C Sides Project (UK): 10 Days (White Knight WKCS0918, CD, with gatefold minisleeve, 2018)
Siân Elson (joint lead vocals), Molly Elson (occasional vocals)
The core members were previously in Magenta, so they don’t exactly have illustrious CVs, but does this resemble their former outfit? Well, yes and no. Siân Elson certainly bears more than a passing resemblance to Christina Murphy and this is definitely old-school neoprogressive, but the music here is denser and more varied than Magenta, with a few lovely acoustic moments, and also a touch less ambitious (which is perversely a good thing given Magenta’s tendency to overreach themselves). They’ve also managed an interesting concept, complete with occasional narration, in stark contrast to some of the odd themes Magenta have chosen. But as already noted, ultimately it’s just old-school neoprogressive and as such nothing to get very excited about. GRADE: C+.
C Sides Project (UK): Purple Hearts Corner (No label, download, 2020)
This is arguably a step up from 10 Days – heavier, livelier and more varied and dynamic, but whilst it’s frequently pretty good it’s still not hugely memorable. As a footnote, Siân Elson contributes only a few backing vocals, despite being credited as a full band member. GRADE: C+.
Caamora (UK/Poland): Walk On Water (Metal Mind Productions MASS CD DG 1017, CD, with digipak, Poland, 2007)
Agnieszka Świta (principal vocals)
The hype sticker describes this as a ‘new sensational project’, but like Clive Nolan and Agnieszka Świta’s previous EP under their own names it’s solid rather than spectacular. Once again, they offer pleasant if unremarkable symphonic rock, though this time round the songwriting seems less accomplished; and once again they’re not exactly generous with the material, offering four songs totalling a mere 17 minutes. GRADE: C+.
Caamora (UK/Poland): She (Metal Mind Productions MMP6CDBOX001, double DVD plus quadruple CD, with digipak, booklet, postcards and box, Poland, 2008)
Agnieszka Świta (principal vocals), Christina Murphy (joint lead vocals)
One can’t fault Clive Nolan’s ambition: this gargantuan set includes his Rider Haggard-inspired rock opera as a studio double CD, a live double CD and a double DVD, with the latter also including the entire Closer and Walk On Water EPs and two cuts from the Embrace EP, plus a ‘making-of’ documentary, biography, discography, photo gallery and desktop images. In fact, the whole thing runs for a staggering 450 minutes, allowing one to spend an entire working day wallowing in his creation. But what of the music? Rock opera isn’t one of my favourite styles, and nor is this brand of neoprog, but Nolan can certainly craft a tune and this is well above average for the genre. The concert DVD is excellently filmed and demonstrates the staging to have been extremely professional, completing an accomplished (if rather daunting) package. GRADE: C+.
Caamora (UK/Poland): Journey’s End… An Acoustic Anthology (Metal Mind Productions MASS CD 1237 DGD, double CD, with digipak and booklet, 2008)
Agnieszka Świta (principal vocals), Christina Murphy (occasional vocals)
Mostly recorded live, this mostly consists of piano-backed songs with a rather theatrical feel. The repertoire draws from the band’s own catalogue as well as Nolan’s other ventures, and despite the title there are a fair few numbers with electric backing that add a much-needed jolt of energy. Overall it’s inoffensive enough stuff that could appeal to people enjoying Renaissance at their straightest, but the show tune edges may displease some listeners. GRADE: C+.
See also Clive Nolan & Agnieszka Świta, Agnieszka Świta
Cabaret Du Ciel (Italy): Blue Form (Mellow MMP 387, CD, 2000)
Silvia Marton (lead vocals)
A rather odd mixture of synth, neoclassical and new wave music with a few minor hard rock touches, this occasionally hints at fellow Italians Dunwich or to a lesser extent Revolutionary Army Of The Infant Jesus, but is nowhere near as good or as adventurous as either. This was actually the band’s second and final album; they had issued a cassette Skies In The Mirror with an all-male line-up back in 1992. GRADE: C+.
Cactus Rose (USA): The Cactus Rose Project (Mars 1004, 1979)
Cindy Cox (joint lead vocals, percussion, flute)
As the band name suggests, this is rural rock, though with the emphasis on both parts of the equation. The band also had some clear soft rock leanings and a definite interest in progressive music: the opening ‘Jelly’ is a mellow, funky seven-minute instrumental with a few slight disco edges. The other standout cut is the closing ‘Where The Blues Can’t Find Him’ with its intense yet relaxed groove and assertive guitar solo, meaning the album is bookended by its finest material. GRADE: C+.
Caçulas (Brazil): Os Caçulas (RCA BBL-1446, 1968)
Harmony pop Brazilian-style, and very nice this is too. Without the overbearing orchestrations that often plague albums of its type, this easily rivals anything similar to come out of the USA at the time. GRADE: C+.
Caçulas (Brazil): Os Caçulas (RCA BBL-1 511, 1969)
Mostly this is more of the same and again very listenable, but ‘A Moça Do Kharmann Ghia Vermelho’ has harder rock backing and lots of acid guitar for a more psychedelic feel. ‘Let’s Get Together’, a mainstay of this kind of album, puts in an appearance in a Portuguese language version. GRADE: C+.
Cado Belle (UK): Cado Belle (Anchor ANCL 2015, with inner, 1976)
Maggie Reilly (lead vocals)
Cado Belle are remembered, if at all, for launching the career of Mike Oldfield collaborator Maggie Reilly. Their obscurity is well deserved: whilst their songwriting was competent and their arrangements highly professional, their sole album was generic funky and soulful mid-seventies pop, indistinguishable from hundreds of other equally obscure LPs released around the same time. GRADE: C.
See also Mike Oldfield, Maggie Reilly
Caedmon (UK): Caedmon (No label, with 7" single and insert, 1978)
Angela Naylor (principal vocals)
By the time this defining acid-folk album was issued, this Scottish band had been gigging for four years, and the LP was intended as a farewell gift to their fans as they’d already decided to call it a day. They found they had recorded some 54 minutes of music, so to release it all chose to include a sleeveless 7" single as a bonus with the album, which comes housed in a wonderful, mystical cover. Across the two discs, the band offers a variety of electric folk styles on mainly original material: from the complex, doomy, full-blown prog of ‘Storm’ to the haunting, evocative balladry of ‘The Sea’; from the intricate, multi-part harmonies of ‘Aslan’ to the frenetic, mandolin-driven ‘Columba’s Song’; and from the pop-ish whimsy of ‘Living In The Sunshine’ to the searing lead guitar work and abrupt tempo changes of the opening ‘Ten Maidens Fair’. GRADE: A–.
Caedmon (UK): Live (Kissing Spell/Erewhon KSCD 9505-F, CD, 1995, recorded 1977-1978)
Angela Naylor (principal vocals)
When Kissing Spell reissued the band’s LP on CD in 1994 (unusually for them, in the original artwork), they also unearthed live tapes from a couple of 1977 and 1978 concerts, which were released as this lengthy standalone CD. This is a superb album in its own right, with excellent sound quality, superb performances and quite a number of exclusive songs. Unlikely though it may sound, this set actually indicates that the studio album could have been even better, as two cuts in particular outclass much of the material that was recorded: the opening ‘London Psalm’ is the most savage piece the band ever attempted, driven by screeching walls of fuzz guitar, and ‘The Garden’ is a superb progressive number. GRADE: A–.
