= August 2018 =  
Soft Hearted Scientists
John Howard
Nathan Hall
Dancing Mice
Dom Mariani
the Grip Weeds
Hanterhir
Plinth
Melody Fields
Neotropic
Donovan's Brain
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
   

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SOFT HEARTED SCIENTISTS -TAKE TIME TO WONDER IN A WHIRLING WORLD
JOHN HOWARD - KID IN A BIG WORLD
JOHN HOWARD -THE HIDDEN BEAUTY
(LPs from You Are The Cosmos )

The debut album by Welsh wizards Soft Hearted Scientists was released about ten years ago and now sees its first vinyl release. The album starts with “The A470 Song”, a gently chanted haiku of a song which extols the virtues of said road, the first time I heard this it made me want to take a trip from Cardiff to Llandudno, the route of the road in the title, I finally got to do this a few weeks ago. The song tells of glittering skies, waterfalls and mountains, it’s accompanied by synths and gently strummed acoustic guitars, a terrific opening song.

This is followed by “I Wanted You”, an infectious shuffling song that takes in a billion years on planet earth. “Light Years To Nothing”, a dreaming song of space and time, woozy and slightly exotic, it asks the question ‘who wants to be the last of anything’? “Siberia”, is superb, a clicking, whirring, cyclical song of hummingbirds, Northern Lights, seven seas, of messages in bottles, but really it’s about lost love. “Meet Me At The Milky Way”, a brief banjo inflected interlude.

 Side two starts with “Rockford’s Return”, it begins with a cuckoo clock, before a sitar, whirling synths and massed acoustics conspire to create a soft psych epic. “Eyes”, follows, a pretty psych concoction that tells of striving and longing, follow your dreams, just don’t sit around all day watching reality TV. “I’ll Be Happy When I’m Sleeping”, an amusing tale of life in the middle ages and the comforts that progress has afforded us. “Hawthorn”, an arboreal psych inflected folk song. The album ends with the gorgeous “Drops In The Ocean”.  Amongst the instruments played are omnichord, pine cones, lunar cycles and sazz. Somewhere a cat purrs and we are treated to the ambient sounds of a Cardiff bus. The vinyl format omits the ten minute “Caterpillar Song”, which is included in the package on the accompanying CD. I love this album and hope that it does well for them. It deserves to be heard and is a modern day psych classic.

Kid In A Big World is a reissue of the 1975 album by English singer songwriter John Howard who was signed to CBS records.  It was recorded at the esteemed Abbey Road studios and produced by Tony Meehan.  The record starts with “Goodbye Suzie”, which was released as a single, it was a catchy song, but the subject matter concerned a suicide much like the Paul Siebel song “Louise” from a couple of years earlier. The single didn’t really set the charts alight for John, but I feel with enough exposure it certainly would have, Radio 1 refused to play it, considering it too depressing. “Family Man”, follows, it’s introduced by a sprightly piano motif, this one explores the role of traditional family values. The album explores various musical themes like glam rock and dramatic pop balladry. John’s instrument is the piano, which he plays in fine style across all the selections on this album. If comparisons are required think Elton John, David Bowie in his Anthony Newley phase or perhaps (whisper it…) Gilbert O’Sullivan. “The Flame”, has some nice touches, it’s a well observed yearning ballad, with some fine piano and lead guitar. “Maybe Someday In Miami”, is decorated by some lovely orchestral touches. “Gone Away”, is a baroque sounding song, embellished by harpsichord and vibes, again decorated by some fine orchestration.

Side two begins with “Missing Key”, a terrific ballad, again beautifully observed. “Spellbound”, is good fun, infested by horns and a nice descending bass line, crunchy and cool. “Guess Who’s Coming To Dinner”, is playful and seductive, very clever song writing, inhabited by the Marvel superheroes of Superman, Batman and Spiderman, very 70’s and expertly arranged, with some nice wibbling synth by Rod Argent. “Deadly Nightshade”, again has some punchy horns, it’s a short song about life’s uncertainties. The record ends with the title track, swooping strings, a roaring twenties feel, another well observed song that is about the transitory nature of stardom which unfortunately didn’t happen for John at the time with this album, but it has been steadily gaining traction over the last twenty or so years and is indeed now regarded as a lost classic.
 
