= July 2013 =  
Judy Dyble
Permanent Clear Light
Earthling Society
Linus Pauling Quartet
The Luck of Eden Hall
Book of Shadows
The Of
Lawrence Hammond


(re-issue of 2009 album on HST Records )

One is struck first by the sound of the acoustic guitar that opens this album. Getting the sound of any instrument just right in the studio is a challenge, and acoustic guitars especially so. It is so easy to lose clarity in a quest for warmth and fullness, and vice versa. Really very tricky. The acoustic guitar that opens this album is, to my ears, just right – and so I am already somewhat won over. And it’s not just the acoustic guitar. The record as a whole sounds great. The artists, producers and engineer have delivered a recording that is pristine and warm in impact, but that effectively sidesteps the horrible digital “perfection” of much of today’s slick, major-label offerings.

The two opening songs, “Neverknowing” into “Jazz Birds”, felt like trifles to me at first, but have definitely grown on me with time. I quite enjoy the interaction of the male and female voices that first shows up here and continues to be a highlight throughout this album; standard harmonizing in some places, but call & response and odd counter-melodies in others. Reminds one a bit of the way Kate Bush has sometimes utilized the male voice on some of her albums.

I was well aware of Dyble’s position in the history of Fairport Convention, but in doing a little research I was surprised and intrigued by the fact that her career is also somewhat intertwined with King Crimson. And then one sees that Robert Fripp is on this album…and that the third song here is a Lake/Sinfield composition (“C’est La Vie”)! I was anxious to hear that cut…and then disappointed when I did, as I think it is the album’s weakest. (But fear not, Fripp-Freaks; his presence, though spare, is felt here and there throughout the album to great effect.)

This album feels to me like a good concert in that Dyble seems to more fully inhabit the songs as the album progresses. Everything seems to get deeper and more heartfelt with each passing cut. I also sense a growing melancholia and world-weariness – that I find quite appealing – setting in about half-way through the album. The earlier tracks find Dyble in a familiar and comfortable McShee/Tabor/McKennitt camp, but by track six and seven I’m more reminded of Dagmar Krause.  In this sense “Grey October Day” is perfection. I generally hate music videos because I so much prefer that a song conjure a little film in my mind as opposed to being force-fed someone else’s images simultaneously into my ears and eyes. The elegiac organ chords, the unexpected saxophone, the conversational female/male vocals of “Grey October Day”…and there it is: a somber little art film in six minutes.

And speaking of minutes, next up is “Harpsong”, clocking in at nineteen minutes plus. I am a sucker for long songs. I appreciate artists who take risks. The long song is a major risk. The Velvet Underground’s “Sister Ray” works via a hypnotic, trance –inducing repetitiveness. On the other hand there’s also a bunch of long, repetitive songs that will bore one just about to death. Quicksilver’s “The Fool” takes the opposite route and its extended length serves up instead several distinct but related movements. They inform and enhance one another and lead inevitably to a moving and awe-inspiring climax. But then there’s also a bunch of long songs that are a collection of movements that make no sense at all next to one another and end up delivering the emotional wallop of a tin of instant mashed potatoes. Dyble’s “Harpsong” belongs in the “distinct but related movements” category…and it comes up aces across the board. Its main recurring theme, that also serves as the opener and closer of its suite of movements, is, if not startlingly unique, still gorgeous both in melody and lyric. The movements in between, however, do provide some very unexpected and exciting twists and turns, especially the one that sounds like it could be the great lost alternate bridge from “21st Century Schizoid Man”!!! (I suspect a Fripp in the works.)

That’s where the original album ended, and in my opinion, the addition of two bonus cuts after it is a distraction from and compromise of the quality of this album. When I get a re-issue of a beloved album that’s loaded with bonus cuts my initial reaction is usually one of great joy because I get to hear new stuff that wasn’t available before. In the long run, though, I often wish the bonus cuts weren’t there and were saved instead for their own “rarities” disc. Good albums are sometimes – I think usually – meant to be what and how they were originally conceived. The bonus cuts here are perfectly good songs and I’m glad I have them, but this album used to end with the magnificent “Harpsong” because it’s supposed to and it still should.

(Kim Draheim)




The debut album from “Finland’s top psychedelic band” comes four years into their career, but the dedication to perfection glistens through. The trio master a cornucopia of exotic instruments, including saz, chromonica, Theremin, cornet, and oscillators, amongst your usual synths, violins, keyboards and various electric, slide and acoustic guitars. There’s a lot going on here, but the instrumentation doesn’t overwhelm the listening experience by throwing the kitchen sink at the arrangements to see what sticks. ‘Constant Gardner’ tiptoes into the room on the back of violins and gentle acoustic guitars and builds to a smooth, relaxing pop song with singalong chorus.

