Wednesday , May 29 2024
Before there was Essra Mohawk there was Sandy Hurvitz.

Music Review: Sandy Hurvitz (Essra Mohawk) – Sandy’s Album Is Here At Last

Let’s face it, anyone who recorded for Frank Zappa’s Bizarre label during the late sixties had to be a tad different than the norm.

Sandy Hurvitz began her career at the age of sixteen when she released a single for the old Liberty label. By the time she was nineteen she was playing keyboards for Frank Zappa’s Mothers Of Invention. Zappa signed her to a solo recording contract for his personal label and decided to produce the record himself. He quickly clashed with the nineteen year old, though, and turned producing chores over to band mate Ian Underwood.

What emerged was a stark and bare bones affair that focused upon her voice, piano playing, and songwriting ability.

If there is one thing which has been consistent throughout her 45-year career it has been her ability to create a song. Even at a young age Hurvitz wrote material for such artists as the Shangri-Las and Vanilla Fudge. Her songs would have been better served here if the sound had been developed a bit more. Those tracks that add even one other instrument benefit a great deal.

Sandy’s Album Is Here At Last may have an unfinished feel but it does introduce her as a performer of note as it presents her at her most basic. Her voice is mature and serves the lyrics well. Her piano playing provides a foundation and at times seems almost to run counterpoint to the vocals which works well in this case.

Songs such as “Three Hawks,” “Tree Of Trees,” “I Know The Sun” and “Archgodliness Of Purplefull Magic” may come across as harsh but they are always interesting. She tells her stories and, for her at least on this debut album, it is all about the voice and lyrics.

She would quickly change her professional name from Sandy Hurvitz to Essra Mohawk which is a combination of a nick name and her married name. Her second release, Primordial Lovers, issued in 1970 is one of the great, lost albums of that decade.

Sandy’s Album Is Here At Last was a commercial failure and quickly faded from the scene. It is nice to have it available again in a clean, remastered form. It includes as a bonus track the long lost “Life Is Scarlet,” the lyrics of which were printed on the back of the original album despite the song not being included.

The album may not be in the mainstream but it is challenging and ultimately it's an interesting listen for anyone willing to make the leap of faith.

About David Bowling

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