top of page



Bubu (Argentina): Anabelas (EMI 8574, 1978)

Cecilia Tenconi (flute, piccolo)
With tracks of between nine and nineteen minutes, this mostly instrumental album offers some very powerful jazzy prog with superb ensemble playing and plenty of experimental edges. Horns, violins, vocals and occasional choirs are used to excellent effect, and the overall effect is muscular and punchy; this is easily one of the best progressive albums to emerge from the continent. GRADE: B.

Bubu (Argentina): El Eco Del Sol (Viajero Inmóvil BUBU076VP, CD, with gatefold minisleeve and inner, 2018)
Agostina Tudisco (occasional vocals), Ana María Battezzati (occasional vocals), Tina Haus (occasional vocals), Abigail D’Angiolillo (occasional vocals), Paula Liffschitz (occasional vocals), Florencia Ailín Stefanelli (occasional vocals), Virginia Maqui Tenconi (keyboards)
On paper, this is the sort of reunion nobody wants – short-lived seventies band with a classic (and collectible) album pops up again after 40 years with only one original member involved (non-performing composer Daniel Andreoli, who also plays bass here). But whilst my expectations were muted, they were quickly shattered – this is superb symphonic prog with well-judged jazzy edges and constant surprises. Mixing instrumentals, numbers with choral vocals and songs with a male singer, it offers plenty of variety too, with an outstanding production and lovely packaging being the icing on the cake. As my favourite album of 2018 and one of the best from Latin America in any era, this sets the standard that all reunions should follow. GRADE: B.

Buckingham Nicks (USA): Buckingham Nicks (Polydor PD 5058, 1973)
Stevie Nicks (joint lead vocals)
This obscurity by the future Fleetwood Mac duo peaks on the irresistibly catchy ‘Don’t Let Me Down Again’, which should have given them a hit single and was frequently played live by the Mac. A high standard is maintained throughout, with the sound resembling both Fleetwood Mac future (more than half the cuts could easily pass for Rumours out-takes) and past (whilst Buckingham was a distinctive guitarist even at this early stage, the leads on ‘Races Are Run’ strongly resemble Mac alumnus Danny Kirwan). The highpoint is probably the long, proggy closer ‘Frozen Love’, which represents one of very few songwriting collaborations between the duo, and was the song that prompted Mick Fleetwood to recruit them. GRADE: C+.

Buckingham Nicks (USA): Alabama 1975 – The Tuscaloosa Broadcast (Iconography ICON067, CD, UK, 2018, recorded 1974-1975)


Stevie Nicks

The bulk of this fascinating grey market release captures Buckingham Nicks’s final show before 7,000 people (the only and only huge gig of their career) on 21 January 1975, three weeks after agreeing to join Fleetwood Mac. This sounds like it was taped off-air, with bootleg sound quality, but it’s still perfectly serviceable. The set is then bolstered by five cuts from an earlier show in 1974, also in adequate rather than excellent sound quality. The CD is particularly interesting for showcasing early versions of ‘Rhiannon’ and ‘Monday Morning’, both of which benefited enormously from Fleetwood Mac’s arranging and performing prowess: the former is played too fast on both occasions (with Nicks specifically asking Buckingham not to rush it during the 1974 show) whilst the latter has galumphing drumming a world away from Mick Fleetwood’s fluency. A couple of rare songs, ‘You Won’t Forget Me’ and ‘Heartbreaker (Circles In Time)’ also fascinate, whilst the set confirms my impression that ‘Don’t Let Me Down Again’ and ‘Frozen Love’ were by far the most impressive things in their setlist at this stage. GRADE: B–.

