=  February 2010  =

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Written by:

Psychedelic Salvage Co.


Josephine Foster

Simon Lewis (Editor)

Debbie Leggo

 Jeff Penczak

Bardo Pond

 Phil McMullen

Spacemen 3
Nigel Cross High all the Time
  Pop Ambient 2010
  Simone White
  Chris Forsyth
  Ian Dury Biography
Voice of the Seven Thunders
  Bob Desper
    Mandy More



(CD from Past & Present Records)

This 2xCD compilation combines both volumes of this collection of rare acetates, tapes, and private pressings and adds Past & Present’s usual attention to detail in the 8-page booklet, which offers all you ever wanted to know about these legendary obscurities. Past & Present have a penchant for overusing  the phrase “rarest psychedelic artifacts of all time” – I think I’ve read that on about a half dozen of their recent compilations(!), but aside from Lemmy’s presence on the unreleased Sam Gopal single, these are definitely unknown acts, even amongst the collector cognoscenti.

One of the problems with collections like this is that the compilers will often equate obscurity with quality, so there is a lot of shite one must wade through in the quest for the holy grail of psychedelia. Hence, we are assaulted right out of the gate by the amateurish Hendrix copycats called Toby Jug & Washboard Band and their lame attempts to capture Jimi’s fire on the clumsily-named ‘Elastic Landlady’. Apparently everyone who picked up a six-string thought they were Jimi back in the day, so we also have to sit through what appears to be the middle of a live recording from Oswald Slagge (not sure if Oswald’s a “he” or a “them,” but ‘Toke Joke’ starts halfway through a guitar solo and fades out just as abruptly). Skip these and head straight for Germany’s answer to the DeWolfe library recordings courtesy The Roland Kovac Set. Four tracks from two of their releases are represented: ‘Genesis’ is a proggy stab at wild-eyed psychedelia with interesting time changes and bloody-fingered fuzz solos (courtesy Siegfried Schwab); ‘Guru’ finds Schwab running circles around Kovac’s (and guest organist Brian Auger’s) jazzy, horror-film keyboard embellishments; ‘Birth of A Saint’ is primo krautrock; and the two-part, 17-minute ‘The Master Said’ is the bastard child of Ash Ra Tempel and Can, with Schwab and Kovac more than holding their own against the fond memories of Karoli, Göttsching, Schmidt, and Schultze in their prime (the album was released in 1971)!

Irish progsters Peggy’s Leg contribute two tracks from their rare, privately-pressed LP on Bunch (Grinilla, 1973): a meandering dreamscape whose gently, folky instrumental passages are much more precious than the stale vocal segments (‘Just Another Journey’),  and a commendable run through Love Sculptor’s arrangement of ‘Sabre Dance.’

Christian prog rock is not something I think I want to explore further and Out of Darkness’ ‘Closing In On Me’ hasn’t convinced me otherwise. If anything, it proves that adding religious-themed lyrics to aimless, showy guitar solos and weak melodies adds up to boring music, no matter how meritorious the intent. The other Christian-themed band, Narnia (‘Agape’) doesn’t fare any better, despite some fine, stratospheric operatic vocals from Pauline Filby.

The Sam Gopal 45 is an expected highlight – ‘Horse” finds Lemmy (on guitar, before he switched to his customary bass with Hawkwind and Motorhead) in fine Steppenwolf mode, while ‘Back Door Man’ is, well, imagine Lemmy trying to channel Jim Morrison…. (The inclusion of both tracks on the reissue of their lone LP makes them easier to find these days.)

Nick Carter’s relatively late recording (1979’s ‘Prayer To St. Peter’) is a gem of a track, all drenched in sitar, tablas, and echoed vocals – essentially Carter calling out to the titular Saint. It’s more Christian that Out of Darkness…but just as eerily frightening. I wouldn’t listen to this alone in the dark! (Note that the “rarity” quotient has been dampened considerably since this track appeared on Volume 4 of the Electric Psychedelic Sitar Headswirlers, but it’s killer nevertheless.) Other tasty treats include the wonderfully named Ptolomy Psycon’s two heavy psych romps from their privately-pressed 10” mini-LP (in a blink-and-you-missed-‘em edition of 50!) – the swirlingly majestic ‘Azreal’ is particularly mindblowing!

