Blues Beneath the Surface

Swallowtail Records ST - 1001

Blues Beneath the Surface cover

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This album was originally manufactured to Lp. You will remember Lps.
They seem like an antiquated format now, but it's helpful to remember what
a vast improvement they were over those old leather records. ~ Geoff


Blues Beneath the Surface (1984) is the first recording by Geoff Bartley. Reissued on CD in 1994 by Swallowtail Records in Minneapolis, Blues Beneath the Surface showcases Bartley's signature touch on hot blues (Blues Beneath the Surface, Hallelujah, Nadine, Back in Your Arms Again), poignant love songs (Who Should Know, Light on the Earth, Up Here with the Moon), humor (Bozos on the Road, Bullfrogs on Your Mind), and personal explorations of the inner world with a distinct mystical edge (The Language of Stones, Tell It Like It Is).

Several of Bartley's songs from this project have been recorded by other artists, and the title instrumental was awarded a top prize in Performance by the 1998 Billboard Magazine Song Contest. Five bonus songs were added when the LP was reissued on CD. Production treatments ranging from solo acoustic guitar to full band and the use of some unusual instruments make this varied 17-song collection an excellent introduction to Geoff Bartley's work.

The Songs...

Lyrics for songs marked with *asterisks* can be found at Selected Song Lyrics

  1. Hallelujah I Just Love Her So (Ray Charles)
  2. King Jelly's Good Morning Irene Song (Bill Morrissey)
  3. It'll Be Me (Jack Clement, arr. by Paul Rishell)
  4. Blues Beneath the Surface (G. Bartley, guitar instrumental)
  5. Don't Want to Know (John Martyn)
  6. Up Here with the Moon (G. Bartley)
  7. Praying Mantis (G. Bartley, instrumental)
  8. *Bozos on the Road (G. Bartley)*
  9. Nadine (Chuck Berry)
  10. First Ride (Don Ross, guitar instrumental)
  11. *On the Run Too Long (G. Bartley)*
  12. Bullfrogs on Your Mind (P.D., arr. & add. verses by G. Bartley)
  13. Back in Your Arms Again (G. Bartley)
  14. Light on the Earth (G. Bartley)
  15. *Who Should Know (G. Bartley)*
  16. *The Language of Stones (G. Bartley)*
  17. Tell It Like It Is (G. Bartley)

The Players

Tim Wells, Joshua Levin-Epstein; upright bass

Seth Connelly, Tom Carr; electric bass guitars

Orrin Star; acoustic guitar solo on King Jelly

Mike Turk; chromatic harmonica on Don't Want to Know

Steve Adams; soprano/alto/tenor/baritone saxes on King Jelly, soprano sax on On the Run Too Long & Who Should Know.

Aaron Heick; alto sax on It'll Be Me

Geoff; vocals, acoustic guitar, high-string acoustic guitar, electric guitar, electric bass guitar, e-bow, kalimba, ocarina, harmonica, backing vocals, & drum machine (Praying Mantis, Bozos, & Language of Stones)

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From the liner notes...

We burn out on this country carnival pretty fast. Too much rollercoaster. Too much hot butted pupcon and too much cherry smash. Too cheap and too loud. Why did we come? We decide to chuck it, a unanimous decision of two. Into the Lincoln and fire that sucker up... just the sound of the beast quiets my nerves. The Lincoln is a 1952 two-door sedan with a porky V-8, fast enough to chase dreams, and cool as the other side of the pillow at 70, with fat bench seats front and rear. A sleek bomb of a vehicle planted soundly in this farmer's field, heavy as a lead frog. A car you could get pregnant in. Secure from lightning, tornadoes, and locusts. A haven in the maelstrom that is modern living. Refuge from carnivals. I fire the sucker up and sure enough the exhaust flattens some bunches of weeds. We make a little hurricane of gravel and dust swinging her out into the thick August night.

Slipping the gravity pull of crowds we feel small weights fall from us. Free at last! Rubies and yellow diamonds slip away and away. We leave the bright lights in the distance, reeling out the miles like a great brown trout lip-hooked on a Henryville Special. Our talk drops off and we dream in the dashboard glow and FM drift, floating disembodied in the white noise of motion.

On route 2 west the towns haven't moved. Drury. Florida. North Adams. Williamstown. The Berkshires smell like apples and Canada prairie. Maybe there is arctic pollen in this magical air. Wolves' breath. Vapor from the tears of my childhood. Wanderlust for sure. We slice south and west across the southern tier of New York on route 88. Always south and west, until the ocean will stop us. By morning we are somewhere in Pennsylvania. Dinosaur bones and Miocene oyster shells pushing up miles and miles of cornfields. We plunge deep into one, away down a tractor road so shrouded in black shadow that we think we could hide out here like gypsies, reveling undiscovered til fall, and you go suddenly wonderful, gypsy-crazed, dancing naked on the hood of the Lincoln, arms and legs flailing like Diva dancing to Blood Ulmer, with spit on your teeth, your mouth open red as a wound, and I think that God must be female.

In the evening you spot Venus low on the horizon, but rising true blue. You tell me to make a wish and I don't tell you, but you know what I wish? I wish for all my flying dreams back.

copyright Geoff Bartley 1984 & 1994
Published by Joshua Omar's Music BMI
All Rights Reserved


Geoff and plane

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