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Folk/Americana - Released January 1, 1968 | Craft Recordings

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Soul - Released July 7, 1973 | Cadet Records

Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography
Terry Callier's third and final album for the Cadet label is the most soulful and supple of the bunch -- Marvin Gaye's classic Motown LPs from the same early 1970s period serve as a good reference point, both in their richly-detailed arrangements as well as their thoughtful political and social messages. Despite its contemporary feel, however, much of the material on I Just Can't Help Myself dates back several years -- both the powerful "Alley-Wind Song" and the John Coltrane tribute "Can't Catch the Trane" were initially recorded during the 1969 sessions which later comprised the First Light collection, while the graceful reading of Duke Ellington's "Satin Doll" was and would remain a longstanding highlight of Callier's live set. Under the circumstances, then, the cohesive beauty and power of I Just Can't Help Myself is all the more remarkable -- possessed of a subtlety and shading absent from his other Cadet dates, the disc simmers with quiet intensity, its underlying confidence and serenity occasionally giving way to moments of soul-searching angst. Certainly Callier's later records have much to recommend them, but the conclusion of his Cadet stint was nevertheless the end of an era -- he never reached quite the same peaks again. © Jason Ankeny /TiVo
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Pop - Released January 1, 2004 | Mr Bongo

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Soul - Released January 1, 1998 | Verve

Where has Terry Callier been all of our lives? Outside of the lucky few collectors fortunate enough to possess copies of his 1968 debut The New Folk Sound of Terry Callier and the series of brilliant records he cut for the Cadet label during the mid-1970s, the Chicago singer/songwriter has otherwise slipped through the cracks of contemporary music; his resurrection has been a long time in coming, and Timepeace is indeed well worth the wait. Long ago tagged with the label "folk-jazz," Callier's music eludes easy description; cosmic and spiritual, it also bears the influence of gospel and soul, yet synthesizes its disparate elements in unprecedented and breathtaking ways. Sparked by Callier's spiralling guitar leads, highlights like "Lazarus Man" and "Java Sparrow" seem to tap a higher consciousness, his yearning vocals channeling unfathomable power; the stark opener "Ride Suite Ride" matches the grace of Curtis Mayfield with the poignancy of Nick Drake, while "Coyote Moon" captures an ethereal yet pastoral beauty best likened to extraterrestrial country music. It's wonderful to have Callier back again -- we need him now more than ever. © Jason Ankeny /TiVo
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Soul - Released January 1, 2008 | Cadet Records

Like the artist himself, the music on this brilliant album defies all categories, embracing Terry Callier's wide range of influences and experiences. Callier's musical kaleidoscope is filled with funk, rock, folk, jazz, and even classical influences. "Dancing Girl" opens the album with Charles Stepney's majestic orchestration. This opus is the album's pinnacle, moving with soft intensity toward soul-stirring crescendos. Songs like "What Color Is Love" and "Ho Tsing Mee (A Song of the Sun)," an elegant antiwar prayer of confusion, somehow avoid clichés or take them to another level. "You Goin' to Miss Your Candyman" was made popular by Urban Species when they sampled it on "Listen" in the early '90s, and not surprisingly, it sounds better in its original form. No matter where you turn, Callier's passionate voice captures the sweeping drama of the human condition. A lost romantic amid "concrete front yards," this album is a must-have for any music connoisseur. © Ryan Randall Goble /TiVo
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Soul - Released September 20, 2005 | Rhino - Elektra

This is easily Terry Callier's most underrated album. Chalk it up to the slick arrangement, jazzy charts, and funky rhythms in the heat of the disco era, but the year after Callier missed the boat with Fire on Ice, he was back with a slicker, shinier record. But, unlike its predecessor, it has no fat in the songwriting department. Leaving Richard Evans' production behind, Callier and Don Mizell enlisted Sonny Burke to produce, arrange, and conduct the large band. Callier handled a lot of the guitar work himself but he did have help from stalwart Larry Wade, his songwriting partner, and Tommy Tedesco. Also in the house was Motown's Randy Dunlap -- courtesy of Smokey Robinson -- and horn heroes Ernie Watts and Fred Wesley. The song selection here is impeccable, from the hard, growling gospel funk of "Sign of the Times" to the serpentine love song "Pyramids of Love" and a pair of awesome covers: Smokey's "Still Water (Love)" and Becker and Fagen's "Do It Again." On the former, Callier reaches deep into his mellifluous tenor bag for all the soul crooning gospel he could muster, to chilling effect. On the latter, the snaky, complex rhythms are accentuated and the horn section soars above the dense, heavily layered pumped up-tempo mix. Callier gets to hang back and enunciate, slipping his down and dirty funky tip on the lyrics. But the greatest surprise on the album is Callier re-recording his classic, "Occasional Rain." With a shimmering, sparse string section accompanying his acoustic guitar, Callier sings half an octave lower than the original as ghostly bells slip through the center of the mix. Every two bars or so another instrument is added, but the gauzy texture of the mix holds throughout. The listener keeps holding her breath waiting for a string section crescendo -- given how polished these proceedings are -- to wash over her, but it never comes, thank God. The set ends with the weakest, but nonetheless very soulful track on the album, "A Mother's Love." It's sentimental, but, given how sincerely Callier delivers his lyrics, it comes off as sincere, not hackneyed. This is a gorgeous set that showcases an entirely different side of Callier than the legends note. He is every bit as fine an R&B singer as he is a folksy soul singer. The man's voice and his sincerity know no limits and this disc is a perfect testament to his genius. © Thom Jurek /TiVo
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Soul - Released January 1, 2008 | Cadet Records

