The Carolyn Hester Coalition The Carolyn Hester Coalition / Magazine

The Carolyn Hester Coalition The Carolyn Hester Coalition / Magazine
The cover of the first Caroline Hester Coalition record features a blonde, longhaired Hester, breasts barely contained by an embroidered vest, hugging three very nebbish fellows to her waist. Despite appearances, Hester was not an adult movie star and her Coalition didn't play schmaltzy covers of '60s hits. In fact, the album is not as campy as it looks, although it's certainly of its time. Hester was actually a long-haul Greenwich folkie, best known nowadays for her brief marriage to Richard Farina and association with a young, unsigned Bob Dylan; the Coalition were her foray into psychedelia, featuring an all-male team of pros. The band survived for two albums ― a self-titled debut and Magazine ― both of which bear the marks of Hester's folk revivalist past: starry-eyed idealism and girlish, high-pitched vocals. The records are similar, with roughly the same ratio of high to low points, and both are surprisingly enjoyable listens, with startlingly great moments (jazzy tunes "Hey, Jay" and "Plant the Crops in the Garden") alongside awful ones (a cover of "Last Night I had the Strangest Dream," which I still associate with elementary school choir practice, and a maudlin version of "St. James Infirmary Blues" that could compete with the Beach Boys' "Student Demonstration Time" for worst countercultural adaptation of a classic song). Any fan of '60s music needs to stomach a bit of syrup, and Hester, while at times painfully earnest, redeems herself with great tunes, a lovely voice and a beautiful hippie lid to match. (Sunbeam)