Black Phoenix Blues is the third Roaratorio collection of the best of Rodd Keith’s vast output. Dating from 1966 to 1974, the sixteen previously unreissued songs showcase the scope of his work: the should’ve-been-a-hit “You And I”; the elegant exotica of “I Love Lovely Chinese Gal”; the history lesson of “The Explosion Of Holden 22 Mine”; the harrowing psychokiller musings of the title track; “I’m Proud To Be A Hippie From Mississippi,” the stoner’s answer to Merle Haggard’s “Okie From Muskogee”; the low-fi “The Game Of Love” (which, in the tradition of Keith’s infamous “I’m Just The Other Woman,” prompted the dissatisfied customer to request a more conventional re-take); the disturbingly desperate “Sing My Death Note,” which was discovered on one of Keith’s private reels; and the unclassifiable wtf?-ness of “Abidin’ Tuh The Rule.”To call Rodd Keith the king of the song-poems (also known as the “send us your lyrics” quick buck-demo mill) is damning with faint praise: no one else in that shady backwater of the music industry possessed an array of talents as distinctively individual as his. As gifted a singer, composer and arranger as he was, his genius was destined to remain a well-kept secret during his lifetime by virtue of the complete disregard – verging on invisibility – in which song-poem records were held. He was a commercial musician in the most literal sense of the word, but within those confines, he displayed an oddball, personal vision that frequently transcended the work-for-hire nature of his music.
A limited edition LP with artwork by Josh Journey-Heinz and liner notes from blues guitarist Debbie Davies, one of Keith’s musical and personal compadres from the early 1970s. Download coupon included.
“Sometimes good things take time, and so it is with Roaratorio’s Rodd Keith reissue campaign. There’s a lot to like about My Pipe Yellow Dream and Saucers In The Sky, the label’s previous efforts to honor the man who was once known to his family as Rodney Keith Eskelin… All three records thrive on the tension between Rodd’s knack for instantly devising sophisticated settings for words that violated most of the rules of commercially viable songcraft without even trying. What puts this one ahead are the handful of songs that are such emotional horror shows, you have to count yourself as blessed never to have been stuck in a dark corner with the people who wrote them…Black Phoenix Blues makes the case that Rodd’s investment and skill, which made him a towering talent in a milieu that gladly accepted incompetence and prized impersonal expediency over skill, might also have been what brought him down.” – Bill Meyer, Dusted
“Dating between 1966 and 1974, this collection of weirdness, performed with unnamed LA session men, includes quite a few nuggets… Keith’s ability to do a number of ‘voices’ only adds to the WTF? factor. A religious man who developed a hunger for drugs, one can see why Keith chose ‘Too Late For Tears’ and ‘Peaceful Valley,’ but the lovely “Sing My Death Note” sums up the entire project.” - Max Bell, Record Collector