The easy-going vibe continues on the dreamy ‘Ribes Nigrum’, a contemplative remembrance of summer days in the park with children racing across the fields pursuing flights of imaginary fancy. The back-to-nature motif continues on ‘Harvest Time’, which refers back to the titular piquant blackcurrant berries of the previous track. This one morphs into a lengthy headswirling jam culminating in what appears to be backwards vocals that sound rather satanic – at least it was all rather Rosemary’s Baby-ish to these ears!

Next up is the band’s debut recording and statement of purpose, ‘Higher Than The Sun: Astral Travel’ [not the Primal Scream track], the single version of which was previously released on Fruits de Mer and has rightly been hailed as “a trippy collector’s classic”. There are “Sgt Pepper” touchstones in the elaborate arrangements, proggy elements in the blistering guitar solos and frenetic, stentorian drumming and a smorgasbord of effects and synths that will leave you heartpounding and breathless.

I’m glad they elected to return to earth with a delicate sorbet of mellotrons, synth swashes, keyboard tinkles and assorted spacey effects on the mellow, Floydian ‘And The Skies Will Fall’, thus allowing the listener a moment of navel-gazing reflection after their “astral voyage” to the sun.

The remainder of the album gets a little raucous and funky, particularly on the strutting, instrumental ‘Skirmish’, which adds some serpentining cornet to the bleeding guitar solos for a tasty avant jazz diversion that should please discerning Zappa fanatics. And then there’s that Appalachian banjo and harmonica thing wrapping everything up in ‘Weary Moon’ that sounds like Moondog has risen from his grave!

All told, a truly stunning debut from this psych/pop/prog/jazz trio that occasionally recall our beloved Soundtrack of Our Lives, but bring enough new toys to the party that they should be lauded as the new kings of Finnish psychedelia, a mantel already bestowed upon them by no less an authority on all things psychedelic than The Chruch guitarist Steve Kilbey.

(Jeff Penczak)

Fans of Finnish psychedelia should quiver with excitement at the thought of the new album by Permanent Clear Light, "Beyond These Things," which is a kind of prog-pop meets psych-folk, with melodic songs, great musicianship and a sense of exciting, forward propulsion. The opening cut, 'Constant Gardener,' is the place where pop meets psych - phased synths, mournful vocals, instrumentals and all - to create a terrific opener. All three members of the band, Markku Helin, Arto Kakko and Matti Laitinen have been stalwarts of the Finnish music scene for a while, though the band itself has only been around for four years, and this shows in the confidence of the music and arrangements. 'Ribes Nigrum' opens with softly strummed acoustic guitar before more melancholic vocals come in, alongside a flute-like synth. As with much Scandinavian music there is a strong sense of melody. Part way through the song a gorgeous floating guitar (or it may be a synth) comes in, adding much to the mix. 'Harvest Time' clocks in at seven minutes and opens with a Gilmour-esque slide guitar and floating strings chords, before the rock (and later progressive rock) elements appear. The vocals are further down in the mix, making this cut more of an organic soup of elements, and the retro vibe is high, with a flute mellotron-like sound, and more. I heard elements of early Genesis in some of the chords and lines too, which of course is no bad thing, and hints of La Fleur Fatale. 'Higher Than The Sun: Astral Travel' clocks in at nine and half minutes and is the most overtly progressive of all the tracks here - drifting vocals, guitars and guitar effects, pounding drums and more. Various instrumental sections take the listener into different sonic zones, some chilled, others less so. A cascading harp and Indian percussion opens the fantastic 'And The Skies Will Fall,' which returns the band to psych folk, embroidered with slide guitar and a phalanx of strings mellotron. 'Love Gun' is more of a rocker, with heavily effected vocals and bluesy guitar - great bass here too - while 'Skirmish,' using a similar drum sound and style, does similarly as an instrumental, with some nice Rhodes adding to the mix. The track is led by an infectious synth line and associated effects and solos, including a really nice cornet solo from Arto Kakko - a particularly successful track, this one. The album closer, 'Weary Moon,' opens with synth and banjo (also played by the multi-instrumentalist Arto Kakko) before heading off into a kind of progressive styled anthem, complete with keening synths, backing instrumentation and vocals - and even a hint of Celtic themes. The album as a whole will be a delight for lovers of crafted, interesting and unusual rock, which fans of Scandinavian rock especially should enjoy. Though realised by a trio, the sound is full, the tracks are uniformly good and it's a great listen overall. Another triumph from our musical friends in colder zones. (Stephen Palmer)