Buckwheat (USA): Movin’ On (London XPS 609, 1972)
Debbie Campbell
Not everything works perfectly, but for the most part this is quite excellent rootsy rock (and a good deal heavier and more lively than most music meriting that description). Whether they’re tackling upbeat, catchy numbers or soulful ballad, the band offer deft musicianship and some superb harmonies, making this a pleasing if unassuming album. This was actually their second LP; the first had an all-male line-up. GRADE: C+.
Buckwheat (USA): Charade (London XPS 621, 1972)
Debbie Campbell (joint lead vocals, guitar)
This is again good rural rock, blending influences from soul, blues, funk and country music. Needless to say, there’s nothing original or challenging here, but it’s all melodic, lively and surprisingly hard rocking. GRADE: C+.
Buckwheat (USA): Hot Tracks (London XPS 635, 1973)
Debbie Campbell (joint lead vocals)
Probably their best album, this offers unpretentious and punchy guitar-led rock, with strong blues influences but also a fair amount of variety. On the back cover, Debbie Campbell somewhat resembles Maggie Bell, and the music is sometimes similar to Stone The Crows too. GRADE: C+.

Buffet Froid (Saint-Pierre & Miquelon): QX 87 (No label, with inserts, France, 1988)
Sylvie Goupillière (occasional vocals)
Hailing from the tiny French overseas collectivity of Saint-Pierre & Miquelon (a pair of islands off the coast of Newfoundland), Buffet Froid offer enjoyable and lively neoprogressive on the A-side. The shorter songs on the flip are less distinctive, being mainstream, keyboard-heavy rock with a few slight new wave tinges. This is a very rare album, with only a handful of copies known. GRADE: C.
Buffet Chaud (Saint-Pierre & Miquelon): Compositions Brouillones (No label, CD, 1996)
Sylvie Goupillière (backing vocals)
The science fiction-inspired cover makes this look like a prog album, but the only cut with any progressive rock influences is the closing ‘Labourage’ (ironically the LP’s best track). Elsewhere they offer straight melodic rock with hints of artists like Eric Clapton; whilst the songwriting is of a higher standard than on their debut, it’s a pity that they’ve become less, rather than more, ambitious here. GRADE: C.
Buffet (Saint-Pierre & Miquelon): Pulsions De Vie (No label, CD, 1998)
Sylvie Goupillière (occasional vocals)
Their third album – issued under yet another variant name – is different yet again, being lovely mellow soft rock with strong symphonic edges. With a rich and dreamy mood to most tracks, this is easily their finest release to date. GRADE: C+.
Buffet Froid (Saint-Pierre & Miquelon): 2019 (No label, CD, with digipak and booklet, 2007)
Cathy Pannier (occasional vocals)
Whilst this is probably their best album, it’s certainly their most schizophrenic, taking in powerful prog-metal (the opening ‘Côté Noir’), good progressive rock (a fine cover of Ange’s ‘Colin-Maillard’) and less successful ventures into everything from folk to country/rock to soft rock. Had they worked to their strengths and produced an album solely of heavy prog, this could have been quite impressive. GRADE: C+.

Bulldog (UK): It’s Just Not Cricket (Bulldog BD02, CD, 1993)
Jan Macauley
Bulldog is 50% composed of former members of Magenta (Jan Macauley and the band’s leader Arthur Brown) and parts of this do indeed sound like Magenta. However, Bulldog are far more whimsical and much of this is lively country/rock and near-novelty stuff, making for a pretty patchy album. 

Bulldog (UK): Get Serious (Bulldog BD03, CD, 2010)
Jan Macauley (occasional vocals, keyboards)
As the liner notes state, Bulldog offered a mixture of music and comedy during their live performances, and this album thankfully concentrates on the former. It mostly consists of covers of numbers by American singer/songwriters – nice enough, if a touch rural for my tastes (and with a slight cabaret edge on a few songs). However, the best cut by far is their version of ‘Just As The Tide Was A-Flowing’, on which they sound like their superior alter egos Magenta. GRADE: C.
See also Jan Macauley & Judith Champion, Magenta

Bullenbush Band (UK): Walthamstow Market (No label BB01, 1987)
Sue Bembridge (joint lead vocals, guitar, synthesiser, recorder)
Whilst the band name and album title might imply some kind of Chas & Dave Cockney monstrosity, this is a delicate traditional folk/rock LP with some electric instrumentation (including guitar, bass and synthesiser). The material mixes original compositions, covers and traditional numbers, with several instrumental pieces; the former are generally the best, especially the beautiful ballad ‘The Clown’, written and sung by Sue Bembridge. GRADE: C+.

