Artist Current Web Site: http://williamackerman.com/music.html
It Takes a Year is the second album by William Ackerman and the third issue on the Windham Hill label. Certainly the album is best known for introducing us to Ackerman’s most famous song “The Bricklayer’s Beautiful Daughter.” There is much more to the album than the opening track – “It Takes a Year”, deftly transitions between fast-paced folk guitar songs and graceful, contemplative, almost melancholy studies.
Ackerman has said that “The Impending Death of the Virgin Spirit” is about the feeling of innocence he had before his mother passed away when he was 12 – the same year he first took up the guitar. Just a beautiful piece – and one he would rerecord several times.
This is an album worth revisiting if you already own it, and sampling if you don’t. As the title implies a maturing and patience, “It Takes a Year” shows the key musical development of Ackerman with themes that he would work time and again over the next 30 years; Bricklayer’s Beautiful Daughter he has recorded at least twice more.
Produced again by Scott Saxon, the album was mastered by the legendary Stan Ricker. While not as consistent in sound as later albums, the recording still invites an intimate encounter with Ackerman’s guitar. Ackerman points out that one of the microphones he owns at Imaginary Road Studious is worth more than the entire recording budget for his first four albums, the sound is still quite good on the vinyl pressings, even if the steel strings sometimes show more of their metal than mettle.
Notably, this is the first Windham Hill album to use the ECM Records-inspired graphics that came to define the Windham Hill look.
I’ve been in touch with Scott Saxon and hope to report some additional details about the recording work he did on the early Windham Hill albums.
The Bricklayer’s Beautiful Daughter, (3:38) 1975
Balancing, (3:35) 1975
The Impending Death of the Virgin Spirit, (5:30) 1970
It Takes a Year, (4:52) 1976
The Townshend Shuffle (4:27), 1970-1976
A Tribute To The Philosophy Of James Estell Bradley, (2:36) 1973
The Search for the Turtle’s Navel, (4:58) 1970
The Rediscovery Of Big Bug Creek, Arizona, (3:03) 1973
- Recorded at Mantra Studios, San Mateo, CA
- Engineered and mixed by Scott Saxon
- Mastered by Stan Ricker
- Produced by Scott Saxon
- Photography by Ron May
- Design by Jay Watkins
- All compositions by William Ackerman
- All selections Windham Hill Music BMI
- Manufactured by Windham Hill Records
- Pox 9388 Stanford, CA 94305
- © (p) Windham Hill Records 1977
“Artists, I am told, are always searching for a new medium to explore. I honestly thought I had it, but it proved infeasible to lathe sound recordings into Tupperware. My apologies. The search goes on.”
William Ackerman 1977