Occasional Rain, originally released in 1972, is the first of three albums, Chicago singer/songwriter Terry Callier cut for Cadet in the 1970s with producer Charles Stepney. Eight years earlier Callier, then a soulful blues and folk singer, cut an album of covers (as was par for the course in 1964 at the end of the folk revival, Bob Dylan was just getting his momentum) for Prestige, but it was shelved until 1968 and went nowhere. Callier spent the intervening time touring coffeehouses and small clubs around the country until he signed with Cadet. While the voice is most certainly the same, the nearly alchemical transformation of his sound via his own songwriting -- and the way those songs were treated by Stepney -- is still mind-boggling. Occasional Rain is recorded as a suite; not quite a concept album, there are segues, all titled "Go Head On," fading in and out that introduce various stages in the recording. Stepney put together a band led by Callier's excellent acoustic guitar playing, his own harpsichord and organ, pianist Leonard Pirani, bassist Sydney Simms, and drummer Bob Crowder -- it's the leanest production job in their collaboration. The beautiful touch, though, is Stepney adding a backing chorus with sopranos Minnie Riperton and Kitty Haywood, and contralto Shirley Wahls! The nearly baroque soul sound is heard almost immediately on the classic "Ordinary Joe." The organ and harpsichord momentarily offer the false impression of horns in a pulsing 4/4 before Callier lays out the poetic truth of his protagonist: "For my openin' line/I might try to indicate my state of mind/Or turn you on-or tell you that I'm laughin'/Just to keep from cryin'...Now I've seen a sparrow get high/And waste his time in the sky/He thinks it's easy to fly/he's just a little bit freer than me..." The jumbled images are met with the swell of a taut, killer band; they give him more room out there on the ledge to let his freely associated snapshots articulate into a whole that expresses a transition from heartbreak to resistance to determination, to a holistic spirituality and ultimately to hope as he transfers it from his own view to the woman he is addressing. Whew. These cats could have recorded for Buddah backing the Lemon Pipers, but Stepney keeps it from any saccharine sweetness, and makes it all flow into the direct expression of deep emotion. "Golden Circle" follows, with that choir in the backdrop flowing in and out of a very scaled back mix where acoustic piano and Callier's acoustic guitar lead the flow of this deep expression of love as vulnerability. The grain in Callier's voice is very masculine, but its tenderness is total, his words poetic; sophisticated yet very direct. The added cello on "Trance on Sedgwick Street," by Earl Madison, makes for the startling juxtaposition of hard, street-tough truth and a critical examination of spirituality. Callier's guitar and that multi-tracked cello are devastatingly effective. The folk and blues roots in Callier's writing and singing just pour from this tune, but Stepney understands that these are soul tunes, so he creates bridges from one tradition to the next, making it a seamless whole. The other classic tune from this session is the title cut. This beautiful and startling psychedelic soul tune is unlike anything else in Callier's catalog. Stepney adds multi-channel sound effects, tiny little organ tones that float through each channel beginning at the end of certain lines seemingly randomly. As an acoustic guitar plays atop a church organ which swells in the middle eight to fill out a shelf underneath Callier's voice, it feels like an entire universe floating between one channel and the next (especially on headphones!). It can even be startling, as those sounds, even though they are expected, are kind of a shock -- you'll need to listen through it a couple of times to get the full meaning of the Callier's gorgeous songwriting. In reference to the "Go Ahead On": they are the only direct reference to the blues roots in the songwriter's past and are very effective at both establishing that musical continuum and highlighting this wonderful new direction. This record is tight in a way the other Callier titles are sprawling. Here he holds the songs in check, and Stepney supports that while expanding the sonic palette that frames them. Certainly "Blues for Marcus," touches on those blues roots, to be sure, but the cellos and the decorative acoustic guitar turn it into a soul tune. That's what happens in the hands of two masters who know how to work together. Callier probably had no idea he was so inspired until he and Stepney began to tease the genius out of the songs on tape and illustrate them in such an organic yet wildly expansive way. The final cut "Lean on Me" (not to be confused with the Bill Withers tune of the same name) sends the set out on the highest of high notes: Callier's voice is so firm and determined, but his gentleness is not to be underestimated. The empathic dedication in his singing -- and its encouragement by that chorus of women makes the track -- and the album -- transcendent. © Thom Jurek /TiVo
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Soul - Released July 18, 2006 | Rhino - Elektra

