Say It's Your Birthday: Tom Rush

One of the major figures in the Boston-Cambridge folk

music boom of the early sixties, today's birthday troubadour, Tom Rush is still

very much on active duty in the world of the perennially unplugged. His

operation is now based on a large spread in the New Hampshire countryside and

includes a record label, artist direction and concert booking, in addition to

his own sporadic performing schedule. He'll still record when the mood strikes

him, and most of his best work has remained in print over the years. Best of

all was the Circle Game. Released months before Sergeant Pepper's

Lonely Heart's Club Band in the early spring of 1967, it is arguable the

first concept album of the rock era. What makes the work truly memorable has

less to do with the conceptual angle than with the songs Rush selected to tell

his tale of a failed relationship. Always more of a song-finder than a writer,

here he hits the aesthetic jackpot. This one little vinyl pancake was

responsible for introducing us to the songwriting talents of Joni Mitchell,

James Taylor, and Jackson Browne. How's that for a concept? And just to put the

icing on this birthday cake one of the album's very best songs "No Regrets,"

was a Rush original and would be made into an international hit four years

later by the Walker Brothers (oh yeah, and the album cover shot was another

first, this one for an aspiring photographer named Linda Eastman.). How many

stars would we give the Circle Game? How many you got? Other birthdays

today Will Turpin (Collective Soul), Jim Capaldi (Traffic), Vince Neil (Motley

Crue), Terry Melcher, and James Dean.