Caedmon (UK): A Chicken To Hug (Caedmon’s Return CRCD0001, CD, with digipak and booklet, 2010)
Angela Naylor (joint lead vocals)
That this unexpected reunion album is not a patch on their first is a given. That it’s a solid collection of songs in its own right is more surprising. The first couple of cuts strongly recall their seventies work, but elsewhere this is mellower, less ethereal and far less psychedelic, despite the presence of some good lead guitar work. It’s a varied record, with several cuts that don’t work enormously well, but there is some fine material here and the quality of their writing and musicianship really shines through. GRADE: B–.
Caedmon (UK): Rare (Caedmon’s Return 002, CD, with gatefold minisleeve, 2019, recorded 1975-2019)
Angela Naylor (joint lead vocals), Sally Jaquet (occasional vocals)
Nine years after A Chicken To Hug, Caedmon return with an album that’s part-new (seven modern studio recordings) and part-archive (five live numbers from 1975, one from 1978 and a bonus track of uncredited provenance). The only familiar number is ‘London Psalm’, live in 1975 and far less wild than the furious version on Caedmon Live. In fact, the whole album is rather straighter than their previous work, excepting the opening studio cut ‘Dream Of The Rood’, with its complex progressive diversions, focusing on straighter folk on the archive recordings and relaxed borderline folk/rock on the new studio cuts. Nonetheless, there is some lovely music here, adding up to a fine addendum to their catalogue. GRADE: B–.
Cahoots (USA): In Cahoots (AJC AJC 1952-03, with inner, 1983)
Ann Marie Barnett (joint lead vocals)
Not to be confused with the prolific Canterbury band In Cahoots, this Cahoots was a deeply obscure country/rock outfit. Despite some lugubrious male vocals and a mildly humorous hillbilly air, this is towards the rock end of the equation, with some nice robust arrangements and well-judged use of keyboards. Add in decent songwriting and an exceptionally good recording, and the result is an unusual and enjoyable LP. Oddly, the printed inner sleeve consists of nothing but dedications, in which they thank several hundred people. GRADE: C+.
Cair Paravel (UK): Some Other Morning (Koala KOA PO16, with insert, 1976)
Maggie Delves (joint lead vocals, mandolin), Siân Harry (piano)
This is a top-flight rarity that consistently sells for huge money, but its gentle, self-penned folk songs, many with Christian lyrics, are pleasant rather than remarkable. The best number is the mesmerising, shimmering “September Night Song’, with ‘Summer’s End’ having occasional flashes of the same brilliance; the remainder at least has a warm and mellow atmosphere. The band’s leader Pete Ryder had previously been the driving force behind Paradise Square; along with keyboardist Siân Harry, he would go on to cut an obscure LP for the Profile label.
See also Pete Ryder & Siân Harry
Maryen Cairns (Australia): The Pictures Within (Progressive International PRO 008, CD, USA, 1991)
Maryen Cairns (lead vocals, keyboards, programming)
Despite the label name – which did indeed see the album promoted as progressive rock – this is singer/songwriter music with melodic pop and new wave edges and slightly symphonic, partly electronic backing. Cairns can certainly craft a good tune, but she has an unusual voice (somewhere between quasi-operatic and semi-spoken, though this may be difficult to imagine) and the arrangements sound very dated nowadays. She might also have been better advised to avoid trying to make weighty statements on overpopulation, the plight of women in Muslim countries and the horrors of child abuse (at one point, we helpfully learn that paedophiles are ‘vile’). GRADE: C–.
Maryen Cairns (Australia): For Eternity (Progressive International PRO 015, CD, UK, 1993)
Maryen Cairns (lead vocals, guitar, keyboards, programming)
Her second is a bit of a step up from her first: slightly more symphonic, slightly more rock-oriented and slightly more organic (notably on ‘The Concert Bitch’, where she drops all the synthesisers). However, this is still fairly low-budget and I’m still not convinced by her songs or her singing, which sometimes resembles a more girlish Tracy Hitchings. GRADE: C.
Cairo (UK): Say (Heavy Right Foot HRFCD1501, CD, with digipak and booklet, 2016)
Rachel Hill (joint lead vocals)
I never really rated Rob Cottingham’s previous band Touchstone, so didn’t have high hopes for Cairo. Nonetheless, this is better all round – more creative and more atmospheric, with the music presented as a continuous suite and ethnic elements occasionally used to good effect. When all is said and done, this is still heavy neoprogressive rather than anything ground-breaking, but it’s definitely a significant step in the right direction. GRADE: C+.
Cairo (UK): Alive In Holland (Heavy Right Foot, CD, with gatefold minisleeve, 2020)
Their studio album struck me as above-average neoprogressive, which some may consider the dictionary definition of faint praise. This live album strikes me as average neoprogressive, so my praise is fainter still. It’s all perfectly listenable, but with short, discrete songs is less expansive than its studio counterpart, and there’s limited live ambience – in fact, I suspect that a few tracks may have been recorded at soundchecks or in the studio. GRADE: C+.
Cake (USA): The Cake (Decca DL 4927 / 74927, 1967)
Barbara Morillo (joint lead vocals), Eleanor Barooshian (joint lead vocals), Jeanette Jacobs (joint lead vocals)
Offering a bizarre mixture of styles, the album opens with three late girl-group numbers with epic Phil Spector-ish production. The remainder of side one is taken up with three folky self-penned numbers: the first mediaeval-esque, the second mildly psychedelic (the excellent ‘Fire Fly’) and the third mournful and heavily orchestrated. Side two is all covers, in an upbeat soul/pop vein, bearing some resemblance to contemporary Ike & Tina Turner. Altogether, this is a very nice LP, but a very strange one. Dr John plays on the album and composes one song, whilst Cher contributes uncredited backing vocals. GRADE: C+.
Cake (USA): A Slice Of Cake (Decca DL 75039, 1969)
This time round, they pen most of the material, and the bulk of it is in a similar baroque folk style to the original songs on the first album (albeit with a bit of a contemporary singer/songwriter edge). However, ‘Extroverted Introvert’ is a bizarre jaunty number with a bit of a Caribbean feel, ‘Annabelle Clarke’ is bouncy sixties pop, and there’s a medley of R&B covers just to ensure that this is nearly as schizophrenic as its predecessor. GRADE: C+.
Cake Bake Betty (USA): Songs About Teeth! (Infinity Cat ICR-22, CD, with minisleeve, 2006)
This project by the prolific Lindsay Powell focuses on slightly baroque folky pop, with some pleasant material and excellent arrangements. I’m less keen on the breathy, girly, quintessentially American way she sings the material, but those with a taste for the twee could rate this highly. GRADE: C+.
