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Sodsai Chaengkij (Thailand): Sodsai (Somchai Studio SPC-3016, 1968?)
Offering pleasant sixties beat, this is now extremely rare, like most sixties albums from Thailand. Her pleasant version of ‘San Francisco (Flowers In Your Hair)’ was also issued as a single, in an unusual 6" format. GRADE: C+.

Chalice (USA): Chalice (War On All Fronts WORF 002, cassette, 2014)
Maja Antonia (lead vocals)
Limited to 125 copies, this American band’s demo cassette offers two short songs on the first side (including an interesting metal version of ‘Gaudete’) and two longer, more progressive numbers on the flip. Influenced mainly by the NWOBHM, the band offers some excellent seventies-style metal, hinting at impressive things to come. GRADE: C+.

Chandelle (France): Chants D’Elle (La Kiosque d’Orphée KO/82.0708, with insert, 1982?)
Anne-Marie Boos (joint lead vocals)
This French Christian album creates a dreamy feel through sparse acoustic (and sometimes electric) instrumentation and extensive use of flute. Overall, it has the feel of a school project album, although they were clearly adults. They’re more than competent songwriters too, and whilst some cuts have the sweet, slightly listless feel typical of religious folk, the best numbers are genuinely haunting and mildly trippy. GRADE: B–.

Chants À Répondre Et À Danser (France): Chants À Répondre Et À Danser (Le Chant Du Monde LDX 74515, 1972)
Emmanuelle Parrenin (joint lead vocals, percussion), Gwenaël Béchu (occasional vocals)
Collecting material from all over France and Quebec, this is typical French traditional folk with piercing, nasal vocals and rather shrill instrumentation. Although authentic, it’s not a particularly exciting LP and is mainly notable for marking the recording debut of the prolific Emmanuelle Parrenin. GRADE: C.
See also Confrèrie Des Fous, Phil & Emmanuelle Fromont, Galant Noyé, Gentiane, Yvon Guilcher, Emmanuelle Parrenin, Phil Fromont & Claude Lefebvre

Chaoswave (Italy/Denmark): The White Noise Within (DVS DVS014, Holland, 2005)
Giorgia Fadda (joint lead vocals)
For the most part, this is thrash metal, but with some goth and prog influences thrown in. It’s well done, with precise musicianship, but a little too relentless like much of the genre – some stürm und drang would not have gone amiss. GRADE: C.

Chaplin Harness (USA): II (Gear Fab GF246, CD, 2010, recorded 1969)
Geri Mingori (joint lead vocals)
Chaplin Harness was one of countless late sixties and early seventies American bands that cut an album’s worth of material that never saw release (Gold, Locksley Hall and Stoned Circus are just three other examples that spring to mind). When Gear Fab reissued their acetate, cut with an all-male line-up, they also discovered the tapes to this aborted second LP. Listening to this, it’s no surprise that Chaplin Harness didn’t get any albums out – they were a pretty generic band blending influences from blues/rock, pop, psychedelia and funk into pleasant but utterly anonymous songs. GRADE: C+.
See also Geri Mingori Band

Chara Christou (New Zealand): Celebrate His Love (Somerville SVL1, 1976)
Andrea Davison (joint lead vocals), Diana Bougen (joint lead vocals), Marilyn Rowse (joint lead vocals), Sheana Brown (joint lead vocals), Moyra Brown (joint lead vocals), Jane Terrell (joint lead vocals), Nikki Truman (joint lead vocals), Jenni Cochrane (joint lead vocals), Celia Elder (contrabass), Sharon Denekamp (flute)
Contrary to my earlier belief that this was a Welsh album from the early seventies, it actually appears to hail from Auckland in New Zealand and was apparently released in 1976. Christian folk choir albums aren’t usually my cup of tea, but this is well above average, with some beautiful and atmospheric melodies and a haunting medieval edge. Only a handful of copies have resurfaced thus far. GRADE: C+.

Charalambides (USA): Our Bed Is Green (No label, cassette, 1993)
Christina Carter (principal vocals, guitar, synthesiser)
The debut album by the husband-and-wife duo of Tom and Christina Carter is a sprawling 100-minute work spanning various strands of lo-fi folk and psychedelic rock. Ranging from plaintive songs to passages of howling feedback, it’s fascinatingly odd, occasionally quite brilliant and sometimes completely incoherent. GRADE: C+.

Charalambides (USA): Historic 6th Ward (No label, cassette, 1994)
Christina Carter (principal vocals, guitar)
With backing almost entirely from guitar, both acoustic and electric, this inventive album extends the instrument’s possibilities to its limits. Whilst it’s as diffuse and rambling as their first, it’s better all round, with more confident material and excellent sound quality. GRADE: C+.
Charalambides (USA): Union (Siltbreeze SB26, with insert, 1994)
Christina Carter
Once again, this is an odd, scrappy mix of haunting folk, acid guitar outbursts and found sounds and tapes. However, given the time constraints of a vinyl LP, it’s less diffuse and rambling than their two cassettes, making for a satisfying listening experience. Once again, it’s the straighter pieces – notably ‘Torn Between’ and ‘Dominize’ – that are the highpoints, making one wonder what they could achieve as a conventional folk act. 500 copies were pressed, and every one had a hand-finished sleeve with a unique objet d’art attached to the front. GRADE: C+.
Charalambides (USA): Market Square (Siltbreeze SB46/47, double, 1995)
Christina Carter
It’s obvious from the snatch of a phone call by a suicidal man that opens the album that this isn’t going to be easy listening. It isn’t easy to review, either. It’s more expansive than Union, and frequently more experimental, but ultimately everything Charalambides does is of a piece, continuing from album to album with minimal evolution (if any), seeming to exist outside the normal constraints of space and time. GRADE: C+.
Charalambides (USA): Charalambides (Wholly Other WO5, CD, 1997)
Christina Carter (lead vocals, guitar)
Charalambides’ first live album, recorded between 1994 and 1996, focuses on the most experimental end of their repertoire, at one point approaching early Yoko Ono or Velvet Underground & Nico freakout territory. It’s interesting stuff, and a worthy complement to their studio sets. GRADE: C+.

