Q (Magazine) (p.117) - 3 stars out of 5 -- "[W]ry, cello-throated Hazlewood is such splendid company that you almost feel as if you're carousing in a Gotland wood cabin with him."
Mojo (Publisher) (p.102) - 4 stars out of 5 -- "The sweeping, elegant 'Souls Island' opens A HOUSE SAFE FOR TIGERS. It's a bona fide Lee Hazlewood classic: mournful and orchestrated, imbued with a heart-rending yearning."
Personnel: Anders Nord, Hasse Rosén, Lennart Nyhlén (acoustic guitar); Janne Schaffer (electric guitar); Radio Symphony Orchestra of Sweden (strings); Luciano Mosetti (harmonica, trumpet); Lars-Erik Rönn, Yngve Sandström, Olle Eriksson, Sölve Klingstedt (woodwinds); Jan Kling, Uffe Andersson (tenor saxophone); Americo Bellotto, Weine Renliden, Gunnar Gunrup, Lalle Fürst, Hannu Hållman (trumpet); Gunnar Wennberg, Bengt Sundberg (French horn); Jörgen Johansson, Torgny Nilsson (trombone); Mats Olsson , Kjell Öhman, Alain Leroux, Jan Boqvist (keyboards); Rutger Gunnarsson, Jan Bergman (electric bass); Douglas Westlund (drums); Malando Gassama (congas); Georg Vollbrecht (timpani).
Audio Remasterer: Dave Cooley.
Liner Note Author: Wyndham Wallace.
Recording information: Europa-Film.
Arranger: Mats Olsson .
Regarded as one of his more obscure albums, this is the soundtrack to one of the many television movies Hazlewood made as a recluse in early-'70s Sweden. Directed by his friend Torbjörn Axelman, A House Safe for Tigers is accompanied by some of his strongest material. Filmed in documentary style, the movie finds Hazlewood and Axelman embarking on a nostalgic trip through their childhood days and contemplating the meaning of life. True, most viewers with a general education might be hard-pressed figuring out any meaning whatsoever, since considerable parts of A House Safe for Tigers are spoken in Swedish and sometimes even recited in Latin. Hazlewood makes up for this by offering some marvelous anecdotes, completely in line with his songwriting skills. The story about the bum who one day visited his parents' house and helped a youthful Hazlewood to get rid of his stutter is especially insightful. The movie derives its title from Swedish folklore, wherein everyday life is kept safe from "tigers" (problems, misfortune) by the peculiar practice of throwing flowers around the house. Cultish pretensions left alone, the accompanying soundtrack to A House Safe for Tigers could be viewed as the mirror image of 1973's sublime Poet, Fool or Bum. While the latter partly dealt with Hazlewood's hectic experiences touring the Las Vegas circuit in the early '70s, the former focuses on enjoying his laid-back, newly found life in Sweden. There's a beautiful ode to Gotland, the island Hazlewood fell in love with during the shooting of the television movie Cowboy in Sweden. Its breathtaking orchestral arrangements and never-ending fade-out lends "Souls Island" an epic quality. Axelman's words to a second version even add further fuel to the myth of the "cowboy in Sweden." Next to it there's a mixture of old songs (curiously, a version of the Shacklefords' "Our Little Boy Blue" is included here) and a couple of new ones of which the bravado of "Lars Gunnar and Me" and the moving title song are worth mentioning. The music and images of Hazlewood singing to Axelman's family, running the Gotland marathon, and convincing Swedish children to take sides against Nixon turn both movie and album into a celebration of the enduring friendship between artist and director. ~ Quint Kik
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