Particularly in the ’70s, it was hard not to keep running across the album Essra Mohawk with its soft-porn Parrish cover. And as Bob Xgau pointed out, it was a dud. But I knew the same singer had been a Zappa-circle person as a teen and had another oddball album out that nobody could find that he produced. There was an intriguing running-around-the-open-field quality about her singing that kept a tiny part of me interested all this time. There was one of those stick-’em-up Rhino Handmade reissues that compiled the dud and an earlier album I had never heard of, Primordial Lovers (hoo boy) — I was not about to shell out those dollars to discover what was paired with the dud.
Anyway, last year I noticed that Primordial Lovers had gotten a careful reissue the year before that included extra tracks and improved cover art and sound and I went for it. There’s a lot of performers I can’t get a bead on. There’s very few where the feeling persists I’m missing something, but “Mohawk” (one of her several names) was one of them.
This Primordial Lovers reissue answers it. It’s eccentric. She’s a wacko. It’s her only album you need that I’ve heard. But it belongs to an era in love with experimentation and willfully genre-crossing and screwy though it is on occasion, it doesn’t sound like any other singer-songwriter album. “Joni Mitchell on bad acid.” Maybe. “Jazz having sex with ecology goddess.” Maybe. I don’t recommend it as a lost marvel. I recommend it as an unrepeatable item that you can play as a change of pace with dabs and flecks of beauty and visions. Now and forever.