Elsewhere, more bad, directionless (read: boring) prog rock with horrible vocals awaits you on Team Dokus’ two tracks – recommended only if you get your jollies listening to American Idol-styled attempts at emulating Steve Perry; while Castle Farm’s ‘Mascot’ is dull, bar room boogie blues.

In sum, primarily a collection of Christian rock and prog excesses with tentative (at best) ties to psychedelia (never let the truth stand in the way of a catchy compilation title!) Unfortunately, Past & Present’s timing suffers from the subsequent reissue of most of the better tracks, (e.g., both of the Kovac albums have been subsequently reissued on CD and the Sam Gopal tracks are on the reissue of their lone LP). But anyone who owns and loves the original vinyl releases will certainly enjoy this convenient digitalisation…and others can save a bundle by not shelling out for the individual Kovac and Gopal disks. (Jeff Penczak)





(ALL CDs from: www.firerecords.com)

Taking as her starting point, the poetry of Emily Dickenson, this album is a gentle and wistful affair, the distinct and gorgeous voice of Josephine Foster bringing great poignancy and grace to the words. With twenty Six tracks to browse through, there is plenty to enjoy, the sparse acoustic guitar backings and occasional mouth harp interludes giving this an old time Americana feel, something that suits the project perfectly.

Throughout the album there is a dusty beauty, no more so than on “They Called Me to the Window” a piece where music and poetry complement each other as if written as a single piece, as soft as a falling petal. Elsewhere, “In Falling Timbers” sounds like a hymn, whilst “My Life Has Stood-a Loaded Gun” is truly haunting, a wondrous track that uses all of its five minutes to wrap itself around your soul.

One of the strengths of this album is the way it barely changes in tempo or mood, the songs drifting into one another as you sail on a sea of words and notes calm and utterly at peace. By the time you reach “Whoever Disenchants”, the world has become a simpler place, less crowded and much slower in its pace of life. There is magic in this album and it is a joy to fall under its spell.


In complete contrast, the music of Debbie Leggo, who are a band rather than a single person, is noisy, dense and slightly chaotic, electric guitar, bass, drums and synths melding together into a dark current of sound, a cross between the repetitive riffs of The Stooges and the carpet bombing sonic assassinations of early Hawkwind. Opening track “Love Travels on a Tightrope” stomps its way into your head, the louder it is the better it sounds, whilst “Manic Molecules Funkadeliae” is a glorious nine minute exercise in deep space carnage, washes of drone, heavy riffs and electronics sounding like a lost Kraut-Rock track, just add your choice of intoxicant.

After the quiet lysergic haze of “Clerks Crow”, thing get more serious as the strangely named “Doggy Doo(In The Stench He Finds His Muse) sets off in search of oblivion, a rising guitar drone slowly mutating into the kind of space driven repetition that Spacemen Three were so good at, the tune creeping under the skin to mess with your head. Finally, “This is a Death and Life Song” is a slow and stately dirge, some beautiful guitar and piano echoing like distant stars inside your mind, allowing you to float freely until you gently touch down with a grin on your face.

Originally released in 1995, “Bufo Alvarius” was a dark and swirling statement on intent, the treacle thick soundscape and over driven riffs positive proof of greatness yet to come from the magnificent Bardo Pond.

Opening with the sludgefest of “Adhesive”, the band grind it out with purpose, sounding like a tripped out Sabbath recorded at the bottom of a well, the song descending, like a thick fog, into your living room. On “back Porch”, the sound is cleaner, the distorted riffs still in place though, for a slow crawl of a song, filled with feedback and sonic confusion. With shades of The Velvets, Galaxie 500 and The Jesus and Mary Chain, the seven minutes of “On a Side Street” is the perfect example of controlled noise, the musicians creating layers of dense sound and textures for the listener to trudge through, best heard very loud, as is the rest of the album.

Like the spectre of death appearing behind you, The Vicious riffing of “Capillary River” is startling, devastating and very likely life-changing, causing an instant love of “wall of noise” intensity and underground music, the song demanding an emotional response from the listener. Not available on the original LP, but appearing on the CD version, listeners need to be in good shape before experiencing the 29 minute destructionalist qualities of “Amen”, a piece that exhibits the tension that is felt by people living at the bottom of a rumbling volcano, a smouldering track that has no purpose except to exist, glistening and writhing inside your brain, beyond good and evil.

