Bella Union Announce All In One Vinyl Reissue due 22nd July
Bella Union are pleased to announce the reissue of the self-titled album by All In One, due for release 22nd July 2022. The beautifully packaged vinyl, which comes with liner notes by Jen Monroe and Kieron Tyler, is available via Bandcamp and select record stores. You can pre-order the vinyl as well as listen to clips from the album HERE.
In late 1968 or early 1969, a six-piece group walked into a Chicago recording studio to record an album. As they weren’t signed to a label, they had made the booking themselves. The group featured three singers, all female. One of whom also played acoustic guitar. There was also double-bass player and a drummer, both male. A female guitarist filled out the band. After the tapes had finished rolling, what was recorded was quickly pressed onto an album: a private pressing, organised and paid for by the band. Not many copies were made, perhaps 100, maybe 500. The albums were sold at live shows or given to friends and relatives. And that was it.
The band was called All In One, and the outline of their story is similar to many do-it-yourself musicians from the Sixties and later who wanted to document their existence, what they sounded like. It’s good to have a physical object saying “here we are, this is what we do.” During the Seventies punk era, it’s what Buzzcocks did with their Spiral Scratch EP. Taking the DIY path had precedents.
It was an approach which meant there was no mediation. Control was in the hands of those being recorded. Naturally, these obscure and rare records can attract interest. Some Sixties examples, like All In One’s untitled album, are great and need to be heard more widely. This first-ever reissue reveals the band to have been mysteriously spectral, with an intensity which would have been reined in had they been on a mainstream label and given a regular production. The rough edges would have been smoothed off. From its opening moments, the album telegraphs that All In One were uncultivated: a band in the raw, and one with its own ideas of its identity.
Until 2004, the All In One album was so obscure it was barely known by collectors. That changed when it was included in the Acid Archives website’s gazetteer of rare psychedelic-era records. The description ran “Late 1960s low-key nocturnal folk/folk rock with excellent female vocal harmonies, stand-up bass, occasional congas and understated drumming. Partly in a late folk-boom Simon & Garfunkel type mood, but also with appealing California psych moves on tracks like Errant In A Time and the great Days Of My Life, which has moody modal chords and atmospheric bells. Not a hippie scene, more like serious young ladies contemplating the world from a college dorm room.” In February 2005, a copy sold on eBay for $375. The auction’s starting price was $80. In 2012, another copy sold for $495.
Interest continued. In late 2019, the Listen To This website got to grips with All In One and said the album is “Very much a quiet ‘wow’ record. Bare-bones, baroque-pop harmonies over simple guitar parts and percussion, pegging them on first listen as Bacharach-tinged lo-fi bedroom folk contemporaries of Peter, Paul & Mary (fittingly, Rich Man, Poor Man is a cover of a Peter Paul & Mary song, originally released in 1968). But! There’s more – there’s an unsmilingly blunt closeness to the vocal quality of Marine Girls, The Roches.”
Pegging All In One can depend on the ear of the beholder. That 2005 auction entry declared it to be a “psych-influenced folk album.” The band consisted of Katharine Parsons (guitar, vocals), Kathryn Davis (vocals), W. Wilson (vocals), Jon Bill (double bass), K. Peterson (drums, percussion) and T. Shiek (guitar). Where the first names have initials only, that’s all that is known. Searches of the databases of America’s song publishing associations have found nothing and the band’s members – for now – are out of reach. Bella Union would love to hear from them. Of the album’s 11 tracks, four are original compositions. Days Of My Life, Errant In A Time and Waiting are written by Katherine Parsons and it’s a fair bet the words errant in a time were borrowed from Don Quixote: where he was a knight errant in a time when such figures were anachronisms. Rainy Haze is by Kathryn Davis. A literate melancholy suffuses all four songs.
Further suggestions of All In One’s inspirations come through the cover versions they chose to record. The mainstream jazz singer Nancy Wilson was obviously a favourite. In A Long White Room was a single of hers (issued in November 1968), as was Face It Girl, It’s Over (March 1968). Rich Man, Poor Man was from Peter, Paul and Mary’s August 1968 Late Again album. Scarborough Fair – Canticle was a Simon & Garfunkel single in February 1968. Three songs were either from shows or soundtracks. Come Live With Me is from Valley Of The Dolls, and was issued on the soundtrack album December 1967 and as a single January 1968. Easy To Be Hard, from Hair, was first released on album in October 1967, though a second, better-selling album version arrived in May 1968. The Look Of Love is from the film Casino Royale. Dusty Springfield’s single of the song was released in America in June 1967. Peter, Paul and Mary, Simon & Garfunkel and Nancy Wilson do not add up to edginess. Valley Of The Dolls is mom’s-and-pop’s edgy as is Hair, while Casino Royale is straight-ahead entertainment. All In One were not freaks.
However, there is an edge to the album which grabs hold.
All In One’s album opens with a sparse deconstruction of In A Long White Room. For Nancy Wilson, there was joyful bounce to the song. For All In One, whatever the tense of its lyrics, it is now a yearning reflection. Kathryn Davis’s Rainy Haze conjures moods of “reminiscing endlessly” and autumn while listening to raindrops and wanting them erase loneliness. Peter, Paul and Mary’s Rich Man, Poor Man, already a melancholy contemplation, becomes even more downbeat. With their first three songs, All In One telegraph a yen for rumination. While Rainy Haze is affecting, it’s the three songs by Katharine Parsons which especially foster this sense of unease. For Errant In A Time, “Leaves wither and fall, the branches remain straight but they too will fall.” The song ends with the statement that the tree will die. Days Of My Life is about being alone after the sundering of a passion. Darkness has returned. Thoughts have become rancid. Waiting is more is more upbeat tempo-wise but, again, but pain and weariness pervade.
Pre-order the record here – https://smarturl.it/all_in_one