Charalambides (USA): Houston (Siltbreeze SB 67, CD, 1998)
Christina Carter (lead vocals, guitar, piano)
Whilst this is at the folkier and more acoustic end of the spectrum, it's unusually varied and quite weird: Tom tries his hand at percussion and saxophone, Christina offers everything from acapella Ligeti-like passages to a piano solo, and found tapes and electronic effects put in appearances. It all works surprisingly well, adding up to one of their better releases. GRADE: C+.
Charalambides (USA): Sticks (Wholly Other WO 2000:1, CDR, 2000)
Christina Carter (lead vocals, guitar)
Back to a duo of Tom and Christina Carter and recording solely with electric guitars, Charalambides are at their most abstract here. This is all abstract finger-picking, spacy glissandos and occasional atonal chords, making up music that skips and scuttles and occasionally catches fire only to drift back into the ether. GRADE: C+.

Charalambides (USA): Home (Wholly Other WO 2000:2, CDR, 2000)
Christina Carter (lead vocals, guitar)
This is Charalambides offering pure folk that’s almost all instrumental, with Christina Carter adding a few wordless vocals on the closing cut. Otherwise it’s simply gentle guitar picking, delicate and spacious, hinting towards Nigel Mazlyn Jones or perhaps John Fahey. It’s rather lovely and hypnotic too. GRADE: C+.
Charalambides (USA): Water (Wholly Other, CDR, 2000)
Christina Carter (lead vocals), Heather Leigh Murray (organ, backing vocals)
The band are back to their usual minimalistic weirdness here, with new member Heather Leigh Murray’s droning chord organ work adding a Nico vibe to the proceedings. Otherwise it’s business as usual, with Tom Carter soloing in free-form fashion whilst Christina adds wordless vocals. GRADE: C+.

Charalambides (USA): Rose/Thorn (No label, 2000)
Christina Carter
These three mostly instrumental improvisations are the Charalambides I like: spacy, sepulchral and formless, fringing the Grateful Dead or innumerable space-rock acts at their most minimalist. What’s most astonishing was that the whole thing was the work of just two people. 

Charalambides (USA): Branches (Eclipse, clear vinyl, 2000)
Christina Carter (lead vocals)
This clear vinyl lathe cut pressing was created in New Zealand, but I’m not sure why they went halfway round the world to achieve something that sounds like Charalambies performing to the accompaniment of a dozen bowls of Rice Krispies. The music? Daevid Allen-style glissando guitar and wordless vocals, all completely formless and all best appreciated on the CD reissue. GRADE: C+.

Charalambides (USA): Yih (Carbon CR46, CDR, with minisleeve, 2001)
Christina Carter (lead vocals, organ)
One of their most exploratory excursions, this consists of a single 40-minute jam: mostly instrumental, rarely tuneful, only occasionally atonal and generally tranquil and droning. Scored for lap steel guitar, chord organ, bells and music box, it’s an intriguing set with a distinctly meditative feel. GRADE: C+.

Charalambides (USA): IN CR EA SE (Eclipse, double, 2001)
Christina Carter (lead vocals, organ)
Featuring four side-long improvisations, with Tom Carter’s spacy lap steel guitar excursions mixing with Christina’s Nico-like organ and occasional ethereal vocals, this is among Charlambides’ more expansive efforts. Whilst diverting and cosmic, it ultimately leaves the same question as most of their releases: is this music that really goes anywhere? GRADE: C+.
Charalambides (USA): The Work Of Glaciers (No label, CDR,, 2001)
Christina Carter (joint lead vocals, guitar), Heather Leigh Murray (joint lead vocals, guitar)
The rarest Charalambides release, this was apparently issued as a semi-bootleg but fully endorsed by the band. Opinions differ as to how many copies were made, with some sources suggesting fewer than 10. Musically, this is another long, minimalist improvisation, this time of nearly 46 minutes. GRADE: C+.

Charalambides (USA): Being As Is (Crucial Blast BLAST27, CDR, with DVD case and insert, 2002)
Christina Carter (lead vocals)
From what I can hear – this CDR won’t play properly in either of my players, and I’m not about to buy another – this is even more minimalist than usual, with Christina Carter sticking to vocals and Tom to electric guitar. GRADE: C+.

Charalambides (USA): Electricity Ghost (Wholly Other 12, with minisleeve and inserts, 2007, recorded 2003)
Christina Carter, Heather Leigh Murray
This is certainly one of Charalambides’ more engaging albums, being spacy, refined and tripped-out to the maximum. It’s also a bit on the long side at 65 minutes – why do experimental bands never seem to realise that less is very often more? GRADE: C+.

Charisma (USA): Charisma Is Raptured (Rite Record Productions 29556, 1971)
Marijean McCarty (joint lead vocals, piano)
The opening ‘Raptured’ is rather fine light garage rock, with the hand percussion providing a slyly funky edge, but the album is never that good again. The remainder is gentle Christian folk/rock with singer/songwriter edges and a definite school project feel, particularly when Marijean McCarty is singing, as she has a rather formal, classical style. With its haunting, mournful, rather precious mood, the album is fairly distinctive and also fairly enjoyable. They went on to cut a second and final LP with an all-male line-up. GRADE: C+.

Charisma & Friends (UK): Here Is Youth Praise (Relection RL 308, 1974)
Mo Brown (joint lead vocals)
No prizes for guessing from the title that this is Christian folk/rock, in this case involving singers and musicians from Reflection and Sounds Of Salvation. The opening ‘If Any Man Will Follow’ is an absolutely dreadful rock hymn and most of the rest is in a similar vein. On the plus side, there are a few pleasant solo vocal pieces, with the best number being ‘Compassion Road’, combining a gravelly, loungy male vocal with some fuzz guitar. The light, groovy jazz of ‘A Boy Once Sat’ may win a few hip DJs’ hearts too. GRADE: D+.

