Ghosts of Electricity
Ghosts of Electricity was a project fronted by neo-folk wunderkind Dan Rudyard (born Daniel Mandelbaum in 1943). Raised in Judith Gap, Montana, Rudyard moved to New York City in 1960 and fell in with a crowd of Beats. Badgered to get on stage one night at Chumley’s, he began an epic free-form poetry flow that blew the small crowd away. From then on, Rudyard knew that his path was set. He borrowed a guitar from a friend (learning to play six chords; in 1976, he learned a seventh), and even took up the harmonica (typically D, but sometimes A when the mood struck). Rudyard quickly graduated from his solo performances to a full-band format, mostly comprised of former members of the Cocks (who had been the backing band for Nova Scotian R&B singer Manny Cockburn). For this, his fourth studio album (released in August 1970), Rudyard elected to travel to Los Angeles and experiment with a group of session musicians who became known as the Wrecking Crew. (The experiment failed, as the crack session musicians found his songs simplistic and almost irritating; Rudyard reverted to the Cocks, and the album was recorded in a home basement studio in West Camp, New York.)
Released in August 1970, the double-album Pastrami on Rye is considered by many to be Rudyard’s masterwork. Anchored by strong songs such as “Barristers and Pessimists” and “Don’t Kill the Mime,” the album ultimately made it on Rolling Stone’s list of the 5,000 Greatest Albums of All Time.
Rudyard continues to tour to this day. No one knows why.