Cake Bake Betty (USA): To The Dark Tower (Infinity Cat ICR-31, CD, with gatefold minisleeve, 2006)
The second and final Cake Bake Betty album (there was also a cassette with live snippets, limited to 20 copies) runs for less than half an hour and, even more than its predecessor, consists of brief snippets and vignettes. Nonetheless, it’s the better of their albums, with some fine material and a few effective rockers – the title of their first notwithstanding, this is the one that features songs with teeth. GRADE: C+.
See also Festival, Fielded, Ga’an
Gayle Caldwell (USA): Celebration Of Life (A&M SP 4196, 1969)
Gayle Caldwell (lead vocals, piano)
This beautiful, rather precious singer/songwriter venture with heavily orchestrated backing could be summed up as the American equivalent of Catherine Howe’s first LP (at a fraction of the price). The best track by far is ‘Lonely Lily’, a shimmering piece of acid-folk with an Oriental flavour and no orchestrations. GRADE: C+.
Callahan & Naz (USA): Callahan And Naz (No label, 1981)
Jackie Callahan (lead vocals)
Oddly, Jackie Callahan and John Nazarenko also recorded two albums as Nazjazz, dominated by the latter’s laid-back, introspective, jazzy songwriting. In Callahan & Naz, however, it’s Callahan who sings everything and dominates the writing, and the music is completely different, being hard rock and AOR. Whilst the disc breaks no new ground (and is remarkably short), it’s pleasant enough, with a few slight jazzy touches recalling Nazjazz and also a few hints of contemporary Stevie Nicks (with both traits being most obvious on side one’s closer ‘In The Street’). GRADE: C+.
See also Nazjazz
Calliope (Italy): Il Madrigale Del Vento (Vinyl Magic VMNP 015, CD, 1995)
Annalisa Gastaldo (lead vocals)
Bookended by lengthy songs of sixteen and seventeen minutes, this starts off unpromisingly, offering typical keyboard-led Italian neoprogressive. However, things improve halfway through, with the excellent instrumental ‘En Haute De Crète’, the beautiful ‘La Bionda Treccia’ with purely orchestral backing, and the closing ‘La Visione Della Dolce Pioggia’, which is by far the better of the extended tracks. With a very Italian feel, influences from folk and renaissance music, and lots of classical references, the end result is an enjoyable and mildly interesting LP. As a footnote, the band cut three other albums with an all-male line-up. GRADE: C+.
Camino & Luz (Chile): Camino Y Luz (Ediciones Paulinas LP 0019, with booklet, 1973?)
Lupe (joint lead vocals), Luisa (joint lead vocals), Tita (joint lead vocals), Mony (joint lead vocals), Ely (joint lead vocals)
This is one of the rarest private pressings from Chile, apparently issued in a run of 99 copies. Musically, it’s nice Christian folk/rock, with solo and massed vocals accompanied by gentle electric backing, all with the optimistic, elegiac mood one would expect. GRADE: C+.
Camizole (France): Camizole (Spalax CD 14549, CD, 1999, recorded 1977)
François Crublé (guitar, percussion, saxophone, flute, melodica)
Recorded live, this set was intended for release back in the seventies on Tapioca, but the label folded before it could be issued and it remained unheard for 22 years. The world didn’t miss much: these fifteen untitled instrumental improvisations aren’t unlistenable, but in totality they seem to go on forever. Ultimately, they sound like what they are: four doubtless quite pretentious French longhairs fooling around aimlessly and abusing their instruments to their hearts’ delight. Band member Dominique Grimaud later formed Video-Aventures. GRADE: D.
Camus (UK): Then And Now (Brewhouse BHC9035, cassette, 1990, recorded 1984 & 1990)
Debbie Patterson (joint lead vocals, bodhrán)
In case you ever wondered what Andrew Burn and Dave Somerville got up to after being half of Cobblers Last, here’s your answer. This features a side apiece from two different line-ups of the band (hence the title): the first recorded in 1984, with Debbie Patterson in the line-up, and the second in 1990 with an all-male line-up. Musically, it’s not a million miles away from Cobblers Last, but to these ears is slightly more accomplished all around, including two or three stunningly beautiful songs. GRADE: B–.
Can AM Des Puig (Spain): The Book Of AM “Part One” – Dawn And Morning (Labo Lab LTM 1016, France, 1976)
Carmeta Mansilla (joint lead vocals), Leslie Mackenzie (tamboura, backing vocals)
This band of Spanish mystics originally planned the album as a double LP accompanied by a 100-page book of illustrations and musings, but lack of funding meant it emerged as a single disc in a gatefold sleeve. Musically, it’s trippy and rather eerie acid-folk with mostly acoustic arrangements and a sort of European 'Wicker Man' feel. In 2006, the Spanish label Wah Wah finally released the whole work as a limited edition double LP or double CD in a lavish book sleeve; this proved that the second disc was every bit as beautiful and haunting as the first. Given the band’s intentions, this reissue (or the audiophile double SHM-CD on Belle Antique in Japan, sadly with the book reduced to CD size) should be regarded as the definitive artefact. As a footnote, the band were associates of Daevid Allen and Gilli Smyth, and there are unsubstantiated rumours that the duo put in an uncredited appearance. GRADE: B.
Can AM Des Puig (Spain): The Book Of AM – Pts III & IV, Afternoon And Evening (Wah Wah LPS 122, double, 2013)
Carmeta Mansilla (joint lead vocals), Leslie Mackenzie (joint lead vocals, drum)
Completing the band’s original concept, this long-delayed follow-up is, remarkably, just as haunting and beautiful as its predecessor. Some may find it a little precious and also a little pretentious, but by any standards this is absolutely top-class mystical acid-folk. GRADE: B.
Can AM Des Puig (Spain): The Book Of AM – Pt V, Night (Wah Wah LPS213, 2018, recorded 1977 & 2018)
Leslie Mackenzie (occasional vocals, guitar)
The final instalment of The Book Of AM consists of 1977 demos overdubbed in 2018: whilst this occasionally sounds like a barrel being scraped, it’s mostly agreeably spacy stuff that complements the other releases rather well. In particular, the hypnotic, percussive closer ‘The End’ is quite delightful. Oddly, John McGeoch is credited with the backing track on ‘Naad’; how and when he got involved, I have no idea. GRADE: B–.
Canadian Rock Theatre (Canada): Canadian Rock Theatre (Lion LN-1003, USA, 1972)
Laurie Hood (occasional vocals), Karen Silver (occasional vocals), Patti Jannetta (occasional vocals), Avril Chown (occasional vocals)
This obscure outfit featured two former members of the Sugar Shoppe, but there’s no musical resemblance: this is gospel rock, mixing original compositions with numbers from ‘Jesus Christ Superstar’ and ‘Godspell’. That doesn’t make it sound particularly appealing, but the album is packed with searing guitar work and some very intense playing, making it worth hearing. The gentle, haunting folk number ‘By My Side’ and the powerful ‘Changing Day To Day’ are easily the best cuts. GRADE: C+.