Not available on the original LP or CD, “Fixed” ends the album with a twist of melody, still noisy but with the accent firmly on the song, something that is welcome after the intense journey you have just experienced.

Whilst “Sound of Confusion”, the first Spacemen Three album was a glorious garage crawl, a psychedelic explosion and a damn fine record, it is on “The Perfect Prescription” that the band gained their own identity, writing song about drugs for people on drugs, seeking enlightenment through the obliteration of the senses, moments of bliss tempered with paranoia, craving and a relentless search for a pure high. You only have to listen to the first two tracks to know whether you are going to love this disc, with the sublime “Take Me to the Other Side”, detonating the trip, blasting you into another dimension in a roar of blissful guitar repetition, whilst “Walking With Jesus” suddenly slows things down, already asking question of the trip, the gentle acoustic guitar/organ chords giving it a spiritual feel.

Central to the album is a cover Of “Transparent Radiation” (Red Crayola), a slow and stately journey, with strings, Velvets guitar and almost whispered vocals giving it the qualities of a vivid dream, the peak experience. As you move through the album, the mix of mellow tunes and hypnotic guitar is the perfect blend, the band honing their sound in front of your ears, with “Thing will Never Be the Same”, coming close to being the perfect blueprint in its drugged out haze.

Just to add to the joy, two b-sides are added on the end of the album with “Soul 1” being a brassy slice of loveliness with slide guitar and a twinkling keyboard motif, whilst “That’s Just Fine” is a slow droning riff, a meditation in sound that takes you to distant shores.

Hats off to Fire Records, these releases are well packaged put together with love and care and all essential purchases, at least to those with deep pockets, go explore. (Simon Lewis)




(CD on Past & Present)

Past & Present return with the second volume in this series. Originally released in 1995, it makes its CD debut with P&P’s typically exhaustive liner notes (which again, frustratingly, are in alphabetical order rather than sequentially). The set opens with the classic 1969 B-side from J.D. Blackfoot (a pseudonym for Benjamin Franklin Van Dervort), ‘Epitaph for A Head,’ with it’s unforgettable opening line, “Roll yourself a joint/Give yourself a thrill.” The track stangely sounds like it begins mid-song, but the Steppenwolf-styled histrioni cs and finger-bleeding guitar work (not to mention the phased drum solo!) all crammed into less than 2½ minutes all add up to one of the greatest psych singles ever! From Hollywood, American Zoo drop by with the dreamy ‘Mr. Brotherhood,’ which also features a tantalizing solo and eerie arrangement.  One member later played on several Michael Jackson albums, while another produced/engineered work by Jackson, Madonna, George Harrison, and Tom Petty and won a 1995 “Record of The Year” Grammy for Sheryl Crow’s ‘All I Wanna Do’!

Fallout recently reissued Thorinshield’s lone LP, and they turn up here with a post-LP B-side (also on the reissue CD), ‘Lonely Mountain Again.’ It’s a highlight of their Eastern-tinged, sunshine pop sound. Bassist Bob Ray later released a well-regarded psych LP, Initiation of A Mystic for Johnny Rivers’ Soul City label in 1970.

As usual with such comps, not everything is the cat’s whiskers. Grant’s Blueboys’ horrible, Vanilla Fudge-influenced shredding of Tim Hardin’s ‘If I Were A Carpenter’ has some fans for its admittedly amazing guitar-shredding solo, but the unlistenable vocals are enough to make Tim flip over in his grave to cover his ears. A few other relatively dull tracks aside, the album ends strongly with Chesmann Square’s faithfully mod cover of The Who’s ‘Circles,’ World Column’s Eastern-reflected psychedelic headswirler, ‘Lantern Gospel,’ and Solid Ground’s ‘Sad Now,’ with its bumble bee-buzzing guitar solo and gorgeous harmonies sounding like a garage rendition of The Cyrkle and Beau Brummels. (Jeff Penczak)






Kompakt co-owner Wolfgang Voigt presents the tenth volume of his annual series that highlights some of the world’s best ambient, atmospheric soundscapes. The baker’s dozen selections begin with Marsen Jules’ ‘The Sound of One Lip Kissing,’ and its syncopated introduction does leave the listener waiting for the other show to drop…or other lip to pucker. Morphing into an electronically-induced industrialized landscape, it’s reminiscent of some of David Lynch’s more haunting musical creations on his Inland Empire soundtrack. Brock Van Wey/bvdub combines ethereal wordless vocals with his gently plucked guitarscapes across his two contributions, but it’s the disk’s epic sidelong (17-minute) closer, ‘Will You Know Where To Find Me’ that will garner the most praise for its floating, Stars of The Lid-meets-Windy & Carl atmospheric vibe. Hypnotic, repetitive, highly-treated guitar notes swirl around the inside of your head until you’ve lost all sense of direction…which fits perfectly into the melancholic mood encapsulated in the song’s title. Those operatic, Klaus Nomi-like wordless vocals add the perfect touch to this haunting track.