Bunch (UK): Rock On (Island ILPS 9189, with flexidisc, 1972)
Sandy Denny (joint lead vocals), Linda Thompson (occasional vocals)
On receiving my copies of ‘Galactic Ramble’, I was amused to note that my review (‘[they] sound like they had lots of fun making this… just as well, as I can’t say I’ve ever had any fun listening to it’) matched a contemporary music paper’s comments almost word-for-word. On further listening, my opinion hasn’t changed. It’s not simply that these competent, rather stiff, covers of rock-and-roll and early sixties numbers are not much better than any local cabaret band; the album proves the point, made by other reviewers, that Sandy Denny’s plaintive voice is not well suited to upbeat material (and neither is Richard Thompson’s). In contrast, Linda Thompson shines on her two numbers, but ironically she would go on to perform mainly downbeat songs on her albums with Richard. GRADE: C.
See also Sandy Denny, Fairport Convention, Fotheringay, Brian Patten, Strawbs, Linda Thompson, Richard & Linda Thompson, Thompson Family, Tudor Lodge

Bundesverwaltungsorchester (West Germany): Tanzpalast (Electrola 1C 064-46 691, with inner, 1982)
Rosy Müller (principal vocals)
With an interesting line-up including Rosy Müller (a former Can associate), Jörg Evers (briefly a member of Amon Düül II when they reunited for Vortex) and Curt Cress (a well-travelled session drummer who was a member of Atlantis), this is a truly strange LP. Essentially it’s funky eighties pop/rock with elements of big band swing and lots of horns: the end result is well-assembled and listenable but extremely dated and cheesy, with the best cut by far being the dramatic, slightly proggy ‘Sex’. Clearly the world didn’t want a pop/swing hybrid even in the odd musical climate of the early eighties, as they never got to cut a follow-up. GRADE: C.

Bunky & Jake (USA): Bunky And Jake (Mercury MG 21142 / SG 61142, 1968)
Ann Rochelle Skinner (joint lead vocals, guitar)
This unusual folk/pop album throws a bit of everything into the mix: slide and fuzz guitars, bluesy chord progressions, jazzy rhythms, prominent strings and more. The result is a pleasant and charming period piece that never really settles into one style, with the heavy metal instrumental ‘Mongoose’ being by far the biggest surprise. GRADE: C+.
Bunky & Jake (USA): LAMF (Mercury SR 611991, 1969)
Ann Rochelle Skinner (joint lead vocals, guitar)
Their second and final album isn’t entirely removed from their first, but it demonstrates a stronger country/rock influence. It’s also much less diverse, and contains nothing as startling as ‘Mongoose’, so it’s definitely the lesser of their two releases. GRADE: C.

Vashti Bunyan (UK): Just Another Diamond Day (Philips 6308 019, 1970)
Vashti Bunyan (lead vocals, guitar)
Bunyan’s sixties singles and demos were sweet without being too twee; if Just Another Diamond Day were any more arch it would be a humpback bridge. With her beautiful voice reduced to a fey croon, simplistic nursery rhyme-like material and dainty chamber music arrangements (not to mention the childlike cover), it’s not entirely clear whether the album is actually aimed at adults. There’s no doubt that it’s beautifully crafted, creating an atmosphere unlike any other album, but there’s also no doubt that it’s very much an acquired taste. GRADE: C+.

Vashti Bunyan (UK): Lookaftering (Fatcat FATCD38, CD, 2005)


Vashti Bunyan (lead vocals, guitar)

Bunyan’s long-delayed second album has the same dainty chamber music arrangements as Just Another Diamond Day, but thankfully it’s nowhere near as twee or childlike. In fact, this is lovely stuff, including a few genuinely exquisite tracks; its only failings are that it’s all a bit one-paced and perhaps a little slight. GRADE: C+.