See also Sugar Shoppe
Canamii (South Africa): Concept (WEA WIC 8001, 1980)
Claire Whittaker (principal vocals)
Offering a derivative yet quite unusual sound, this keyboard-led progressive album resembles Curved Air on the songs and early Renaissance on the instrumentals. With fairly short tracks, it’s simultaneously slick and commercial yet unpredictable and amateurish, and their geographical location shows through in some tribal hand percussion. Whilst not brilliant, it’s enjoyable and mildly interesting, and decidedly uncommon for its era and origin. GRADE: C+.
Candle Factory (UK): Nightshift (CAVS ST020, 1977)
I underestimated this at first, due to its amateurish, flat, rather listless sound (vaguely similar to Shide & Acorn, though Candle Factory don’t have the same stoned, slightly mystical, edge). Nonetheless it’s quite distinctive for a Christian LP: far from being filled with messianic fervour, Candle Factory sound so laid-back as to be borderline comatose, and the delicate, mainly acoustic arrangements (with some electric leads and bass adding counterpoint) work well. The best cut is probably ‘Blue Denim’, which could pass for an outtake from Loudest Whisper’s The Children Of Lir. GRADE: C+.
Cannock (West Germany): Waiting For The Night (Peak 3080, 1980)
Raphaela Ciblis (lead vocals)
Their first album is classic prog-tinged hard rock with a very German feel (think Birth Control or Jane). The first two cuts are right at the peak of the genre, with great riffs and solos, suggesting that this is going to be an outstanding LP, but the remaining material is nowhere near as good. Nonetheless, this is certainly worth obtaining by anyone who likes the style. GRADE: C+.
Cannock Combo (West Germany): Fröhe Botschaft (Neue Welt 9007, with insert, 1982)
Raphaela Ciblis (lead vocals, saxophone)
Bizarrely, their second and final LP (under a slightly altered band name) is radically different. Sung entirely in German, it’s a hybrid of reggae and new wave, with some progressive tinges in the keyboard riffs and drumming, hinting at a poppier twist on Swiss Chalet-era Cos. However, a couple of tracks are in a similar vein to their first album, although not of the same quality as that LP’s better cuts. GRADE: C.
See also Various ‘Rock Offers’
CANO (Canada): Tous Dans L’Même Bateau (A&M SP-9024, with inner, 1976)
Rachel Paiement (joint lead vocals, guitar, percussion)
The debut album by this long-running band offers some lovely singer/songwriter-style folk/rock, alternating between atmospheric ballads and less effective country/rockers. Three long tracks give the group a chance to stretch out, but mostly this is good rather than great, with the closing ‘Baie Ste-Marie’ being in a different league to the rest of the LP. Interestingly, the guests include Luc Cousineau on percussion. GRADE: C+.
CANO (Canada): Au Nord De Notre Vie (A&M SP-9028, with inner, 1977)
Rachel Paiement (joint lead vocals, guitar, percussion)
A big step up from its predecessor, this drops the country/rock leanings and is far more progressive, especially on the eleven-minute suite ‘À La Poursuite Du Nord’ and the twelve-minute ‘Mon Pays’, which consists largely of relaxed jazzy jamming. Other highlights include the effective rocker ‘La Première Fois’ and the mellow closing instrumental ‘Spirit Of The North’, making for easily their best album. GRADE: B–.
CANO (Canada): Eclipse (A&M SP-9033, with inner, 1978)
Rachel Paiement (joint lead vocals, guitar)
Only once does this equal the best moments of its predecessor (the symphonic instrumental ‘Earthly Mother’) and there’s only one extended cut (the dramatic nine-minute closer ‘Bienvenue 1984’). Nonetheless it’s a perfectly pleasant set, sometimes resembling countrymen Oasis or Joni Mitchell when Rachel Paiement’s beautiful voice is fronting the music. This was the last album to feature founder member André Paiement, who committed suicide during 1978. GRADE: C+.
CANO (Canada): Rendezvous (A&M SP-9037, with inner, 1979)
Rachel Paiement (joint lead vocals, guitar)
There are no extended tracks at all this time around, but there are two rather good instrumentals. The overall standard may be a little higher, but there’s nothing to equal the impact of Eclipse’s two best tracks. Following the album’s release, the band went into hibernation, with Rachel Paiement leaving the music business, Wasyl Kohut dying from a brain aneurysm and the remaining members cutting a one-off album as Masque. CANO’s only other releases were the compilation Spirit Of The North (A&M SP-9040, 1980), which featured three dull new pop/rock tracks (including a version of ‘Carrie’, better known as a hit for Cliff Richard) and the equally dull and uncharacteristic reformation effort Visible (Ready LD 054, with insert, 1984), cut with an all-male line-up. GRADE: C+.
Antonio Resines & Teresa Cano (Spain): Canciones De Carcel De Ho Chi Minh (Movieplay S-17.0865/8, with insert, 1976)
Teresa Cano (joint lead vocals)
This hippie-folk concept album is quite varied, from gentle acoustic settings with hand percussion and flute through to full-blown rock with acid guitar, tempo changes and jazzy woodwind. At times it fringes RIO, with some strong progressive leanings, but remains consistently melodic while throwing in quite a few surprises. GRADE: B–.
Teresa Cano (Spain): Si Las Cosas No Fueran Tan Enojosas (Nevada ND-5026, 1977)
Teresa Cano (principal vocals)
Cano’s solo album consists of atmospheric rock with a jazzy touch and some notable progressive edges, plus a few hints of her Spanish origins. A couple of numbers don’t work so well, but overall this is a very good album. The disc, which like its predecessor is extremely rare, comes with a very attractive gatefold sleeve. GRADE: C+.
Canterbury Glass (UK): Sacred Scenes And Characters (Flawed Gems GEM 118, CD, Sweden, 2013, recorded 1968)
Valerie Watson (occasional vocals, flute, harmonica)
This was one of the first British progressive rock albums to be recorded but remained unreleased for more than 40 years (a version with four of the proposed LP’s six tracks was issued in 2007 – Ork ORK 5, CD). Crossing church music with powerful post-psychedelic jamming rock, it’s a striking and accomplished work with lots of rich period organ, though it’s perhaps a bit lacking in variety. Above all, this is an extremely significant piece of British progressive rock history. GRADE: B–.
Cantina Sociale (Italy): Balene (C’È Qualcosa Di Più) (ElectRomantic Music ART 404, CD, with gatefold minisleeve and booklet, 2001)
Marina Gentile (guitar), Rosalba Gentile (keyboards), Carla Viarengo (saxophone, backing vocals)
The best thing by far here is the instrumental ‘Dive-Nire’; whilst there’s nothing particularly wrong with the songs, which have a nice mellow Rock Progressivo Italiano feel, they’re not particularly exciting. That said, some of the tempo changes (notably on the opening ‘Ulisse’) are very badly handled, so overall this sounds like an embryonic work from an emerging band rather than anything fully realised. GRADE: C+.
Cantina Sociale (Italy): Catturati Live (ElectRomantic Music EMC 1702, DVD, with booklet, 2005)
Marina Gentile (guitar), Rosalba Gentile (keyboards), Carla Viarengo (saxophone, backing vocals)
This live DVD, which mixes in some interview footage, is visually unspectacular, mostly showing the band under gloomy red or blue lighting. However, the music sometimes achieves an impressive intensity, making this preferable to their studio album. GRADE: C+.
