Di-Dz

Diablo Swing Orchestra (Sweden): The Butcher’s Ballroom (Guillotine Grooves GILDSO20061, black CD, with digipak and booklet, 2006)
Metal/Jazz/Progressive/Avant-Garde
Annlouice Loegdlund (principal vocals)
What do you get what you cross metal, big band swing, a soprano vocalist and a guitarist who occasionally resembles Jerry Garcia? This sounds like the start of a surreal joke, but the answer is actually the equally surreal Diablo Swing Orchestra. Throw in neoclassical, gothic and ethnic (both Arabic and Australian) touches and a dash of seventies prog and you have one of the oddest cross-genre fusions that I’ve heard – but it all works remarkably well. GRADE: B–.
Diablo Swing Orchestra (Sweden): Sing Along Songs For The Damned And Delirious (Ascendance ASC23013CDSP, CD plus DVD, with digipak and booklet, UK, 2009)
Metal/Jazz/Progressive/Avant-Garde
Annlouice Loegdlund (joint lead vocals)
Many progressive metal bands with sui generis styles simply repeat themselves ad infinitum, but this is distinctly different from their first – weirder still and much more whimsical. Second time round, Diablo Swing Orchestra have discovered a passion for tango rhythms and Brechtian song and upped the operatic quotient significantly. If you’ve ever fancied hearing a mashup of Opus Avantra and Slapp Happy with metal and 1930s stylings in a constantly changing tapestry of music, knock yourself out – and if you haven’t, you’ll still be stunned by the band’s audacity. The bonus DVD included with some copies features an alternate version of one song and a short, surreal (and  very amusing) band biography that is almost entirely false. GRADE: B.
Diablo Swing Orchestra (Sweden): Pandora’s Piñata (Candlelight CANDLE363CDSE, CD, with digibook, UK, 2012)
Metal/Jazz/Progressive/Avant-Garde
Annlouice Loegdlund (joint lead vocals)
This isn’t the significant step forward or the landmark album that Sing Along Songs… was, but it shows the band continuing to develop. On the heavier cuts, the brass tuttis take them closer to a big band sound, whilst they’re also developing a taste for dramatic ballads and full-blown classical music, with two pieces (one vocal, the other instrumental) featuring purely orchestral backing. GRADE: B–.

Diablo Swing Orchestra (Sweden): Pacifisticuffs (Candlelight CANDLE792402, CD, with gatefold minisleeve and booklet, UK, 2017)
Metal/Jazz/Progressive/Avant-Garde
Kristin Evegård (principal vocals, piano)
There’s a good deal less metal here than on previous albums, and their influences stretch far beyond jazz. In particular, they’ve developed a clear interest in Americana (both gospel and country music), but there are also vocal homages to Elvis Presley and Kate Bush, passages inspired by disco and Dvořák, ambient interludes and even hints of an Abba-like pop direction. The results may not be quite as consistent as their previous albums (hardly surprising, given the sheer diversity), but this is consistently fascinating. GRADE: B–.

Diablo Swing Orchestra (Sweden): Swagger And Stroll Down The Rabbit Hole (Candlelight CANDLE842899, CD, with gatefold minisleeve and booklet, UK, 2021)
Progressive/Jazz/Avant-Garde/Metal
Kristin Evegård (joint lead vocals, piano)
Here the band virtually slough off their metal roots – there are a few heavy riffs but they sound pro-forma and for the most part this fuses thirties-style jazz, folk, electronica, rap, Kate Bush and God-knows-what-else into an oddball sonic stew. As always with this band, the results are brilliant, fascinating and faintly perplexing and the conceptual lyrics about media manipulation are interesting. However, if they continue down this post-metal path I could see them becoming too whimsical for their own good. GRADE: B–.

Archie Fisher, Barbara Dickson & John MacKinnon (UK): The Fate O’ Charlie (Trailer LER 3002, 1969)

Folk

Barbara Dickson (joint lead vocals, guitar, bodhrán)

The prolific Barbara Dickson’s first album is a lovely traditional folk affair, with accompaniment from guitars, bodhrán, concertina, mandolins, violin and dulcimer. For many people, the highlight will be her eerie rendition of ‘The Highland Widow’s Lament’ (better known as the opening theme to ‘The Wicker Man’), but this is an enjoyable album throughout. GRADE: C+.