Earthling Society have released a few albums up to now, which have ploughed the space rock furrow to an appreciative audience, including Julian Cope, who remarked that the band should be envisaged as "peaceniks of the ecstatic refusenik variety." The album opens with a brief instrumental, 'The City Of Resurrections,' which merges synths with tribal drums to great effect. The first cut proper is 'I Don't Know Myself,' which mixes Hillagesque guitar with bass and drums to create a festi-stomper, led by Fred Laird's vocals. The influences here are Pink Fairies and Hawkwind. The third track is a half-hour opus that is one of the two focal tracks on the album, following themes of death, the occult and alienation. To help get the feel right, the band recruited saxophonist Lew Dickinson and electronics wiz Neil Whitehead (a kind of Dik Mik figure), giving a dubby festival feel to the cut, which grooves from spacerock trope to spacerock trope as it follows its journey. The interplay between Laird's voice, laden with trippy effects, and his guitars and synths is excellent, underpinned by solid work on the bass from Kim Allen and the drums of Jon Blacow. The central sections of the track are uptempo and pounding, sounding like a cross between The Damned and Hawkwind - excellent stuff here. An almost ambient breakdown comes in two thirds of the way through, before a wah-guitar spacey section closes the piece. Variety alongside consistency of vision make this a good track. 'Desolation' is only around five minutes, a song with lots of spacey elements, before the twenty minute vagaries of the second major cut on the album, 'The Astral Traveller,' which mutates into an Ozrics style dubby track, complete with fuzzed solos, heavily delayed guitars and electro-effects, and much more. This one would be great live, not least the wonderful interplay between guitar, bass and drums/cymbals which comprises the central section of the track. The eight minute closing cut 'The Elevator Does Not Stop At This Floor' is another dubby outing with some tasty bass and lots of delay effects - very nice indeed. Fans of Hawkwind, Litmus and associated spacerock bands will lap up this excellent offering, with the Hawk fans getting more perhaps from the first half of the album and the Ozrics fans more from the second half. (Stephen Palmer)





(7” EP from Homeskool)

Short and sweet – two things I thought I’d never use in an LP4 review. But our favourite five [sic] Houston astronauts of astral projection are back with a 3-track EP featuring a title supplied by fellow Texan, Kinky Friedman, a keg o’ brews supplied by Lone Star, and a song inspired by Chris Marker’s cult “photo novel”, La Jetèe.  More about that in a minute. First up, we get a little Irish proverb ‘The Road’ which opens with a tinkling music box. A music box? On a fucking LP4 song! What has the world come to? In the case of ‘The Road’, it’s a winning pop psych ditty – melodic, meandering, headswaying. Geez, I almost started to hold a lighter over my head. Right on!

‘USA’ breaks out the ribs and riffs – Motorhead meets Ramones. Fist pumping, anthemic shouting, a frantic drum roll from Larry – 95 seconds of fucking U-S-A! Praise the Lord and pass the… bong.

Now about ‘La Jetee’. A gentle guitar riff falls like a warm cascading rain on top of Larry’s rat-a-tat drumbeat and LP4 himself delivers a spot-on Roger Waters vocal (with supremo harmony from the ever lovely Mlee Marie) on a track that could have sat comfortably on either of their soundtracks for Barbet Schroeder (that would be La Vallee or More in case you forgot).

A perfect summer present from an unlikely source, this limited edition 7” is sure to go fast, so get yours today. The LP4 may never pass this {musical) way again! (Jeff Penczak)



(2 x LP and other formats from Ipecac Recordings http://www.ipecac.com/)

Here then is a welcome re-issue of Boston/LA quintet, Isis’ retrospectively acclaimed debut album following the band’s breakup of 2012. As dense as Mercury, steeped in doom metal and hardcore sensibilities but with subtle nuances and an ambience which belies the near brutal onslaught, this is what we none-too technical scribes tend to refer to as a bit of a stonker.