Cantina Sociale (Italy): Cum Lux (ElectRomantic Music ARTP 503, CD, 2009)
Marina Gentile (guitar), Rosalba Gentile (keyboards), Carla Viarengo (saxophone, backing vocals)
They’ve learned a fair few tricks in eight years: this polished and highly professional album has none of the occasional awkwardness of their first. That said, their understated, song-based style doesn’t really lend itself to epic pieces, so the 20½-minute title track decidedly outstays its welcome. GRADE: C+.
Cantina Sociale (Italy): Caosfera (ElectRomantic Music EMC 1702, CD, with digipak and booklet, 2017)
Marina Gentile (guitar), Rosalba Gentile (keyboards)
The first thing I noticed was that there were no lyrics in the booklet. The second was that when the CD started, Cantina Sociale were playing like a band possessed. At that point, I realised that they’d gone instrumental – and that they’d finally fulfilled the potential suggested on their DVD. Running from the gamut from borderline zeuhl and RIO to hints of metal to good old-fashioned symphonic prog, this is in a different league from anything they’ve done before. GRADE: B–.
Captain Sperrmüll (West Germany): Spontanarcho Musik (Trikont Unsere Stimme US-80, some with insert and poster, 1981)
Möhre (bass, backing vocals), Ruth (backing vocals), Cachi (backing vocals)
As the title suggests, this is conceptually in the same area as Crass. However, musically there is little resemblance, as Captain Sperrmüll took their influences from early seventies rock and prog, with bluesy elements here and there and plenty of good guitar work. In fact, this is musically quite conventional, with most of the more anarchic elements coming from the semi-sung and spoken vocals. GRADE: C+.
Captain Sperrmüll (West Germany): Die Sonne Geht Aus! (Schneeball 34, 1982?)
Sarah (principal vocals, percussion), Sonja (percussion)
Their second and final album drops most of the ranting for a more straightforward guitar-led progressive rock sound, with jazzy and occasionally Arabic edges. Whilst both of their LPs are interesting, this is the more mature and consistent of the two. GRADE: C+.
Carambolage (West Germany): Carambolage (David Volksmund Produktion 333, 1980)
Elfie-Esther Steitz (joint lead vocals, guitar, organ), Angie Olbrich (joint lead vocals, bass), Britta Neander (joint lead vocals, drums)
This obscure all-female trio offer interesting political rock, blending influences from punk and prog on thirteen short, funky songs with unusual riffs and some experimental touches. On ‘Je T’Aime’, the singer is an absolute dead ringer for Renate Knaup-Krötenschwanz, and the song strongly puts me in mind of mid-seventies Amon Düül II. Apart from that, it’s all very late seventies or early eighties, but it’s also quintessentially Krautrock, making the album well worth a listen. GRADE: C+.
Carambolage (West Germany): Eilzustellung Exprès (David Volksmund Produktion 444, with inner, 1982)
Elfie-Esther Steitz (joint lead vocals, guitar, keyboards), Angie Olbrich (joint lead vocals, guitar, bass, organ), Janett Lemmen (bass, saxophone), Britta Neander (drums, percussion)
Their second album, cut with a larger four-piece line-up, is similar to their first, but rather punkier and with fewer Kraut touches. Overall, this is probably best compared to contemporaries like Gang Of Four, L Voag, Poisongirls and Talking Heads. GRADE: C+.
Caramel Mou (Canada): Caramel Mou (Deram XDEF 104, 1974)
Vivianne Moreau (principal vocals, effects)
This is usually described as progressive, but in fact it’s mildly quirky mainstream rock with frequent folky edges and a few experimental touches. Several tracks borrow liberally from better-known songs, with ‘Miss Ellery’ in particular seeming to take its rhythm guitar line from Fairport Convention’s ‘Who Knows Where The Time Goes?’. In the sleevenotes, they thank the Ville Emard Blues Band, with whom they obviously had some connection. GRADE: C+.
Caravelles (UK): The Caravelles (Decca LK 4565, 1963)
Andrea Simpson, Lois Lane
‘You Don’t Have To Be A Baby To Cry’ may have been a transatlantic top ten hit during the British Invasion beat boom, but this teenage female duo had a rather different sound to most acts of their day. In fact, with their lush, dreamy harmonies, they might easily appeal to those enjoying later American bands such as Free Design. Also, unusually for a female act of the time, they penned four of this album’s cuts themselves. GRADE: C+.
See also Lois Lane
Cardboard Village (USA): Sea-Change (Cardboard Village CVST 4, with insert, 1973)
Chris Poole (occasional vocals, flute)
At its best this is really lovely hippie-folk, with most songs featuring the winning combination of acoustic guitar, electric bass, congas and flute. A couple of good-time numbers slightly break the flow, but mostly it’s a fine album that acts as an effective vehicle for talented singer/songwriter and guitarist David Clark. GRADE: C+.
Cardinal Folk (UK): The Cardinal Folk (County Recording Service COUN LP 128/129, no sleeve, 1968?)
Just a handful of copies are known of this private pressing, issued without a sleeve on the same label as Levee Camp Moan’s two albums. Musically, it’s gentle and naïve, midway between folk club fare and a school project album in mood. All of the material is familiar, including such staples as ‘Georgy Girl’, ‘Kum-Ba-Yar’, ‘The Times They Are A-Changin’’, ‘Swing Low Sweet Chariot’ and ‘We Shall Not Be Moved’.
Cardinals (UK): Sweet And Refreshing (Nelmwood Audio NWA 1, 1971?)
Anne Morris (joint lead vocals)
Their second LP, under a slightly different name, is quaint traditional folk – not particularly original or inventive, but often delicate and beautiful. In particular, sensitive readings of ‘Summer Wine’ and ‘Dream’, the slightly eerie ‘Last Night They Burnt Atlanta’ and the Eastern-tinged ‘Morning Please Don’t Come’ work very well. GRADE: C+.
Cardinals (UK): Top Of The World (Nelmwood Audio, UK, 1973?)
Anne Morris (joint lead vocals, guitar, tambourine)
Similar in style to Sweet And Refreshing but not as good, this spans a broad range of material, from the Carpenters’ ‘Top Of The World’ to Simon & Garfunkel’s ‘Wednesday Morning 3am’ and the Seekers’ ‘Red Rubber Ball’. Ultimately, it’s all rather middle-of-the-road, and exactly the kind of stuff one could have heard in any folk club during the early seventies. GRADE: C.
Cardinals (UK): Moonshine (No label CWB DO1, 1974?)
Anne Morris (joint lead vocals, guitar, tambourine), Anne Skates (joint lead vocals, flute)
On the plus side, their final album includes original material for the first time, in the shape of two pleasant Anne Morris compositions. On the downside, the whole thing has a generic folk club sound as usual, and I could have done without their versions of ‘Take Me Home Country Roads’, ‘Last Thing On My Mind’ and ‘Annie’s Song’. GRADE: C.
Cardinal Newman School (UK): The Healer (Piper Studios PSS011, with insert, 1977?)