Jörg Burger records under the pseudonym Triola, but by any name his langorious stroll through Köln’s ‘Schildergasse’ shopping district on the back of his heavily treated flute embellishments (woven around field recordings from the district) will relax even the most hectic shopper…and makes for a nice accompaniment to your own nature walk. Voigt himself provides a soft, tinkling navelgazer in the self-descriptive ‘Zither and Horn,’ while New Zealander Andrew Thomas’ ‘Clouds Across Face’ is as soothing as its reflective title. Fans of the legendary Orb will need this release for the duo’s exclusive ‘Glen Coe,’ as well as Thomas Fehlmann’s ‘In The Wind,’ which both continue their fascination with circular glitch music, and Mikkel Metal belies his monikor with a tender, piano-based weeper (‘Blue Items’).


For anyone who came of age chilling out to the comedown sound of classic ‘90s snoozecore from the likes of Azusa Plane, Aarktica, Labradford, Landing, or the aforementioned Stars of The Lid and Windy & Carl, or yearns for the mellower side of electronic Krautrock a la Tangerine Dream and Cluster, this is the perfect antidote to the Monday morning blahs or frantic, late-night anxieties. (Jeff Penczak)



(Honest Jon’s)

White’s third album combines a half dozen brooding originals with a half dozen covers, mostly by her songwriting friends, Frank Bango and Richy Vesecky. The intimate atmosphere on tracks like ‘Bunny In A Bunny Suit’ and ‘Without A Sound’ feature White’s whispered vocals accompanied by her delicately strummed acoustic guitar and give a warm, living-room-concert glow to the proceedings, while the full band tracks deliver a wonderfully folky vibe with occasional hints of Joni Mitchell (‘Candy Bar Killer’).

 White song’s are populated by intricately detailed folk, from the nostalgic recollections of youthful exuberance with ‘Victoria Anne’ (written about Victoria Williams) to the strolling, whistling, kick-up-your-heels frivolity of ‘Baby Lie Down With Me’ (inspired by Carson McCuller’s The Heart Is A Lonely Hunter). No doubt, she’s encountered many of these people along her 15,000 mile journey from her native Hawaii to London to NYC (where she began her music career nearly a decade ago at the age of 30) to her current home on Venice, California. And after listening to Yakiimo (a Japanese baked sweet potato), not only do I know a little bit more about what makes Simone White tick, but I feel like I’ve spent a week vacationing in the local hotel in her neighborhood, and I also know an awful lot about the colorful characters that inhabit that neighborhood.

Elsewhere, Billy Contreras’ fiddle wanders around ‘A Girl You Never Met,’ bringing a melancholic air to this stripped-to-the-bones confessional that harkens back to the self-reflective nature of Janis Ian’s debut. I also liked the laid back, feel good jazzy instrumental coda to ‘Train Song’ and the chanteusey, old time sashay through ‘Your Stop.’  And now that the Contemporary Pop charts have opened their arms to alternative lifestyles via Katy Perry’s hijacking of Jill Sobule’s ‘I Kissed A Girl’ sentiment, the Sapphic undertones of the jolly, bouncing singalong, ‘Olivia 101’ deserve equal time on Top 40 stations everywhere. White even introduces a bluesy, Nick Drake vibe into her repertoire with a wonderful rendition of ‘St. Louis Blues’ that’s not that far removed from Drake’s final recordings, particularly tracks like ‘Black Eyed Dog'.

