Light in the Attic Shine Light on Mysterious Folk Singer Jim Sullivan with Double Reissue (ALBUM REVIEW)

Some 40-odd years after his mysterious disappearance, Jim Sullivan is finally getting the fame that he worked so hard for in the sixties and seventies. This can be attributed to the reissue of his debut album U.F.O. being sent to a member of the record subscription service Vinyl Me, Please as their record of the month. The reissue, in partnership with Light in the Attic, brought the little known psych-folk singer into the periphery of music fans along with the mystery surrounding his disappearance. Traveling from L.A. to Nashville in 1975, Sullivan went missing after leaving his VW bug behind along with his guitar, his ID and a box of his two albums, U.F.O. and his self-titled release. In addition to the reissue of U.F.O., Light in the Attic have reissued, for the first time, his 1972 self-titled album as well as If the Evening Were Dawn, as a collection of acoustic demos.

Where U.F.O. was largely country psych-folk, his self-titled album, released on the short-lived Playboy Records, has a much more pop and blues fueled sound. Even though U.F.O. was recorded with the legendary session group The Wrecking Crew, it failed to garner much attention and Sullivan needed a hit. He returned to the studio after being signed by Hugh Hefner’s new record label and recorded his second album. Though the music shares a common thread with U.F.O., Sullivan added horns and string arrangements on his new album and many of the songs seem more in the vein of Harry Nilsson than The Byrds. However, even with a different sound, Sullivan still failed to get a hit record. It can be attributed, mostly, to record stores not quite knowing what to do with a record put out by Playboy Magazine and a lack of marketing on Hefner’s company’s part. 

The second album seeing a reissue is a 10-song collection of solo acoustic tracks that Sullivan made in ’69. Sullivan’s wife has stated that the demos were a sketch for an album that he wanted to release and about half the songs ended up making it onto U.F.O. The album is interesting in that it provides the listener a glimpse into to what it would have sounded like to catch Sullivan in one of the many clubs that he played in while trying to catch a break. The stripped-down songs are obviously not as polished as they would end up being later on but are like an unpolished gem for fans of Sullivan.

Both albums have been given the full reissue treatment from Light in the Attic. Where this is the first-ever reissue of Sullivan’s second album, If the Evening Were Dawn is seeing the light of day for the very first time. Both albums were mastered from the original analog tapes, both in include a “tip on” jacket with embossing and were pressed at RTI. For both long-time fans and new listeners, these albums are well worth adding to your collection. 

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