Back in the olden days before Camden Town turned into a cheap seaside and etsy version of itself..before coffee shops and beardy tattoo parlours there was an excellent record shop at 281 Camden High Street called Rhythm Records just before the canal on the right hand side headed towards Kentish Town.
I know because I used to spend my 1980s wages in there on a regular basis as at that time it was the best shop after Rock On for new American folk, country and blues lps. Indeed I preferred the basement there as I remember distinctly their wall displays of Tom Russell, Rosanne Cash, Terry Clarke, Christy Moore etc etc and lps like this.
The first Tom Pacheco Lp was on a fledgling Round Tower label out of Dublin financed by Clive Hudson of CBS apparently and he released ‘Eagle in The Rain’ recorded in Dublin and with a great Irish musical line-up which included Arty McGlynn and even included Uillean Pipes such was the Irish feel to it. At this period I was fast realising my ambition to be the UK Nick Cave was falling on deaf ears and I had discovered Texas Songwriters through Townes Van Zandt. Reading Folk Roots and Arthur Wood’s articles in Country Music People I avidly sought out any new post Dylan guy who could pen a literate toon.
Amongst these Mr Tom Pacheco stood out. Little did I know then that this dude had been there all the time actually releasing a self-penned ‘New Dylan’ Lp when just 19 years old. This is that LP…
So some 25 years later our Dylanite turns up in Dublin and produces a corker of a singer-songwriter LP the tunes of which I still know even though I not heard in many a year. Opener Roberta and Ramona is a almost talking blues with Springsteen overtones but is pure Pacheco. The sleeve art is out of Gram and Emmylou picture book and the overall tone is very left-wing almost Green Party before it existed fully. Pacheco’s father was a jazz musician and his brother played in the legendary gararge rock band The Remains. He was well-versed in rock mythology and also knew his post Guthrie dustbowl lineage. I think this LP appeared alongside Peter Rowan’s Dustbowl Children, Dave Alvin solo works and Butch Hancock’s Demon retrospective. He belonged in such company and of course Tom Russell and Barrence Whitfield were on the newly re-named Round Tower records.
Now I confess I know I saw all of the above play but I cannot be sure if I ever saw Tom play which surprising. My feeling is I missed out. I left London in 1989 taking this LP with me and only returned in 1991 at which point I had deluded myself enough that I was Townes Van Zandt that I sent a tape to Round Tower after meeting the woman in charge in London at a Tom Russell gig.
She was talking to the legendary John Tobler who had already been a victim of my lo-fi tape extravanganza ‘Black River’. He said with a voice like mine I should write..wise words..
Tom Pacheco was in that mix of influences by then and I guess I still have a craving to sound like a cool stateside songwriter but things do fade in time.
Now I really do write about it.
The lady at Round Tower kindly replied to my tape with a polite close but no cigar message and a pack of Round Tower cds which included Tom Russell and Barrence Whitfield and I believe the first of these cds Sunflowers which I have treasured ever since.
Years later in Oxford I met up with my friend Terry Clarke whose LP I had also seen in Rhythm Records and it all connected to Flyinshoes Webzine. There I interviewed a whole raft of similarly obscure songwriters from the states…
The Lost American Songwriter Review is what it should have been called.
So here I am 30 years later suddenly surprised by a whole set of Tom Pacheco cds in a charity shop some signed to Andy who I believe was a local Americana fan who passed away in last few years.
Tom P probably played the Maze at some point for my buddies at Cosmic American but I managed to miss him….I saw just about everybody else.
Maybe I should start a new webzine called The Lost American Songwriter Review because so many great talents like Tom have slipped from view. They were never under the radar let alone on it. People like James Talley and Tom Ovans who continued the Guthrie/Dylan tradition of protest onwards into the 70s and beyond.
That idea is for another day..for now although thirty years late..I have a whole lot of Tom Pacheco to catch up on. Cheers Tom and wherever you are I wish you sláinte….And may you be in heaven half an hour before the devil knows you’re dead” a true Outsider..
For further Tom music try this for starters…what a cover..
Or visit his Adobe..https://www.tompacheco.com/
Finally Tom in his prime and that gig I seem to have missed!
Oh and Round Tower lable is a treat it started in 1987 and ended in 2000 but put out a lot of excellent recordings.