Johnny J. Blair – Train Tracks in the Snow

Johnny J. Blair
Train Tracks in the Snow
1988 (no label)
San Francisco, California, USA

Johnny J. Blair – Lead vocals, harmony vocals, guitar, bass, banjo, drums, drum programs, keyboards, percussives, and violins. Except where noted.

Side 1:

  1. Open the Presents
  2. Green-on-Red / Frontiers of Love
  3. Silent Night
  4. When the Snow Came Down
  5. Jingle Bells 1 & 2
  6. What’s Been Done
  7. Lose It – Find It
  8. Winterlude
  9. I Love You So Much

Side 2:

  1. It Came Upon a Midnight Clear
  2. Do Ya Want To Know It?
  3. We Pay Our Dues
  4. A Frosty Picnic on Aran
  5. Sequel to the Sequel
  6. Circles and Cycles
  7. Helicopters Over the Glacier
  8. A Small Atlas is a Perfect Gift
  9. Seems Like It’s Time
  10. I’ve Been Workin’ on the Railroad
  11. Train Tracks on White Fields

This is a collection of Christmas songs and Christmas-related songs. A few of these songs are covers of well-known tunes, or re-recorded versions of songs from Door in the Water and Yellow House. The styles are all over the place – from acoustic to rock to alternative to Celtic to a capella to all kinds of other styles. It is kind of a collection of tunes as much as a singular album. However, Blair is a very talented musician and songwriter, so any collection of his will showcase all he has to offer. I believe I have said this before, but he is still making music, so be sure to check out his BandCamp page for new music as he releases it.


Johnny J. Blair – Normal Songs & Near Hits 1978-1989

Johnny J. Blair
Normal Songs & Near Hits 1978-1989
1989 (no label)
San Francisco, California, USA

Side 1:

  1. Journalistic Girl (+)
  2. When the Snow Came Down (++)
  3. (I Wanna Bein) Pennsylvania (‡)
  4. Permanent Vacation (+)
  5. Please Don’t Wait Too Long (‡‡‡) (‡‡)
  6. Welcome to the Open Door (‡‡‡)
  7. Sequel To The Sequel (++)
  8. When I was Out to Glorify Myself (+++)
  9. Lose It-Find It (++)

Side 2:

  1. Desert Ruby (+++) (‡‡)
  2. Just as I Am (‡)
  3. The First Stone (+++) (‡‡)
  4. Dreams and Sermons Volume One (+)
  5. Apathy (+)
  6. Ya Gotta Care (*) (‡‡)
  7. One Planet-One Utopia-One Helmet (‡‡‡)
  8. Eternal Life #2 (+++)

This is a compilation of songs for various Johnny J. Blair albums, as well as some previously unreleased songs and remixed versions. I have tried my best to mark where each one comes from:

(‡) previously unreleased
(‡‡) 1989 remix
(‡‡‡) Door in the Water
(*) Care Packages
(+) Yellow House
(++) Train Tracks in the Snow
(+++) Johnny J. Blair (“The Green Album”)

Overall, it works as a good introduction to Johnny J Blair’s work, or even a greatest hits compilation. Of course, it also has a long list of contributors and musicians that I don’t have time to list right now. The production values also vary from song to song, as some were demos and others were final album songs.

Johnny J. Blair – Yellow House

Johnny J. Blair
Yellow House
1988 (no label)
San Francisco, California, USA

Johnny J Blair – Lead and harmony vocals, bass, banjo, drums, drum programming, guitars (acoustic/electric/slide/12 string), Hand percussion, keyboards, violin

Side 1:

  1. Dmitri Karamazov Escapes
  2. Open The Book
  3. Journalistic Girl
  4. Teen Reporter Meets the King of African Rockabilly
  5. Prayer for a Dying Rhino
  6. Apathy
  7. Ya Gotta Care (1983 version)
  8. Peter Lawford’s Last Words
  9. Sho Hideyo
  10. Yellow House
  11. Eros Obedient
  12. Polemics and Derision

Side 2:

  1. Do You Wanna Know It?
  2. Out of the Noisy Planet
  3. Permanent Vacation
  4. Seems Like Its Time
  5. Richard Quatermaine Was There
  6. Holds Me With The Muse
  7. Desert Ruby
  8. Dreams and Sermons Volume One
  9. Dreams and Sermons Volume Two

This is one of many uber collections by Johnny J. Blair. It came with a full page insert that describes the various projects and sources of each song, as well as the long list of the guest musicians that contributed to each one (even though it was still mostly Blair on each one). However, many of these songs seem to come from a band called October than Blair was a part of at one time. You can see by Blair’s BandCamp page that he is very prolific and quite active to this day. As you can guess, the music is a bit all over the place, but in this case it works well. There are several experimental songs, but all tunes would fit generally under the “alternative” label (although many are pure experimentation coolness and others are pure pop goodness).

Johnny J. Blair & October – 000

Johnny J. Blair & October
1988 (no label)
San Francisco, California, USA

October was:
Johnny J. Blair – Mostly lead vocals & guitars, but also banjo, bass, keyboards, & percussives
Ron Davis – Mostly drums, congas, and timbales
Chris Haggerty – Mostly guitar and vocals, occasionally saxophone
Victor Valverde – Mostly bass and lead vocals, but also guitar, harmonica, and keyboards
Bridget Purifoy & Anna Valdez – Harmony vocals and occasional percussives

Side 1:

  1. Love, Love Alone (DJ demo 1988)
  2. Spirit (outtake 1986)
  3. Apathy (live 5/5/86)
  4. Seven Long Years (live 5/5/86)
  5. Dancin’ by the River (unreleased 1986)
  6. One Fine Day (unreleased instrumental version 1986)
  7. Ready and Willing (unreleased 1986)
  8. Do Ya Wanna Know It? (alternative version 1986)
  9. And Nobody Else (alternative version 1986)
  10. Everything is Everything (alternative instrumental version 1986)

Side 2:

  1. Real Planet – Real World – Real Peace (unreleased 1986)
  2. Desert Ruby (rehearsal 3/86)
  3. One Fine Day (unreleased 1986)
  4. Love is Strange (rehearsal 3/86)
  5. Fascist Architecture (demo 1984)
  6. KUSF Interview 1986
  7. Welcome to the Open Door (alternative version 1984)

The liner notes state that most of the October tracks were intended for an abandoned LP called Permanent Vacation, while the other tracks come from sessions surrounding 1986 – the year that October was most active. Not sure which ones are the October tracks and which ones are the other ones, though. However, this is Johnny J. Blair, and so these songs are a cut above your average musician. Many of them are recorded at demo or live quality, though. The cover says this is not for sale several times, so I am sure this wasn’t meant to get out beyond certain circles. Many people know Blair from his classic Door in the Water album on Morada Records in 1985, but he is more than that. Johnny J. Blair is still active to this day, and you can find other versions of many of these tracks along with newer songs as well on his BandCamp page.