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Pearls Before Swine

Pearls Before SwineBiography

Formed in Florida, USA, in 1965, Pearls Before Swine originally comprised songwriter Tom Rapp (1947, Bottineau, North Dakota, USA; vocals/guitar), Wayne Harley (autoharp/banjo/mandolin/vibraphone), Lane Lederer (bass/guitar/horns), Roger Crissinger (keyboards), and Warren Smith (drums). The band pursued a recording contract with the avant garde ESP label, opining that the home of the Fugs would welcome their surrealist folk rock. The quartet’s debut, One Nation Underground, was an enticing mixture of intimate ballads and Bob Dylan -influenced ire, while Rapp’s lisping delivery gave the band its distinctiveness. Balaklava followed a similar path, but enhanced the air of mystery with a succession of sound effects, string arrangements and contributions from jazz musician Joe Farrell.

Although the Pearls’ original members were now dropping out of the band, Rapp continued to forge an idiosyncratic path on new label Reprise Records. His second recording for the label, 1970’s epic The Use Of Ashes, included ‘Rocket Man’, the artist’s interpretation of a Ray Bradbury short story, which inspired the Elton John song of the same title. Rapp’s later work, although still inventive, embraced more conventional styles and showed a marked interest in country styles. Such releases bore either his own name or that of Pearls Before Swine at the whim of the relevant record company. Having achieved all he felt possible, Rapp retired from music in 1975 and has since become a successful civil rights lawyer. He was prompted out of musical retirement by loyal follower Bevis Frond to record a solo album in the late 90s.

Source: The Encyclopedia of Popular Music by Colin Larkin. Licensed from Muze.


Studio albums
  • One Nation Underground (1967, ESP-Disk)
  • Balaklava (1968, ESP-Disk)
  • These Things Too (1969, Reprise)
  • The Use of Ashes (1970, Reprise)
  • City of Gold (1971, Reprise) (Thos. Rapp / Pearls Before Swine)
  • Beautiful Lies You Could Live In (1971, Reprise) (Tom Rapp / Pearls Before Swine)
  • Familiar Songs (1972, Reprise) (Tom Rapp)
  • Stardancer (1972, Blue Thumb) (Tom Rapp)
  • Sunforest (1973, Blue Thumb) (Tom Rapp / Pearls Before Swine)
  • A Journal Of The Plague Year (1999, Woronzow) (Tom Rapp)
Live album
  • Live Pearls (recorded 1971, released 2008, WildCat Recording)
  • Constructive Melancholy (1999, Birdman) (CD compilation of 1969-72 Reprise tracks)
  • Jewels Were The Stars (2003, Water) (4 CD box set of first four Reprise albums)
  • The Wizard of Is (2004, Water) (2 CD collection of live recordings, out-takes etc.)
  • The Complete ESP-Disk Recordings (2005, ESP-Disk and WildCat[9]) (the two ESP albums on one CD)
  • “Morning Song” / “Drop Out!” (1967, ESP-Disk)
  • “I Saw The World” / “Images Of April” (1968, ESP-Disk)
  • “These Things Too” / “If You Don’t Want To” (1969, Reprise)
  • “Suzanne” / “There Was a Man” (1969, Reprise)
  • “The Jeweller” / “Rocket Man” (1970, Reprise)
  • “Marshall” / “Why Should I Care?” (1972, Blue Thumb)

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