Bent Acidfolk Guru or the Godfather of Bruised Soul?
Pip Proud and Tom Carter
Catch a Cherub
EJ 50 CD
release date Nov 5 2002
Pip sent minidiscs to Austin over the course of a year and friend Tom Carter picked out some stunners to overdub his own gorgeous lap steel and guitar.
Pip Proud is a 60s poet and songwriter from Melbourne who made two records for one of the more adventurous labels of that era, Polydor International, before taking a 30-year break and reemerging again in 1995. Multi-instrumentalist Tom Carter (Austin) plays with Charalambides, one of the most unsettling and creative performing and recording units going. The result of this holy union is ten beautiful songs with as many peaks and valleys as his best solo work. Some lines are fantastic and stream-of-conscious and others seem so sincere, like hes trying to save us all.
A few months after he recorded the opening song I Deceived You To Make You Smile, which contains the line You look so shit, I wish I was blind, Pip suffered a debilitating stroke that in the coming weeks robbed him of his sight. Pip is in good humor about this -- hes the one who pointed it out, advising to be careful what you wish for -- and continues to write lucid poetry like mad, even if he cant play guitar anymore (some wiseass might take issue with the assumption that he ever could). If Catch a Cherub is the end of his recording career, this is the perfect way to go out:
Lets catch a cherub, they come flying around the candlelight -- well tie one down and make him talk of love and why it hurts sometimes.
Purchase Catch a Cherub.
A Yellow Flower
EJ 37 CD
released June 2001
Atom bomb cover art mirrors the holocaust of inner turmoil Pip went through while writing these songs (namely being hassled by local pigs and having his kids snatched away from him). Collaborations with Tom Carter, Alastair Galbraith, ST 37 and David Nichols.
EJ 27 CD
released Apr 2000
His first real comeback LP. Contains the world-damning "Crystal Night (Ode to the 20th Century)" and the hit "Hey Gus."
One of These Days
EJ 21 CD
released Aug 1998
"I s'pose my songs say how I love and how I get hurt and how I find joy."
So say the liner notes of One of These Days. Once you hear Pip Proud's music, you'll never forget it. In his "heyday," the late '60s, no one was making music like Pip. 32 years after his first recordings, the same could be said today. He's absolutely peerless...Pop primitives from Jandek to Skip Spence to Daniel Johnston seem positively conventional in comparison.
In one of the many letters we've traded: "You keep saying you're a shit house guitar player. So am I. That's what Alastair and I were talking about - we all think we are, but we're not. Imagine what voice and guitar training would have done to Muddy Waters...totally ruined him."
Alastair Galbraith ranted to me that Pip was the great lost musical poet from the '60s. He was right: I was awe struck that anyone would have the guts to do what he was doing. He wasn't reinventing the wheel, he was levitating above it, laughing and waving below to all the trappings of the earth.
"When I was really sick and near death this angel stood beside me and said he loved me and would never leave me no matter what. And yeah, I can always find that angel inside me when I need him, always there. I write/refer to him a lot in my songs. Now you know my secret. I think he's as bewildered about life as I am, but we hold hands..."
Pip released two seminal albums on Polydor International in 1968 and '69, but they weren't available outside of Australia, his native home. The recordings on this CD, all unreleased, are mostly from the years 1966 and '67, with a few '90s recordings spread throughout the album. David Nichols, #1 Pip fan and also of the pop band Cannanes, went through hours of timeworn tapes to make this collection.
So listen for yourself to one of music's most unique, if unknown, visionaries.
Pip Proud and Alastair Galbraith
"Hey Gus" 7"
EJ 18 CD
released May 1998
An achingly beautiful song that marked the return of a forgotten man. Alastair overdubbed the sobbing violin. B-side features guest crickets!
Pips songs are like nothing I've ever heard. In the late '60s, Rolling Stone hailed him as a "pop primitive," and compared his poetic music to that of Dylan's. But one writer called him "a bloody freak."
Pip released three albums in the late '60s: 1967's privately-released demonstration LP De Da De Dum, 1968's Adreneline and Richard and 1969's A Bird in the Engine. Even though the last two came out on Polydor International, he was practically unknown outside of Australia, his native home. Pip ended his musical career in 1969, and aside from a few published plays and novels, was unheard from in the '70s and '80s.
While on tour in the states in 1996, Alastair Galbraith introduced me to Pip's music, played through a guitar amp in a hotel room. For the rest of the day and night, I kept hearing his distinctive chant and strummed guitar. Such a delicate and bare arrangement - it was the most honest songs I'd ever come across.
I got in touch with David Nichols (of Cannanes) and learned that Pip was making a "comeback" of sorts. David, his brother, and their friend Laura (ex-Sleater Kinney) recorded with Pip one day, and the results came out on a scarce one-sided EP Mathilda, You Fiend, the first recorded work released by Pip since the late '60s.
Pip lives in the country in a shack with no electricity and has to chase his kids out of the house when he records. When his generator's on the fritz, he runs the tape recorder off his station wagon's battery (and people have the chutzpah to call Liz Phair "lo-fi"...)