The label have also issued an album of various songs that John also recorded throughout the seventies, some were produced by Eddie Pumer, some by Trevor Horn, with a few by John himself.  John Howard -The Hidden Beauty, is much more than a collection of odds and sods, containing as it does some equally great songs, I won’t go through them all, but highlights for me are opener “3 Years”,  recorded a couple of years earlier in 1973, it shows that John’s distinctive style was already in place by then. “Is this My Love”, is a cover of a song by Norman (Hurricane) Smith, which fits John like a glove. “Small town Big Adventures”, which shows off John’s falsetto, it shuffles along nicely to a cool piano figure and dramatic supporting instruments. “Stay”, from 1977 and produced by Trevor Horn is also excellent, why this one wasn’t all over the airwaves is beyond me, maybe it was just out of time, it has some great guitar and an arp synth stringing along. “Comic Strip”, “Pearl parade”, dedicated to Fred and Ginger. The record ends with “Loving You”, a song from 1979 which questions a starlet’s life in the bright lights of the city, too much booze and too much rouge.
(Andrew Young)

 

NATHAN HALL and the SINISTER LOCALS – TUNGUSKA TYDFIL
(LP/CD from Bandcamp)
DANCING MICE – MODERN TEMPERS
(DL www.dancingmice.co.uk for more information)

While Soft Hearted Scientists are seemingly still on a hiatus, Nathan Hall marks time with a follow-up release to The Sinister Locals’ debut from last year, the mostly delightful Effigies.

Like its predecessor there are similarities to the distinctive sound of SHS – unsurprisingly given that Hall is principal songwriter for both bands, although perhaps there is a little more semblance of clear daylight between the two here. It’s a warm and homely collections of tunes recorded at the band’s “The Sinister House” in Cardiff and on which disparateness abounds, from an adaptation of ‘Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased)’ (which got me checking out You Tube and reliving an important part of my pre-pubescent TV viewing), to the disarmingly sunny ‘Sometimes I See You’. There are lavish splashes of Love dotted throughout, and not just in the harpsichord but the guitar phrasings too. And there are mellotrons, or what sound like them, and I’m nothing if not a sucker for those.

Cope-style keyboard runs pepper the tantalising vignette ‘Lock In At The Last Chance Saloon’ while a sitar-like drone underscores ‘Song Of A Sourpuss’ (you see, the titles aren’t half bad either). The mostly languid and innocent sounding set list occasionally veers into the genuinely sinister, for example on the Bolero-style ‘Carnival Of The Damned’ which nudges into darkly burlesque Tiger Lillies territory. And yes, there are those Hall-mark repeat lines and circular motifs that always make me wonder if Nathan doubles up as a scoutmaster leading a load of kids in a mass-whittling of penny whistles around the campfire to the strains of “ging gang gooly” or whatever. It matters not, this is a wonderful summer camp diversion from all the nastiness out there in goblin wood. Fuck Trump, embrace this.

Edinburgh’s Dancing Mice, self-deprecatingly cite their influences as ranging from the 70s to the mid-70s (which begs the question why Fruits de Mer haven’t picked them up). In fact they may be thought of as a Caledonian version of Soft Hearted Scientists, slightly less bucolic perhaps but with an added quarter turn of XTC pop sensibility. Opener ‘Saint Rita’s Matrix’ is a fine case in point, a jollity farm-full of neat hooks and melodies that also doffs a cap in the direction of Divine Comedy. ‘Swiss Disco’ is also familiarly Partridge, a little more edgy and intricate with notes of early ‘80s King Crimson in structure and arrangement. This is the one I keep coming back to. The see sawing ‘Wastewater’ and ‘ECML’ (the latter about rail travel as you might have guessed from the title and therefore likely to pique our esteemed editor’s interest) are two that, unwittingly perhaps, cement the aural bond between Edinburgh and the Cardiff. ‘Summer (It Seemed To Me)’ though is vaguely Cope-ish – think those first couple of albums with their pastoral sequences - with a hint, too, of Barrett’s ‘Scarecrow’.

