Recently Purchased: The Farm's Earth Music


In 1972, future senator Al Gore, on assignment for The Nashville Tennessean, visited a recently established commune, The Farm, located in Summertown, Tennessee and headed by a former English professor from California, Stephen Gaskin. Somehow, the original 300 members found time that year, in between tending to crops, animals, children and their own nutritional-yeast mail-order company, to start a band, the Farm, and release a double LP of homegrown jams, recorded live in a studio and also called The Farm (Riverman Music, reissue). The vibe is an inspired-amateur spin on Workingman's Dead, with more flute solos and group-hug vocals in awkwardly earnest songs about extended-family bonds and putting shoulders to the plows ("Loving You," "Keep Your Head Up High"). But there is a high that gently eclipses the naivete, a utopian determination that suits the rural-Youngbloods charm and extended grooving — "Being Here With You," with its guitar and violin dueling, has the aura of a period gig by It's a Beautiful Day. The music is of its time, but the commune is still blooming — the Farm celebrates its 40th anniversary next year.

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David Fricke

Rolling Stone senior writer David Fricke has more than 10,000 albums in his New York apartment. His first record review for the magazine was Frank Zappa's 'Sheik Yerbouti' (RS 290).

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