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Michael Hurley

Armchair Boogie

FDR 603
Release Notes
  • First ever CD reissue
  • Remastered by J.J. Golden (Golden Mastering) from the original master tapes
  • Deluxe Stoughton gatefold CD “tip-on” jacket
  • Includes 36 page reproduction of original cartoon book by Hurley — courtesy of Jeff Gold at www.recordmecca.com
Armchair Boogie
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Armchair Boogie
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Michael Hurley is a singularly unusual singer, guitarist and artist. Following our recent re-issues of Hurley’s three albums for Rounder Records, 1975’s Have Moicy (LITA 061), 1976’s Long Journey (LITA 062) and 1980’s Snockgrass (LITA 063) we are now set to revisit some of Hurley’s earliest solo works: 1971’s Armchair Boogie and Hi Fi Snock Uptown.

Recorded with Jesse Colin Young, Armchair Boogie is Hurley’s debut album proper, and the one in which he set out his stall as purveyor of charming, homely, folksy songs. It is, essentially, 14 songs about love and strange things – werewolves (‘Werewolf’), institutionalized English gentry (‘English Nobleman’) and aquatic birds (‘Penguin’) all appear. Credited to Michael Hurley and pals, Young is among the friends who appear. Largely acoustic, it features little more than the sound of Hurley’s guitar and voice and the occasional mouth trumpet.

This is the highly sought-after album sounding better than it ever has. It comes with a 36 page facsimile reproduction of the cartoon book drawn by Hurley, who does all his own artwork, this time following the exploits of two hick wolves named Jocko and Boone. It’s housed in a deluxe, gatefold, tip-on jacket.

Born in 1941 in Bucks County, Pennsylvania, Hurley moved to New York in the early ‘60s, where he began making his name on the subversive Greenwich Village folk scene before contracting mono and spending years in and out of hospital. Back in health, he was discovered by blues and jazz historian Frederick Ramsey III and subsequently championed by boyhood friend Jesse Colin Young, he recorded his debut album, 1964’s First Songs for Folkways, on the same reel-to-reel machine that taped Lead Belly’s Last Sessions. Its songs were borrowed by Holy Modal Rounders and The Youngbloods, the latter signing Hurley to their Raccoon imprint and releasing his next two albums. The singer-songwriter came into his own recording those warm, eccentric records, colored as they are by fantastic characters, charming Americana and homemade blues.

Recently returning with new material on Devendra Banhart’s and Andy Cabic’s label Gnomonsong, it’s easy to see why Banhart would identify with Hurley – his lineage stretches to any modern performer of skewed blues, country, lo-fi and Americana. No wonder he’s won high praise from younger performers like Lucinda Williams, Vic Chesnutt, Calexico, and Cat Power.