Nothing at all not to like there, then. It doesn’t always strike gold, though. ’Standing In For Love’ sounds flippantly jazz-lite in an old fashioned Radio 2 style and pretty much undoes the good work of ‘Saint Rita’s Matrix’ while there is a slight tailing off in quality in the latter third before ‘The Viper’s Bite’ brings us safely home to camp, though, in a manner that might not be unbecoming of a latter-day Caravan. Truth to tell this didn’t really gel with me the first time and selective listening would still be advisable, but it’s good to see them back with this their first album since 2014. While it’s been some time in gestation (as has this review) let us not forget the old adage, that if a thing’s worth doing well it’s worth doing slowly.

(Ian Fraser)

 

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DOM MARIANI & THE MAJESTIC – THE HI SEAS
THE GRIP WEEDS - HOUSE OF VIBES
( LPs from Sugarbush Records )

Australian musician Dom Mariani was a member of The Go Starts and The Stems amongst many other projects like DM3 and The Majestic Kelp. He started his career at the beginning of the eighties and is fairly prolific. This album has some wonderful guitar playing throughout and the styles run from surf through to rock. There are quite a few highly polished pop gems to be found in the grooves of this latest album.  He plays guitars and sings and is joined by Luke Dux- on pedal steel and guitar, Stu Loasby- bass, piano and organ, Steve Mancini- guitar and Todd Pickett- drums and vocals, plus a few guests adding percussion, vocals and piano.

Many of the songs have long instrumental passages with the vocals kept to a minimum. First song “The Spider And The Sailor” an instrumental that wouldn’t be out of place on a Tarantino soundtrack it’s fairly minimal surf rock. The guitars are clean and the rhythm section provides just the right amount of support. Highlights are the short tremolo guitar dominated “Silver And Gold” which also has some nice combo organ. “Blue Olive”, has plenty of pedal steel swells, fine percussion and piano. “Angel Angeline”, another instrumental with some wicked lead guitar.

 “Hi Seas”, the title track drifts along nicely, this one has Geraldine Rey on backing vocals, you can almost feel the sea spray. “Francisco Street”, has that Duane Eddy guitar style down pat. “Sweet Dee”, is a slow languid gem, this one is fairly reminiscent of Santo And Johnny’s classic song  “Sleepwalk”,  “Hi seas”, is reprised at the end, re-titled  as “Walking On the ocean”. I have found a new summer soundtrack, it’s very, very good indeed.
 
The Grip Weeds hail from New Jersey and have a fairly extensive discography. This is a rerelease of their debut album from 1995, which has been out of print for a while now [I seem to remember reviewing it in the Ptolemaic Terrascope a lifetime ago – Phil]  They are in that Big Star, Byrds, Badfinger, Buffalo Springfield, Beatles or any other band beginning with the letter B field of pop rock, and indeed take their name from “Muskateer Gripweed” a character played by John Lennon. 

“Out Of Today”, the opening track, sets out their stall with a fine shimmering rocker. “Salad Days”, is a concise Rickenbacker led song with some fine harmonies, i’m reminded slightly of the eighties group The Smithereens. The album is squarely in the power pop arena and has some really tight songs and a polished production. “Realize”, introduces congas, acoustics and percussion, along with some shimmering guitars. “Embraces”, contains some blistering guitar and is fairly close to the classic Beatles template.
 
Side two starts with “Always Come”, a mid paced song, again with some excellent harmonies and a cool guitar solo. “Don’t Belong”, is a Paul McCartneyesque shouter. “Haunted”, has cool organ fills, spooky lyrics and atmospherics. “Realise”, has fuzz guitar, congas, a Rickenbacker sitar, plus a little bit of flute or maybe ‘tron. “Before I Close My Eyes”, is a bit more in the Brit pop vein ala Oasis. Last song “Walking In The Crowd”, has some terrific taut wiry guitars, tight harmonies and rocks along nicely. A pretty cool album all told and one that certainly deserves to be rereleased.
 
