Shawn Phillips – Collaboration A&M SP 4324 (1971)
A bit too hippie-dippy at times, there is an over-abundance of gimmicks in the vocals, and the lyrics often fall flat or provoke half a cringe, but there is a lot to admire in the musical innovations here. Phillips takes folk and throws it together with prog rock, with touches of jazz and classical. This album is titled Collaboration and the jacket describes it as a collaboration by Shawn Phillips with Paul Buckmaster and Peter Robinson. Buckmaster does some amazing things. The song “Us We Are” includes orchestration, but it is so subtle and organic that the string and horn orchestrations are already well underway before they are noticeable! Songs like “Moonshine” have some nice keyboards from Robinson too, with a dexterity and morose ease that works very well. The side one closer “Armed” brings all the instrumentalists’ talents together best. So, while Collaboration has its appeal, it is perhaps a step down from Second Contribution, which is much more consistent even if somewhat less daring or innovative. It might have been better with an additional collaborator to handle lyrics and vocals.