Tom Rapp, with three high school friends in the mid-60s, formed Pearls Before Swine – a “psychedelic folk group” – and were initially signed to ESP Disk, for whom they recorded two albums that hovered somewhat on the periphery of pop (although “I Saw the World” from second album, Balaklava, is a wonderful single ripe for rediscovery).
By the time Pearls Before Swine had recorded their third album, These Things Too in 1969 – first with new label, Reprise – the original members had left, thus the band name now referred to Rapp and his musical support personnel. “Sail Away,” the album’s 2nd track, prompted one YouTube commenter to ask mischievously: “Tom Rapp does singles?”:
[Pssst: Click on the triangle above to play “Sail Away” by Pearls Before Swine.]
With its swirling harp and dreamy final chorus, “Sail Away,” curiously, did not get issued for single release by Reprise but rather the title track b/w “If You Don’t Want to (I Don’t Mind).”
Pearls Before Swine is/was
Tom Rapp: guitar/vocal
Wayne Harley: banjo/harmony vocal
Jim Fairs: guitar/celeste/harmony vocal
Additional musical support provided by Bill Salter (bass), Grady Tate (drums) and Richard Greene (electric violin).
Produced by Richard Alderson (along with Fairs) and recorded in NYC at Impact Sound – Alderson’s own studio that was primarily backed by Harry Belafonte.
Update on Rapp
Intriguing to learn that Tom Rapp’s offbeat music, which is being rediscovered by new generations all over the world, was also – back in 1968 – being distributed as far away as New Zealand and Italy. Excellent interview with Tom Rapp on It’s Psychedelic Baby that delves into both his music career and subsequent success as a civil rights attorney.