Henske & Yester “Farewell Aldebaran”

Farewell Aldebaran

Farewell Aldebaran was one of the key albums that signified the end of the 60’s. It’s one of the great cult rock records with a beautiful melancholy edge that few artists have equaled since.

Farewell Aldebaran was released by the fabled Straight label in 1969. Both Judy Henske (folk) and Jerry Yester (production) had been in the music business for years before cutting this astonishing record. It’s actually unbelievable that few people picked up on the great music this duo produced. After almost 40 years, this album comes off like a well worn classic. Every song is uniformly strong and there are some exquisite arrangements, weird but clever lyrics, and creative string and horn arrangements.

The harpsichord laced folk ballad Lullaby is strangely alluring, with a puzzled, jarring edge that recalls how our great nation felt as the decade came to an uncertain end. Snowblind, opens the album with a boom, it’s really the oddball amongst a quiet group of songs but an effective, hard charging psychedelic rocker nonetheless. This composition really gives Henske room to stretch out and let her vocals roar with conviction and arrogance. The Raider is another great song with a great backwoods feel. For some people this is absolute nirvana, five minutes of great fiddle, banjo, accoustic guitars and hillbilly vocalizing delivered with 1850’s drunk on whiskey venom. But this is really just the beginning, as there are gothic ballads, bubblegum pop, entrancing folk-rock and psychedelic love songs. Three Ravens, is an absolutely stunning psychedelic ballad with a sweeping string arrangement (and horns) and an otherworldly vocal performance from Judy Henske. Others may have a soft spot for Charity, which is a finely crafted sunshine pop, folk-rock song with just a hint of sadness.

At this point in the decade, the Vietnam War and civil rights issues were exhausting people and musicians worldwide. Hence, you can hear the pain within the music. The duo managed to release one more album in 1970 under the Rosebud moniker. Rosebud was fair at best, possessing none of the magic the duo captured on Farewell Aldebaran. I must add that it’s records like Farewell Aldebaran that keep me going. It’s rare to come across something so honest, unpretentious, homespun and most of all, real. A wonder to behold!!

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This record has unfortunately been heisted by Fallout Records and is being sold without permission from the artist or copyright holders. We won’t be reviewing any more records that are only available from Fallout and urge you to find it in any way that won’t profit this pirate organization. Click here to learn more.

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  • JEFF

    this is wonderful! I’ve been longing to own this record…one day I will for sure…my music blog (barnyardmusic.blogspot.com) is original music but created in the spirit o the music yr page chronicles…lots of love -jd

  • Len Liechti

    This is tremendous. This was the first album I bought as a result of reading a review on TRS, and it ticked all the boxes for me. “Snowblind” and “Charity” have a tinge of the Airplane, and Henske’s imperious voice recalls Grace Slick’s throughout, while “Raider” is an untypical Fairport knockoff, but all the rest is unlike anything or anybody else: spacey, funny, druggy, downright weird, uncharacterisable and utterly timeless, it sounds as if it could have been recorded last week. Frank Zappa encouraged Henske to record this stuff with Yester, and put it out on his own Straight imprint (nice ironic label name, FZ.) No surprise there, then! The only disappointment, if there is one, is that it’s too darned short.
    PS: my CD copy is on an imprint called Radioactive Records. I hope this isn’t the ripoff Fallout label referred to by Jason, If so, apologies all round.

  • Jason

    Yeah they are the same label…it is the only way to get this classic without paying a pretty penny for the Straight label original. I think they are based out of the UK ( I could be wrong?), but the owner is supposedly nuts. He reissues all these 60’s/70’s American rock records straight from vinyl (no master tapes in other words) – and the musicians receive no compensation whatsoever. He did release authorized versions of two British folk album’s, COB’s second disc which is masterful and the first Forest LP. Another cd version of Farewell Aldebaran exists though, a cardboard digipack sleeve under yet another Fallout/Radioactive guise…Phoenix Records. Henske and Yester released a disc as Rosebud, a sequel of sorts to Farewell Aldebaran….which I’ve never heard but it’s supposedly nowhere near as good as Farewell Aldebaran. The Henske & Yester album is definitely one of my favorites, as you said nothing sounds remotely like it, it’s original in the best possible sense. Imagine, in such a short period of time Straight released Trout Mask Replica, Lick My Decals, Baby, Blue Afternoon, Starsailor, and this, Farewell Aldebaran (those bizarre early Alice Cooper discs too). I have another interesting disc by a little known singer songwriter Time Dawe – Penrod, while not as good as the above masterpieces this also came out on Straight, it’s not a bad album either.

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