Overall, this is a  wonderful album for warming your cockles and tired muscles by the fire place on a cold, damp wintry evening. (Jeff Penczak)




(LP from www.evolvingear.com)


At first glance Chris Forsyth was a new name to me, though a few moments worth of research reveals he was a founding member of the well-travelled minimalist noise / drone freeform experimentalists Peeesseye, which makes considerable sense given the similar sonic landscapes his solo work travails. He's also the curator of the Evolving Ear label, based in Philadelphia (USA) - which in turn explains the bells ringing inside my mind when I first unwrapped this LP, with its minimalist painted cover in American Gothic (a.k.a. chocolate brown), blank labels and distinct lack of information.


To describe this as a solo album in any regard would be doing it a gross disservice. Recorded over the past 3 years in places as diverse as New York, Kansas and Scotland with various friends, associated and collaborators assisting on drums, keyboards, trumpet and saxophone, Forsyth's gorgeously understated guitar patterns are coloured by deftly applied instrumentation from his colleagues which serves not so much as wallpaper as a carpet, from which Chris frequently springs off on exploratory musical somersaults.


The opening piece (the tracks appear not to have names, or possibly there was an explanatory insert missing from my copy of the LP) sets the tone, with some impressive acoustic fingerpicking at the outset gradually painted in by swirls of synthesizer sounds, a stylistic delivery not dissimilar to some of Glenn Jones' early work with Cul de Sac. A suite of what sounds like whistling kettles brings things to crescendo, and the next number starts immediately in with some fretwork which can only be described as frenetic, again building to a total blizzard of psychedelic freak-out. Flip the record over and at first there's something of a breather, a pulsating instrumental with chiming guitar sounds and vaguely explosive percussion, rather like the sound of distant gunfire heralding on a rainy Sunday morning. The closing piece is the longest and also the most impressive, with a distinctly Germanic feel throughout - I was reminded in a good way of Agitation Free in places, which is no bad thing in itself.


The album was released last year I believe in a limited edition capacity to coincide with a European tour with Terrastock veteran the mighty Ignatz - now that's a tour I dearly would've liked to have witnessed! Let's hope for more of this kind of thing in the months to come, and with any luck a follow-up album in something under three years, as I for one could use a great deal more music of this quality in my life. (Phil McMullen)




(Book from Sidgwick & Jackson Hardback, ISBN 9780283071034 )


‘Real artists are not nice people. All their best feelings go into their work and life has the residue’ – W H Auden


On the evening of 1st January 1976, my mate David Chowcat and I staggered bleary-eyed, back down the stairs of the Hope & Anchor pub in Islington, North London for a second helping of rock’n’roll in 24 hours. We’d seen the New Year in with Sam Apple Pie, now we were hoping to catch an act that had frequently been touted as one of the most original on the dying pub rock circuit - Ian Dury & the Kilburns. Two hours later we emerged from that legendary basement slack-jawed after witnessing one of the most riveting and emotionally draining performances we’d seen in a couple of years. Dury – backed by the likes of Rod Melvin and John Irish Earle – was mesmerising as he pushed his diminutive polio-damaged frame through an hour and a half of songs like ‘Nervous Piss’ and ‘Broken Skin’ and a devastating deconstruction of the old Shirley Bassey hit, ‘I Who have Nothing’.


It was a real eye-opener and between then and early 1979 I have to admit I was a bit of a devotee of the self-styled Upminster Kid. Though his recordings with Kilburn & the High Roads never really measured up, there was no denying that Dury was a wordsmith of dazzling invention. After the Kilburns finally folded in mid-76, he found his perfect song writing partner in Chaz Jankel (who’d been part of acid country rockers, Byzantium) and finally found the hooks that turned his lyrics into hit material!  Managed by the legendary Blackhill Enterprises and teamed up with a bunch of seasoned backing musicians, the Blockheads that included Johnny Turnbull and Mickey Gallagher who’d been in Bell & Arc, by the time Stiff released his debut solo album, New Boots & Panties, Dury was unstoppable.


Now I’m not sure if/where Dury fits into Terrascope ideology [ the mention of Byzantium up there was enough! - Phil ] , but Will Birch who has spent 10 years crafting this marvellously readable biography will certainly be known to readers for his playing with the Kursaal Flyers and the Records and for his great history of pub rock, No Sleep till Canvey Island.

Dury was a one-off, a fluke that somehow got through the system against all the odds – seriously ill as a child, a victim of abuse at various institutions, Dury like many other war babies escaped into the art school world at the end of the 50s – it was to be his salvation. Like Lennon and Townshend, Dury benefitted from his time ‘studying’ art –a graduate of the prestigious RCA, an early student of Peter Blake, Dury could have become a gifted painter but like that other master of the word and fellow art student, Viv Stanshall, Ian wanted to be an entertainer. Inspired by Gene Vincent who like him had a bad leg, Dury’s big dream was to become a rock’n’roll star.


