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Reissue CDs Weekly: David Kauffman and Eric Caboor | reviews, news & interviews

Reissue CDs Weekly: David Kauffman and Eric Caboor

Reissue CDs Weekly: David Kauffman and Eric Caboor

Dark and intense singer-songwriter duo resurface with a hidden gem

David Kauffman (left) and Eric Caboor (right) take time out on suicide bridge

 

David Kauffman and Eric Caboor: Songs From Suicide BridgeDavid Kauffman and Eric Caboor: Songs From Suicide Bridge

The tale of David Kauffman and Eric Caboor is not unusual. Two singer-songwriters form a duo, play some live shows to zero interest, record an album which goes nowhere after it’s privately pressed and then – nothing. Kauffman and Caboor though recorded a gem which, in terms of its haunting mood and quality of songwriting, belies its obscurity. Songs From Suicide Bridge, which was barely released in 1984, is as good as James Taylor at his most naked, and as evocative as Elliott Smith. The album sounds as if it could have been recorded at any point between 1967 and now.

Songs From Suicide Bridge was originally pressed in an edition of 500. Of these, 150 were sent to independent radio stations. Some were sold at live shows. A few Los Angeles-area record shops stocked it. David Kauffman and Eric Caboor made little to no impact.

With their sole album and its expressive songs, Kauffman and Caboor tapped into a muse shared by the Dino Valenti’s sole album and the wounded side of Tim Hardin. “Life Without Love” is dark, intense and relentless. The lyrics repeat “I don’t care” over and over. The extraordinary “Backwoods” can be played back-to-back with Jackson C. Frank’s “My Name is Carnival” without breaking the mood. “Where’s the Understanding” tells of pain and useless days. The album’s closer “One More Day (You’ll Fly Again)” is a sensitive, very James Taylor-esque mediation on being alone and wasting time.

David Kauffman and Eric CaboorGrass roots music in the Los Angeles of 1984 was not about sensitive singer-songwriters. It was about hardcore punk, the paisley underground and emergent hair metal scenes. Kauffman and Caboor were onto a loser. They knew they were

David Kauffman shipped off from New Jersey to Los Angeles in 1978. He wanted to emulate the success of Joni Mitchell and Randy Newman and played coffee houses and cafes – anywhere that he could. He worked as a waiter. Eric Caboor first saw Kauffman in 1981 at a club called The Basement. The California native did not want to play live but did write songs. Caboor was a fan of country rock: The Flying Burrito Brothers, Poco and the Seventies Byrds. He also loved Neil Young. The pair teamed up and began recording together in 1983. They knew, as Kauffman says in the liner notes, that they “weren’t going to be the darlings of the music industry.”

They were well aware their music and its mood were out of step with the times. When they decided to press an album they titled it after the Colorado Street Bridge which linked Pasadena to Los Angeles. Locals called it the “suicide bridge” as, by the 1980s, over 100 people had ended their lives by jumping from it. Kauffman and Caboor recorded their most uncommercial songs and Songs From Suicide Bridge – almost titled Greetings From Suicide Bridge – was the result.

it is a fantastic album. The reissue is well presented, has the input of both protagonists and includes extensive liner notes. Not mentioned is whether they tested the waters of the Sixties-inclined paisley underground scene, which may have been receptive to their brand of music. But Kauffman and Caboor were not hip. Now though, 40 years on, they sound like a breath of fresh air. Seek this gem out.

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