Vashti Bunyan (UK): Heartleap (Fatcat FATCD131, CD, with gatefold minisleeve and booklet, 2014)


Vashti Bunyan (lead vocals, guitar, keyboards, dulcitone)

Nine years may have passed since Lookaftering, but Heartleap sounds like business as usual. Bunyan has expanded her instrumental palette and is now playing keyboards as well as guitar, but otherwise my comments remain unchanged: this is shimmeringly beautiful, delicate and haunting but once again somewhat sedate and slight. GRADE: C+.
Vashti Bunyan (UK): Some Things Just Stick In Your Mind (Singles And Demos 1964 To 1967) (Fatcat FATCD59LTD, double CD, with book sleeve, 2007, recorded 1964 to 1967)
Vashti Bunyan (Iead vocals, guitar)
Living up to its name, this compilation of Bunyan’s juvenilia her four single sides from the mid-sixties (dubbed from crackly vinyl), several unreleased studio recordings and a few demos, with the second disc comprising a 12-song demo tape from 1964. It’s delightful stuff: far less precious than Just Another Diamond Day (with the notable exception of the twee ‘Pink Sugar Elephants’), with the demos featuring simple acoustic guitar accompaniment. In fact, this is probably the best of her releases. The limited edition version features four extra cuts tacked onto the end of the first disc. GRADE: B–.

Gary Burton (USA): A Genuine Tong Funeral (RCA LSP 3968, 1968)
Carla Bley (keyboards)
Although credited as a Burton solo album, this was actually composed and conducted by Carla Bley, and represented her first major work. Billed as a ‘dark opera without words’, it explores ‘emotions towards death – from the most irreverent to those of deepest loss’, and bears many of the hallmarks of her later compositions. For the most part, the lead instruments are (unsurprisingly) Burton’s vibraphone and horns, with Bley’s own keyboard playing rarely taking the spotlight. This is rightly regarded as an important example of sixties modern jazz; some reissues credit it, more appropriately, to the Gary Burton Quartet With Carla Bley. GRADE: B–.
See also Carla Bley, Jazz Composer's Orchestra, Michael Mantler

Lori Burton (USA): Breakout (Mercury MG 21136 / SR 61136, 1967)
Burton and her writing partner Pam Sawyer (who also co-produced the album) were prolific hit songwriters for several big-name artists. For her own album, she offered big production soul-pop with girl group edges – completely over-the-top stuff with dramatic, heartfelt vocals and huge multi-layered arrangements. It’s superbly executed, indicating her high level of talent, but has more in common with the Brill Building than any notion of underground rock. GRADE: C+.

Mary Burton & Peter Baldwin (USA): The Music Makers (IRC M/P-1, with booklet, 1972)
Mary Burton (joint lead vocals, guitar, piano, banjo)
This very varied folk album covers everything from nostalgic material (hinting in the direction of Insect Trust) through to contemporary numbers by Bob Dylan, John Denver and Carole King. It’s all very delicate, very precious and very American, so it’s not entirely to my taste despite being a pleasant and accomplished LP. GRADE: C+.

Bus Trip (UK/USA): Beyond The Cornfields (Poor Person Productions PPPR12, CDR, autographed, with inserts, 1997)
Tara Hill (occasional vocals)
Another concept album from Dave Tor et al, mixing psychedelic jams with spacy lo-fi songs recalling mid-to-late seventies Pink Floyd. It’s an enjoyable set, including plenty of fine moments, but to these ears it’s their wildest or most minimalist albums that are the real winners. GRADE: C+.