By having access to Dury’s family, ex-band mates, ex-managers, friends and former lovers, Birch has woven a powerful story of a figure who many would have written off time and time again – as a school kid, as a singer – to become in Britain at least a household name. Dury had the hit records, he even appeared onstage alongside many better-known British thespians, and worked in the movies both independent and Hollywood. But he was a driven man – fuelled by the pain and bitterness of his early years – and for all his artistic brilliance, he was not a likeable man. He was a manipulator, who played all those around him off against each other. A master of the putdown like some-time record label boss, Jake Riviera, Ian was cruel and could be vindictive – God help you if you were a drummer!! Obsessed with the criminal underworld Ian liked to imagine he was like the Krays or Al Capone in his every day dealings! It was only that great leveller cancer which he developed in later life that mellowed him.


I personally lost sight of Ian after his second solo album, Do It Yourself – the poetry was still there but by then the Blockheads had become ultra-slick funk monsters, laying down soulless grooves that had me fondly wishing they’d remember their days in bands like Glencoe and Skip Bifferty. There was of course the occasional gem like the banned 45 ‘Spasticus Autisticus’ but by the mid 80s the days of mass appeal were behind him. Renaissance man that he was, he moved into other areas such as doing TV voice-overs, and even becoming an ambassador for UNICEF. For me Ian will always occupy a special place for writing ‘England’s Glory’. Originally recorded as a 45 for Stiff by veteran comedian Max Wall, this remains an ode to a long-gone era that will have resonance for anybody who grew up in Britain in the mid 20th century. Little more than a list of names from TV, film, and British popular culture of the time, this for me was Ian’s masterpiece – an evocative paean to all the things that made post-war Britain great!


Birch’s book is a timely re-evaluation of the man, a terrific, warts and all account  – I would have liked to have seen more of an exploration of the music, more about ‘rock theatre’, more about Dury and his place in the British music hall tradition. He didn’t completely come out of a vacuum. One of the biggest UK acts of the mid-70s was the Sensational Alex Harvey Band (SAHB). Harvey drew heavily on his Glaswegian background and roots for his material in the very same way that Dury drew on his Cockney (imagined or otherwise) roots for inspiration. Both incorporated elements of theatre into their acts. There is nary a mention of SAHB in its pages but this is a small gripe because as it says on the can, this looks like being ‘the definitive biography’. Love Ian or loathe him, this is worth checking out. (Nigel Cross)




CD on www.tchantinler-recordings.com

Rick Tomlinson can do little wrong in my eyes. A stunningly proficient and imaginative guitarist and musician with a primitive energy which was at times almost unnerving, he was selective with releases and performances by his Voice of the Seven Woods persona, performing rarely and releasing quality recordings over quantity output, and remained staunchly independent in both spirit and ethic.


With Voice of the Seven Thunders, Rick has pushed the boundaries still further. Where before the guitars were acoustic and earthy, now they are predominantly electric and airborne. Folk gives way to kosmische; progressive elements lead on towards analogue drones. And it’s all beautiful.


There’s some interesting parallels to be drawn between Rick Tomlinson and names past and present from across the Terraverse. English acoustic guitarist Mac Macleod’s work with Danish group Hurdy Gurdy in the late 60s springs to mind immediately: the opening songs on this album, the softly sung acoustic intro ‘Open Lighted Doorway’ which leads into the explosive guitar/percussion drone piece ‘Kommune’, reminds me at least very much of Hurdy Gurdy’s ‘Tick Tock Man’ (produced by Rod Argent and Chris White from the Zombies), whilst the brilliant ‘Burning Mountain’ my own favourite cut on here, is eerily reminiscent of that moment of pleasurable shock I received back in the late 90s when Ben Chasny’s Six Organs of Admittance first went electric on ‘Creation Aspect Earth’, side 2 of the Nightly Trembling 12”. Completely coincidentally, I sold my copy of the original lathe-cut of that record (released on Pavilion Records in 1999 in an edition of 30) to help finance the Nottingham Terratock Tea Party, which featured amongst others… Voice of the Seven Woods. Leads me to believe there is something in this Fate thing, after all.


