Eric Andersen advised all fellow singer/songwriter types at McCabe's on Friday to follow his lead and let recordings age for 18 years prior to public consumption. "It's like wine, y'know," he said, "as long as you don't get hit by a heavy frost or something."
Andersen's "Stages" LP was indeed wrapped up in early '73, but--in one of those rock 'n' roll stories too good or too sad to make up--the master tapes disappeared between Columbia's Nashville and New York offices, and surfaced in a label vault search only last year. Newly released in its original form with a few fresh tracks tacked on, "Stages" isn't quite the perfected, fine vin rouge that hard-core Andersen fans might suggest, but it has some strong material unworthy of terminal tape oxidation.
Album and show alike served as a reminder that, in folk, Andersen stood as a midway man between the schools of sensitivity (in response to a request, he joked that "James Taylor wrote that song") and Continental sophistication (he was a contemporary of Dylan's). Delivered in his low, approaching-Zevonesque voice, a great line in the opening "Baby, I'm Lonesome"--"I'd rather lose you than lose your feeling for me"--had new, topical meaning, what with "lost" albums and timeless emotions the matters at hand.
Andersen was joined for an encore of "Blue River" by pal Joni Mitchell, who stuck around to sing "Cherokee Louise" and a jazzy version of James Brown's 1986 near-hit "How Do You Stop."