Allen Ginsberg's Songs Of Innocence and Experience Expanded For Reissue

04-18-2017
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Allen Ginsberg

Allen Ginsberg's original 1970 MGM album Songs of Innocence and Experience will be expanded for a special reissue on June 23rd which will be the first time the album will be released in the CD and digital formats.

The classic album featured Ginsberg singing the poetry of the English Romantic William Blake, and the special reissue will also include a second disc of rarities and previously unissued songs.

We were sent these background details: Lester Bangs, writing in Rolling Stone magazine, said the album was "like a labor of love, a salute from a young visionary to an ancient sage."

Complied by producer Pat Thomas (who also worked on the 2016 Ginsberg reissue The Last Word on First Blues), the forthcoming double CD package includes a new essay by Thomas, who tracked down several of the original musicians (never before interviewed) for this project, uncovering rare session photos as well.

Allen Ginsberg began "tuning" Blake's poetry in 1968 (inspired by attending the tumultuous protests at that year's Democratic Convention in Chicago), but the origin of the album dates back to a 1948 vision, or "auditory illumination" as Ginsberg called it, of Blake reciting poetry to him in his Spanish Harlem apartment. Moved by this, Ginsberg began to set Blake's poetry to music. In 1969, he began recording the results with Peter Orlovsky and jazz legends Bob Dorough, Don Cherry, and Elvin Jones. Nineteen of those songs were released the following year as Songs of Innocence and Experience. In addition to the original LP, Omnivore's set adds two previously unissued tracks: an alternate take and a song intended for the record but left off due to time constraints.

But that is not where the story ends. In 1971, Ginsberg returned to Blake, recording 11 songs in San Francisco with avant-garde cellist Arthur Russell - four of which were never issued. The ensemble also recorded three Tibetan mantras with a Buddhist choir, resulting in a full-on psychedelic East-West experience - also all previously unissued. This material comprises a second CD, truly making this Complete. With restoration and mastering from Grammyฎ-winner Michael Graves, the tracks sound timeless.

Blake's writings from the late 18th century and Ginsberg's interpretations from the 20th come full circle in the 21st century's The Complete Songs of Innocence and Experience.

DISC 1: SONGS OF INNOCENCE
1. (a) Introduction
(b) The Shepherd
2. The Ecchoing Green
3. The Lamb
4. The Little Black Boy
5. The Blossom
6. The Chimney Sweeper
7. (a) The Little Boy Lost
(b) The Little Boy Found
8. Laughing Song
9. Holy Thursday
10. Night
SONGS OF EXPERIENCE
11. Introduction
12. Nurses Song
13. The Sick Rose
14. Ah! Sun-Flower
15. The Garden Of Love
16. London
17. The Human Abstract
18. To Tirzah
19. The Grey Monk
BONUS TRACKS:
20. The Grey Monk (Alternate Take)*
21. Brothels Of Paris*

DISC 2: BLAKE SONGS
1. A Cradle Song
2. The Divine Image*
3. Spring*
4. Nurses Song*
5. Infant Joy
6. A Dream
7. On Another Sorrow
8. Holy Thursday*
9. The Fly
10. The School Boy
11. The Voice Of The Ancient Bard
MANTRAS
12. Padmasambhava Mantra*
13. Om Namah Shivaye*
14. Roghupati Raghava*
* Previously Unissued

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