See also Reflection, Twentieth Century

Charming Hostess (USA): Eat (Vaccination VAC 016, CD, with digipak and stapled booklet, 1998)
Jewlia Eisenberg (joint lead vocals), Carla Kihlstedt (joint lead vocals), Nina Rolle (joint lead vocals), Jenny Scheinman (violin)
This unusual album from a group of Jewish musicians blends influences in unusual ways: quite a bit of klezmer (inevitably), complex three-part female harmonies, funky basslines, rock drums, gypsy violin and more. The material blends original songs and adapted traditional numbers from a variety of international sources, and the whole thing has a joyous, devil-may-care feel. Inevitably with an album of this type not everything works brilliantly, but much of the music is of an excellent standard, though hard to define; some would classify as RIO, but that applies more to the thinking behind the record than to much of the actual music. Three of the band’s members (Carla Kihlstedt, Dan Rathbun and Nils Frykdahl) would go to form the superb Sleepytime Gorilla Museum, with the two groups operating in parallel. GRADE: B–.
Charming Hostess (USA): Punch (RéR CH1, CD, with digipak and booklet, UK, 2004)
Jewlia Eisenberg (joint lead vocals), Carla Kihlstedt (joint lead vocals, violin), Nina Rolle (joint lead vocals, accordion)
Recorded with a stripped-down line-up, album number two makes their RIO links more overt, whilst often recalling Kihlstedt’s other project Tin Hat Trio (and to a lesser extent Sleepytime Gorilla Museum). With the rock, psych and prog quotient upped considerably, and the Yiddish and ethnic elements still prominent, this is an excellent, diverse, creatve and adventurous record. GRADE: B–.
Charming Hostess (USA): Sarajevo Blues (Tzadik TZ 7197, CD, with obi, 2004)
Jewlia Eisenberg (joint lead vocals, harmonium), Marika Hughes (joint lead vocals, Cynthia Taylor (joint lead vocals), Carla Kihlstedt (violin)
With Eisenberg operating alongside two new collaborators and the Sleepytime Gorilla Museum contingent reduced to the status of guests, album number three is billed as a follow-up to her 2001 solo set Trilectic (itself basically a Charming Hostess LP in all but name). Consequently the rock elements are much downplayer, with the disc having more of a jazzy modern classical feel. Nonetheless, it’s another fine and fascinating set. GRADE: B–.
Charming Hostess (USA): The Bowls Project (Tzadik TZ 8152, CD, with obi, 2010)
Jewlia Eisenberg (joint lead vocals, harmonium, dulcimer), Marika Hughes (joint lead vocals, cello), Cynthia Taylor (joint lead vocals)
Upping the rock elements considerably, this sometimes approaches psychedelic electric folk, whilst at other times recalling Sleepytime Gorilla Museum and Book Of Knots with its industrial and metal-edged sound. Once again, it’s an eclectic and original record that covers plenty of ground. GRADE: B–.
See also Book Of Knots, Graham Connah’s Sour Note Seven, Cosa Brava, DalabaFrithGlickRiemanKihlstedt, Jewlia Eisenberg, Carla Kihlstedt, Red Pocket, Sleepytime Gorilla Museum, Tin Hat Trio

Charta Del Mar (Italy): Il Gioco Dell’Angelo (Il Manifesto CD 027, CD, 1997)
Paola Maria Lombardo (lead vocals)
This Italian folk/rock band draw on their own traditions rather than global sources, with a pleasingly light and breezy, mainly acoustic, sound. Ultimately this is too unassuming to command interest from start to finish, but it’s a clear cut above anything you’re likely to find playing at your local trattoria. GRADE: C+.

Chasing The Monsoon (UK): No Ordinary World (Immrama, USB key, with box, 2019)
Lisa Fury (principal vocals)
The problem with this Karnataka offshoot isn’t that it sounds like Karnataka. It’s that it sounds like everyone else – principally Clannad through a neoprogressive prism, though I can also hear touches of Renaissance and Solstice, whilst one song is a virtual homage to Yes. There’s also a fair bit of Dave Gilmour-esque guitar work and some uillean pipes from Troy Donockley, just to make the whole thing sound even more generic. Nonetheless, it’s all well done, and it could be just the ticket for those who loved Karnataka before they discovered they loved Led Zeppelin. GRADE: C+.
See also Karnataka

Cheap Suit Oroonies (UK): Eat Drink And Be Merry (No label, cassette, 1992)
Folk/Rock/World Music
Jane Bradfield (lead vocals, clarinet, oboe), Jane Harwood (guitar, flute, whistle), Jo Harvey (violin, backing vocals)
The Oroonies’ alter-egos offer far folkier music, with lots of ethnic elements and a light, playful mood; only the dub-influenced closing cut harks back to their former identity. At its worst, this is perhaps a little too whimsical for its own good, but there are a few excellent moments and it’s always welcome when a band doesn’t take itself too seriously. GRADE: C+.
Cheapsuit Oroonies (UK): Party On Frapsos (No label, cassette, 1994)
Folk/Rock/World Music
Jane Bradfield (lead vocals, accordion, clarinet, oboe, shenai), Jo Harvey (violin, backing vocals), Jane Harwood (flute, whistle)
This live album takes whimsy to another level: Jane Bradfield (credited as ‘Nana Obscuri’) even addresses the audience throughout in a mock-Greek accent. In turn, the audience – presumably very drunk – appears enthralled by their jolly mixture of Baltic, Celtic and dub music, making this a ‘you had to be there’ experience. Perhaps they were drunk when duplicating the tapes too, as mine has side two on side one and vice-versa. GRADE: C.
Cheapsuit Oroonies (UK): Feelin’ Rooti (No label OTT 04, cassette, 1995)
Folk/Rock/World Music
Jane Bradfield (principal vocals, accordion, clarinet, oboe, shenai), Jo Harvey (contrabass, violin, viola, cello, backing vocals), Jane Harwood (flute, whistle)
The stoned humour is mostly absent here, and at its best this offers excellent electric folk with strong world music influences and some jamming elements. But the humour does put in an occasional appearance, and along with several dub reggae tracks on side two serves to downgrade this from a B– to a strong C+. GRADE: C+.

