Cast into a moment of incredible tumult and great discovery, Pearls Before Swine contributed a uniquely earthy strain to the arc of sound that defined the time and place of the later 1960s. A group of young men in Florida were inspired to send their demo tape to the label that released The Fugs, whose appearance and lawless attitude seemed at once a dare and an invitation. The label was ESP-Disk, whose catalog was largely comprised of records from some of the farthest-out jazz players in New York City - but Pearls Before Swine were welcome to make a record there, too. Relocating to New York in the Spring of 1967, they were installed at Impact Sound with provisional ESP-house man Richard Alderson (engineer of many of those jazz sessions, as well as sound-man on Dylan's '66 world tour) and, in three days, laid down the album. When it was released in October of that year, it immediately began to catch on with young people around the world with its blend of gentle and innocent, erudite and outraged. Each song was from a different genre and each track had something strange/mysterious in it, via exotic instruments, electronic oscillation or pure, simple intent. There was proto-punk in the mix, rife with humor, aloft with the pastoral acoustics of the banjo; music of the people of the world, all in the service of Tom Rapp's visceral, unblinking lyrics.
Original producer Richard Alderson oversaw the restoration and remastering of the tapes, allowing us to hear with jolting clarity the original sound of Pearls Before Swine. Notes from Richard and PBS leader Tom Rapp lend historical perspective, and Tom adds his reflections on each of the songs as well. Listen again - and hear for the first time, perhaps - the sound of One Nation Underground.</p>
<p>For music like this, radio play wasn't dictated by pluggers pushing a single up the charts - the jockeys at free-form stations played it because it spoke to them, and they loved it. One Nation Underground indeed! This was THE cult album of its time, loved by artists as divergent as Leonard Cohen and Iggy Pop. Fassbinder's 1969 film Rio Das Mortes used two songs in its soundtrack and featured the album cover on one of its characters' walls. Two hundred thousand copies were pressed over the next couple years, and by 1969, Pearls Before Swine were an underground legend, recording their third album for a major label. The mysterious glow around their first two ESP-Disk releases has never faded, even in the past several decades, when the albums' sound was undermined by technology.