Jim Sullivan - U.F.O

by Nathan Fidler Rating:8.5 Release Date:2010-11-15

And so the story goes, of Jim Sullivan, his baffling disappearance and the album which seems to sum it all up before any of it happens. In 1975 he takes a trip to Nashville to gain some success but never makes it. His VW bug found abandoned and his body never found. The mystery remains in the desert.

Whether he fell afoul of local mafia, got lost in the desert or was abducted by a UFO is subject to rumour, but it's also what makes his album so exciting and enjoyable to listen to. It's the perfect driving ramble record with that homely classic 70s recording sound. You can tell each part is authentic, from the harmonics to the tambourine being tapped out next to your ears. On the opening track Jim makes reference to a "magic man" and "driving slow" so you from the off you can feel a tingle in your spirit; the man is going to tell you some things and take you along with him, if but only for a short while.

Not all the songs are about UFO's, as you might think; 'Whistle Stop' and 'Highways' are both about travelling and love. The songs have a life affirming feel to them. When Jim sings, it's almost like he's putting a warm and friendly arm around your shoulders - there is nothing harsh and the songs are without fat to trim, letting your mind wonder about the man and the events of 1975 in the Santa Rosa desert with more awe than terror. "I'm checking out the show... Did he come by UFO?" Jim asks in the title track, but judging from the song's jaunty bassline you'd think he'd have been pleased to have met an extra terrestrial force after all.

Certainly, the album gains excitement and electricity from the story surrounding it, without which you might overlook it as just a 'nice' record, but who can really be in control of such things? No, better not to think that way. Get in your car, play this record and go for a drive; only then can you truly blow the dust and sand from the story and drink it all in. It's certainly an accidental series of events but achieves a feeling you rarely get in modern music; where a story and an album take you to another level of soulful enrichment and nourishment. You'll want to thank the man but, of course, you can't.

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