See also Evil Edna's Horror Toilet, Magic Mushroom Band, Oroonies, Ullulators

Chelmsford County High School Folk Group (UK): Chelmsford County High School Folk Group (No label, 1970?)
Diana Bunyan, Susan Cullis, Linda Eastwood, Vivienne Fogg, Kathy Fox, Sally Golding, Jane Griffiths, Susan King, Jane Poulter, Bridget Reed, Kay Smedley, Christine Whitlock, Christine Wright
The bright orange laminated sleeve captures the attention, but the music within is so tranquil that it barely seems to exist at all. There’s a choral flavour to the schoolgirls’ vocals, accentuated by sparse arrangements emphasising double bass, flute and acoustic guitar; the result is haunting and sepulchral on songs like ‘Portland Town’ and ‘California Dreaming’. The standout cut, however, is ‘Quando Eu Era Pequenina’, with a complex (if amateurish) multi-layered vocal arrangement and hazy washes of flute creating a mildly avant-garde, almost psychedelic atmosphere. Given their approach, I’m quite surprised they didn’t cover ‘Nights In White Satin’, a song that could have been tailor-made for them. GRADE: C+.

Chemin Blanc (France): Chemin Blanc (RCA PL 37010, with pasted booklet, 1976)
Marie Hello (joint lead vocals)
This exquisite psychedelic folk album sounds more Quebecois than French, with its breezy harmonies, beautifully crafted songs and sprightly instrumental backing. Fuzz guitar is used to great effect on several numbers, whilst hand and tuned percussion also put in welcome appearances; extensive use of the latter on ‘Régarde’ creates a sound uncannily similar to Courtyard Music Group. As a footnote, this is one of the most oddly packaged LPs I have ever encountered: a small lyric booklet is pasted on the right-hand side of the inner gatefold, opening outwards and designed to be read from back to front. GRADE: B–.
Chemin Blanc (France): Chemin Blanc (Hexagone 883 016, 1977)
Marie Hello (joint lead vocals, percussion)
Their second album concentrates on the breezy, mildly funky Quebecois folk/rock style of several cuts from their debut, whilst making more obvious the jazz undertones to their music. However, it’s still quite psychedelic in parts, with some heavy distorted guitar leads as well as the weird synthesiser effects on the doomy, somewhat proggy ‘Au Fond Des Mers’ and ‘Hommes Du XXe Siècle’, followed by a percussion interlude recalling the Grateful Dead’s ‘rhythm devils’. This was a highly talented and inventive band, and it’s a great pity that they got to record nothing else.


Théâtre Du Chêne Noir (France): Aurora (Futura VOIX 01, 1971)
Nicole Aubiat (joint lead vocals, cymbal), Bénédicte Maulet (joint lead vocals)
Théâtre Du Chêne Noir d’Avignon – to give them their full name – were an experimental theatre troupe who composed original music for their performances. Released on the legendary free jazz label Futura, Aurora tells the story of a future earth invaded by vicious man-bird hybrids. Unsurprisingly, the improvised music is strongly influenced by free jazz as well as folk and classical music, ranging from squalling saxophone and flailing drums to minimalist passages of flute and percussion, topped off with everything from spoken words to Ligeti-style harmonies and frantic screams. GRADE: C+.
Chêne Noir (France): Chant Pour Le Delta, La Lune Et Le Soleil (Demand CDCN001, 1976)
Nicole Aubiat (principal vocals), Monik Lamy (occasional vocals, percussion), Christine Schaffter occasional vocals, percussion, saxophone)
Very different from their earlier album and EP, this has a soft, trippy, mildly hypnotic flavour akin to a cross between a jazzier Catherine Ribeiro & Alpes and Gong fronted by Gilli Smyth. Whilst the longest cut ‘Hey…!’ plods a little, this is mostly a very good album that should appeal to anyone liking a more laid-back variant on the above bands. GRADE: B–.
Chêne Noir (France): Orphée 2000 (Chêne Noir CN 00 02, 1976)
Nicole Aubiat (principal vocals), Monik Lamy (occasional vocals, percussion), Christine Schaffter (occasional vocals, saxophone, harp)
Their third and final album falls midway between their first two, reintroducing the jazzy and avant-garde edges of Aurora whilst remaining comparatively mainstream. Although a solid set, with some good songs, this is probably the least interesting of their releases. GRADE: C+.

Guigou Chenevier & Sophie Jausserand (France): À L’Abri Des Micro-Climats (Rec Rec Music 07, with insert, Switzerland, 1984)
Sophie Jausserand (joint lead vocals)
This collaboration between Étron Fou Leloublan’s drummer and the otherwise unknown Sophie Jausserand offers some excellent jazzy RIO. It’s not quite as crazy as Étron Fou at their most extreme, but definitely operates in the same ballpark, with French avant-rock stalwarts Christiane Cohade and Dominique Grimaud providing the backing. GRADE: B–.

Cherche-Lune (France): Dun Emrys (Prikosnovénie PRIK 005, CD, 1994)
Claire (lead vocals)
This is unusual gothic folk with ethnic edges, hinting towards bands like Dead Can Dance or the Cocteau Twins, but rooted a bit more in traditional music. At times a certain new wave influence appears as well, including some programmed drums and synthesisers, but violin and woodwind are the dominant instruments. Overall this short, fleeting record is quite difficult to classify, but it’s certainly very pleasant and listenable. GRADE: C+.

Chérie Folk Group & others (UK): Music From Tiffin Girls’ School (Erase EO 648, 1981)
Anne Skates (joint lead vocals, guitar), Karyn Robinson (joint lead vocals, guitar), Judith Elliott (joint lead vocals, guitar), Kathryn Aldersea (flute)
Housed in an attractive blue-and-white sleeve, this school project album mostly consists of choral and classical stuff plus a bit of musical theatre. However, it closes with three delightful songs from the Chérie Folk Group (including an unusual reading of Abba’s ‘Eagle’); these are upper echelon schoolgirl folk, and it’s a pity they didn’t cut a whole album. GRADE: C+.

Chi Rho (USA): Chi Rho (Aslan AS 100, with insert, 1972?)
Melody Kielisch (joint lead vocals, keyboards)
This obscure Christian album has an unusual musical style, with a very doomy, downer feel and lots of minor-key Salvation Army-style brass. The keynote cut is the complex ‘An Essay On Man’, which takes up most of side two, but even the shorter and more conventional tracks have an odd and mournful mood. The album comes in a striking black, gold and red sleeve that is just as eerie as the music contained within. GRADE: C+.