Kate Bush (UK): The Kick Inside (EMI EMC 3223, 1978)
Kate Bush (lead vocals, piano)
When Kate Bush burst onto the scene in 1978, she was something entirely new: a female singer/songwriter who owed nothing whatever to Joni Mitchell. Instead, the antecedents of her astonishing music could be said to include Véronique Sanson (the sensuality and hyper-femininity), Lynsey de Paul (the whimsy and falsetto vocals), Mellow Candle (the Celtic mysticism) and Amon Düül II’s uncharacteristic ‘Jalousie’ (which would have sounded like a Bush parody had it not preceded her by five years). ‘Moving’ and ‘Wuthering Heights’ are simply breathtaking in their beauty and originality, ‘The Man With The Child In His Eyes’ and ‘Feel It’ demonstrate her flair for simple ballads, ‘Oh To Be In Love’ and ‘Them Heavy People’ are effortlessly catchy, and ‘James And The Cold Gun’ (which EMI inexplicably wanted as the first single) shows her tackling seventies hard rock with aplomb. Although a few critics dismissed her as a gimmick with her helium-pitched voice and slightly twee façade, it must have been obvious to everyone else that the teenage Bush was a true musical prodigy. GRADE: A–.
Kate Bush (UK): Lionheart (EMI EMA 787, 1978)
Kate Bush (lead vocals, piano)
For Bush to have released two all-time classics in one year would have been a remarkable achievement, and she didn’t manage it. This is a charming, well-crafted album but for the most part sounds like it comprises songs rejected from The Kick Inside (or possibly written in haste after its predecessor was a hit). Only ‘Wow’ and ‘Oh England My Lionheart’ equal the many highpoints from her first LP, suggesting she should have resisted the label’s pressure for a quick follow-up. As a footnote, it’s amazing how much she resembles Dagmar Krause on the chorus to the very arch ‘Coffee Homerground’. GRADE: B–.
Kate Bush (UK): Never For Ever (EMI EMA 794, 1980)
Kate Bush (lead vocals, keyboards)
Album number three is the artistic step forward that Lionheart wasn’t: Bush is now playing synthesiser as well as piano and the arrangements are often daring and varied. In fact, the three singles (‘Breathing’, ‘Babooshka’ and ‘Army Dreamers’) are remarkably different from one another as well as being remarkably good. However, much of the rest is merely solid, so whilst this is a slight improvement on its predecessor it isn’t a patch on The Kick Inside. GRADE: B–.
Kate Bush (UK): Live At Hammersmith Odeon (EMI TVD 90 0503 2, VHS, 1981, recorded 1979)
Kate Bush (lead vocals, piano)
Bush’s ‘Tour of Life’ in the spring of 1979 is widely considered one of the greatest rock spectacles in history. Each song had its own staging, performed with different costumes and lighting effects, with the whole thing brought to life by dancers, mimes, poets and magicians. This video captures about half of her show at the Hammersmith Odeon and demonstrates just what an electrifying performer she was; it’s a pity we didn’t get the whole set including the non-Bush links as this doesn’t really indicate how the spectacle unfolded. Nonetheless, it’s stunning from start to finish, with the musical performances (including a fantastic extended ‘James And The Cold Gun’) just as good as the visuals. GRADE: A+.
Kate Bush (UK): The Dreaming (EMI EMC 3419, with inner, 1982)
Kate Bush (lead vocals, keyboards, strings)
With album number four, Bush went completely overboard and started using computers and the studio itself as compositional tools. The songs here have her singing in Australian and Cockney accents and using electronics to extend her already incredible vocal range, with overdub upon overdub creating walls of voices complementing, disrupting and arguing with one another. Yet through all of it, she still sounds like herself, indicating the distinctiveness of her singing and writing as well as the breadth of her talent. GRADE: B.
Kate Bush (UK): The Single File (Picture Music TVE 90 1430 2, VHS, 1983)
Kate Bush (lead vocals, keyboards, strings)
