The Lost American Songwriter – Tom Pacheco

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…

Tom Pacheco – Turn Away Fom the Storm (1965)

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.

Tom Pacheco – Eagle in The Rain (1989)

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..

Shaun Belcher – Black River (1991)

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..

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.

Wreckless Eric – Someone must’ve nailed us together


Not sure where I picked this little gem up. My life has touched on that of Eric Goulden at various points but we never actually met. Last night he played a blisteringly good set at The Poppy and Pint in West Bridgford, ampoule Nottingham and this songwriter’s song was a highlight on what was an almost faultless night of Wreckless Eric at his best. He previewed at least three songs from the new album amERICa which were as good as anything in his impressive back catalogue. The single was self-released on Eric’s Empire Records through which he released two(recently reissued albums on Fire Records) the Len Bright Combo Presents and Combo Time. A little later he recorded and released a friend of mine Kevin Evan’s debut (and only) 12″ on Ambassador Records ( a record that somebody borrowed and never returned sadly) and his band Ritzun Ratzun Rotzer from Leeds.

Then in late 1990s I would happily frequent the second-hand bookshops on Charing Cross Road and I found out that Eric was serving behind counter in a shop a friend Jan Buchanan worked in. I am sure he served me at least a couple of times but I never mentioned the music. It now called Any Amount of Books but I think was called something else then….my memory not great. I remember the period because my friend found out a drawing by a Japanese artist she owned worth a fortune when I told her I’d seen similar on the Antiques Roadshow. Apparently she bought a house in France with proceeds…..we had both worked at Zwemmers in early 1980s. It was a gift from original owners allegedly.

Finally fast-forward the time tape machine to 2003. I am on second ever date with a lady who became my wife. We are at Alan Tyler’s weekly Americana event ‘Come Down and Meet the Folks’ at the ‘Fiddler'(???) in College Street Camden Town watching ..yes…Eric Goulden aka Wreckless. We were both drunk so memory hazy but I think Amy Rigby was either on bill or with Eric…so we both been in relationship ever since…

I recently picked up the Len Bright Combo reissues and Le Beat Group Electrique album from Fire Records and look forward to the new album on scratchy black vinyl 🙂

I hope Mr Goulden gets the attention he deserves…recent features in MOJO and Record Collector show his amp is rising 🙂 He is a national treasure , a Hull Art School domestic Daniel Johnston with words and pictures (actually he a much better songwriter than said cult artist) and has at least a dozen first class songs to his name..maybe more. That he was eclipsed in early days was more because of temperament. He a natural artist/garage band soul without the naked ambition of a certain other Stiff Tour bespectacled songwriter.

Last night Eric talked affectionately of listening to the first ever rendition of ‘Sweet gene Vincent’ by Ian Dury at his flat……
The autobiography by EG below is probably far more entertaining that EC’s recent tome and a hell of a lot funnier ( I looking out for a copy).

Keep laughing Eric and hats off to Amy….for inspiring this late flowering of an artist….or ‘miserable old c***t’ as he called himself on stage last night……


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Last song ended with namechecks for his inspiration ..Velvet Underground and Bobby Gentry featured…at heart he’s a fan of great music…and makes some too along the way 🙂

Thanks for a great evening.

Further info. on The Medway Scene:

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