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Jazz - Released January 26, 2018 | Geffen

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Soul - Released January 1, 2000 | Blue Thumb

While it was perhaps inevitable that LifeTime would fail to recapture the cathartic intensity of Terry Callier's comeback effort TimePeace -- a remarkably pure expression of a soul and spirit finally granted freedom after years trapped in limbo -- it's nevertheless surprising how many comparatively few peaks the album actually does reach. Brian Bacchus' slick production, which often teeters precariously close to overkill on TimePeace, tumbles completely over the edge here -- songs like "Holdin' On," "When the Music Is Gone," and "Fix the Blame" are rendered with so much gloss they seem trapped in amber, while the reggae-lite "Comin' up From Babylon" is as ill-conceived as the attempts at disco which marred Callier's records for Elektra two decades earlier. It's hardly shocking that LifeTime's most memorable moments are also its most unaffected ones, allowing Callier's remarkable voice and exquisite guitar the space to breathe -- the supple, sensual opener "When My Lady Danced" is vintage folk-jazz, while "Sunset Boulevard" offers a potent reminder that no one sings this kind of protest soul with quite so much wisdom and compassion. Best of all is "Love Can Do," a shimmering duet with Beth Orton that is as rich and resonant as any of their past collaborations. © Jason Ankeny /TiVo
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R&B - Released June 23, 2008 | Mr Bongo

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Folk/Americana - Released January 1, 1968 | Craft Recordings

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Folk/Americana - Released January 1, 1968 | Craft Recordings

The New Folk Sound of Terry Callier was not released until 1968, about three years after the project was originally completed; while the long delay almost certainly crippled the momentum of Callier's fledgling career, the impact on the music itself was at most minimal -- while not the singer's best album, it's his most timeless and inviting, adhering closely to the folk stylings addressed by the title while largely ignoring the mystical jazz dimensions which texture his later material. Surprisingly, none of the album's eight songs are originals, relying instead on traditional tunes like "900 Miles" and "Cotton Eyed Joe"; while Callier's spiralling acoustic guitar lines and the use of two bassists (Terbour Attenborough and John Tweedle) reflect his admiration of John Coltrane, New Folk Sound is for the most part stark and simple, possessed of a subtle grace which spotlights his remarkably moving vocals to excellent effect -- it's a debut which holds all the promise fulfilled by his classic recordings for Cadet. © Jason Ankeny /TiVo
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Pop - Released January 1, 2002 | Mr Bongo

When Terry Callier returned to the music scene as an active participant in 1998, after 20 years in self-imposed exile, he jumped headlong into the recording and touring process. His first two recordings, the fine Timepeace and the less-than-satisfying LifeTime, both had songs worthy of anything Callier ever wrote during the 1960s or 1970s. The live album, Alive on Mr. Bongo from 2001, is a testament to that. But finding a producer who could properly illustrate the vast subtleties in Callier's work, which effortlessly blurs the boundaries between jazz, pop, soul, and poetry, proved difficult in the studio. On Speak Your Peace, Callier has found the perfect working mates in Jean-Paul Maunick and Marc Mac (from 4Hero), two men who understand that his work is more about nuance than statement, sense impression than solid image, poetry than prose. Callier's glorious voice and wonderfully fluid acoustic guitar are front and center in the mixes of both men. Mac accents the skeletal angle of Callier's compositions, as on "Monuments of Mars." He underscores them with gentle rhythms, ambient sounds, well-placed strings, hand drums, and space, allowing the poetic, moral message of Callier's vision to come through unimpeded. Maunick's production techniques, as evidenced on all but three of the album's tracks, ranges; there are the shimmering drum loops on "Running Around," propped by scenic strings and a heavier bassline, that bring Callier's voice to a level above the instrumentation -- and this is fine since he sings with such an authority that it doesn't have to be imposing, so there's no overkill. And then there's the single, "Brother to Brother," which Callier co-wrote with Paul Weller, who joins him in a duet. Everything on the track is spare, full of space and ambience, until the end, where the two voices entwine and a keyboard pulls the rhythm section toward the front. "Caravan of Love" could have been written by Curtis Mayfield and performed by MFSB with backing vocals by Hall & Oates. Yeah, it's that good. As for Callier's compositions, they're stronger than ever. Quoting his words in the context of a review is to belittle their achievement in that they are inextricably wedded to his musical frameworks. (Let's just say that if all pop music were as profound, we would all be activists working for peace and harmony.) The upshot is that this is easily the most seamlessly beautiful and wonderfully consistent recording he's made since his return. There are 14 tracks of ethereal, moving soul, groove, and poignancy that would (or at least should) make Bob Dylan and Smokey Robinson cry. Speak Your Peace rates with Callier's Cadet work in its vision, articulation, and execution. Indeed, on this recording one can hear, in the grain of his voice, a plea for wholeness that could only come from profound heartbreak. © Thom Jurek /TiVo
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Pop - Released January 1, 2001 | Mr Bongo

