The Lost Tapes
. It’s a gorgeous time machine that you won’t regret traveling in.