Providing the template on which later and arguably more celebrated albums such as “Oceanic” would build and ultimately refine to a more slowcore cruise control, Celestial is a celebration of adrenaline and testosterone powered post-metal (although this work probably pre-dates the term) that shows the band were clearly in thrall of Justin “Godflesh” Broadrick and Neurosis. The crunching 10 minute “Celestial - The Tower”, the manic loud and a bit less loud and barrage of “Glisten” and the unnerving and unrelenting “Deconstructing Towers”, complete with some of the best use of feedback you will ever hear, are interspersed with attempts at lighter texture the likes of which probably work better on some of their later efforts. But then, this is an experiment in its early stages of development. In terms of no-nonsense riffage then “Swarm Reigns (Down)” and the suitably titled “Collapse and Crush” (how “Iron Man” should have sounded) provide the leather strap to bite on and knocks 90% of Metal Hammer fodder into a cocked hat. Vocally this is fairly typical of the style pioneered by the likes of Sepultura but with a more manic edge that sounds like Sesame Street’s Cookie Monster with a raging toothache and a nest of tarantulas strapped to its head. It’s all a bit startling and no doubt something of an acquired taste, which for the uninitiated is likely to prove an uncomfortable listen. However, as with Black Sabbath before them, Isis were capable of restraint and even understatement when they so wished. The almost psychedelic wooziness of “CFT” is a case in point, a rather more ominous and less airy “Echoes” springs to mind. They have a certain warped humour as well - “Gentle Time” is anything but, you might be glad to hear

Celestial is a stoner/metal re-imagination of Valhalla drinking den music that would go down a treat at Supersonic or Download Festival and doesn’t sound half bad when driving home after a difficult day’s work when what you most want is an aural barrage to kick out the jams. It also beats kicking the cat.

Cookie monster vocals on the ‘Scope? Hell, why not?

Celestial is reissued on 8th July 2013

(Ian Fraser)



(CD and Download from Cold Spring Records www.coldspring.co.uk )

Partikel III is the culmination of the collaboration between Japanoise Emperor of the Experimental, Merzbow, and the Swedish Overlord of Overload, Henrik Nordvargr Bjorkk.

Trepidation time, folks. Both men are hugely regarded in their field, and rightly so, but it’s one perilous pitch onto which I rarely tread as the noise pollution can be rather extreme even for someone who is considered to have quite a high tolerance threshold. The ultra-prolific Merzbow can astound and confound in equal measure, his sonic invention is second to none but it can be the avant noise equivalent of the fingers down the blackboard, while my experience of Nordvargr’s MZ 412 releases borders on the downright unpleasant.

So it’s plenty of deep breathing, nice thoughts and...


It’s like the old adage really, once you’re in it up to your neck, the water doesn’t seem quite so cold and unwelcoming and you wonder what all the fuss was about as trepidation turns to a strange and ascetic kind of thrill. “Heterotic String Hybrid” fizzles and cracks with static and is by the standards of both artists quite ambient and even accessible, in fact practically playful compared to what I was expecting. “Lorentz Covariance” – broods menacingly as a form of foreplay before building to a hysterical electrical dissonance where the dentist’s drill battles for supremacy with some malfunctioning C3PO performing open wire surgery on a furious and un-sedated Dalek. “Submission Colour” Pts1 and Pt 2 stretch for 30 minutes between. The first part chugs, blares and drones along an interesting and curiously enjoyable enough journey and I’m sure I heard Hawkwind’s “Electronic No 1” from Space Ritual reworked at one point just towards the end. Pt II then takes the concept to the point where it becomes a barrage of noise and effects, a cacophonous crescendo and culmination of what has been threatened throughout and quite terrifying (though if I’m honest exhilarating) it is in places.

You wouldn’t play it at the dinner table or New Year house party unless you were intent on making a most singular statement (such as a cry for help, maybe) or else hated your guests with a vengeance, but there are clubs and festivals aplenty where the faithful - and I know some of them -would gleefully nail their own feet to the floor so as not to miss one hiss or shriek and will stand there until they either develop multi octave tinnitus or their ears bleed. Well I’m not quite converted to that particular cause...


(Ian Fraser)




(LP from www.theluckofedenhall.com)

Housed in a suitably trippy and heavyweight gatefold sleeve, this glorious double album also boast gorgeous green/orange vinyl, the whole package exciting the senses before you have even heard the music within. This, of course, is where the fun begins, as side one opens with “Chrysalide”, a song that wears its paisley jacket with pride sounding like The Dukes of Stratosphear as it dances from the speakers with a warm, bright sound and love in its heart. Giving the guitar a workout, “This Weather's Better For Velvet” is another lovely Psych-Pop gem and one of my favourites, the effects never overwhelming the melody or arrangements, the guitar giving the song some extra bite during the solo, the whole a joy to the ears.