Susan Fogarty (joint lead vocals), Helen Burke (joint lead vocals), Helen Walker (joint lead vocals), Esther Hackett (strings), Ailsa Campbell (strings)
This school project album, housed in a striking minimalist sleeve, is rather interesting. Typically for the genre, it’s a religious-themed rock opera, with lots of woodwind and some slightly hesitant vocals. Untypically for the genre, it also has lots of electric guitar leads and some synthesiser, giving it a definite progressive edge. A few whimsical moments (notably on side one’s closer ‘Who’s He Anyway?’) don’t work so well, but overall this is a fine example of its genre. GRADE: C+.
Care Of The Cow (USA): Care Of The Cow (No label SS-29846-01, 10”, with inserts, 1975)
Sher Doruff (joint lead vocals, guitar, percussion, mandolin, recorder), Christine Baczewski (joint lead vocals, guitar, percussion, psaltery)
Issued only as a promo, the band’s debut LP (which came with a soft foldover sleeve and various inserts) is so rare that it is omitted by most of their discographies. Musically, it’s completely different to the new wave/avant-prog for which they’re known, blending influences from folk (with hints of the Incredible String Band), progressive rock and psychedelia. Highpoints include the superb instrumental ‘New Joe Clark’ and an eerie, trippy nine-minute version of ‘Matty Groves’. GRADE: B–.
Care Of The Cow (USA): I Still Don’t Know Your Style (Fame & Fortune DBS-8842, with inner, 1981)
Christine Baczewska (joint lead vocals, guitar, percussion, whistle), Sher Doruff (joint lead vocals, guitar, drums, percussion, clarinet, whistle)
Their much delayed second album maintains the dark electric folk style of their first, but adds lots of new wave and experimental elements plus a slightly satirical feel (most notable on a deconstruction of ‘Que Sera Sera’). It’s all quite intriguing and very, very American, but their debut retains the edge for me with its more British orientation. GRADE: C+.
Care Of The Cow (USA): Dogs’ Ears Are Stupid (Fame & Fortune, cassette, 1983)
Christine Baczewska (joint lead vocals, synthesiser), Sher Doruff (joint lead vocals, guitar, synthesiser, drum programmes, concertina, clarinet)
Album number three completes their transition to new wave, complete with lots of synthesisers, some programmed drums and even occasional reggae rhythms. However, there’s a lot more to this than that description suggests: whereas their first two were pretty sparse, this is dense music, packed with tempo changes, psychedelic guitar solos and mild progressive diversions. As a synthesis of singer/songwriter, folk and experimental music refracted through a new wave prism, this is fascinating stuff that takes several listens to appreciate fully.
See also Christina Baczewska
Carefrees (UK): We Love You All (London LL 3379 / PS 379, USA, 1965?)
Lyn Cornell (joint lead vocals), Betty Prescott (joint lead vocals), Barbara Kay (joint lead vocals)
This obscure pop group is best remembered for its cash-in single ‘We Love You Beatles’, which gave them a minor hit, but this album appears to have been issued only in the States. It’s low budget British invasion stuff, with rather shrill vocals and rudimentary instrumental backing, including versions of ‘I Only Want To Be With You’, ‘Needles And Pins’, ‘You Were Made For Me’, ‘Glad All Over’ et al. Cornell and Prescot were formerly of the Vernons Girls, who issued an album in 1958 and a few early sixties singles; the former later went on to the Pearls, who scored a top ten single in 1974 with ‘Guilty’. GRADE: C.
Carew Manor School (UK): Carew 2 (No label CMS 200, 1974)
Sylvia Barnett (joint lead vocals), Wendy Dunne (joint lead vocals), Diana Gliddon (joint lead vocals), Anita Hunt (joint lead vocals), Gillian Jones (joint lead vocals), Judith Jones (joint lead vocals), Linda Kirtley (joint lead vocals), Sharon Krelle (joint lead vocals), Susan Martin (joint lead vocals), Adrienne Robins (joint lead vocals), Carol Rose (joint lead vocals), Jacky Spindlow (joint lead vocals), Sandra Williamson (joint lead vocals), Lynn Beckingham (guitar, tambourine, banjo), Amanda Combley (guitar, autoharp), Judith Elliott (guitar), Alison Garrod (guitar), Denise Gillett (guitar), Cathy Girdlestone (guitar), Lynne Hart (guitar, bongos), Patricia Hoare (guitar), Janet Tulley (guitar)
The mostly female group pictured on the back sleeve are all teenagers, but they’re the guitarists; unfortunately the massed vocals were clearly handed over to the primary kids. The end results are so twee as to be almost unlistenable in parts – far closer to Albany Folk than Reality From Dream, so I’m amazed that this has sold on eBay for between £30 and £50. From the title, I’m assuming there must also have been a Carew 1 but it hasn’t turned up, and if it sounds like this I’m happy for it to stay lost. GRADE: D.
Carmen (USA/UK/Spain): Fandangos In Space (ABC DSDR 50192, USA, 1973)
Angela Allen (occasional vocals, keyboards)
This interesting album crosses progressive rock and flamenco, with a dramatic and powerful approach and some excellent riffs. Despite a high degree of complexity, it’s also very vocal, with the result that the music often sounds rather messy; a few extended instrumental passages would have worked wonders. Although it mostly operates on different turf, there’s more than a passing resemblance to Jethro Tull thanks to the very Ian Anderson-like vocals. GRADE: C+.
Carmen (USA/UK/Spain): Dancing On A Cold Wind (Regal Zonophone SLRZ 1040, UK, 1974)
Angela Allen (occasional vocals, keyboards)
Their second album interprets their formula rather formula, being much less frenetic, with a relaxed and folky edge. It’s more mature and satisfying than its predecessor, with an appealingly symphonic sound and some excellent musicianship, though once again there are no individually outstanding songs. GRADE: C+.
Carmen (USA/UK/Spain): The Gypsies (Mercury SRM-1-1047, USA, 1975)
Angela Allen (occasional vocals, keyboards)
The band’s third and final album was recorded with a significantly smaller budget than their first two, and only released in the States. Consequently, it’s a touch simpler, moving their sound closer to mainstream hard rock, though still with lots of flamenco and Hispanic touches. However, this is possibly their best release overall, as they’d really mastered their style by this point, although it’s hard to see where they could have taken their music after this. GRADE: C+.
Roger Carmen, Rick Keeling, Mo Thomas & Ann & Steve Mitchell (UK): Frost Lane (Mosart Music MM 1, 1971)
Ann Mitchell (joint lead vocals)
This rather good folk club document differs from the norm in two important ways. First, the performances appear to be studio recordings, with excellent sound quality. Secondly, the album owes nothing to traditional folk, with most of the numbers being self-penned and the feel mellow and decidedly transatlantic. Alongside some fine singer/songwriter cuts with simple acoustic backing, covers of material like ‘Rainy Windows’ and ‘Nights In White Satin’ give a fair clue as to the performers’ influences. Finally, some amusing sleevenotes indicate their contempt for traditional folk club attitudes and behaviours (‘the casual reputation of some clubs seems to be dependent upon the bar supplying adequate alcoholic fuel for chorus participation… at Frost Lane the music is listened to; no one talks during a performance’). GRADE: C+.