For this single, two of Pip's best songs, Alastair added some very nice violin and guitar parts over the Pip original. Their chemistry is addictive; you get the feeling of two kindred spirits at work.
It's not like music you're used to. Enjoy.
Someone else's bio:
The greatest Australian singer-songwriter of the 1960s. While all around him artists fell over each other trying to imitate overseas trends - beat groups, psychedelia, or whatever they were listening to in London and LA that month - Pip Proud was starting from scratch, and making his own music. The Adelaide-born Proud learnt guitar and developed his own idiosyncratic style as a teenager; moving to Sydney in his late teens, he began writing poetry, novels and songs at an impressive rate.
Artist Gary Shead made a documentary about him. He recorded and pressed a few copies of an album, De Da De Dum; Polygram records snapped him up and re-recorded the LP as Adreneline and Richard. The one thing the critics all agreed on was that Pip Proud was an original, although some thought they heard traces of Dylan (well, Dylan had made records playing a guitar and singing). He also might have had a bit of the skewed observations of Syd Barrett about him, or maybe the lilting beauty of Nick Drake. Richard Thompson. Melanie. Donovan. Sandy Denny. All these comparisons make sense. But the Australian media was too self-conscious, gawky and suspicious to cope with a record you had to listen to more than once to "get". By the time the second Pip Proud album emerged - A Bird In The Engine - he was firmly wedged into the too-hard basket.
He was, of course, twenty-five years ahead of his time. Listen to Lou Barlow's Sentridoh, or the Folk Implosion's Kids soundtrack. Listen to other cutting-edge U.S. artists like The Mountain Goats, Beck, Guided By Voices or The Spinanes. Or listen to New Zealand's Alistair Galbraith, such a Proud fan he led off his 1994 Cluster EP with a song called "Pip Proud". Then listen to Pip Proud and tell us he doesn't fit so snugly with those sounds it's almost uncanny.
Half A Cow brings you Pip Proud's Phonogram recordings for the first time on CD; songs which, for the last twenty years, would have cost you upwards of a hundred dollars to own if you ever found someone willing to part with them are now yours in total, unscratched, remastered and still redolent of the same freshness and beauty they had a quarter of a century ago.
And Pip Proud? He hasn't stopped producing work, although a disappointing time in London in the early seventies (starving on unfulfilled promises from Apple Records and John Peel) ended his first phase in music. Now, he lives in northern New South Wales - in a house he built himself - and continues to write songs, poetry and stories. A new 5-track EP, "Matilda You Fiend", will be released in the U.S. in two months. He has five children, a dog, a horse, and a hectic release schedule of new and old recordings for 1996-97.
Pip Proud will be visiting Sydney to promote his new/old album in June. In the meantime, enjoy Eagle - Wise. The title track: funny, lilting, catchy as hell. "Into Elizabeth's Eyes": haunting, majestic. "Purple Boy Gang": desperate, shaky, frantic. "A Bird In The Engine": terrifyingly visual and despairing. "Vida", "Hey Sue", "Marie": love songs without parallel. Half A Cow guarantees that after three listens to the subtle melody and delirious wordplay of these songs you will be hooked on Pip Proud for life.
-David Nichols May 1996
Press Release for Hac 45: Half A Cow will be delving into Australia's rich musical heritage by releasing long-deleted records by one of the most original lost artists from the sixties. Easybeats "lost" LP? Thorpie's first? The Bon Scott Experience?
No, it's the one and only Pip Proud.
In 1967, Sydney was extremely fortunate to be host to a new sensation, Pip Proud - a singer. Alone with his electric guitar, poetic songs and other - worldly vocals, there was never anything like Pip that had come before. He released two LP's (the first originally recorded at home!), appeared on television shows and in the local rock weeklies (Molly raved!)....then disappeared.
Eagle - Wise is a compilation of his LP's A Bird In The Engine and Adreneline and Richard - very interesting and compelling music. It's nearest references surprisingly being closer to Lou Barlow and Beat Happening as well as Nick Drake, Syd Barrett or a helium - freaked Leonard Cohen. Ahead of it's time! A couple of the songs feature his band and it is refreshing stuff. The grandpappy of Lo-Fi (Inc.)
I'm not sure at what point Emperor Jones took over the fragile gossamer pop mantle (or from whom for that matter), but they are keeping their hand held high. Add now to the roster of Alastair Galbraith, American Analog Set, and Peter Jefferies (and soon the very chilling institutionalized-era Roky Erickson private recordings) Mister Pip Proud, who deserves equal aural space with each of these folks, and actually belongs more in Mr. Erickson's stratum, since he has been recording since the late 60s, far from public eyes.
