Boomkat Product Review:
‘Almost Lost’ is the third archival release in recent years from the almost-barely known 70s - 80s Florida pop phenomenon Frederick Michael St. Jude. In 2013 his outrageous first album ‘Here Am I’ was reissued and in 2015 his infamous unreleased second one, the ambitious concept album ‘Gang War’, finally came to light. Now, with ‘Almost Lost’, the whole story is almost told.
"The tale of FM St. Jude is one of fate sighted and of fate denied, all during the golden era of rock & roll, when you could peddle counter cultural ideas from within the system, simultaneously creating subversion and frosting-light entertainment. For FM it happened like this: after a decade of hard work and good times in the northeast, fronting a series of talented club acts, 1972 found Freddy Dengler in Florida, looking for new opportunities in showbiz.
An aspirant songwriter, an ebullient performer and a natural star, he found inspiration in the name Frederick Michael St. Jude and began stockpiling tunes designed to take the pop radio market by storm. Then in the summer of 1976, while driving through Ft. Lauderdale, Freddy fortuitously came upon SRS International Recording Studio. After presenting them with a demonstration of his tunes and inestimable performing style, FM St. Jude was soon signed to their Soul Deep label. Freddy had managed to find the perfect partnership to bring his songs to fruition as the SRS producers applied classic old-school techniques with leftfield sweetener overdubs that managed to surprise even FM himself, when he finally heard them.
Following Soul Deep’s release of ‘Here Am I’, Freddy received reports of airplay and record sales, received a royalty check and was invited back to the studio to cut more tracks. During one of these visits fate smiled down, as Freddy requested and received tape copies of all the masters he’d cut thus far. When the next twist of fate occurred - the inevitable folding and flying-by-night of SRS (who junked their tape archive on the way out of town) - it made it easier for FM St. Jude to carry on. Within a few years, he was onto a new phase that would really shake things up: his ‘Gang War’ opera. Again fate showed a cruel hand and only three tracks were released until the right thing finally happened on Drag City in 2015 - but by then the much-desired CD release of his opus was hardly the way to get the youth of America all over the world involved.
‘Almost Lost’ collects the six remaining track from the SRS period, all possessed of the same glittery, loungy charm that makes ‘Here Am I’ such a oddly compelling listen. For the deep South bonafides of the house band, all one has to do is attune one’s ear to the speakers: the rhythms are sleek and round, with undulating flow and a finely focused light touch, featuring a fluid variety of guitars and keyboard sounds colouring the arrangements. However, the star of the show is always Frederick Michael St. Jude, with his breathy, Bowie-inspired melodies and his ready-for-the-variety-show magnanimity.
Gregg Turkington’s Million Dollar Performances subsidiary label has rolled out the red carpet for this vinyl edition. The packaging features two unique cover versions representing Frederick Michael St. Jude’s unique artistic visions and an insert in which he gets to tell his own story."