Carnival (USA): The Carnival (World Pacific WPS 28176, 1969)
Janis Hansen (joint lead vocals)
Involving several former members of Sergio Mendes’s Brasil ’66, on their sole LP the Carnival offer an enjoyable mixture of lively bossa nova and harmony pop. Some of the covers are pretty predictable (‘Walk On By’ and ‘Son Of A Preacher Man’ are just about de rigueur for this type of album), but a few choices are more unexpected. GRADE: C+.
Carol Of Harvest (West Germany): Carol Of Harvest (Brutkasten 85 0004, 1978)
Beate Krause (lead vocals)
This is widely considered the best progressive folk album ever made, at least in Germany. I’d have to disagree – I’d choose Bröselmaschine, let alone Emtidi’s Saat, over this any day – but it’s certainly a superb piece of work. More a symphonic progressive album with folk influences than the other way around, it’s a little lacking in variety and dynamics, but it creates a wonderfully melodic and mellow atmosphere, particularly on the three long cuts ‘Put On Your Nightcap’, ‘Somewhere At The End Of The Rainbow’ and ‘Try A Little Bit’. The original pressing was reputed to be 200 copies; the band put out an almost exact reissue in 1994 in a run of 500, while a more recent CD features several bonus cuts in a harder and more psychedelic style. GRADE: B+.
Carol Of Harvest (Germany/Poland): Ty I Ja (Guma Music LC 01368, CD, Germany, 2009)
Ewa Grams (principal vocals)
This is the sort of ‘reunion’ nobody wants: thirty years down the line, a member of a shortlived band with a cult album launches a new project and decides to name it after his old group to boost sales. Hardly surprisingly, this has none of the magic of their first LP, being inoffensive folk/rock with mainly Polish lyrics and some unwelcome additions from programmed drums and lugubrious saxophone. In all fairness, it’s not bad, but it’s certainly not Carol Of Harvest. GRADE: C+.
See also Thomas Fink Trio & Beate Krause, Joker
Caromel (USA): He Walks In Beauty (No label 012044, 1980)
Folk/Rock/‘Incredibly Strange Music’
Carol Jolley (joint lead vocals)
At its best, this Christian album offers beautiful, haunting, mildly trippy folk (‘Two Friends’); at its worst, irritating novelty swing jazz (‘Shadrach’) or bizarre MOR country (‘Keep Your Eyes On Jesus’). Three of the other four cuts are fairly good mellow folk/rock, whilst the closing number ‘Ode To Mount St Helens’ is dramatic progressive rock. As that summation makes clear, this is odd through and through and sometimes downright awful, but there are some fine moments here (and plenty to attract ‘real people’ collectors). GRADE: C+.
Cartacanta (Italy): Il Tempo Delle Ciligie (I Dischi Dello Zodiaco VPA 8471, with booklet, 1980)
Susy Bellucci (joint lead vocals, guitar), Dunia Balloni (joint lead vocals, violin)
This is a lovely folk album with a very Italian feel and intricate, mainly acoustic arrangements. There’s a fair amount of variety too, and if this is occasionally a little precious it’s always extremely listenable, with excellent musicianship throughout. GRADE: C+.
See also Susy Bellucci
Jimmy Carter & Dallas County Green (USA): Summer Brings The Sunshine (BOC BOC-LPS-2002, 1973?)
Mary Beth Lemmons (backing vocals), Elaine Fender (backing vocals)
Whilst this rural rock band’s biggest influence was clearly Neil Young, the group they really remind me of is Fleetwood Mac – had they had a country music base, the late Bob Welch or early Buckingham/Nicks line-ups would have sounded exactly like this. Many people may find this too mellow and one-paced, but it’s beautifully put together, with consistently accomplished songwriting, great musicianship, strong rock elements (especially the heavy but never intrusive drumming) and a sparkling recording. GRADE: C+.
Carterhall (UK): I Wish You Could See (Thor 1010 S, 1974)
Marian Tierney (joint lead vocals)
Mixing originals with covers of Fairport Convention, Bob Dylan, Gerry Rafferty and others, this quartet offers varied instrumentation including acoustic guitars, bass, drums, mandolin, banjo and harmonica. On ‘There But For Fortune’ and ‘Don’t Think Twice’, fronted by Marian Tierney, they sound rather like Folkal Point and on the closing ‘Curragh Of Kildare’ (wrongly listed on the sleeve as ‘Its [sic] Hard And Its [sic] Hard’) bear a strong resemblance to Gallery, but most songs more closely resemble the various Holyground albums, with a delicate, precious and slightly naïve sound. A few cuts have slight rural and cabaret edges, though these don’t detract too significantly, and overall this is a pleasant and atmospheric set – and a very rare one, with copies changing hands for around the £1000 mark. GRADE: C+.
Cashmere (Poland): .Cash-Romantic.Music.Machine. (Roadkill Music RM-01/2006, CD, Poland, 2006)
Tylda Ciolkosz (lead vocals, violin)
Titles like ‘We’re In It Merely For The Cash’, ‘Horace The Wingless Wasp’ and ‘Exactly A Joke’ might make you expect something Zappa-esque or at least Canterbury-influenced. That’s partly true, but there are lots of other elements at play here: as the CD booklet notes, ‘you can call it folk or call it prog, porn-groove or lala-rock, call it pop – will will not mind’. However, whilst there are plenty of progressive elements and quite a bit of humour, most of the actual songs are relatively straight, blending elements of Caravan and Steeleye Span, among other influences, to pleasing effect. As such, this is a enjoyable rather than exceptional set, and it’s notable that they don’t recapture the energy of the opening ‘My Mellow’ until the closing ‘Exactly A Joke’. GRADE: C+.
CAT (West Germany): Join The Party (Good Noise VGNS 2006, with insert, 1981)
Lyma Russel (joint lead vocals), Beate Rohmann (joint lead vocals), Ilonka Breitmeier (drums, percussion, backing vocals)
Unable to decide whether they wanted to be a good-time hard rock band with soul leanings or a good-time funk band with disco leanings, CAT tried their hand at both approaches (sometimes on the same song). The end result is at times quite odd and never brilliant, but they were certainly solid musicians. GRADE: C.
Catapilla (UK): Catapilla (Vertigo 6360 029, 1971)
Anna Meek (lead vocals)
A genuinely astounding album that seems to cut across time and space: while the knotty, complex jazz/rock backing and lengthy tracks (of up to 24 minutes) are early seventies in every regard, Anna Meek’s vicious, nasal yowl and nihilistic ‘no future’ lyrics are pure class-of-’77 punk. Indeed, I wouldn’t be surprised to hear that Johnny Rotten learned his vocal craft from this LP. The two extended cuts are stunning enough, but it’s on the shorter pieces ‘Promises’ and ‘Tumbleweed’ that the band really evinces the future: the former is the punkiest thing on the album, whilst the latter sounds exactly like the product of some early eighties indie outfit. GRADE: A.