Chicken Shack (UK): Forty Blue Fingers Freshly Packed And Ready To Serve (Blue Horizon 763 203, 1968)
Christine Perfect (joint lead vocals, keyboards)
Often compared unfavourably to labelmates Fleetwood Mac, Chicken Shack were a pretty good (and briefly, enormously successful) white blues band in their own right. Stan Webb is a great guitarist and competent enough singer, but their greatest talent was Christine Perfect, who wrote and sang the album’s two standout tracks, ‘When The Train Comes Back’ and ‘You Ain’t No Good’. GRADE: C+.
Chicken Shack (UK): OK Ken? (Blue Horizon 763 209, 1969)
Christine Perfect (joint lead vocals, piano)
Christine Perfect got to do more this time around, taking almost half the lead vocals, though she participated in none of the drunken between-songs impersonations for which the album is notorious. Her duet with Stan Webb on ‘A Woman Is The Blues’ is simply outstanding, and possibly the best thing the band ever recorded. But one hit single (their unforgettable version of ‘I’d Rather Go Blind’) later, she was on her way to a solo career and then superstardom with Fleetwood Mac. GRADE: C+.
See also Fleetwood Mac, Christine Perfect

Chicken Shed (UK): Alice (Colby AJ370, 1977)
Jo Collins (joint lead vocals, keyboards), Julia White (joint lead vocals), Janet Forde (viola)
Less a band and more an ad hoc collective of musicians and singers, Chicken Shed was originally assembled to perform a song suite inspired by Lewis Carroll’s ‘Alice In Wonderland’. Unusually for an expensive collectible, this is basically a pop album, with a strong late sixties vibe and a slightly psychedelic, dreamy edge. A couple of tracks also have a disco slant, in keeping with the era, but this does not detract from the enjoyment of a very quaint and charming piece of work. GRADE: C+.
Chicken Shed (UK): Rock (Colby AJ371, 1978)
Jo Collins (joint lead vocals, keyboards), Julia White (joint lead vocals), Mary Meehan (joint lead vocals), Jane Miller (joint lead vocals), Isobel Thompson (congas), Gabrielle Lester (violin), Janet Forde (viola)
Fuelled by their success with Alice, Chicken Shed songwriters Jo Collins and Anthony Filby created a stage show, ‘Rock’, based around the life of St. Peter. This was recorded the following year, with a much-expanded cast of musicians and singers: indeed, several dozen performers appear on the album, and this grandiose ambition is the key to its downfall. Whereas Alice is commendably understated, Rock is an overblown rock opera, sounding exactly like the soundtrack to some naff early seventies blockbuster musical. Disco rhythms are used even more frequently than on Alice, while the earnest call-and-response vocals, lush production and religious subject matter are guaranteed to make many listeners wince. GRADE: C.

Chicken Shed Theatre Company (UK): The King’s Web (No label, CD, 1995)
Quite different from their seventies albums, this is a suite of synthesised instrumental music by film composer Francis Haines. It’s rather lovely too, with the lack of non-keyboard instrumentation proving less of a problem than one might expect (though it does occasionally become a little cheesy). With uncredited female vocals on two of the nine tracks, it’s arguably a marginal case for inclusion here, but this is by some margin the best Chicken Shed album I’ve heard. GRADE: B–.

Chickencage Experience (Germany): An Eggspoiltation Movie (Nasoni 122-2, CD plus DVD, with gatefold minisleeve, inners and poster booklet, 2012)
HM Fishli (joint lead vocals, percussion, flute), Michaela Flame (joint lead vocals, keyboards)
The band formerly known as Polytoxicomane Philharmonie return with an album that’s true to their previous incarnation whilst breaking some new ground. All the jazz leanings are gone, replaced by an-all out psychedelic assault that’s supremely trippy and wonderfully understated. With influences from early seventies Krautrock (particularly the Cosmic Jokers), Indian music and even classical music (including contributions from an orchestra) this is one of the best and most accomplished modern psychedelic albums. Meanwhile, the DVD offers an extended version of the album (excellent) accompanied by a low-budget art-house movie mixing performance footage with animation (not quite so essential). GRADE: B.

Chickencage Experience (Germany): KamaSutra BlackBelt (Nasoni 147, CD, with gatefold minisleeve, 2013)
HM Fishli (joint lead vocals), Michaela Flame (joint lead vocals)
After the magnificent An Eggsploitation Movie, this isn’t so much a step down as a tumble down an entire flight of stairs. The mildly jazzy, somewhat psychedelic jamming song-based rock on this album is by no means bad, and on some of the longer and trippier instrumental passages is excellent, but given the scope and scale of its predecessor this is disappointingly straight stuff. GRADE: C+.
See also Polytoxicomane Philharmonie

Child’s Art (USA): Un-Cut (Gold GR 3000, 1982)
Michelle (joint lead vocals)
This longstanding collectible sharply divides opinions, partly because it’s often promoted as late sixties-style psychedelia when in fact it’s nothing of the kind. Blending hard rock, folk/rock and progressive influences, the band takes most of its cues from mid-seventies Led Zeppelin and early Heart, adding a bit of a West Coast flavour. The cuts that bookend the album (‘Special One’ and ‘Love’s Not Blue Or Green’) are absolutely outstanding: the former is wonderfully atmospheric, with a sudden shift of mood and tempo, whilst the latter is brilliantly dynamic, with a superb hookline. Nothing in between is of the same class, but this is a very strong album throughout. An impressive textured black-and-silver foil sleeve completes the deal. GRADE: C+.

