The following are (excerpts of) newspaper articles published in 1969 or 1970, in chronological order.
SPIDER JOHN KOERNER & WILLIE MURPHY / DAVID ACLES / DAVID STEINBERG
CONCERT NEW YORK APRIL 1969
CASH BOX May 3
David Ackles, also with Elektra, is another singer/composer. Some of his songs possess incredible beauty (such as Road to Cairo, the title tune from his first LP), some impressive humor (such as Money for Cigarettes) but several of his tunes tend to sound too similar for our taste. Given time to build up a catalog, Ackles could become important.
CONCERT "BITTER END" NEW YORK DECEMBER 1969
CASH BOX Dec. 20, 1969
BITTER END, NYC – The return of David Ackles to the bitter End is one of the most significant events is [sic] 1969. As the year and the decade both draw to a close, the Elektra singer/pianist/composer/poet seems to be a kind of capstone, a comment on all that has gone before him.
David has been called a ‘down’ performer. It has been said that his songs are so depressing that he is no fun. Now David makes jokes about the situation, declaring that his amusing song, Laissez Faire is an ‘upper-downer’. Entering another song, he warned the audience that at the end of the set he would pass out razor blades to them.
If Ackles is depressing, it is only because he makes everyone see himself clearly for the first time, and that’s not supposed to be fun. Lou Christie is supposed to be fun. David does not deal just in entertainment, he deals in revelation through entertainment. If that sounds too strong to you, you haven’t hear David yet.
David has learned to use his deep, subtle voice better than ever and his French interpretations of his own sings, The Road to Cairo and Be My Friend are stunning and effective. As his second LP, Subway to the Country begins to attract attention all around the country, David is as unassuming as he was a year ago. Sitting up there behind his piano, looking both terribly innocent and terribly wise, David is the perfect figure of the poet. He seems to be everything, young and old, cruel and gentle, brilliant and foolish, everything.
David’s new songs carry the focus of the early works a step further. They gradually seem to move in the direation of theatre rather than just song, and make frequent use of internal dialogue. David talks to himself, to the characters in his songs, to us, to the world. In a new masterpiece titled American Gothic, David described the plight of a man who ‘drinks till he drowns in his dreams’, and of his wife who thrives on a wish for new shoes. They suffer, David shows us, but as he concludes ‘They suffer least who suffer what they choose,’ we realize how if we are trapped, we are trapped in ourselves, in a chaos we have constructed for ourselves, and from which we can escape only if we are willing within ourselves to struggle.
David’s music is about struggle, but it is also about the joy of triumph over pain and despair. For David, the struggle itself, win or lose, is worth it.
DAVID ACKLES / MORGEN
CONCERT "BITTER END" NEW YORK Dec. 13, 1969
BILLBOARD Dec. 27, 1969
NEW YORK – David Avkles has developed into a more effective folk performer than his first set at the Bitter End, Dec. 13, showed. The show opened with Morgen, a heavy group whose strong lyrics helped the unit succeed in a club accustomed to softer sounds.
Ackles was at his communicative best, both in his interpretations of his fine material, and in his comments to the packed audience. The Electra Records artist opened with bitter smiles as he sang Main Line Saloon from his latest album. That’s No Reason to Cry and Subway to the Country were other good selections from the LP, while What a Happy Day was a good songs from his first Elektra album.
A bitterness now asserts itself in Ackles as evidenced by a song based on the killing of two citizens by West Coast police and another number patterned after Brecht. Ackles accompanied himself on piano throughout.
AL KOOPER / DAVID ACKLES
CONCERT "TOWN HALL" NEW YORK JANUARY 1970
CASH BOX Jan. 17, 1970
TOWN HALL, NEW YORK – Al Kooper headlines a beautifully balanced concert last weekend at Town Hall. The concert’s balance should be noted because it was not the normal run of pop performance where each act on the bill attempts to blast the audience out of its collective seats. Poet/composer/singer David ACkles opened the evening for Kooper, who was backed by the Eddy Jacobs Exchange.
The concert’s balance referred to earlier was effected by the unadorned, subtle, moving performance of David Ackles. As of this moment, Ackles is not a widely known talent. That situation is bound to change with a broadening personal appearances such as these and exposure of his excellent compositions.
Contrasted with Kooper’s performance, Ackles just walked to the piano at center stage, dressed in blue jeans, work shirt, and construction boots, and proceeded to accompany himself on a half dozen of his own works. The word ‘work’ is much more fitting than ‘song’ to describe the music which David Ackles writes.
Ackles’ ‘works’ transmit a feeling of lived experience, of honest emotion and, as their creator, his rendition of them is totally effective. As a singer, Ackles is a sort of hybrid. Essentially he has the vocal character of a cabaret singer; one perfectly suited for intimate clubs where he can deal with the audience on a note to note basis. But there is also a great deal of the minstrel, the open road singer, in him as well.
All in all a marvelously enjoyable evening.
REVIEW OF SUBWAY TO THE COUNTRY
INTERNATIONAL TIMES Feb. 12, 1970
INCONGROUSLY, A PIANO PLAYING POET. Ackles has the vision, warmth and understanding of his guitar strumming Levi-clad colleagues. He also possesses a distinctive voice with a tremulous soft edge – he sounds a little like an American Gilbert Bercaud – which is enigmatically haunting.
Those who've seen him on his rare British appearances will automatically buy this album; the familiar tales of resigned sorrow and humanity despaired, laced with bitter-sweet humour are as plentiful as ever. But the arrangements, by Fred Myrow, are lusher and more powerful than ever and will add to the 'sales appeal' (yuck) of this record amonst he uninitiated.