"At sixteen anything seemed possible."
Jeff Moore wrote that about an ambitious high school project of his that by rights should have ended up in the dumpsters but instead turned out to be a holy grail to collectors of obscure psych-folk. Moore had only just learned to play guitar a year earlier, but somehow the precocious teenager from Toronto's northern fringes got the almost unheard-of idea - well, at least in 1974 when the rock and roll planet was still inhabited by arena rock behemoths and heavy metal dinosaurs - of making an LP that was independently recorded, designed, pressed and distributed.
"I organized everything and I do mean everything," he would later boast. "The album art, the studio which was in downtown Toronto, the printer and the presser who had never had a private client before...all were arranged and fleshed out by kids with a common vision."
It may be a bit of a stretch to call The Youngest Son a revelation. Its muddy production and past-its-best-before-date hippie vibe hardly suggest a classic in the making. Moore didn't even have a band at the time and needed to solicit his friends - hence the adjunct 'and Friends' - to help out. And with only about twenty minutes of songs, he had to ask around for other contributors, eventually settling on the silky-throated Christina Becker, whose two contributions are easily the best cuts on the record.
That said, The Youngest Son at least deserves to be heard, if only for songs like Becker's infectious 'Flying So High', which in more professional hands could have been fleshed out into something with a little more chart trajectory. Or perhaps Moore's impossibly subdued 'Is It You', a laconic, flute-flecked downer of a tune that sounds more like incidental funeral music than anything suburban teens should be listening to.
The Youngest Son was pressed up in an impossibly small run of 99 copies, so you will likely never see one of these in your collection. Originals exchange hands for about a grand these days, but mere mortals can easily track down Yoga Records' CD reissue from 2009.
I remember the sunny afternoon I sat in a high school marketing class trying to think of a project to do. One year earlier I had learned to play guitar and write songs and I thought why not make an album for my project At that time in the world an independent album was unheard of but to me it seemed like a challenge.
I was not trying to become a rock star, I just wanted to share my music and have fun doing it. At sixteen anything seemed possible. Gathering a few of my friends, we began to conspire. The emotional title song was taken from my experience of being the youngest of four and eventually became the name of the album.
I had no band but I knew a lot of musicians so I asked them to come along. I organized everything and I do mean everything. Which was a lot of work but it was a great excuse to miss classes. Each piece became a mini project of it's own. The album art, the studio which was in downtown Toronto, the printer and the presser who had never had a private client before. All were arranged and fleshed out by kids with a common vision.
Without my friends helping me none of it would have been possible so that is why the credit on the cover says "Jeff Moore and Friends". After things got going I realized I probably did not have enough music to fill an album so I decided to ask around to see if anyone wanted to do some of their own music on the album. AJ, from my marketing class played guitar in a small band that had a lead singer songwriter named Christina Becker.
Her tunes were great and she fit right in even though she went to a different school we worked it all out. She almost got a record contract from what she did on the album! We had no money so we presold some albums to get enough to print the covers, pay for the studio and press the record. I think the total budget was about a thousand dollars. Everybody worked on the album for free and that was great. A lot of love was contributed by all and for that I will always be thankful. After choosing the players and arranging the music then the job of producing the music fell back to me.
In the studio I used a lot of time producing Christina's stuff which I made sure sounded great but since we were running out of time I left my vocals until late that night. However we did it all in two days and now I realize that was an awesome thing. To this day I still play those tunes and enjoy them! This album changed my life in a lot of ways. I learned how to collaborate and negotiate. I learned that people are looking for things to do and if you can share a vision with them they most likely will help. I learned that the bonds of creating things together last a lifetime and the outcome outweighs the work.
After the album I pursued my musical career in bars for the next five years. When I became a Christian at age twenty one I started playing in churches and still do so. Even now the highlight of any week is when I get the chance to sing and play and to somehow make a difference in people's lives. The greatest high was the fact that my songs were being listened to by people who liked them.
The funniest moment was when we were taking the album covers to the record pressers and ran out of gas so we had to push Donna's Delta 88. The worse moment was not having enough studio time but somehow the raw and real nature of the songs came out. I was sixteen and drowning in angst. Doing this album was a real turning point and a coming of age for me. Thanks for your interest and encouragement
Described as moody teen folk, one of the ultimate grails of Canadian folk. The vibe is so subdued, the fidelity so low, the sentiments so pure. The album features two singers, Jeff Moore and Christina Becker, doing their own separate, equally engaging things. Sadly, these eight tracks represent everything these two did on tape.
Silk-screened cover, privately pressed, 99 copies pressed. The music was originally conceived as a high school project for Bayview Secondary School in Toronto. Re-issued as bootleg on vinyl by Orange Doubledome in 2003 with authorized re-issues on CD by Riverman Records in South Korea in 2008 and again by Yoga Records in the USA in 2009.
Jeff Moore: lead vocals, acoustic guitar
Christina Becker: lead vocals, acoustic guitar
Dave Beattie: backround vocals, acoustic guitar
Jim Linderman: backround vocals, acoustic guitar
Judy Imeson: alto saxophone, baritone saxophone
Wendy Jones: flute
Paul McDonald: percussion
A.J. Smitheram: electric guitar
Dave Berard: bass
cover design by Wayne Hillaby
-sealed copy shown
buy the album here: http://jeffmoore.bandcamp.com/album/the-youngest-son