Saturday, February 19, 2005

Dino Valente - S/T CD (RPM)

This one's been on my “guess I'd kinda like to hear it” list for a lot of years, for Dino Valenti's (Epic misspelled his stage name on the 1968 LP) Byrds associations and stake in the “Hey Joe” songwriting competition, but now I'm wishing I tracked it down long ago. Recorded after a stay in the federal pen and before he rejoined Quicksilver Messenger Service, Dino Valente is a solo troubadour's meander larded over with orchestration (applied without the artist's approval) by producer Bob Johnston. It's not back porch authentic, but the arrangements are tasteful enough, with Dino's crisp, swirling acoustic guitar usually in the fore. By the time he made this record, he'd had exhausted the possibilities of the Greenwich Village folk scene, scoped out the Sunset Strip and the Haight, San Quentin and Folsom, and (if his colorful biographical claims are to be believed) toured the carny circuit with his folks. There's certainly a mature, haunted quality to the semi-improvisational songs and the singing, a beautiful, ragged authority. Really great, and unexpectedly so. -Kim Cooper

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