Thursday, March 15, 2007

Michael Styers - Bearing a Gentle Message (1980)

This record gets described as acid-folk by record dealers (but then again they'll describe almost anything as acid-folk these days). It does have some trippy moments and certainly the lyrics (involving Pan, Merlin & willow trees) fit it with the whole acid-folk aesthetic, but the music is probably better categorized as rural folk-rock and (at times) country-rock. compares it to Gary Higgins, and while I like Higgins' record better there are points of similarity. Styers is certainly a more-than-component guitarist and his backup group (which features cello & bouzouki among more traditional rock instruments) is strong. The record was recorded in Chapel Hill, NC in 1980 and released the same year as private press lp (500 copies pressed). It's not easy to find and (like a lot of private press psych) will probably be over-priced if do locate a copy.
Here's a tracklist (7 and 8 are bundled together on this rip):
1. Michael Styers - Bearing a Gentle Message
2. Michael Styers - Jaguars in the Jungle
3. Michael Styers - Poppies-Willows
4. Michael Styers - Merlin the Magik
5. Michael Styers - Upper Black Eddy
6. Michael Styers - In Time
7 & 8. Michael Styers - Summer Evening's Chant--Pan's Door
9. Michael Styers - Flora
10. Michael Styers - Another Pretty Song
It is ripped from vinyl and encoded at 320k (which makes for a somewhat large file). Thanks again to the WMUC record library.
The music is available on s-ndspace and d-vshare


Unknown said...

I played music with Michael and Michelle Styers in the 1980s and early 90s in Charlotte, NC. They're amazing musicans and vocalists, both. I am ever grateful for all they taught me. It's great to see "Bearing a Gentle Message" is still known and admired.

Anonymous said...

What exactly do you mean by over-priced? If supply and demand dictates cost, then how could a record that his daughter doesn't even have be "over priced"? There are only a handful of these albums in existance; and as I stated, I don't have one. If you don't like the music, I understand. But if you do- and it happens to be this hard to come by- you'll have to pay what it costs. I would, since I ruined both my copies when I was too young to know how to handle a record.

Pinna Styers (Michael's daughter)

Max said...

Hi Pinna,
Point taken. I should have just said "very expensive." In general, I'm bothered by the way record sellers drive up the prices on out-of-print records but, yes, this is an excellent lp and worth paying for. It would be better however if a reissue where available that would make it affordable to a wider audience, because music should be heard and not just kept in a collection where it's value prohibits the actual playing of the lp, which happens far too often. I don't own a copy of this either--I recorded the copy in the WMUC record library--or else I would offer you mine, as his daughter you should certainly have one. I hope you enjoy listening here.

Anonymous said...

Hi Max,
Thanks for the kindness. My dad does have the DAT, so, it is possible to make a CD. I do have that, but for technical reasons the music is sped up on CD format. I think it had to happen to fit everything on one disc. And the sound is very quiet. But, it's playable, and that is all we care about.

Pinna Styers

Michael has been in contact with Mark Harrison lately and they are talking about "stuff". But they think reissuing the albums is a waste of time and money. I wish my father had more recorded. I'm sure there are many musicians of his stature that will not leave behind an accurate portrayal of their skills, vision and sound. I wish there was more funding to give people like that a chance.

I'd love to see Michael, Michelle, and Mark in the studio with Michael Hurley again. They all still talk from time to time. These days it's a rare event when my friends and family gather round and listen to Michael and Michelle around the fire. They are so good that the silence of the people listening is always profound. I guess obscurity is where many lights will always shine. Thanks for the forum.