Children (USA): Rebirth (Cinema 0001, 1968)
Cassell Webb (joint lead vocals)
Children evolved out of two excellent garage bands, the Stoics and the Argyles, but their sole album was very different in feel. Ranging from hippie pop whimsy (‘Military School’ and ‘I Got Involved’) through beautiful orchestrated balladry (‘I’ll Be Your Sunshine’) to heavier blends of psychedelia and progressive (the surprisingly modern-sounding ‘Sitting On A Flower’ and ‘Pictorial’), this is an expansive LP indeed. Its diversity works against cohesion, but this is mostly a good disc and sometimes truly impressive. A more widely available second pressing later the same year (Atco SD33 271) dropped the gatefold sleeve and substituted a slightly different mix. Cassell Webb cut a number of enjoyable solo albums in the eighties. GRADE: C+.
See also Cassell Webb

Children & Staff Of Rushton Hall (UK): Music Makes Sense (Tresham BECK 964, 1980)
Christine Gabbitas (joint lead vocals), Jenny Roberts (joint lead vocals), Catherine Jackson (joint lead vocals), Salome Thomas (joint lead vocals, bells, recorder), Janet Bonwell (joint lead vocals), Diane Kavanagh (joint lead vocals, bells, recorder, autoharp), Beverley Ambrose (joint lead vocals, bells, recorder)
This school project album – recorded at ‘a junior school for blind children who all have additional handicaps’ – isn’t the ‘incredibly strange music’ oddity one might expect. The performances, predominantly by the kids on the first side and the teachers on the second, are competent enough, with the otherworldly sense of detachment typical of such ventures. With material ranging from ‘Imagine’ to ‘Take Five’ to ‘Strangers On The Shore’ and passages for massed recorders and handbells, it’s a wide-ranging set and a charming tribute to the children’s obvious love of music. 


Children Of One (USA): Children Of One (Real R-101, 1970)
World Music/Jazz/New Age
Vera Sokolow (joint lead vocals), Paula Mason (joint lead vocals), Marcella Malmoli (joint lead vocals), Irin Poellot (joint lead vocals)
This is frequently offered for sale as psychedelia, but it has nothing to do with the hippie movement. Instead it’s an album of Eastern-tinged improvisations by jazz musicians, with avant-garde edges (most notably in the Ligeti-like massed female vocals). Comparisons could also be drawn with some of Popol Vuh’s early and mid-seventies works. An interesting, creative and frequently beautiful album, it should appeal to anyone liking world music, or modern jazz with a neoclassical tinge. GRADE: C+.

Children Of The Sün (Sweden): Flowers (The Sign CDC017CD, with digipak, 2019)
Josefina Berglund Ekholm (lead vocals), Ida Wahl (bass), Anna Nilsson (keyboards), Sara Berkesi (percussion), Ottilia Berglund Ekholm (backing vocals), Wilma Ås (backing vocals)
The faux vinyl crackles at the start are no accident – Children Of The Sün, in common with many other The Sign bands, are aiming for an early seventies vibe here. Their sound is richly melodic and beatific – sometimes hard-rocking and sometimes folky, with the emphasis on soaring tunes and sinuous grooves. At 34 minutes, it’s perhaps a touch slight and they’re not breaking any new ground, but this is certainly a very pleasant way to spend half an hour. GRADE: B–.

Children Of The Sün (Sweden): Roots (The Sign CRCD020, CD, with digipak and booklet, 2022)
Josefina Berglund Ekholm (principal vocals), Ida Wahl (bass), Wilma Ås (keyboards, backing vocals), Ottilia Berglund Ekholm (backing vocals)
Jamming isn’t really Children Of The Sün’s forte – there’s barely anything over four minutes here – so this is a somewhat straighter collection of songs than you might expect. Nonetheless, the songs – once again some folky and some hard rocking, and all very seventies – are consistently good and sometimes great, so taken on its terms this is a fine second LP. GRADE: B–.

Chimera (Holland): Des Duivels Oorkussen (Stoof MU 7463, 1980)
Marry Verkade (principal vocals, guitar, percussion, recorder)
This is a beautiful album of classically-tinged progressive folk, with rich, mainly acoustic instrumentation. If it has a failing, it’s perhaps a little delicate or dainty in parts and could have benefited from occasional rock energy, but overall it’s extremely atmospheric and highly impressive. GRADE: B–.
Chimera (Holland): Obstakel (Stoof MU 7483, 1981)
Marry Verkade (principal vocals, percussion, dulcimer, recorder)
Their second is much more rock-oriented, adding a dedicated drummer, but it’s also a little less complex and distinctive than its predecessor, so it’s moot which of their releases is the better. Either way, both are among the finest folk or folk/rock albums to emerge from Holland or appear on the Stoof label. GRADE: B–.

Chimera (UK): Chimera (Tenth Planet TP 054, with insert, 2002, recorded 1969)
Francesca Garnett (joint lead vocals), Lisa Bankoff (joint lead vocals, guitar)
Intended for release on Morgan Blue Town back in 1969 but ultimately shelved, this is one of the best psychedelic folk LPs from the late sixties. The band was fronted by two cousins, with Bob Weston (later of Fleetwood Mac) on lead guitar; Pink Floyd’s Rick Wright and Nick Mason put in guest appearances. With backing ranging from full rock arrangements to baroque strings, it’s a supremely trippy set; the dual female vocals inevitably recall both Mellow Candle and Sunforest, but this has a dense and distinctive sound of its own. The 2004 CD (Wooden Hill WHCD013) adds nine rough demos recorded between 1967 and 1970 (the latter intended to secure a deal with Atlantic that never happened) for a definitive overview of this wonderful band’s career. GRADE: B.

Chimera (UK): Holy Grail (Morgan Blue Town MBTCD011, CD, 2017, recorded 1970)
Francesca Garnett (joint lead vocals), Lisa Bankoff (joint lead vocals, guitar)
This recontextualisation of Chimera’s brief oeuvre flips the sides of their abandoned LP back into the originally intended order compared to their 2002 self-titled CD. It also adds numerous bonus tracks recorded in May 1970 that didn’t appear on the earlier set, though annoyingly the 2002 CD contains quite a number of earlier recordings that don’t appear here, meaning that completists will need both. From a musical standpoint, my comments remain unchanged: this is superb psychedelia with folky edges, steeped in period atmosphere. GRADE: B.

Chimpan A (UK): Chimpan A (F2 Music 200608, CD, with slipcase, 2006)
Christina Murphy (occasional vocals), Siân Cothi (occasional vocals), Sam Brown (occasional vocals), Aitch McRobbie (occasional vocals), Margo Buchannon (occasional vocals)
The driving force behind Chimpan A is Magenta’s Rob Reed, and since the only thing he’s ever done that I rated higher than a C+ is the instrumental version of the Kompendium album, I didn’t approach this with high hopes. That said, this is one of the best things he’s ever done – its mellow mixture of electronic textures, mildly soulful pop and neoclassical elements is nowhere near as pretentious or as self-satisfied as most Magenta. However, there’s nothing truly memorable here, so it’s still a C+. GRADE: C+.

