Los Angeles, CA. (August 13, 2019) – Light in the Attic Records carries forth the legacy of the enigmatic folk-hero and songwriter Jim Sullivan with two new releases: If The Evening Were Dawn, a collection of previously unheard solo acoustic recordings and the first-ever official vinyl reissue of Sullivan’s eponymous second LP, which includes a robust booklet with rare archival photos and new liner notes from Jason Woodbury, featuring interviews with legendary bassist Jim Hughart and producer Lee Burch.
Out October 25and available to pre-order beginning today (8/13), both records are available on LP, CD, digital and together in a Light In the Attic Online Store Exclusive Bundle (available only at LightInTheAttic.net). The bundle (seen below) includes both LPs pressed on colored vinyl, a Jim Sullivan T-Shirt and silk-screened poster designed by Chris Campbell, and a riso printed Jim Sullivan song folio containing sheet music of Sullivan’s compositions designed by Clay Hickson.
THE JIM SULLIVAN STORY:
In March 1975, singer-songwriter Jim Sullivan mysteriously disappeared outside Santa Rosa, New Mexico. His VW bug was found abandoned, his motel room untouched. Some think he got lost. Some think the mafia bumped him. Some even think he was abducted by aliens.
By coincidence – or perhaps not – Sullivan’s 1969 debut album was titled U.F.O. Released in tiny numbers on a private label, it too was truly lost until Light In The Attic Records began a years-long quest to re-release it – and to solve the mystery of Sullivan’s disappearance. Only one of those things happened, and you can guess which.
Light In The Attic’s loving re-release ofU.F.O.(released November 16, 2010, marking the first time on CD and first LP reissue) introduced the world to an overlooked masterwork and won him, posthumously legions of new fans.
Sullivan was a West Coast should-have-been, an Irish-American former high school quarterback and seventh son whose gift for storytelling earned him cult status in the bar where he performed nightly in Malibu, California. Sullivan was always on the edge of fame; hanging out with movie stars like Harry Dean Stanton, performing on the Jose Feliciano show, even stealing a cameo in the ultimate hippie movie, Easy Rider.
Friend and producer Al Dobbs thought he could change all that and founded a label – Monnie Records – to release Sullivan’s album, enlisting members of the legendary Wrecking Crew (Beach Boys, Phil Spector).
U.F.O. was a different beast to the one-man-and-his-guitar stuff Sullivan had been doing on stage; instead, it was a fully realized album of scope and imagination, a folk-rock record with Axelrod-like strings, a Memphis groove and its ambitions in the sky. Sullivan’s voice is deep and expressive like Fred Neil, but with a weathered and worldly Americana sound like Joe South.
With no music industry contacts, the record went largely unnoticed, and Sullivan simply moved on, releasing a further album in 1972. By 1975, amid the break-up of his marriage, Sullivan left for Nashville and the promise of a new life as a sessioneer – but he disappeared, forever, en route.
We know scraps of details. He’d been stopped by the police for swerving on the highway; he’d checked into a hotel, the La Mesa Motel, and he’d been spotted at the ranch of a notorious local family, whose land he’d strayed onto. His car – found abandoned on a desert road – and his hotel room contained, among other things, his twelve-string guitar, his wallet, his clothes and several copies of his second album. As for Sullivan, it was as if he had simply vanished into thin air.
That self-titled second album – integral to Sullivan’s story – is now being given the Light In The Attic treatment as well. Another LP you’ll rarely see in the wild, this is by no means the poor man’s follow up to U.F.O., but rather a big stride into country, folk-rock and swampy blues, mesmerically finger-picked, brass-bedecked and with that uniqueness of phrasing – part crooner, part jazz singer – that makes Sullivan such a rare performer.
It’s accompanied by another new Sullivan release, and this one has never been heard before: a solo acoustic studio session from 1969 which includes over a half dozen previously unheard compositions written by him. This, then, is in many ways the record Sullivan wanted to make, an intimate session focused on songwriting rather than production.
Tracking down the truth behind Sullivan’s mystery – and the extent of his recorded output – has become an obsession for Light In The Attic’s co-founder Matt Sullivan (no relation), who happened upon a copy of U.F.O. and was mesmerized by the music. Which led Matt to take a cross-country pilgrimage in search of master tapes and truth, involving private detectives, telepathy, palm readings and meetings with Sullivan’s wife, son and producer along the way. For more info on this mysterious tale and Matt’s search for answers, check out Matt’s interview with NPR and read his words on Aquarium Drunkard, where he documents the trip.
These two new archive releases reflect one person’s dedication to – and obsession with – sharing another person’s art with the world. Click here to watch Light In The Attic Docs Presents: The Jim Sullivan Story (originally released around the U.F.O. reissue in 2010).
More about If The Evening Were Dawn:
If The Evening Were Dawn contains 10 acoustic solo recordings that have never seen the light of day. Whereas U.F.O. was bolstered by legendary sessioneers The Wrecking Crew, this is Jim Sullivan on his own terms, stripped down and soulful as ever. Recorded at a Los Angeles studio circa 1969, the session contains acoustic versions of a handful of U.F.O. tracks, alongside a half dozen previously unheard songs. This, then, is the closest thing to those fabled Malibu-bar performances at which Sullivan was first noticed.
According to his wife, Barbara, this was the album Sullivan always hoped to record. It serves as an unprecedented glimpse into the mysterious, larger-than-life figure who’s become the stuff of legends. This recording serves as an unexpected missing piece of the puzzle; this is Jim Sullivan’s true swan song.
Available October 25 at LightInTheAttic.net on CD, vinyl and digitally.
Track listing for If The Evening Were Dawn:
1. Roll Back The Time
5. What To Tell Her
6. Grandpa's Trip
7. So Natural
8. Whistle Stop / Mama
9. What Is My Name
10. Close My Eyes
More about Jim Sullivan:
The self-titled LP was originally released on Playboy mogul Hugh Hefner’s short-lived Playboy imprint. Horns sweeten this funky and bombastic session driven by Sullivan’s unmistakably larger-than-life voice and exceptional songwriting chops, alongside a cast of legendary session musicians including bassist Jim Hughart. Another LP you’ll rarely see in the wild, it is by no means the poor relation of U.F.O., but rather a big stride into country, folk rock, and swampy blues, mesmerically finger-picked, brass-bedecked, and with that uniqueness of phrasing–part crooner, part jazz singer–that makes Sullivan such a rare performer.
Each of the 11-tracks could have been a bonafide radio hit, but with spotty promotion, the self-titled album suffered a fate known all too well and fizzled out. While Sullivan’s disappearance remains unsolved, his music endures and is finally gaining him the recognition he deserves, albeit long overdue.
Available October 25 at LightInTheAttic.net on CD, vinyl and digitally; with the LP and CD packages containing a booklet with new liner notes from Jason Woodbury (featuring interviews with legendary bassist Jim Hughart and producer Lee Burch) and rare archival photos.
Track listing for Jim Sullivan:
1. Don't Let It Throw You
2. Sunny Jim
3. Tea Leaves
4. Biblical Boogie (True He's Gone)
5. Lonesome Picker
7. Tom Cat
8. You Show Me The Way To Go
10. I'll Be Here
11. Plain To See