    With a slightly different feel, “Jupiter” reminds me of Super Furry Animals in the way it is constructed, although there are none of the electronics that those welsh psychsters like to add to their sound. Anyway, the song still sits happily in its place, especially as it is followed by the heavy blast of “Velvet and Corduroy”, a stone-cold psych classic with shades of The Pretty Things amongst its guitar driven groove.

    Over on side two, “All Her Seasick Parties” is a heavy stomp with weird lyrics and a lysergic heart, whilst “Silly Girl” has a gentle jangle giving it a sixties bubblegum sound which is most appealing to these ears. Stranger to the ears is the short and lovely “Pretty Little Things” a psychedelic swirl of great quality that is the perfect foil for the sprightly and energetic sound of “She Falls Down”, a song that rattles out of the speakers yet manages to retain a lightness and melody, even during the heavy middle section, the kind of trick Husker Du managed so well on their early releases.

    To end disc one, it is time to light an orange blossom joss stick and settle down into an easy chair as “Queen Anne's Lace” drifts by on a rainbow cloud of bliss, the essence of psychedelia distilled into less than five minutes, both haunting and beautiful.

    Moving onto disc two (the orange one) we find this sixties vibe still in place with “Metropolis” twisting and coiling, whilst reminding of early Bowie, a strange and slightly disturbing song with a great guitar sound running through it. After the energy filled “Complicated Mind”, a furious paisley romp, we come to another of my favourites as the slow, autumn coloured sounds of “Caroline” float by, the noisier middle section only adding to the dynamics of this future classic.

  Sweet and Gentle, “North Hampton Woods” is a lilting acoustic track that is restful,   this mood broken by the bouncy “Ottoman Girl”, another lively slice of Psych-Pop, the side ended by the weirdness of “Henrietta Lacks a Smile”, a tune that starts as a piano led ballad for surreal listeners before dissolving into a strange and droning finale, voice and strings melted together into a lava lamp of sound, all you have to do is drift away.

     Nicely energetic, “Flowers” opens side four in an explosion of colour and sound, a great riff pushed along by a throbbing bass and spot-on drumming creating a psych gem that is matched by “Wither Fare Thou Be” a short song that mixes heavy chords with moments of drifting strangeness.  Over the next three tracks there is a sonic unity that binds the side together before we reach “A Drop In The Ocean”, the band giving it everything for the final track, heavy guitar, echoed vocals, a sense of something just out of reach and a damn fine tune to boot, rounding of a wonderful collection that has variation and imagination at its heart, yet is definitely the work of one band, the quality hard to deny. (Simon Lewis)




(Ltd edition CD from Kendra Steiner Editions at www.kendrasteinereditions.wordpress.com)

There are two types of Book of Shadows release. There are the largely improvised ones which tend to lend themselves to free expression and wee bit of noise terror and then there are those that contain more actual compositions and which tend to be more structured but no less impressive. Chimaera is one of the former and therefore a bit more unpredictable in nature. In other words it can be a lot of fun. When I say fun I mean challenging in the sense that an extreme sport fires the endorphins of the initiated but which terrifies the life out of most of the rest of us. Imagine an acid test where the MC is that slightly sadistic old school PE teacher who used to make you run cross-country in your underpants each time you “forgot” your kit and yes, this is character building and oddly cathartic and you might not quite be the same after the event as you were before.

It’s a bit pointless trying to dissect all of this track by track as BofS releases tend not to lend themselves to this sort of conventional scrutiny. In fact one of the hallmarks of their sound is a distinct lack of verse, chorus, bridge, middle-eight and all the rest of the songwriter’s paraphernalia. Each composition/improvisation is based around the mostly wordless vocal acrobatics of Sharon Crutcher and haunting keys of husband and bandleader Carlton, over which sundry collaborators – most notably Jason Zenmoth and Aaron Bennack - weave their peculiar magic. It is Bennack who provides the only credited composition here, the comparatively melodic and pastoral opener, “Dragonfly Children”. From here “Cherrywood” broods menacingly – clearly the sort of wood your mum and dad warned you never to go – “Serpent” introduces shamanistic percussion and additional vocals from Carlton, while from here on in there is enough atmosphere to give life to a medium sized planet and plenty of introspective charm if you can stick with it (which I heartily recommend you do). However, if you crave beats or are of a particularly nervous disposition – or just suffer from plain old-fashioned drug paranoia – then you might be advised to consult your physician before use.