Catapilla (UK): Changes (Vertigo 6360 074, 1972)
Anna Meek (lead vocals)
More obviously a product of its era than the debut, this saw the band moving in a more instrumental direction (presumably feedback on Ms Meek’s unusual vocals wasn’t universally positive) and introducing stronger elements of psychedelia and space rock. Indeed, the LP often bears more than a passing resemblance to Gong, especially on the standout cut ‘Charing Cross’. Both Catapilla albums are unalloyed classics for me, but the slightly more abrasive self-titled LP retains the edge. GRADE: B+.
Catharsis (France): Catharsis (Saravah SH 10025,, 1971)
Charlotte Boutillier (principal vocals, percussion, violin)
This odd, short, inconsequential album is rather difficult to describe. It’s clearly rooted in avant-garde music, with a high weirdness quotient, and has strong folk elements too, with all the compositions being based around drumming and hand percussion with a rather shamanistic feel. There’s a touch of early Pink Floyd and, strangely, more than a passing resemblance to Comus, although Catharsis (despite their name) are cheerful and playful rather than dark and disturbing. Curiously catchy melodies come and go, fronted by wordless vocals, and the album is only once truly atonal (towards the end of ‘4 Art 6’, when the band feign orgasms) although there is a lot of experimentation. The final surprise is that a heavily edited version of the title track gave them a smash hit single over in France. GRADE: B–.
Catharsis (France): Catharsis (Explosive 558.004, 1972)
Although released as the band’s fourth or fifth album (depending upon how you look at it), this consists of early recordings (from June and November 1971) before Charlotte Boutillier quit the line-up. Musically, it’s in a similar style to their debut, often recalling Italian bands like Pierrot Lunaire or Opus Avantra (at their least overtly classical), though the standard of the material isn’t quite as high. GRADE: C+.
Stuart & Sandy Cave (UK): Dawn On Sunday (Profile GMOR 143, 1977)
Sandy Cave (joint lead vocals)
The rarest release on the very collectable Christian label Profile is a mixed bag. The Caves are good songwriters, offering some lovely, dreamy material fronted by Sandy’s slightly strange, childlike, high-pitched voice. But when they attempt gospel-ish American trad numbers with banjo backing, the results are less than a delight to behold. GRADE: C.
Caveman Shoestore (USA): Rock (No label, cassette, 1991)
Elaine di Falco (occasional vocals)
This rather tentative debut comprises 28 minutes of music, repeated on each side of the set, and mostly consisting of duets between Fred Chalenor’s virtuostic bass and Henry Franzoni’s drums. The opening few numbers are songs rather than instrumentals, again with the same mutant lo-fi funk flavour, but despite being credited as a full member Elaine di Falco appears only the opening cut ‘Spill’. GRADE: C+.
Caveman Shoestore (USA): Master Cylinder (Tim/Kerr TK93CD056, CD, 1993)
Elaine Di Falco (principal vocals, keyboards)
Elaine Di Falco mostly pursued her career in Canterbury and RIO music, but her first full album is somewhat different: it’s not until track five that any jazzy elements appear. For the first third, this is basic hard rock, unusually arranged with basses playing all the guitar parts, underpinned by symphonic keyboards and dexterous drumming. It’s very good hard rock too, with some catchy riffs and a nicely understated mood, and the album gradually becomes jazzier and more experimental as it progresses, constantly maintaining one’s interest. GRADE: B–.
Caveman Shoestore (USA): Flux (Tim/Kerr TK93CD056, CD, 1993)
Amy deVargas (joint lead vocals, bass, cello), Elaine Di Falco (joint lead vocals, keyboards)
The addition of Amy deVargas (who sings lead on six of the twelve cuts, plays many of the lead bass parts and writes prolifically) changed the band’s sound significantly. The heavy rock elements from their debut are gone, replaced by a jazzier and more whimsical sound, with a satirical edge. Light, playful and inventive, the music unsurprisingly features some very inventive bass playing set against Elaine Di Falco’s effectively repetitive organ lines, and there are plenty of musical surprises. GRADE: B–.
Caveman Hughscore (USA/UK): Caveman Hughscore (Tim/Kerr TK95CD093, CD, USA, 1995)
Elaine Di Falco (joint lead vocals, keyboards, accordion)
For their third album, the band replaced deVargas with veteran fuzz bass maestro Hugh Hopper and changed their name to celebrate his addition. He’s a good fit for them, moving their music in a far jazzier and less song-based direction – the long jams here are frequently very seventies, bringing to mind Hatfield & The North and numerous other Canterbury luminaries. At times the music meanders a bit, but that’s par for the course for the style, and for the most part this is pretty impressive. GRADE: B–.
Hughscore (USA/UK): HighSpotParadox (Tim/Kerr T/K 109-2, CD, USA, 1997)
Elaine Di Falco (lead vocals, keyboards, accordion)
Whilst accomplished, this is their least engaging album to date: the fiery creativity of their earlier work is replaced by a languorous and rather minimalist sound. It’s all well put together, and there’s plenty of Hugh Hopper’s trademark fuzz bass, but there isn’t much excitement to be found among these relaxed songs and instrumentals. GRADE: C+.
Hughscore (USA/UK): Delta Flora (Cuneiform RUNE 110, CD, 1999)
Elaine Di Falco (lead vocals, keyboards, accordion)
Unlike its underwhelming predecessor, this is a highly creative and varied set. Much of it is in the same relaxed, mid-paced fusion vein, but there are also free jazz elements (including some excellent saxophone from guest Elton Dean), industrial touches and numerous other surprises to hold the attention, making for a consistently interesting LP. GRADE: B–.
Caveman Shoestore (USA): Super Sale (Build A Buzz, CD, 2005)
Elaine Di Falco (lead vocals, keyboards, vibraphone)
Losing Hugh Hopper and returning to their original 1992 line-up and name, the band offers another accomplished album of relaxed, jazzy songs and instrumentals. This isn’t as varied or as startling as Delta Flora, but it’s consistently accomplished and enjoyable, making for a satisfying set. GRADE: B–.
Caveman Shoestore (USA): Frankensongs (Build A Buzz, download, 2020, recorded 2007)
Elaine di Falco (principal vocals, keyboards)
Caveman Shoestore’s final album – recorded in 2007 but not released until 13 years later – is a whimsical, playful set using plenty of keyboards and electronics. But whilst its detractors could accuse it of being lightweight, it’s experimental enough to remain consistently interesting and is sometimes downright weird; they can rock out effectively too, as on ‘Popcorn Bonehead’. GRADE: B–.
See also 3 Mice, Combat Astronomy, Empty Days, Ligeia Mare, Luciano Margorani & Elaine Di Falco, Thinking Plague, Dave Willey & Friends, Yugen
Cavendish Chorale (UK): Cavendish Series No. 10 (Cavendish Music CAV.10-1/2, 1973)
This library music album is rather unusual, partly because it’s a three-sided double LP but mainly because it consists entirely of original songs. The style is rather MOR pop: lush, dainty and polished, and the whole thing is a pretty good example of the genre. GRADE: C+.