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SHAWN PHILLIPS - Contribution LP

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Shawn Phillips' first major album, recorded in 1968 with help from the members of Traffic, among others, is a condensation of a far more ambitious studio original that was intended to fill three LPs. The range of sounds on this record is shockingly diverse, from breezy folk-rock ('Man Hole Covered Wagon') to pieces incorporating classical guitar and phantasmagoric lyrics ('L Ballade' finds Phillips' at his most Donovan-like, but with a better voice), and, in between, bouncy throwaways ('Not Quite Nonsense'), bejeweled sitar-ornamented pieces ('Withered Roses'), and topical songs ('For RFK, JFK and MLK'). If 'Contribution' had come out in 1968 when it was recorded, it probably would have been lost in the shuffle of ambient psychedelia; as it was, it was so quiet and different from the noise of most of what was released in 1970 that critics took notice. 'Contribution' is a superb debut, mixing progressive rock and folk sounds in a manner unique to its time.