Terry Callier

TimePeace LifeTime

I tried to put on the things I felt were saying the most either spiritually or in terms of what's happening in the world today. -- Terry Callier

One of the Sufi masters once said that 'the world shines so brightly that all the other lights seem dim.' We have to constantly be reminded of the spiritual side of things because the material world is so in our face. -- Terry Callier

Five years ago, in the US, you couldn't find an album by Terry Callier on vinyl, let alone CD and that was fine with Terry Callier, he could take it or leave it. Since that time there's been two import releases and an unearthed concert from the early 80's. And next month Verve Record releases TimePeace, the first album of new material from Terry Callier in almost 20 years, and Terry Callier could take it or leave it. -- Mark Ruffin

Since I walked out of the music business, I have not been knocking on too many doors trying to get back in. So it's as much a surprise to me as it is to anybody, except that if God has planned something for you, you can run from that thing for a long as you have breath and in the end it will still be there for you. -- Terry Callier

That's what it says in the Koran and a lot of scriptures. If God intends something good for you, nobody can keep it from you, and if God intends for you not to have something, there's nothing you can do to get it. That's the way I look at music. If God has intended this for me, it doesn't matter what I do, it's going to be what it's going to be. There are things I can do to inhibit it, like going around spitting on people, that might impede it a bit. -- Terry Callier

I was in Guildford, a charming market town on the River Wey, so I did what I often do, I popped into Ben's Records. I don't always pop in as I nearly always end up spending money! Ben wasn't there but his mate was. Usually, if his mate is there I leave, as he is usually playing some mind-numbing crap, but he wasn't. What's that playing I asked? Terry Callier, was the reply.

Now I have never heard of Terry Callier, but he was apparently big in the 1970s, or so Ben's mate told me. What I was hearing was TimePeace, a recent release from the late 1990s. It sounded good, so I parted with some dosh and bought it.

Some tracks are a tad too bland (although even these grow on you), but on the whole, an excellent album. A blend of jazz and blues, with a hint of soul and reggae, an excellent line up of musicians. At times I am reminded of the great blues man, John Lee Hooker. Terry Callier is at times almost as laid back as Hooker, but unlike Hooker, not quite horizontal. There are also hints of Van Morrison. Production, arrangement and sound quality are excellent. Well worth the fiver I laid out!

An interesting, well designed, CD fold-out liner. A pity though that most of the print is so small as to make it unreadable, and much of the rest is in a fancy script that makes it illegible.

From the CD liner I learnt that Terry Callier descended into obscurity in the 1980s. He dropped out to look after his daughter, took a day job as a computer programmer, and at night took a part-time degree in sociology. TimePeace is his comeback album.

Callier came back out of semi-retirement, by now his daughter Sundiata was through college, with a remix of his 1982 swan song 'I Donít Want To See Myself (Without You)', which proved to be a big hit on the London club scene.

Earlier releases include three albums Callier recorded for the legendary Chess Records' Cadet subsidiary, Occasional Rain (1972), What Color Is Love? (1973) and I Just Canít Help Myself (1975). His debut album The New Folk Sound of Terry Callier (recorded 1965, released 1968) was released on Prestige.

TC in DC First Light Live at Mother Blues 1964

The comeback album TimePeace (1998) has been followed up with LifeTime (both on the Verve label Blue Thumb Records), plus a series of retrospective albums on Premonition Records including TC in DC (1996), First Light Chicago 1969-71 (1998) and Live At Mother Blues 1964 (2000).

Singer, songwriter, guitarist Terry Callier grew up on the rough side of town in Chicago where he knew Curtis Mayfield. As a kid he learnt the piano and guitar, then graduated to the clubs where he earnt a cult following.

On his new label, Verve, Callier has had a lot of problems, he wants to make good music, Verve wants to churn out commercial crap: 'Then they started going into the commercial versus artistic merit bag. One of the guys from Talkin' Loud objected to one of the songs because he said it was too country. Well it was a country song.'

An article and interview with Terry Callier, Terry Callier Reluctant Musician, by Mark Ruffin, Jazz Editor, published by JazzUSA, is well worth reading.

Ben's Records is one of the few record shops worth visiting. You never find what you want, but what you do find, is wonderful gems like TimePeace and artists like Terry Callier you have never heard of. And it is cheap! Go up the ancient cobbled High Street, turn right through the arch into Tunsgate, head towards the Castle, and Ben's Records is almost the last shop on the left.

For Susie who has excellent taste in music.
(c) Keith Parkins 2004-2005 -- January 2005 rev 1