(Andrew Young)

 

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HANTERHIR – THE SAVING OF CADAN
(Five-sided LP and 2xCD from http://easyaction.co.uk)

It’s a wonder that the time honoured tradition of putting a load of musicians together in the country and leave them to their own devices hasn’t result in some calamitous Lord Of The Flies type scenario. Pleased to say that crisis seems to have been averted this time as well, as this group of indigenous Cornish musicians, coalescing around the Redruth area (recording venues include a Methodist chapel a cricket club and llama farm) find sufficient inspiration to turn in five (?) sides of vinyl or two CDs worth of material that must have stretched budgets as far as it is likely to test the stamina of anyone contemplating taking in all of this in one listen.

The results are a muscular, at times anthemic; sprawling and occasionally lumpen concept album, but full of interesting surprises. ‘Hello Sunshine’ acts almost as an overture the ambitious 21 track opus, beginning sedately enough with floating keys before clipping into action like a squat rock band from the fringes of Stonehenge circa 1980. Stirring stuff, driven along by some solid riffing and wailing sax and a good omen for what’s to follow, before a further change of mood and pace starts ringing faint Prog alarm bells. Remember, for better or worse this is a concept album after all. ‘Delivered Hope’ is dreamy eyed, a quite lovely Floydian slip of a thing and yet they can’t resist crashing through the stockade, at which points it morphs into something that sounds like Van der Graaf Generator fronted by the chap from Jethro Tull. It’s all lavishly old school and the influences map like an inter-state if not inter-space intersection, By the time ‘Step Backwards’ steps up to the plate either they’ve started recycling ideas or this has the instantly familiar and welcoming feel of a timeless folk rocker. If the latter then they need to rush-release for 6 Radio airplay (it does lose something in the 80s style soloing though).

Switching discs and ‘The Dream’ packs a pleasingly experimental, trippy feel with dub notes and has to rank as one of your reviewer’s favourite cuts. ‘Alone Again’ (as elsewhere) contains trace elements of early Bunnymen as well as a most Satie-sfactory coda with added birdsong. By ‘Worlds Apart’ my multiple selves are having a great time spotting the musical reference points (I’m winning that one, by the way). In some respects they save the best until last with ‘This Is How It’s Always Been’, a breezy semi-acoustic number with guitar and flute the fore not four to the floor. It clearly demonstrates what they’re capable of when the reign in the excess of ideas and over-delivery.

The Saving of Cadan is a rollercoaster of a ride and one that requires of the listener a plentiful anaerobic capacity. Being hard to pigeonhole means that the listener will like some it but may struggle to embrace all, and that goes for individual compositions as well as the album as a whole. This is a valiant and very worthwhile effort, though, and if it doesn’t always succeed then it isn’t going down without making an impression – one that becomes more favourable with perseverance. It is one that you’ll be tempted to dip into repeatedly in order to get the most out of the constituent parts. Replicate this live and they could prove to be a pretty useful addition to your festival, too.
(Ian Fraser)

 

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PLINTH – MUSIC FOR SMALLS LIGHTHOUSE
( www.claypipemusic.co.uk )  
Five years ago Michael Tanner delivered the album Music For Smalls Lighthouse to Frances at Clay Pipe Music, who duly adorned it with some terrific artwork and matching booklet in an edition of 500. This duly sold out within minutes. Previously it had been released as a sumptuous small hardback book and CD by the wonderful subscription only label Second Language records, in an edition of 150 in 2010. This was accompanied by a ten track 3” CDR - this remains the only edition to feature these bonus tracks.

A veteran of several Terrascope-promoted shows and festivals, Michael Tanner records under a variety of monikers, including Cloisters, Thalassing, Taskerlands and The A Lords, also contributing to music by Mark Fry and the Irish group United Bible Studies, collaborating along the way with Alison Cotton of The Left Outsides.