While ‘Dry Leaves’ and ‘Disappearances’ are both acoustic outings, more familiar territory for Voice of the Seven Woods fans, elsewhere this album is absolutely breathtaking in its range and vision. ‘Cylinders’ has a gloriously reverential, almost religious feel to it, helped in no small part by what sounds like a pipe organ pumping gently away behind the strummed guitars which rise slowly to a Kraut-esque crescendo, a crescendo which erupts after a moment’s pause into arguably the centrepiece of the abum – the relentless driving acid haze of ‘Set Fire to Forest’.


Recorded last year in the space of just three days with long-standing Voice collaborators Rory Gibson on bass and Chris Walmsley on drums, this isn’t so much a follow-up to 2007’s Voice of the Seven Woods as a mass felling, a regeneration after the fire. An early contender I know, but there’s going to have to be some extraordinary activity in the months to come if this doesn’t make my top ten releases at year end. (Phil McMullen)




(CD from www.locustmusic.com)

(LP from www.discouragerecords.com)

I am sure that there is many a Terrascope reader who enjoys a good rummage through the dusty corners of thrift/charity shops, hoping to find a musical bargain or a gem of a record that is unknown to most people. Well, these two discs were both discovered in thrift shops, the finders so impressed that they took the time out to find the artists and get them released.

Originally a member of an early Mountain Bus, amongst other smaller bands, Stephen Titra eventually realised his musical visions needed to be explored as a solo artist and so O.W.L. was born. Imagined, written and recorded over a several year period, “Of Wondrous Legends” is a magnificent body of work with a mellow, West-Coast heart, beautiful instrumentation and a dream-filled ambience that stands it up there alongside albums by The Peanut Butter Conspiracy, H.P Lovecraft and Ill Wind.

Opening with a drifting cloud of vibes/marimba, “Legend” slowly morphs into a soft, sunlit tune, the beautiful vocals weaving around a gorgeously arranged backing to create an instant classic that sounds like an old friend. Introduced with a curling wisp of flute, “A Tale of a Crimson Knight”, is a folk inspired song with more beautiful vocals and a chiming refrain, the tale a comment on the war resistance, and one of my favourites on the album. Halfway through “Be Alive”, a sudden roll of drums appears and you realise that the first two tracks had no real rhythmic backing, their ambience being enough to hold them together, whilst the addition of said rhythm adds another layer to the songs as they are neither overbearing or overstay their welcome.

Without a duff track to be found, this album deserves to be hailed as a masterpiece, the wide scope of the vision and the attention to detail ensuring that every song is as powerful as it can be, the albums centrepiece “Midnight Carnival” proving to be the icing on a particularly delicious cake. Slightly rockier than the previous tracks, the track is a stone cold psych classic, eight minutes of happiness, an eerie tale that has hidden layers of meaning, and one that changes moods with devastating precision.

Do you remember when you first got into music, the joy of hearing “Electric Music for Mind and Body”, “Flash”, (insert your own choice here) or even “Sgt Pepper” for the very first time, well by the time you get to album closer “Sunsets of Smiles”, you may well be feeling that way again, I did anyway, and if this remains a pleasure for me only so be it, but I am convinced that you are gonna love this album too. Thanks go to Dawson Prater, for discovering this album and taking the time to delve more deeply, it was worth it.

Rendered blind aged ten due to a childhood accident, His short fuse temper seems to have coloured the first part of Bob Despers life, meaning he was expelled from college before graduating and found it difficult to maintain friendships. A slowly strengthening Christian belief and his music seem to have calmed Bob down a bit and this album is testament to a man with a gorgeous voice and a singular vision.

Mainly recorded in one take, with just guitar and voice, there is a stark beauty to the songs on this record, like winter trees at sunset, the view makes you stop and stare, the lyrics to the songs slowly seeping into your brain with their message of Togetherness and hope. Proving himself to be no slouch on the guitar, the opening salvo of notes on “Darkness is like a Shadow” move out like ripples revealing a slow-burning tune that laments mans inability to seek the truth, whilst “It’s Too Late” follows a similar theme and is as equally as beautiful, wistful and sad. To end side one “To a Friend of Mine” is a truly powerful song, the excellent guitar work creating the framework for some very personal lyrics that captivate in their poetic vision.