Musically, of course, this is an A+, compiling promotional videos for all Bush’s singles up to and including The Dreaming (with the odd exception of ‘December Will Be Magic Again’, not that I particularly liked it). However, this is a video, so the visuals are equally important and they’re not tremendously exciting, with the early ones showing Bush performing in soft focus in front of a black screen, though they become progressively more interesting as the set continues. GRADE: B.
Kate Bush (UK): Hounds Of Love (EMI CDP7 46142, CD, 1985)
Kate Bush (lead vocals, keyboards)
This was Bush’s commercial and critical high water mark, but it does very little for me. The songs on side one build on the arrangement style of ‘Sat In Your Lap’, but the steamhammer drumming is quintessentially eighties and dates the material badly. Side two has a conceptual suite called ‘The Ninth Wave’ which is creative and varied, but none of the songs is individually outstanding. GRADE: C+.
Kate Bush (UK): The Sensual World (EMI CDP 7930 7 82, CD, 1989)
Kate Bush (lead vocals, keyboards)
Far less experimental than her last two LPs, this is still afflicted by heavy eighties drumming, but I like it better than Hounds Of Love. With intriguing lyrics addressing unusual topics, and frequent use of Irish and Balkan musical motifs, this is a varied and creative album, but (the beautiful and haunting ‘This Woman’s Work’ aside) the songwriting still isn’t a patch on her early work. GRADE: C+.
Kate Bush (UK): The Red Shoes (EMI CDEMD 1047, CD, 1993)
Kate Bush (principal vocals, guitar, bass, keyboards)
Perhaps the last thing anyone would have expected the increasingly eccentric Kate Bush to do was turn in a mainstream, catchy pop/rock album, but that’s exactly what The Red Shoes is. Whether she’s offering bouncy rock on ‘Rubberband Girl’, calypso on ‘Eat The Music’, pop/funk on ‘Constellation Of The Heart’ or returning to her original singer/songwriter style on ‘Moments Of Pleasure’, this is by far the most commercial thing she’s ever done. Thankfully, I like the songs here more than those on her last couple of LPs, making for a thoroughly enjoyable set. As a footnote, Bush unusually plays guitar and bass on ‘Big Stripey Lie’. GRADE: C+.
Kate Bush (UK): Aerial (EMI 0946 43960 2 8, double CD, with gatefold minisleeve and booklet, 2005)
Kate Bush (principal vocals, keyboards)
Bush’s return after 12 years of silence was greeted with rapture, but to these ears Aerial is good rather than great. The seven songs on the first disc are ponderous in the extreme, but the suite on the second is beautifully crafted and atmospheric, if also a touch soporific (quite appropriate, given the subject matter). GRADE: C+.
Kate Bush (UK): Director’s Cut (Fish People FPCD001, CD, with book sleeve, 2011)
Kate Bush (principal vocals, keyboards)
This rather odd set consists of reworkings and re-recordings of songs from The Sensual World and The Red Shoes. Only three songs are completely re-recorded, but the rest are significantly altered, with new vocal parts and with the recordings slowed to match Bush’s lowered vocal timbre. Since the songs were good rather than great to begin with, so is Director’s Cut, and it’s a pity that the re-recorded ‘This Woman’s Work’ is much inferior to the simpler original. A ‘deluxe version’ also exists of the set, also featuring The Sensual World (unaltered) and The Red Shoes (remastered); this is usually erroneously described as a boxed set, but actually comes in a book sleeve like the single-disc edition. GRADE: C+.
Kate Bush (UK): 50 Words For Snow (Fish People 5099972986622, CD, with book sleeve, 2011)
Kate Bush (principal vocals, bass, keyboards)
The most obvious antecedent for Bush’s most ambient album would be Joni Mitchell’s ‘Paprika Plains’. Giving full rein to her most minimalist impulses, Bush creates lengthy, tranquil, piano-based soundscapes that are either eerily beautiful or highly self-indulgent depending on one’s perspective. GRADE: C+.