 It is a delightful record that is a mixture of atmospheric chamber music and neo -classical pieces. The album concerns the story of two Welsh men Thomas Howell and Thomas Griffin, who spent six months in the year 1800 living in a Lighthouse on Smalls Rock, Nr St David’s in Pembrokeshire. During this time one of the men was killed in an accident, with Howell left to look after himself with Thomas’s body flapping outside in the wind. Howell tried to push his body in to the water but it got caught up where it remained just out of his reach, eventually driving Howell insane. This is a gruesome tale but the album is far from a horror fest, it’s a cathartic listen, plenty of real sounds incorporated into the pieces, some recorded in caves, we are treated to plenty of seagulls and loads of watery sounds.

Its best listened to as a whole, it’s a pretty unique album that’s well worth trying to find a copy of, again it is one of those hard records to write about but very easy to listen to, I am fortunate to have listened to it many times over the last ten years and always find something new to admire within its 40 minutes. If you are quick you may still find a copy; it is now sold out on pre orders at source.

(Andrew Young)

 

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MELODY FIELDS – MELODY FIELDS
(CD/Streaming on Kommun 2 – SoundEffect Records)
 
You can tell a lot about a new band from its sound, especially if, like Gothenburg, Sweden outfit Melody Fields, the sound seems born fully formed and consistent throughout.  In their case, that sound contains two prime elements, deep, jangly guitars and even-keeled harmony vocals.  It’s a combination you may hear on other modern psych records, and one I absolutely love, and Melody Fields executes it to perfection on their debut.  Their label, SoundEffect Records, advises “Think of endless summer nights, infinite access to weed and a 24/7 flying carpet service, and you get a glimpse of what is going on here.”
Like the best psychedelic music, Melody Fields sounds both old and new at the same time.  While rooted deep in 1960s psych traditions, the sound is also fresh and modern.

Blasting off with the eastern-tinged “Morning Sun,” originally released as a debut single in 2017, the jangly guitars greet the listener as happily as the morning sun itself.  As the three-part harmonies enter, the song takes on a flair of Jefferson Airplane doing a sped-up take of the Velvets’ “All Tomorrow’s Parties.”  However, just when you’re settled in and want more, a squealing saxophone solo takes over the rest of the song.  In the reprise that closes the album, “Morning Sun Revisited,” the sax is replaced by a sitar.  I would have preferred they left well enough alone and left the song(s) unadorned of sax and sitar, with just the guitars and harmony vocals - which are their strengths - as they do the rest of the album, but your mileage may vary.

“Liberty” follows, and sails along at a comfortable clip.  The harmony vocals are again delightful.  The guitars follow a nicely grooving riff, with just a whiff of Robbie Krieger in the undercurrent.  And of course, the lyrics - about you guessed it, Liberty - are a positive sentiment.  Melody Fields has a way of finding your comfort zone, and lodging themselves there, and Liberty is a perfect example.

“Run” sports many layers of guitars, including acoustic guitars and a fuzz guitar that plays the repeating main riff, and yet more guitar tones on the solos.  And as always, they take great care with the vocal harmonies.

“Rain Man” is my favorite track on the album.  After a quavering intro with a “Baba O’Reilly”-type synth, heavy guitars and three-part harmony vocals thunderously crash on the shore.  The guitars canter along similar to the Fabs’ “Rain,” but heavier (the guitars, not the rain, that is).  The song features a catchy chorus, and the more chilled the voices are, the more powerful the overall effect.  The instrumental break features a veritable sonic attack of layered guitars and effects.  It’s “Rain Man” that plants Melody Fields firmly on the map.

Next up is “Fire.”  Another guitar wonderland, Fire starts with an acoustic intro, then transits descending electric guitar riffs.  I’ll give a shout-out to the production team at this point.  On tracks like Fire, they do a nice job of sound-separating the acoustic and electric guitars, low and high parts, and many tones and effects, that in the hands of amateurs would be relegated to mush.  It’s certainly not the case here.

