Songs For Laura 1974 [no label 1CD; torrent 80167]

"This is an interesting piece of "curiosa". In 1998, Brad, a member of the old Jonathan mailing list, was playing a CD of his favorite artist when his girlfriend named Laura came to his place and said "this sounds like Jonathan". Sure it did, Laura explained that she had got a recorded cassette from that guy Jonathan ages ago (24 years actually) and had never realized he was a singer, but she managed to find the tape for Brad who distributed it to the other members of the mailing list.. The recording and production is homemade by Jonathan, his mike falls down once in a while. If you ever dreamed of hearing Jonathan singing "I'm singing in the rain" , here it is .." VG homemade recording.

The background to this disc is fascinating - the music even more so. In 1974, after all, Richman was both mourning the end of his Warner Brothers career, and anticipating the rebirth that would be spelled out by Beserkley. The performances here, however, can best be described as demos of demos, starkly cracked acoustic run-throughs of what were obviously his latest compositions. Plus a version of "Singing In The Rain" that might as well be one.

"Government Center," "New Teller" and "Kumbaya" bookend a handful of unfamiliar numbers - one about thunderbolts, one about a girlfriend's pristine honesty, one about meeting her parents, and so on… and all interspersed with asides to the tape's recipient, Laura, Richman's comments on the songs, and even an apology for the trials of trying to find a place to balance the microphone. "You have no idea how difficult this is!"

A very prototypical "Ice Cream Man" is revealed in "Hi Fred," while Richman's love of oldies explodes through "Flying Saucers Rock'n'Roll," complete with unscheduled broken string incident. Eleven songs altogether, and as pure and personal a performance as any Richman set you could name. A magical discovery! - Dave Thompson

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