This 2000 live date from an appearance at the Jazz Café in London is perhaps the definitive Terry Callier live document. Recorded digitally with a septet behind him, Callier takes the audience through the stages of his long and varied career with the great verve and poise that have made him a legend. From "Ordinary Joe" and "Step Into the Light," Callier sets up his audience for "Lazarus Man," which takes what is already an emotionally charged performance into overdrive. With poignant saxophone and flute solos from Gary Plumley, and in the pocket percussion from Bosco DeOliveira, Callier lets his songs and his voice do the talking. This is a performance of such warmth and intimacy that he cannot help but perform to the best of his ability. There is adoration from the crowd and with each bit of that expression of gratitude, Callier digs deeper into himself as well as his catalog after he introduces a new song, "Late Lament for A.D." (for Amadou Dialo, an unarmed man murdered by the New York City police department in 2000). Callier is not one to take a tragedy and make it the centerpiece of his show, though, and he doesn't somehow; even in the somber, moody darkness of the song's body, Callier seeks with his voice for empathy and redemption. And this is what makes him such a singular artist. He looks deeply within himself for every utterance, every emotion, and expresses it as honestly as possible with the thunder of a gospel preacher and the elegance of a dancer. When Callier moves on to "African Violet," his audience is hushed, silenced by the stunning revelations in the depth of his lament. But he lifts them up as he has brought them to self-reflection, as the confession of intimate love becomes an affirmation of life once again, Callier coasts into "You're Gonna Miss Your Candy Man," a good-natured blues from early in his career. He stays in the past by offering the definitive version of "What Colour Is Love" that drips with sweet honey and an earthiness that is sensual and impressionistic. This opaque reading gives way to a brazen expression of desire and sexuality in "Dancing Girl." Here, too, with the band pumping behind him, Callier reaches into the song and derives from it not only his original inspiration, but all of the experiences he has had in singing it in the past. He can see the faces of those women in clubs and theaters he sang the tune to, and their faces shine through his voice. Finally, Callier pulls out Curtis Mayfield's "People Get Ready" for a return of balance to the show, wanting to end on a transcendent note. With the crowd literally screaming in "Dancing Girl"'s aftermath, Callier slows it down and does a jazz read of the Mayfield classic -- and they scream even louder (someone even shouts "Hallelujah" and "Amen") before he slips into his final tune, "I Don't Want to See Myself," which features a beautiful duet vocal by Veronica Cowper. It's a stunner -- deep soul, hard groove, and danceable as hell. What a finish. There are other live records by Terry Callier, and all of them have merit, but Alive is the real deal. © Thom Jurek /TiVo
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Soul - Released June 8, 2009 | Because Music

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Pop - Released June 16, 2008 | Mr Bongo

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Pop - Released January 1, 2003 | Mr Bongo

Terry Callier has earned a reputation as the king of the chillout singer/songwriters, with his soulful voice and folk-jazz songs. So it's not too surprising, since his renaissance, that a remix album happened. It all starts out perfectly with a version of the Motown classic, "Just My Imagination" from Tom Findlay of Groove Armada, with some sweet backing vocals from Mary Lee. In many ways, this style is the ideal frame for Callier's wonderful voice, giving a bit more muscle to the rhythm, but never overwhelming the central figure. Even the spoken word introductions to three of the tracks don't spoil the pace of the disc; instead, they simply set the mood and atmosphere. Everything is excellent, but some pieces are simply outstanding, like the Zero 7 remix of "Love Theme From Spartacus," and the superbly artful "Sierra Leone." Additionally, there's a video for "You're Gonna Miss Your Candy Man" to round out the package. In some ways, perhaps, it's wrong to credit this to Callier, since it is a remix project. But he is the main, unifying figure, and the voice and original music is his. And it proves that he truly is the modern champion of late night music. © Chris Nickson /TiVo
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Pop - Released January 1, 2002 | Mr Bongo

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Pop - Released May 25, 2009 | Mr Bongo