Tarkio Reviews


Tarkio - Extras

Billboard Magazine
December 5, 1970

The excellent folk rock duo’s popularity should finally surface with this release.  Their material is fresh and their vocal and instrumental talents are lavishly displayed.  Highlights are “One Toke Over The Line,” “The Light,” “Oh Mommy,” “Seems Like A Long Time,” and the commercial “Tarkio Road.”

  Rolling Stone Magazine
February 4, 1971
  Tarkio Road, Mike Brewer and Tom Shipley’s third album (second for Kama-Sutra), shows them to be a solid and unpretentious country-folk duo, writing songs that are not so much brilliant as they are endearing, filled with catchy refrains and hummable melodies.  On top of this, they have the good fortune to be well-produced (by Nick Gravenites) and well-presented (utilizing such fine back-up musicians as Mark Naftalin on keyboards and Jerry Garcia on pedal steel guitar). There’s nothing complex here – no 12-level attempts at Dylanesque imagery, no fancy flashes of guitar wizardry – but in the end it’s probably a saving grace.  If nothing else, Brewer and Shipley come off as human beings and it gives their album a quiet grace that many are going to achingly strive for in the coming months and never achieve.

For instance, “Oh Mommy,” which despite what you might think from the title, is really a Brewer and Shipley political song about how “it says right there in the Con-sti-tu-tion / It’s really A-OK to have a re-vo-lu-tion…”  Now at least as far as I’m concerned, that’s a great line, but taken in the context of the song in which it appears, which is kind of bouncy, good-time number, it becomes not sinister, not threatening, but almost downright friendly.  Friendly!  And though it may a bit late in this Nixonian age to think of the Rev in such terms, it does a bit to warm the ol’ heart, doesn’t it?

Or consider the beautiful “Song From Platte River”: “…. I’ve been thikin’ of General Custer / And his last stand….” go the lines and framed by beautiful images of cold and desolation, turns itself into a sweetly-melancholy spiritual with which a lovely Lady Soul like Aretha could have a ball.  “Seems Like A Long Time” falls much in the same vein, with a chorus that stays with you long after you leave the record, while “One Toke Over The Line”: is one of the more perfect statements of where all-important boundaries fall in the United States today.

I think it was Pete Johnson, writing long ago in the Los Angeles Free Press about John Braden’s sadly-neglected album on A&M, who said that Braden’s music had the ability to call up other eras, times long since vanished from the face of America.  For me, Brewer and Shipley work in much the same way, recreating a Mid-west that must have existed somewhere around the turn of the century, a time when memory of the Indians was still clean and fresh, when railroads sprung up towns and vice-versa, a time when all of us (at least in retrospect) seemed to be a lot younger.  It’s a kind of frontier nostalgia, if you will, probably a product of all those Hopalong Cassidy movies that endlessly paraded across our imaginations when we most needed them, and now when things are getting just a little too heavy, it’s sort of nice to go on back there. 

At any rate that’s the reason I like Brewer and Shipley.  Whatever your reasons, I hope you do likewise.

~ Lenny Kaye

  BREWER & SHIPLEY: Tarkio (Kama Sutra)  
  The best of three good albums from an energetic, professional new-folk duo, all characterized by witty composition, solid backing, and lots of slick harmonies. Exceptional: "One Toke Over The Line," a single that may make it yet.     
  ~ Robert Christgau (March 11, 1971)  
  ALLMusic Guide  
  Notable not just for the inclusion of "One Toke Over the Line" but also for the great back porch stoned ambience of the entire recording, this 1970 effort from the band is ripe with dope references and subversive humor. Not that it ever takes away from the excellent country-style playing that pops up all over the record. Jerry Garcia lends a hand with the pedal steel and it's a welcomed sound. During the course of the album, you get highlights like "Song from Platte River" (where the boys lament the loss of their freedoms and feel a kinship with folks like General Custer and Abraham Lincoln) and the spectral "Ruby on the Morning." Add in "One Toke Over the Line" amidst freedom-friendly tracks like "Oh, Mommy" and "Don't Want to Die in Georgia," and you've got an album that speaks out to anyone who has ever felt threatened by "the Man."  
  ~ Jon Pruett  

  Tarkio Jukebox