Kate Bush (UK): Before The Dawn (Fish People 0190295920173, triple CD, with digipak and booklet, 2016)
Kate Bush (principal vocals, keyboards)
The last Kate Bush album I loved was The Dreaming, so when she announced her first live dates since the seventies I reacted with indifference, correctly predicting that the setlist would be built around ‘The Ninth Wave’, ‘A Sky Of Honey’ and the hits from Hounds Of Love. I didn’t have high hopes for this live album either, but it’s actually a revelation. Freed from their dated eighties production, the hits come alive – even the more modern ‘King Of The Mountain’, sluggish in the studio, sounds wonderful here – whilst ‘The Ninth Wave’ sounds better than ever and Bush rocks out in no uncertain fashion (not a phrase I thought I’d ever find myself using) towards the end of ‘A Sky Of Honey’. I even like the much-maligned solo showcase for her son Bertie during the latter. In fact, Before The Dawn leaves me with only three regrets: that she didn’t perform any of the early material that I adore; that she didn’t issue a Blu-ray; and that I didn’t attend what must have been a remarkable spectacle. GRADE: B.

Kate Bush (UK): The Other Sides (Fish People 0190295568887, quadruple CD, with book sleeve, 2019, recorded 1973-2005)
The Kate Bush Remastered campaign was a disappointment in almost every respect: no video content (despite fans clamouring for Blu-rays of Live At Hammersmith Odeon and Before The Dawn), no upgraded packaging, no historical liner notes, and an odds-and-sods collection of B-sides, cover versions, 12" mixes and a solitary Kick Inside outtake bundled in with the second (more expensive, less desirable) instalment. When The Other Sides was released as a standalone set a few months later, fans who’d shelled out for the second Remastered package must have regarded it as a final kick in the teeth. Thankfully, I was not among them, so I can judge this on its own merits. Musically, it’s pleasant enough, though there’s little really exceptional here, but conceptually it’s downright poor. Why just a couple of hours of music spread across four discs? Why not include all the B-sides and compilation appearances, instead of just a selection? Why jumble up two CDs of non-LP singles and B-sides out of chronological order? Ultimately, this set raises more questions than it answers. GRADE: C+.

Lisa Busler (UK): Look For Me Tomorrow (Break Time Music, 1979)
Lisa Busler (lead vocals, guitar)
This pleasant, if rather slight, rural rock LP sounds like a singer/songwriter set, but consists entirely of covers or traditional songs (including four by Lisa Ballentine, who issued her own, not entirely dissimilar, LP). Well performed and recorded, it’s an enjoyable if generic set, finally taking flight on the lively closer ‘Dark And Doubting Eyes’. GRADE: C+.

Joe Byrd & The Field Hippies (USA): The American Metaphysical Circus (Columbia Masterworks MS 7317, with inner, 1969)
Susan De Lange (joint lead vocals), Veronica Bond (joint lead vocals), Christie Thompson (occasional vocals)
Effectively the second United States Of America LP, this is generally considered far inferior. I disagree: this bizarre, ridiculously pretentious, utterly unpredictable album is Joe Byrd’s magnum opus, and one of the most fascinating releases of the late sixties. Divided into four suites entitled ‘The Sub-Sylvian Litanies’, ‘American Bedmusic I’, ‘Gospel Music For Abraham Ruddell Byrd III’ and ‘The Southwestern Geriatrics Arts And Crafts Festival’, the album opens with a collage of electronically treated voices and tape effects recalling Gong, before taking in acid-rock (‘You Can’t Ever Come Down’, ‘The Elephant At The Door’), rather eerie ballads (‘Moonsong: Pelog’, ‘Patriot’s Lullabye’), mutant rock and roll (‘Nightmare Train’), twenties-style jazz (‘Mister 4th Of July’), gospel-ish instrumentals and even a singalong performed in the manner of residents of a rest home. The result is a baffling, completely incomprehensible work of avant-garde rock that never stood a chance of selling in any quantity. Many people hate it, but to me this masterpiece remains just on the right side of the dividing line between genius and insanity. GRADE: A–.

Byrnie Baker Band (USA): Certified Rock And Roll (BBB BBB6006, with insert, 1983)
Charity R Goodin (joint lead vocals, percussion), Coleen A Goodin (occasional vocals, percussion)
This turned out not to be the ‘real people’ bonehead hard rock I expected from the album title and cover, but a slick and slightly funky rock LP with remarkably professional arrangements and production for a private pressing. Whilst there are a few hard rock and AOR leanings and some very slight progressive edges, their biggest influence was clearly the Doobie Brothers and for the most part this is melodic and groovy, occasionally catching fire when the band stretches out and jams. GRADE: C+.

See also United States Of America

PayPal ButtonPayPal Button
bottom of page