Seeing as he was from the same scene Bob Dylan hailed from, the New York Greenwich Village folk scene, there are clear similarities in style. The album, simply called David Blue, was released in 1966, shortly after Dylan’s release of Blonde on Blonde, and there is a similar surf garage folk sound. However, there are many influences upon this album, particularly from the psychedelic West-Coast scene. One comes from their Elektra peers, Love, the jangling guitars and beats being an obvious reference to Love’s self titled debut. Grateful Dead also had a huge influence on the sound of David’s first album; the quiet undertones offered by the organ and the bluegrass folk rhythms both show this. As with many artists, despite David Blue’s popularity at the time, his name became obscured in the void of time, overcast by other highly influential and successful musicians from the scene like Bob Dylan and Pete Seeger.
David Blue is a spectacular piece of work. Throughout the album it is obvious that the musicians playing know what they are doing; the tight rhythm section of the bassist and drummer drive the songs along- though this is not always needed, it is certainly in this style. Even David’s guitar playing, though not great, is still well coordinated, and what he plays is no more than what needs to be played. David Blue’s voice is surely one of the highlights of the album. Although his range is rarely pushed (mostly just on the ballads, such as Midnight through Morning, possibly my favourite song on the album) he has a fantastic tone whilst singing. Similar to Bob Dylan, but also sharing some of the drawl qualities of Jerry Garcia, he is very accurate and confident in what he sings.
This album was just the start of his career…David progressed into more avant-garde rock music on his next album, These 23 Days in September, with his own band The American Patrol. There is a similar ‘complete’ feel to the arrangements, and the album keeps up David Blue’s romantic lyrics and melodies. It is a shame he has not become more popular; however, he has always been an influence on the musicians in the same scene, as Leonard Cohen once said:
“David Blue was the peer of any singer in this country, and he knew it.”