BSR003 – Kristi Kimsey – As I Look Back (LP)


・Collection of songs by Midwest-born, London-based singer-songwriter Kristi Kimsey, recorded in the 1970s and lost for nearly half a century.
・Made up by the gurus making blues inexplicably pop: Keith Richards, Alvin Lee, Mick Ralphs, Frank Carillo, and Chris Kimsey.
・Mastered & half-speed cut by Miles Showell at Abbey Road Studios.
・Vinyl pressed via RTI.
・Designed by Commission Studio.
・Packaged in a box made of white paper and red translucent sheet specially made in Japan by Morikawa Paper.
・Includes liner notes publishing a full-length interview conducted by Cedric Bardawil.

*Shipped from Japan.
*Limited to one per customer.
*A special gift autographed by Kristi & Chris Kimsey comes with it, only for purchases on our website.

1. As I Look Back (1:49)
2. Trying To Get Back To You (Hook End) (4:31)
3. Ring Around The Sun (4:20)
4. Sweet Elvis (2:32)
5. Hold Me Baby (3:54)

1. Loves Rhythm (4:15)
2. Trying To Get Back To You (3:49)
3. Let’s Go Steady Again (2:47)
4. Ladies Out There (3:15)


Liner notes by Stephen Deusner (2023.5)

Kristi Kimsey, the Midwest-born, London-based singer-songwriter just making her debut after fifty years in the music business, knows how to find a song’s secret passages. On “Trying to Get Back to You,” she settles into the groove, playing around with the meter and melody, worrying over the implications of lines or phrases that other singers might miss. “I’ve been traveling here and there, everywhere,” she sings. “Yeah, just searching for some piece of mind.” Opening as a soulful torch ballad, the song breaks into a gently funky bridge and Kimsey navigates the transition gracefully, her voice robust, forceful, yet nimble: a soul singer’s power with a jazz singer’s agility. When she sings, she’s thinking about the boundless possibilities held within every note.

“When I wrote that song, I was talking about getting back to faith, getting back to your spiritual self,” she says. “It’s about getting back to your essence. It was a time when I was at a crossroads and felt I needed to get back to myself.” She was in her mid twenties, already a wanderer who’d traveled the globe and wound up in England among a coterie of rock stars. She been waiting nearly fifty years to finally release this hymn to spiritual self-realization, which is the lynchpin on her debut, As I Look Back—a collection of songs recorded in the 1970s and unearthed in the past few years. Her story is one of perseverance, acceptance, innovation, and—most of all, she declares unabashedly—love. She sings about her love for music, her love for community, and her love for her husband, the famed producer/engineer Chris Kimsey (Rolling Stones, Peter Frampton, Duran Duran).

“Then and now, this whole project is about love,” she says. “The songs are all about loving someone and being loved and expressing that.” These aren’t simply love songs, however; they’re complex meditations on struggle and confusion, desire and commitment: How much of yourself do you give away to another person, and how much do you keep? Those questions, along with Kristi’s vibrant performances, make these songs as powerful today as they were decades ago.

Raised in Deephaven, Minnesota, Kristi Barton left home and hit the road as a teenager, busking her way through Mexico and Europe, picking up new musical ideas and techniques along the way. “There’s a rhythmic feel to her guitar playing,” says Chris. “It’s not a traditional acoustic rhythm guitar. She’s got a particular style that came from her travels in Mexico.” Eventually Kristi found herself in England, where she fell in with a crew of likeminded artists that included Alvin Lee. While staying at his Hookend Manor in Oxfordshire, she met Chris, a musician and aspiring producer. It was love at first sight, and the couple quickly became inseparable. Kristi sang backup for Lee and other artists, while her new husband manned the board in the control room. Along the way she wrote her own songs and even recorded them after hours.

“All of my songs were done in a very spontaneous way,” she says. “I was doing backing vocals for Frank Carillo and his band at Longview Farm Studios, and when they heard my songs, they wanted to record some of them. They would be recording all day, then after dinner we’d play around with my songs. So the sessions were all very relaxed and natural. All the songs were cut live in the studio. There are no overdubs. We didn’t have a chance to fix anything up at the time. I think there’s a beauty to that.” She co-wrote “Sweet Elvis” within fifteen minutes of hearing about her hero’s death, and they recorded the song in even less time, capturing a mood somewhere between a funeral and a wake. Other songs, like “Hold Me Baby” and “Rings Around the Sun,” sound more polished, with a country-rock flair that suits Kristi’s vocals and lyrics.

Fifty years later, these recordings not only chronicle an important time in Kristi’s life, but document a community that lived for making music, making art of any kind. “There was a time in the ‘70s and ‘80s when musicians just loved playing together. They were all up for playing on someone else’s album. There was no ego, no sense of big business. It was just about making music together.” Traveling and working with her husband, Kristi made music with some of the biggest names of the era. “Keith Richards asked me to do a duet with him while we were working on Emotional Rescue at Compass Point in Nassau in 1979,” she recalls. “We did it in one take, which was so disappointing! I was having so much fun singing with him and could have gone all day.”

Rather than get a boost into the industry, Kristi saw up close what it took to create and maintain a career in rock and roll. “I didn’t really crave the stage, and I didn’t want to be on the road for nine months at a time. I just had to admit that I didn’t have the energy to pursue that. I saw what it took to have that kind of life, and I understood that it just wasn’t who I am. I had the validation of my peers and the people I really respected, so I didn’t need the rest of it.” After recording lead vocals for the 1978 LP Love Train by the French disco group Crystal Glass, Kristi gradually stopped recording her own songs, instead focusing on assisting her husband in the studio.

The masters they had assembled and kept were damaged beyond repair in a flood, and the couple thought they had forever lost these snapshots of their younger days. However, Chris had been working in studios around the world, and at every one he asked to make a cassette copy of his wife’s recordings. “We ended up with cassettes and cassettes and cassettes,” he says with a laugh. “Those were the only things that remained after we lost the masters.” Most of those were thought lost, however, until the couple took the time to organize their massive archive of tapes, photographs, and memorabilia during the pandemic. “We both cried our eyes out when we found the cassettes,” she says. “Especially when we found the cassette of my song that Alvin recorded at his studio. I thought that didn’t exist. I thought nothing remained. It was like finding holy treasure.”

These artifacts were in good enough shape that they didn’t need the masters after all. “They’d been wrapped up in boxes in the dark,” says Chris, “so they hadn’t been exposed to any daylight. They sounded so good. These recordings have truly made a miraculous journey.” The couple dusted them off, cleaned them up, and assembled the songs into the album that Kristi might have released in the late 1970s. Especially for a group of songs that have been lost for nearly half a century, As I Look Back still conveys that sense of spontaneity, that feeling that these songs are being created in the very moment you’re listening to them. Kristi’s love of singing comes through in every note, as though she’s always singing her songs for the first time. That love hasn’t diminished over time, but has only grown.

“I can’t believe I’m finally releasing my first album at the age of 70! It’s the most special chapter in my life, because I never expected any of this to happen.”