The ten-minute slow-burning potboiler “Tradgransen” is another favorite.  (Unfortunately, my word processing skills aren’t sufficiently up to par to properly place the umlats.)  Tradgransen is basically three sections.  An eastern-flavored quiet guitar figure opens, vaguely reminiscent of the break in Tim Buckley’s “Song Slowly Song.” This quietly builds until soft, soothing harmony vocals enter around three minutes in.  The vocals are as usual, full of self-control, as the drummer backs them on the toms.  However, storm clouds gather, and again Melody Fields prove less is more as the vocals maintain their quiet composure, yea as the hounds from hell seem to gather round, making for a dramatic contrast.  The dam inevitably bursts, and we are subject to all the psychedelic explosive fire and fury, sound and guitars Melody Fields can throw at us, which is a lot.  A brief return to the quiet opening section rounds out a striking piece.

Melody Fields are off to a fine start.  The band both pays homage to the greats of the past, as well as constructing a winning, contemporary style all their own.  Another helping, please.

(Mark Feingold)

 

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NEOTROPIC – THE ABSOLUTE ELSEWHERE  
( Slowcraft Records )

The Absolute Elsewhere is the new album from Riz Maslen.  Riz may be familiar to you as a collaborator with artists such as the Future Sound Of London, Piano Magic, The Silver Servants and Oliver Cherer, amongst others.  For this beautifully presented hand crafted, hand stamped and numbered CD, (her seventh full length album I believe), Riz has created an otherworldly mix of sumptuous  vocals, and exotic sounds of a post classical-neofolk. 

The record starts with the seven plus minutes of “Overture”, its icy noir post- rock pouring all over my ears in a soft cascade, as it slowly develops, before twinkling away into the ether like a disappearing ice cream van. This is followed by the anti war song “Your War”, an impassioned plea to warmongers, it’s a ghostly, haunted song of quiet beauty, infused with some fine stately piano, mournful brass sounds and elegiac but powerful vocals. “Wreckage of Dreams”, is next, her crystalline disembodied voice giving voice to the dead, the lost souls, a prayer for the ones that have gone far too soon, in the futility of war, may they rest in peace, a siren song that fades out to a sort of briny blur.

“Byzantium”, features parts of a poem by William B Yeats, here she is joined by Oliver Cherer, on additional vocals, and it is another watery tune, from that ‘dolphin-torn, gong-tormented sea’, ghostly sirens from the shores of the holy city of Byzantium. The soft beats of “Nyolat”, are gradually joined by the glacial beauty of Riz’s voice, the beats becoming ever more insistent as they evolve throughout the song. “Pleiades”, the penultimate song on the album is a beauty, ethereal, slightly operatic and otherworldly, it see- saws in a dramatic way through to its conclusion.  The record ends with “The Restless”, an icy noir folk song of a travelling girl, her pure untrammelled voice singing a timeless graceful melody, joined by seagulls, bells and ghostly choirs.  This is a quietly powerful, yet beautiful record, highly recommended.

(Andrew Young)

 

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DONOVAN’S BRAIN – CONVOLUTIONS OF THE BRAIN
(Career Records www.careerrecords.com )

New 3 CD set of unreleased, remixed and live recordings of Donovan’s Brain, including a complete, multi tracked, studio recording of their rehearsals for the Terrastock 4 festival in Seattle 2000. This set features 48 songs, nearly all of them unreleased. Considering the six different line ups of the group over this time period 1991-2007 it’s remarkably cohesive, with members of Help Yourself, Man, Long Ryders, Young Fresh Fellows, Savoy Brown and even Ric Parnell from Spinal Tap. It is jam packed with quality playing and songs. Ron Sanchez being the only consistent member to appear on all of these recordings, and the one who has compiled this huge set of recordings. It may be a little too much to consume in one sitting, but since its arrival earlier this week, I have done exactly that, twice now!

The jewel in this set for me are a whole bunch of songs featuring the guitar playing from one of one of England’s finest guitarists, Richard Treece, who sadly passed away in 2015. His glorious runs, up and down the fretboard, are often sent heavenwards in magnificent, incendiary runs, scattered throughout these three discs. He was a member of the Monday Morning Glory Band, before joining Help Yourself, The Neutrons and The Green Ray. If you enjoy the West Coast/ Bay Area style of playing by the likes of John Cippolina and Jerry Garcia, then you will certainly find much to like here.