(Ian Fraser)




Green Monkey Records

They wear metal colanders on their heads, wrap themselves up in aluminium foil and write songs with titles like ‘Mouse Trash Recipe’, ‘Thrompnobulous’, and ‘Mystic Fishstick’. Oh, and they’re from Roslyn (that’s the Washington version, but it may help explain the alien-deflecting foil!) Yes, indeedie, it is the original progenitors of Foil-Rock, those Colander heads themselves, The Of. Leader John Carey wrote most of the songs to satisfy his strange [musical] urges and they recorded the tracks in his garage on the cheapest gear they could find. The album opens with Carey introducing the demented ballet about a death match between a softbelly crab and a seagull over a French fry (‘Softbelly Crab Excerpt’ steamrolls into the frantic instrumental-cum-cinematic background music for ‘Seagull Attack’ and you can almost smell the blood and salt water ocean wafting off the fractured “Sabre Dance’-inspired battle royale!)

It doesn’t take long for our heroes to dive headlong (or should that be “colander long”?) into Carey’s Zappaesque guitar shredding ‘Sodo Monkey’ and of course this is just Part 1! More insanity ensues. ZZ Top more to your liking. Then set a spell and start popping ‘Whiskey & Pills’, which trawls the greasy Texas backwoods for some badass Southern-fried mayhem that can only end up with our protagonist (i.e., vocalist Patrick Nevion) “throwing up in the backyard on my hands and knees”. Cowa-bong-a!

We then rejoin Carey & Co. in progress for Part 2 of the continuing instrumental jam/saga of the ‘Sodo Monkey’ and if your guitar starts sending death threats to your mama (hint, hint…nudge nudge), it may be time for a call to the Colander Police. If you close your eyes you can almost feel the Z–man in the room with you.

Part Residents, part Mothers/Zappa/Beefheart and a whole lotta shaking, belching, vomiting, moaning and groaning amidst some damn bitchin’ guitar wailing and crazed B-52’s-like tomfoolery add up to a party atmosphere that we can all use right about now. Just don’t forget to dump the spaghetti before donning your Colanders and remember: aluminium foil – it’s not just for Sleepers anymore! (Jeff Penczak)




(Double LP deluxe set from www.shagratrecords.com )

Reviewed again now because it's just been released on vinyl for the first time - the CD came out six months ago or so, but needless to say this isn't so much of a second chance as a golden opportunity. If you get a chance to hear one song from this album, try ‘Little Britches’ (not a typo) as it’s almost thematic; bluegrass fiddle is fiddled, horses are ridden, cowboys reminisce and rodeos are recalled. Lyrically it’s faultless; a brilliant piece of vintage Western folk music, beautifully played and exquisitely crafted.

Anyone for whom the name Lawrence Hammond hasn’t already rung a bell of recognition will have furrowed their brows in puzzlement at the vocal delivery by this stage. If the quavering cadences seem strangely familiar, take a listen to ‘Pale Moon on the Pecos’, ‘West Texas Border Patrol’ or ‘Nevada McLoud’. By now you won’t need me to tell you that these songs are by THE Lawrence Hammond, late of the mighty Mad River – one of the most unique, magical and endlessly fascinating bands to emerge from the late 60s San Francisco melting pot.

Don’t expect the guitar pyrotechnics or explosive psychedelic delivery, but aficionados of both the country and the western sides of Mad River, for example ‘Cherokee Queen’ and Lawrence Hammond’s own ‘Paradise Bar and Grill’ from the LP of the same name, will nod sagely at hearing ‘Tumbleweed Plantation’ in particular – close your eyes and it could almost be an outtake. It’s almost my favourite cut on the album, but that accolade has to be reserved for ‘Papa Redwing Blackbird’, a stunningly beautiful song which features some gorgeous guitar plucking, with both Hammond’s quavering voice and an occasional flute dancing through the skies above and around it.

As well as singing, Hammond plays piano, dobro, fiddle, mandolin, viola, acoustic guitar, lead guitar and just about everything other than the bass he played with Mad River. The material actually dates from the late 70s, and as the title suggests was unreleased and “presumed lost” until recently. Nigel Cross makes a masterful job of recounting the story behind the album in his sleeve-notes, so I shan’t repeat them here – rest assured that fans of Mad River; bluegrass fans; anyone who appreciates a well written and professionally delivered song will find something to appreciate and admire here. (Phil McMullen)