Mayo Thompson is an American musician originally from Houston, Texas, and is known for co-founding and being the only consistent member of The Red Krayola, which was first formed in 1966. This album, Corky’s Debt to His Father (1970), is Thompson’s only solo release, and was only available via mail order from a small independent label, Texas Revolution, when it was first released. The Glass record label reissued the album in the mid-1980s, and the Drag City record label reissued the album in more recent years. The album seems to be both highly acclaimed and often overlooked based on blurbs from The New Yorker, the Chicago Reader, and LA Weekly on the album’s Wikipedia page. I’m pretty stoked to give this album a listen, so with that said, I’m going to jump on into the music.
“The Lesson” starts out right away with a really interesting, earthy, folksy, and bluesy medley of twang from multiple guitars and Thompson’s vocals. Holy smokes, some organs are added to the soundscape, and has hooked me even further into the song. The song is some strange, country folk version of a Robert Wyatt or a Brian Eno song, and I’m really digging the overall sound. The twang of the acoustic guitars with the country bass line beneath has me completely interested. Great track, and I’m excited to hear more.
“Oyster Thins” starts out with some strange guitar work that walks a line between jazz and folk, with an earthy country folk timbre, and is accompanied by some meandering vocals that bring about a sort of rambling folk style. Oh wow, some drums, bass, and piano have also joined in the soundscape, which has created a really interesting vaudeville ragtime sort of sound that seems vaguely influenced by jazz. Oh wow, this song is super groovy. The track seems to have wandering into a sort of psychedelic country rock territory, and I’m really digging the sound. Oh wow, the song seems to pause for a moment before being reintroduced with a folksy-inflection that leads back into that vaudeville rag sound. Wow, great track.
“Horses” starts out with a sort of strange percussive sound that sends the track into a gallop created by the interplay between the drums and bass line, almost sounding like you’re in the old west and making some sort of getaway on your trusty steed. Oh wow, the piano brings a bit more of that ragtime sound with a bit of a country rock-inflection. Oh wow, the acoustic guitar lick during the break in the track brings a sort of jazz-inflected flamenco sound that I really dig. Wow, great track.
“Dear Betty Baby” starts out with an interesting droning quality created with the vocals and the repetitive bass line. Oh wow, there’s a really sweet folksy sound between the vocals and the acoustic guitar, which is made even sweeter by the horns that gradually swell in from the background. Oh wow, the instrumentation seems to continually lift the soundscape to new levels. I’m reminded a lot of Neutral Milk Hotel’s album, In the Aeroplane Over the Sea (1998), with this particular song. Wow, great track.
“Venus In the Morning” starts out with some strong and wet-sounding country rock piano chords, while the drums and electric guitar gradually pick up in intensity alongside the vocals. It might be because of the song name, but I’m kind of reminded of Shocking Blue’s song, “Venus”. The track seems to be gradually picking up psychedelia that blends nicely with the country rock sound of the track really nicely. Great tune.
Oh wow, “To You” starts out immediately with some vocals, a thick bass line, and some percussion that almost has a bit of a tabla sort of sound. Oh wow, horns gradually swell in from the background as cymbals begin to join the soundscape. Oh wow, the electric guitar that comes in has a sort of rockabilly twang that I’m digging a lot. Oh wow, the piano at the end of the track really caught my ear nicely. Great track.
“Fortune” gets grooving right away with some vocals, piano, and drums that set a really groovy country folk rock sort of sound that I’m really digging. Oh wow, the acoustic guitar strumming adds a sweet and light layer to the soundscape, while the bass guitar has a classic country rock sound that grooves the tune along nicely. Great tune.
“Black Legs” starts out with some gradually meandering solo acoustic guitar that reminds me of “Black Peter” by the Grateful Dead. Oh wow, the vocals come in with a sort of meandering and somewhat somber tone that also remind me of “Black Peter” even more. Holy smokes, I’m starting to wonder if this song and “Black Peter” were inspired by a similar song, or if one was inspired by the other, as even the somewhat similar name along with the meandering and somewhat somber quality of the vocals and guitar bear a striking resemblance to one another. Wow, great track.
Holy smokes, “Good Brisk Blues” gets started with some super groovy country rock/bluesy sounds with the sturdy backbeat, rollicking piano, and some super groovy and twangy guitar work, while the strumming of an acoustic guitar and the smooth, rockin’ bass line move the tune along nicely. Holy smokes, the jam in the outro of the track is super sweet, and continually pulls me further into the song even as it fades away. Great track.
“Around the Home” begins with a very strange conglomeration of sweet chorus vocals in the background alongside a sort of eerie bass line. Oh wow, the track gradually seems to sweeten up, especially as the saxophone/clarinet joins in. The track almost takes on a sort of eastern European folk sound melded with the twangy and earthy folk instrumentation I associate with Americana. I really dig the big bass drum in this track. Super sweet tune.
“Worried Worried” gets grooving right away with some groovy country rock guitar, and a piano and some percussion gradually join in and introduce a sort of avant-garde country rock sound that I’m digging. Oh wow, I really dig what sounds to be the pedal steel slide guitar that adds some really sweet country twang in the background of the soundscape. Oh wow, as the soundscape continues on grooving the track gets churning pretty nicely in a fairly psychedelic manner. I really dig the percussion in this track, which is a mix of a drum kit and a medley of other accentuations from different percussion instruments that I can’t quite name at the moment. Oh wow, there’s a really sweet guitar solo in this track. This track sort of reminds me of a countryfied version of Van Dyke Parks. Wow, great track, and a great way to finish the album.
Holy smokes, I’m glad I checked out this album tonight. Though I’ve only heard a bit of the Red Krayola’s discography, and quite a while ago as well, I certainly want to hear more after listening to this. This album is filled with a mixture of country rock and folk rock flavors presented in a unique, avant-garde fashion, which even borders on psychedelic at times, which reminded me at times of Robert Wyatt, Brian Eno, and Van Dyke Parks, except with a more Americana, country rock sort of sound. If you’re into unique presentations of country rock and folk rock, especially from the late 1960s and early 1970s from groups like The Byrds, then you might want to consider checking out this album. If you do decide to give this album a listen, I sincerely do hope that you enjoy the listening experience at least as much as I did.