The first disc begins with the catchy “My Favourite Record”, then we are introduced to the first of four readings of “Perky Pat”, this one is taken from the Terrastock rehearsals for Terrastock 4 at The Showbox in Seattle. The line up for this set was Ron Sanchez, Richard Treece, Colter Langan, Jeff Arntsen and Ron Craighead. If the live set they played are anything like these rehearsals, then whoever was in the audience for this show was in for a real treat! (and if you weren’t, then this long out of print VHS tape of the event will have to suffice – Phil)

I am not going to list all the songs but will dwell on quite a few. This first reading of “Perky Pat”, is certainly one of the sets highlights; Richard is on fire, his questing, quavering, curlicues of notes are sent spiralling up into space, a real tour de force. A cover version of Dwight Twilleys “Sincerely”, works well, imbuing the song with backwards guitar, 12 string and Mellotron.

“Punch Wax Circus”, sees some excellent slide guitar by Richard and has a progressive country rock feel. “Oh Lorelei”, written by Bobby Sutliff, sung by Tony Miller, is punchy and has some cool keyboards from Ron Sanchez, plus a cool guitar solo from Deniz Tek. “Control”, then arrives, a sprawling 15 minute epic, written and featuring Jeff Arnsten on guitar and vocals, with some sparkling playing from Ron on piano, synth and Mellotron. The Indian vibes of “Hurry Curry”, sees Ron playing everything. This first disc ends with a song written by Jones, Leonard, Whaley and Williams (the classic Man line up) with “The Single *2”, it’s no surprise then that it sounds like them, sung here by Kels Koch. A couple of instrumental songs follow, by the trio of Ron Sanchez, Deniz Tek and Ric Parnell before Richard Treece and Colter Langan set “Central Services”, alight. The disc ends with a slightly muddy sounding live version of “Burning Name Of Love”.

Disc 2 begins, with those magnificent Terrastock rehearsals, presented here in their entirety. Comprising “Tads’s New Cymbal Stand”, “Tiny Crustacean Lightshow”, “Holly Green”, “Say Farewell”, “The Magic’s Gone”, “My Little Town”, then a medley of “Central Services”/”Make A Noise Quietly”/”Perky Pat”, oh to have been a fly on the wall! “Bok The Beer Elf”, follows this 40 minute section, and sees the ‘electric fur trapper’ at the top of his game, fuzzy ‘rip the skin off your back’ guitars, bursting out of the speakers. “Dim Gem”, is another gem, this adds lap steel and Mellotron. “Lost Marbles”, see’s Ron reminiscing on childhood, this one is sung by Dave Walker. The disc ends with “Days Playing Perky Pat”, which adds whispered vocals, piano by Anthony Sacco and sees Richard playing some furious lead guitar, giving his wah wah pedal a good seeing to in the process.

Disc 3 begins with a Malcolm Morley/Richard Treece song “Brand New Girl”, sung by Dave Walker, it also sees Ron playing a variety of keyboards, it again has some wondrous guitar by Richard. “Eclipse And Debris”, sees Ron playing everything but bass, he sings it with heavily treated vocals; this one has some fine slide by Ron. “Joey’s In The Pouch (Slide)”, sees an alternate version of the song, sung by Paul Rose, it also features some stinging slide guitar by Richard. “Hearts In Her Eyes”, is a pretty good, Byrds sounding cover version, of a ‘Records’ song. “To One Still Waiting”, is sublime and again sees some blistering playing from Richard. “Fever’s Touch”, breaks up things quite nicely, an instrumental song by Ron who plays everything bar drums, which is odd considering the fact that the next song “PHC” sees him playing drums quite skilfully. “Central Services”, follows, there are no personnel details supplied for this 11 plus minute epic, it’s a great version. The final outing for “Perky Pat”, sees an alternate version of their signature tune, from those same Terrastock rehearsals. “Violin Thing”, is taken from the bands tribute to Micky Jones, appearing on the Micky Jones Tribute Album, but remixed for this set. This mammoth record ends with “CGL2”, an interesting Colter Langan instrumental, which rounds off the set nicely.
(Andrew Young)