With this sort of new hindsight that Emperor Jones provides, we can see pulled clean-out- the-fertile-ground-of-New Zealand Mr. Galbraith's haunting white roots, lo-fi dirt and stringy guitar root hairs clinging and swinging in the thin hands of Pip's plink and murmur of thirty years previous. An introduction to both me and yourself, One of These Days gives a small peek into the closet shoe-box of Mr. Proud's, chock-full of whispered pop splendors (each song a case study on the majesty of tape hiss in all its different voices), snapshots and scrawled lines, and handfuls of his little un's artwork (I had a postage stamp in mine as well).
All interested parties should seek out the Half-a-Cow CD from '96, as well as the EJ 7", "Hey Gus", with Mr. Galbraith himself. (Andy Beta, Lunakafe)
There's definitely something there when you're talking about Pip Proud (A Yellow Flower, Emperor Jones). The quintessential Australian musical outcast ropes in a couple of semi-famous friends including Alastair Galbraith, Nic Dalton and Dr David Nichols, but the album is all about Proud's scary, bitter voice, ranting nastily over a scanty instrumental bed. Proud's narratives are personal, explicit and actually rather creepy, but there's something here that compells listening - even if it's just car-crash fascination. (***) (Ben, rocknerd.org)
Some backhanded-assed reviews:
If Foster's is Australian for beer, Pip Proud is Australian for Syd Barrett. Proud, y'see, put out a handful of albums back in the psychedelic days that never made it up from Down Under. Now he sits around in the Outback (or at least out in his back yard) with a single mike and tape recorder and drawls out poetic, peyotic, two-chord epics, some of which are augmented with additional instrumentation by labelmates like ST 37 and Alastair Galbraith. While his history may keep him from falling in the "outsider music" category, the songs of Oncer certainly fit there, sounding like nothing more than some old fella in a dusty ghost town strumming out his memories and recollections to any phantom who'll pause long enough to listen. Dark yet occasionally imbued with hope, Proud songspeaks his way through such memoirs as "Hey, Sally" ("lay down with her, take all of me ... that's okay, we ain't going nowhere") and the damning "Crystal Night (Ode To the 20th Century)," wherein he plays the part of every jolly murdering soldier of the World Wars, chuckling with his buddies as they mow down "Kikes" and "Nips" with glee. While Proud drones on like only an old man or a young shoegazer truly can, the improvised accompaniments occasionally sound nailed-on, which of course, they are. Thus, they serve their purpose of providing some variety behind the repetitive, off-key acoustic guitar that Proud offhandedly strums as he makes his observations ("Spent the night counting the darkness. Must be a million bits of black out there"). And if the music's still too frantic for you, there's one long track, "Gone Fishing," that's exactly what the title implies. (Ken Leak, Austin Chronicle)
This CD makes me think about Daniel Johnston as a 60 year old. Scattered thoughts thrown against the solid and rhythmic strumming of a guitar. Almost poetic, but more stream of consciousness. Australian Pip Proud tells his own stories, "I leave marks in the sand, leave messages for you, and try not to cry..." and of course, "Jazz is dangerous thing for us guys who sing..." Singing isn't a strong point here, but the vocals do get the point across, like a demented folk hero, championing his own cause, wandering the wastelands with a guitar for support and making music for those who will listen. Not always pleasant, but the songs do cause you to laugh, sometimes think, sometimes both. (Marcel Feldmar, Ink 19)
One of These Days (Emperor Jones/Trance Syndicate)
Eccentric? Seems like a low-bidder word around these hinterlands. After 15 minutes of fame in his native Australia during the late Sixties, "primative pop" star Pip Proud retreated to a outback country shack with no electricity so he could write in peace. Featuring songs written between 1967 and 1997, One of These Days' odd-timed, often unsteady music puts time out of mind. The one-offed nature of these recordings will be disconcerting to some and magnetically appealing to others. It sometimes sounds as if Proud's brain is feeding his mouth with too much to say in not enough time. This harkens forward to a more competent Shaggs or a less prurient Frogs, but either way, Proud's extraordinary ability to craft hyper-descriptive lyrics is undeniable. The minute details woven through "The Tennis Player" sound like the work of a sculptor or a stalker. The title track is a simpler song of longing love, but it's no less effective and eerie. Proud's acute awareness of his surroundings and his undefinably singular world view should provide hours and hours of befuddled enjoyment for the third eye set. (Greg Beets, Austin Chronicle)
Promo bio from a cancelled appearance for the great What Is Music? festival in Australia:
PIP PROUD (Tenterfield)
In 1967 Sydney was extremely fortunate to be the host to a new sensation-Pip Proud, a singer. Alone with his electric guitar, poetic songs and other-worldly vocals, there was never anything like Pip that had come before. He released 2 LPs, appeared on TV shows and in the local rock weeklies (Brian Henderson raved!)...and then disappeared. What Is Music? is Proud to present Pip's first performance in nearly 30 years! "Defying description and flying in the face of dictionary definitions, over the years Pip's music has simultaneously baffled, confused and elated with its exposed, raw guitar and spaced-out, vulnerable vocals. Eagle-wise, the 22-track compilation of the legendary pip Proud's phonogram recordings is available on Half A Cow. ONE SHOW ONLY!
Purchase the music of Pip Proud.