Monday, May 09, 2016


The last gasp from The Ivy League Trio has turned out to be an enduring death rattle, the lp "Folk Songs from the World of Edgar Allan Poe."

The trio had been signed to Decca's Coral label, and given a chance with two albums and a pair of peculiar singles (disappointing material not on their two fine long-players). A few years later, and with Ronn Langford replacing Bev Galloway as the bass voice, they somehow got a deal with Reprise to record an album of songs based on Poe's stories and poems.

The "Famous Monsters of Filmland" horror craze was still going on (the album was even sold via an ad in the back of that magazine) and folk acts were still popular (including Peter Paul and Mary). Somehow this fine album didn't quite get the attention it deserved.

At least one fan (Greg Kihn) has listed this as a very influential album. He recorded a kind of homage to Edgar A. Poe (as he billed himself, never EDGAR ALLAN POE) via an update of the poem "Annabel Lee." In his semi-retirement from rock, Kihn found an interest in writing horror novels.

As for the Trio, two survive: Langford's had a lucrative career in the world of car racing, and Bob Hider became a skilled photographer.

The Ivy League Trio re-wrote and excellently arranged the original material given them by their new record label. The album ranges from poignant ("Eleanora") to spooky ("House of Usher") to ludicrous ("Tell-Tale Heart" re-written as a Western!) to "The Pit and the Pendulum" which falls in between. It combines lusty folk balladry with over-the-top guignol as one might expect (and even demand).

The "Pit and the Pendulum" is actually well-suited to an under 3-minute treatment. The basic horror is a guy strapped down and looking up at a swinging, ever-lowering, sharpened pendulum. How do you stretch out a short story like that into a feature film? Roger Corman tried (so we include Vincent Price in the photo above) but he had to add a lot of filler. Ironically, one of the better if more obscure versions was "Teat and the Pendulum" from the 80's porn mill TAO. Their ten minute 8mm version featured a very busty and jiggly nude!

"Folk Ballads..." is one of the finest ill folk song albums, and if you like "Pit and the Pendulum" then reward the record dealer who has been waiting for years to unload it on someone, cheap.


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