See also Caamora, Christina, Kompendium, Magenta, Parzivals Eye, Trippa

Choir & Instrumentalists Of Halesowen County Secondary Girls’ School (UK): The Demon Of Adachigahara (Hollick & Taylor HT/LP 1320, 10", 1971)
With its narration and children’s choirs, this recording of a theatrical performance is more a curio than interesting, but it is interesting for two reasons. First, the slightly surreal nature of the tale and narration brings to mind Mother Gong’s Fairy Tales, and secondly the backing (from piano, percussion, recorders and effects) was heavily influenced by Carl Orff, and thus occasionally resembles a home-made cousin of Magma’s Mekanïk Destruktïw Kommadöh. GRADE: C.

Chopyn (UK): Grand Slam (Jet JET LP08, 1975)
Ann Odell (joint lead vocals, keyboards, percussion)
This isn’t entirely removed from leader and main songwriter Ann Odell’s previous band Blue Mink, but it’s very definitely rock rather than pop. It’s a solid enough set, offering progressive diversions on ‘Space Nativity’ and a decent instrumental, with playing as good as you’d expect from Ray Russell, Simon Phillips et al, but this sort of music was commonplace in the mid-seventies so it’s not surprising that this didn’t sell. GRADE: C+.
See also Blue Mink, Ann Odell

Chóru Szkoły Sióstr Nazaretanek W Pitsford (UK): Jak Długo W Sercach Naszych… (Reel Sound Recording, 1972)
This odd little album consists of British schoolgirls of Polish heritage performing Polish folk songs to simple piano backing. The purity of their massed voices means that this will have some appeal for school project collectors, but the lack of variety – this would have been lifted significantly had half the cuts featured guitar instead of piano – is ultimately its undoing. GRADE: C–.

Neil Chotem (Canada): “Live” Au El Casino (CBS PFC 80034, with inner, 1979)
Marie-Claire Séguin (joint lead vocals), Monique Fauteux (joint lead vocals, keyboards)
Why the album is credited solely to Chotem isn’t entirely clear, as this was a collaborative effort between seven musicians. Admittedly, he is the most prolific composer and his piano the keynote instrument, but he doesn’t take any of the vocals. Alongside some elegant jazzy songs and wordless pieces, there are adaptations of material by Chopin, Rachmaninov and Schumann; overall, this bears a slight resemblance to Renaissance with jazzy edges and a laid-back Canadian vibe. At its best – as on the ten-minute ‘Légende Du Mont-Rouge’ and the lengthy closer ‘Vers L’Infini’ – this can be surprisingly powerful and intense, and it’s never less than engaging. GRADE: B–.
See also Yves Laferrière, Nouvelle Frontière, Yvan Ouellet, Séguin, Marie-Claire Séguin

Christina (UK): Broken Lives And Bleeding Hearts (Tigermoth TMR010, CD, with digipak and booklet, some autographed, 2010)
Christina Murphy (lead vocals)
I’d expected the Magenta vocalist’s solo debut to be some kind of Celtic soft rock, but in fact it’s pop/rock with a bluesy edge. Like Magenta, it’s all very slick and polished, but unlike Magenta it’s straightforward and unpretentious, with ‘Down To The River’ being the highpoint of a solid and consistent set. GRADE: C+.

Christina (UK): The Light (Tigermoth TMR0315, CD, with gatefold minisleeve and booklet, 2015)
Christina Murphy (lead vocals)
At its best, this also offers enjoyable bluesy pop, most notably on the fine opener ‘Full Stop’. However, there’s also a heavy reliance on ballads, in which Murphy indulges her inner Céline Dion, so in parts this is pretty dreary. GRADE: C.

Christina (UK): Bar Stool Prophet (Tigermoth TMRCD1023, CD, with gatefold minisleeve, booklet and autographed photograph, 2023)
Christina Murphy (principal vocals)
This is considerably better than her last outing, offering classy pop and singer/songwriter stuff that’s very well sung by Ms Murphy and beautifully played, arranged and produced by Mr Reed. As background music it works splendidly, but despite the high level of craft and plenty of hooks there aren’t any songs here I desperately need to hear again. GRADE: C+.

See also Magenta, Parzivals Eye, Trippa

Chris Christman (USA): Woman Of The World (Capricorn CP 0144, 1975)
The former Ivory vocalist’s solo album could have been almost anything. It’s actually bluesy pop with lush string and horn arrangements, similar to Elkie Brooks’s late seventies work. A lot of money was clearly spent on this, and the material (fairly evenly divided between Christman and producer Jerry Fuller) is more than competent, but the seventies was awash with this kind of stuff and this LP doesn’t contain anything that sets it apart. GRADE: C.
See also Ivory

