6/6/17 – Terry Callier “What Color Is Love” (1972)

Terry Callier was a Folk/Soul Singer-Songwriter that is criminally underrated and unknown. His best work was on the 70s, but he never made it among the sea of other talented Soul artists. What Color Is Love is my favorite of his, and belongs in the best of that era. This was just a random stumble upon but I fell in love with it on my first listen. Terry Callier has a uncanny voice for story telling, his music is enchanting and mesmerizing like a tale told over a bonfire. His mix of Folk and Soul is so natural it doesn’t sound out of place in either genre.

Dancing Girl starts off the album with an epic song of love and loss, morphing through different keys and styles completely seamlessly. Like a dream he recalls his visions of a mysterious dancing girl, and that unending yearn for freedom of time and space. Halfway through the song Charlie Parker comes into focus, and the passion in his voice gives me chills every time, especially with the lines:
“Meanwhile in the ghetto’s dust and gloom
Bird is blowin’ in his room
All those notes (x3)
Won’t take the pain away
And man, you’ll surely come to harm
With that needle all up in your arm
And dope will never turn the night to day”

After the dreamy eponymous track comes one of my favorite songs of all time, You Goin’ Miss Your Candyman. A commanding bass opens the song and infects your soul, along with the rest of the band to come in soon after. The hypnotic acoustic guitar is echoed by Callier’s chanting choruses, but the song doesn’t stay still at all. He ramps up and breaks down tension so smoothly that it never feels redundant. It’s an amazingly repeatable song, complete with biting, bitter lyrics. He slows down everything with the Soul ballad Just as Long as We’re in Love, and it sets up for his more Soul centered half of the album. I’d Rather Be with You is the perfect blend of Folk and Soul, a lonely harmonica bridges the gap surprisingly well. The sweeping orchestra that backs Callier on the choruses are just a perfect match, they really showcase his amazing singing. He ends with You Don’t Care, a song where there’s no vocals apart from a trio of female singers chanting “you don’t care” again and again. It’s interesting to see a nearly instrumental track, and it makes for one of the saddest songs on the album. It’s like he stripped away everything but the blunt honesty. What Color Is Love is an outstanding album that music fans need to have in their repertoire.