The definitive reissue of HAIR composer Galt MacDermot’s quirky masterwork, the impressionistic soundtrack of filmmaker and photographer Martine Barrat’s film for designer Yves St. Laurent. Lacquered by Bernie Grundman in an all-analog transfer from the original master tape.
The Now-Again edition of Woman Is Sweeter contains an extensive, oversized book with an essay on MacDermot’s life in music by his long time friend and Now-Again’s founder Eothen Alapatt; unpublished and rare photos.
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HAIR’s royalties bought Galt MacDermot the ability to create on his own terms, to work with musicians he respected, and who respected him, as they recorded his compositions for issue on his own Kilmarnock Records. He brought his friends – bassist Jimmy Lewis, guitarist Charlie Brown and drummer Idris Muhammad into HAIR’s band, and he spent 1968 developing his rapport with the ensemble, testing out rhythmic ideas with Muhammad and his best friend Bernard Purdie.
MacDermot was considered a rock composer, a mantle he begrudgingly accepted, if only because he tired of explaining what his music really was. He and his closest musician pals were all steeped in the tradition of jazz and R&B and many were instrumental in the development of the music we now consider funk. But MacDermot wasn’t a funk musician and, though he had grown bored with jazz, he hadn’t tired of the genre’s best elements. MacDermot, like the greatest of the era, from David Axelrod to Sun Ra, created timeless music by consciously avoiding everything but what felt right to him. As such, his music took influence from the baroque, from Africa, from rock and from, mainly, the ideas his trusted friends brought into the studio when he brought them his ideas. Below, stream Woman Is Sweeter‘s most famous song “Space,” propelled by Idris Muhammad and with bassist Jimmy Lewis and guitarist Charlie Brown allowing MacDermot’s Rocksichord all of the room he needed to create a minimalist classic:
As you hear above, MacDermot’s best from this era is understated yet grand – his beautiful melodies ornamented only by the necessary rhythmic additions to keep the listener engaged to his song’s completion. A great MacDermot composition resolves itself in an odd way, leaving you feeling like you just said goodbye to a close friend. You’re touched with a certain sadness after the song has faded. You’re immediately ready to welcome it again.