Chrome Hoof (UK): Chrome Hoof (Tritone TRITCD016, CD, 2004)
This unusual avant-prog band are quite difficult to describe, due to their wide-ranging influences. There’s a touch of doom metal here (not entirely surprising, since Cathedral bassist Leo Smee and his brother were the driving forces), but it is only a touch; there’s also a bit of zeuhl, some modern jazz and rather a lot of cheesy mid-seventies funk and disco. Yet at the same time there are touches of everything from pop to industrial, electronica and even blues, all wedded together in different combinations on different tracks. In some ways, this makes me think of a modern-day equivalent of something like Gong’s Camembert Électrique, although there’s little musical resemblance. Unsurprisingly, some numbers work better than others, but overall this is a hugely bold and impressive album. GRADE: B.
Chrome Hoof (UK): Beyond Zade (Rise Above RISEMCD092, CD, 2006)
Lola Olafisoye (joint lead vocals), Nuwella Love (joint lead vocals), Emma Sullivan (joint lead vocals, percussion, trumpet), Chloë Herrington (percussion, saxophone, bassoon), Rachael Downer (clarinet)
Although marketed as an EP, this is basically a short album, with three tracks totalling around 34 minutes. The opening ‘Krunching Down (On The Skull Of A Newt)’ lives up to its title by being wild experimental metal with screaming vocals, almost recalling Rolo Tomassi, whilst ‘Year Ram’ is slow, grinding doom with slight industrial edges. Finally, the twenty-minute ‘Mad Air Punch’ starts as keyboard-led progressive rock with a few mediaeval touches (courtesy of members of Circulus) before developing into another powerful guitar-led jam, this time with definite RIO edges, finally becoming completely unclassifiable. Much heavier and more metallic than their debut, this is equally exciting and creative. GRADE: B.
Chrome Hoof (UK): Pre-Emptive False Rapture (Southern 281402, CD, with gatefold minisleeve and inner, 2007)
Lola Olafisoye (joint lead vocals), Nuwella Love (joint lead vocals), Emma Sullivan (joint lead vocals, trumpet, vocoder), Chloë Herrington (saxophone, bassoon), Sarah Anderson (violin, viola)
Combining their influences in a slightly different way, this mostly mixes seventies-style funk (the inner gatefold image, in which they strongly resemble Funkadelic, is no accident) or doom metal with the harder end of Magma (complete with lashings of Jannick Top-style fuzz bass). Some death vocals here and there work quite well, and as usual this is an extremely varied set that remains unpredictable from start to finish. Finally, the embossed silver foil gatefold sleeve is as striking as the music within. GRADE: B.
Chrome Hoof (UK): Crush Depth (Southern 28162-2, CD, gatefold minisleeve and inner, 2010)
Lola Olafisoye (joint lead vocals), Emma Sullivan (joint lead vocals, trumpet, vocoder), Chantal Brown (occasional vocals), Chloë Herrington (saxophone, bassoon), Sarah Anderson (violin, viola)
Housed in another distinctive silver foil gatefold, this is by far their least interesting album to date: a highly experimental but often monotonous concoction of programmed dance beats, funk and metal guitars and blasts of techno-industrial electronics. Nonetheless, it does feature a fascinating guest list, including Dieter Moebius, Hans-Joachim Roedelius and Jean-Pierre Massiera. GRADE: C+.
Chrome Hoof (UK): Black Gold (Cuneiform Rune 369, CD, USA, 2013)
Shingai Shoniwa (joint lead vocals), Lola Olafisoye (occasional vocals), Emma Sullivan (occasional vocals, trumpet, vocoder), Chloë Herrington (saxophone, bassoon), Sarah Anderson (violin, viola)
A marked improvement over the underwhelming Crush Depth, this is a solid return to form and another interesting blend of their usual elements (with the dance music influences more pronounced than usual). If it has a shortcoming, it lacks the sheer audacity and shock value of their early work, and with short, discrete tracks it occasionally feels a little slight, but it’s nonetheless a fine album by any measure. GRADE: B–.
See also Spektrum

Chrysalis (USA): Definition (MGM SE 4547, 1968)
Nancy Nairn (joint lead vocals)
This is one of those early progressive albums that would have sounded completely different had it been cut three or four years later – for a start, it would have had a third the number of tracks, and they would have been four times as long. As it is, it blends jazzy, baroque, pop and acid-rock influences on twelve short songs: all are creative, inventive and interesting, but only the closing ‘Dr Root’s Garden’ has a truly great melody and riff. GRADE: C+.

Chrysanthemums (UK): Is That A Fish On Your Shoulder Or Are You Just Pleased To See Me? (Egg Plant Two Eggs, 1987)
Geraldine Minou-Sullivan (drums)
Alan Jenkins’s post-Deep Freeze Mice project continues the band’s quirky experimental pop style, though sadly none of their avant-garde edges are in evidence here. With a more modernistic production style, this is pleasant and enjoyable stuff, though there’s nothing truly memorable here. GRADE: C+.

Chrysanthemums (UK): Little Flecks Of Foam Around Barking (Egg Plant FOUR EGG, CD, 1989)
Geraldine Minou-Sullivan (drums, percussion), Jane Laing (backing vocals)
Listening to the second Chrysanthemums album helps me articulate why I find this phase of Alan Jenkins’s career less convincing than his work with the Deep Freeze Mice. It’s not that he’s lost his gift for melody or his surreal sense of humour. It’s not even that the Chrysanthemums sound more eighties. It’s that the indie influences underpinning his music are much more obvious, even though his love of late sixties pop still shines through. GRADE: C+.
Chrysanthemums (UK): Odessey And Oracle (Madagascar MADA 014, CD, Belgium, 1990)
Geraldine Minou-Sullivan (drums, percussion)
Oddly, this consists of the Zombies’ entire Odessey And Oracle album (plus five bonus Zombies cover on the CD version) reinterpreted into the Chrysanthemums’ usual style. The results are enjoyable enough, especially the 10-minute closing jam around ‘She Does Everything For Me’,  if perhaps a touch baffling. GRADE: C+.

Chunky, Novi & Ernie (USA): Chunky, Novi And Ernie (Reprise MS 2146, 1974)
Lauren Wood (lead vocals, keyboards), Ilene Novog (keyboards, viola, backing vocals)
This venture by the nucleus of Rebecca & The Sunny Brook Farmers (Lauren ‘Chunky’ Wood, Ilene Novog and bassist Ernie Eremita) is nothing like the oddball psychedelia of their former band. Acting as a showcase for Wood’s talents as a singer/songwriter, the music here is lush, melodic, whimsical and rather weird (as the cover suggests), hinting towards some of Kate Bush’s early material with slight cabaret and neoclassical edges. GRADE: C+.

Chunky, Novi & Ernie (USA): Chunky, Novi And Ernie (Reprise RS 3080, 1977)
Lauren Wood (lead vocals, piano), Ilene Novog (keyboards, strings, backing vocals)
The glossy, soft-focus cover photo makes clear that this is going to be nothing like their charming and eccentric first. Instead, this is polished soul-tinged pop, presaging the direction Lauren Wood would take in her underwhelming solo career. That said, the album also has one foot in the Fleetwood Mac soft rock camp, and whilst the lyrics are bathetic, the music is well crafted and beautifully arranged. GRADE: C+.

See also Rebecca & The Sunnybrook Farmers, Lauren Wood

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