By Richie Unterberger

Over the course of the four albums they'd issued prior to 1972's All Good Men, Paul Beaver and Bernie Krause had covered a great deal of sonic territory. In addition to making some of the first use of the then-new Moog synthesizer as a featured instrument, they'd incorporated tapes of environmental sounds and placed their endeavors in contexts ranging from blues and jazz to gospel. Each of the albums had been quite different from its predecessor, and so was All Good Men. However, that's where its similarity with previous Beaver and Krause records ended, for the most part. For All Good Men was a far more mainstream, vocal-oriented album than any of their previous LPs, although both Beaver and Krause were still playing the Moog.

    Other musicians had played strong supporting roles on previous Beaver and Krause albums, and All Good Men included a cast of new contributors. Arranging and conducting the record with Beaver and Krause was Jimmie Haskell, who'd worked as an arranger for such pop stars as Ricky Nelson, Glen Campbell, Simon & Garfunkel, Bobby Darin, Dean Martin, and Bobbie Gentry. Krause, who had been a folk musician in his early career (including a brief stint with the Weavers in the early 1960s, and as part of a duo with Bonnie Dobson shortly afterward), assumed vocal duties on "Looking Back Now," "Child of the Morning Sun," and "Waltz Me Around Again Willie/Real Slow Drag." Taking lead vocals on two cuts was Cris Williamson, now most known as a leading figure in the women's music genre. Singing lead on the title track, and writing three of the tracks with Krause, was Adrienne Anderson, who as Krause remembers would have some input into the direction of the record.

    "Adrienne was writing stuff for Bette Midler and Manilow," he says today. "She was local and married to a fellow who was the local BMI rep in San Francisco. He happened to have an office down the hall from ours and he introduced me to his wife. After Paul met her, we thought it would be interesting to take a shot at including vocals on an album."

    The record was an odd mix of ragtime (with Scott Joplin's "A Real Slow Drag" heard as both an opening track and a closing reprise), early-'70s style singer-songwriter fare, and the kind of Moog-paced compositions to which Beaver and Krause listeners were most accustomed. Krause does not regard the album highly, asserting, "We were all over the place on this album and it never should have been released had we had our heads screwed on right. The only cut I like is 'Legend Days Are Over'" -- one which made imaginative use of looped narration by the elderly Elizabeth Wilson, recorded in October 1971 at Nez Perce Indian Reservation. As for how some of the other contributors got involved, longtime friend Williamson "was local and we wanted a great voice. Would have helped to have better material." Jimmie Haskell "was asked, unfortunately. And did a chop-chop mediocre job on this one." And the Scott Joplin cover "was one of those bad brainstorms that occurs when an artist is distracted and trying to fill a canvas with images regardless of whether they belong in the mix."

    Bernie summarizes the results as "bad decisions all around, mostly because of the weak material. We ended up hating it. So did WB." In any case, the label would drop the duo after the LP.  "The scale was tipped when a fellow who was our copyright rep gave [Warners executive] Joe Smith a ridiculously hard time over a couple of thousand bucks related to a film that had used our stuff without prior authority," Krause adds. "Joe offered one fee. Our erstwhile rep hit him up with another. They never spoke to us again."

    Although they were no longer with Warner Brothers, Beaver and Krause continued to work together and were planning more projects before his unexpected death in early 1975. "Paul and I were working on an update of [their 1968 album] The Nonesuch Guide to Electronic Music at the time of his death in January of 1975 and had just completed the text," recalls Bernie. "I completed the music for the album and it was released in 1979. Also, we had conceived of Citadels of Mystery, which was written and recorded during the summer of 1975 and where I wrote most of the music. Originally, it was due to be released on WB but, because there was no contract, Takoma picked it up and released it (also in 1979). That album is now owned by Fantasy, which just re-released it in 2005."

    Bernie Krause, of course, has gone on to a long, esteemed career in the recording and archiving of natural soundscapes from both terrestrial and marine habitats worldwide. The holder of a Ph.D. degree in bio-acoustics, he has not only continued to release numerous musical albums incorporating such environmental sounds, but also create sound installations in museums, zoos, and other public spaces. There's more information about his work in his autobiography, Into a Wild Sanctuary: A Life in Music & Natural Sound (Heyday Books, 1998), and the website of his Wild Sanctuary company (, which provides natural sound and media design services, and has one of the largest libraries of wildlife sounds.

    While he's long established a career independent of his former partner, Bernie continues to honor the work he and Paul Beaver did as collaborators. "We each inspired the other to deliver insight to our respective strengths," he declares. "Paul's was the technology and realization end of things. Mine was more conceptual. Well-schooled musicians, we were also good friends and respectful business partners. So, as we drew on the elements and experience each of us brought to the partnership, our music reflected that harmony and connection. Basically, I don't think either of us would have realized the body of work we accomplished had it not been for the inspired help of the other." -- Richie Unterberger

contents copyright Richie Unterberger , 2000-2010
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