Containing four more quality songs, side two opens with the simple message of “Let it Shine for You”, a song of hope, whilst both “Don’t you Cry” and “Liberty” seem to look forward with confidence, the latter containing some excellent guitar playing, punctuating the song with precision. Finally, “Time is Almost Over” leads us home another deceptively simple song that has a warm and beautiful heart, ending a deeply personal album that is filled with wonderful songs.

Also included is a re-issue of Bob’s first 7” single “Dry Up Those Tears” / “The World is Crying Out for Love”, the A-side a sweet ballad awash with a swelling Hammond Organ, whilst the B-side follows a similar pattern, this time with a piano running through it. Beautifully packaged with extensive notes, this release is limited to 1000, go get one and enjoy some simple pleasure. (Simon Lewis)





(CD from Sunbeam)

A former member of Two of Each (Decca 45 in June, 1967) and stage actress (alongside Gerry [and the Pacemakers] Marsden in Charlie Girl , David Essex, Julie Covington, and Jeremy Irons in Godspell, and as Sonja [Curved Air] Kristina’s replacement in Hair), Mandy More recorded her lone album for Philips in 1972. This first official reissue comes complete with Sunbeam’s usual informative essay and exclusive photos, as well as an abundance of bonus tracks, including her three subsequent singles and an entire second disk of demos and alternate takes. Right from the opening (title) track, it’s clear that More’s powerful soprano was theatrically trained, and many of her self-composed tunes have that West End air that sit perfectly alongside the material from Godspell, Hair, et. al.

The brief (80 second) ‘For To Find The Daffodil’ flitters about like a butterfly, while the equally succinct, 100-second ‘Fine’ glides heavenward on the back of her solo piano accompaniment. Both could easily have influenced Kate Bush. ‘Harvey Muscletoe’ is a jaunty, soft-shoe shuffle that could’ve been a hit for Petula Clark, and the spiritual ‘Come With Me To Jesus’ finds the Lord in a number of street urchins, buskers, and soup kitchen inhabitants…essentially everywhere one sees sorrow and misfortune.

Side two opens with the album’s most famous track, the experimental ‘If Not By Fire,’ featuring More’s treated vocals and heavily distorted, Moog-like guitar. It’s all very groovy, and quite reminiscent of Janis Ian’s similar arrangement of ‘She’s Made of Porcelain’ (Secret Life of J. Eddy Fink, Verve 1968). The remainder of the album consists of introspective, heartfelt examinations of loneliness that feel autobiographical. Songs like ‘Alone In My Yellow’ and ‘Matthew Brought Me Flowers’ feature just More, her piano, and soul-searching lyrics that paint melancholic pictures of a woman alone in her bedsit, staring through rain-spattered windows at the world rushing  by below. In fact, More’s final single, ‘Rose-Coloured Window’ (Fresh Air, 1975) enforces this idea. Her celeste on ‘I’m Too Tall To Cry’ adds a childlike innocence to the proceedings, and the album ends with an upbeat, theatrical arrangement (by More herself) of ‘God Only Knows.’

Of the later singles, ‘San Francisco Sam’ might’ve been a hit if Barbra Streisand got a hold of it, and ‘Coffee Cups’ sounds like Vashti Bunyon with strings. The demos (and alternate takes) on disk two include developmental versions of seven of the album’s dozen tracks, along with embryonic runs through the aforementioned “Sam” and “Cups.” Three versions of ‘If Not By Fire’ are valuable music lessons to budding songwriters and arrangers, showing how the song grew from its hauntingly dramatic, piano-based demo to the full-fledged electronic wonder on the finished album.  [Even then, I prefer the extended, faintly psychedelic jam on the longer, first alternate take!] About a half dozen demos that never made it any further attest to More’s songwriting skills – several of these, including ‘The Camera Man’ and ‘To Find You Blue’ would have been welcome additions to anyone’s released work – or one of London’s Fringe Theatre musicals. All of these bonus tracks also let you play producer and record company mogul – you can decide if they should have replaced any of the songs/versions that made the final cut!

So if you enjoy lilting voices with soft rock arrangements, the occasional piano-accompanied tearjerker, or Streisand-esque show tunes, this is the definitive edition of a long lost treasure that’s highly recommended. Perhaps it will send Hollywood producers knocking on More’s door next time they need a song for their film! Most of these tracks are perfectly suited for the job. (Jeff Penczak)