Archie Fisher & Barbara Dickson (UK): Thro’ The Recent Years (Decca SKL / LK 5041, 1970)

Folk

Barbara Dickson (joint lead vocals)

Fisher and Dickson’s second album is quite different, being contemporary folk with acoustic and occasionally electric backing plus plenty of strings, with the material mixing originals by Fisher and covers. It’s pleasant enough, but the MOR edge that would blight Dickson’s later career is already in evidence and the whole thing sounds several years behind its time. GRADE: C+.

Barbara Dickson (UK): Do Right Woman (Decca SKL 5058, 1971)

Folk

Barbara Dickson (lead vocals, keyboards)

This has the same MOR stylings, dainty string arrangements, curious stereo separation and muted production as Thro’ The Recent Years, but despite being recorded with the same musicians and producer it’s a better album all round. The four traditional numbers are suitably delicate, whilst Dickson demonstrates her skill as an interpretative singer on some fine material by the backing musicians, including Rab Noakes’s ‘Turn A Deaf Ear’ and Archie Fisher’s ‘Returning’ and ‘And I Will Sing’. GRADE: C+.

Barbara Dickson (UK): From The Beggar’s Mantle Fringed With Gold (Decca SKL 5116, 1972)

Folk

Barbara Dickson (lead vocals, guitar, piano)Somewhat different from its predecessor, this is straightforward acoustic folk with well-judged backing from luminaries Nic Jones, Daryl Runwsick and Archie Fisher. The mixture of traditional and original songs works well, and Dickson is once again in fine voice. GRADE: C+.

Barbara Dickson (UK): Answer Me (RSO 2394-167, with inner, 1976)

Singer/Songwriter

Barbara Dickson (lead vocals, keyboards, dulcimer)

Dickson’s starring role in Willy Russell’s musical ‘John, Paul, George, Ringo… And Bert’ saw her offered a record deal by Robert Stigwood, resulting in this radically different LP. Half the 12 songs are originals, offering a more commercial sidestep from Sandy Denny circa Sandy or Like An Old-Fashioned Waltz. The other half are covers, with a more pop-oriented sound; the title track gave her a significant hit single. This is an accomplished album all through, with the heavier ‘Judgement Day’, complete with growling fuzz guitar, representing Dickson’s finest-ever composition. In fact, it’s so good that it makes one regret she didn’t perform more heavy rock. GRADE: C+.

Barbara Dickson (UK): Morning Comes Quickly (RSO 2394-188, with inner, 1977)

Pop

Barbara Dickson (lead vocals, guitar)

Dickson’s cover of Mentor Williams’s ‘Driftaway’ on Answer Me so impressed its author that he produced the follow-up, recorded in America with top session musicians from country and soul music backgrounds. Surprisingly, this isn’t particularly rural: it’s bouncy, slightly funky pop music, with the emphasis on cover versions and with Dickson contributing three songs out of ten. GRADE: C+.

Barbara Dickson (UK): Sweet Oasis (CBS S 83198, with insert, 1978)

Singer/Songwriter

Barbara Dickson (lead vocals, guitar, piano)

With everything except the Gerry Rafferty cover being self-penned, this was Dickson’s attempt at making a serious singer/songwriter LP. There’s enough promise here to suggest that had she continued down this path, she could today enjoy the same status as Sandy Denny. However, Sweet Oasis was a huge flop (I remember seeing more copies of this album than any other in bargain bins in the early eighties), causing her to re-evaluate her career. GRADE: C+.

Barbara Dickson (UK): The Barbara Dickson Album (Epic EPC 84088, with inner, 1980)

Pop/Rock

Barbara Dickson (lead vocals)

The opening triple whammy of ‘January February’; ‘In The Night’ and ‘It’s Really You’ (unsurprisingly, the three singles) is as good a statement of pop/rock intent as you’re ever likely to hear. The danger of front-loading an album in this way is that everything else sounds disappointing, but whilst the other seven cuts aren’t quite their equal they’re not that far behind, with both Dickson and producer Alan Tarney turning in first-class material. GRADE: B–.

Barbara Dickson (UK): You Know It’s Me (Epic EPC 84551, with inner, 1981)

Pop/Rock

Barbara Dickson (lead vocals)

Recorded with the same producer and most of the same personnel as The Barbara Dickson Album, You Know It’s Me failed to repeat its commercial success despite being equally good. In fact, whilst it runs out of steam towards the end of side two, at its best this equals Fleetwood Mac in the melodic soft rock stakes. GRADE: B–.

Barbara Dickson (UK): Parcel Of Rogues (Castle Communications CTVCD 126, CD, 1994)
Folk/Rock
Barbara Dickson (lead vocals)
Following You Know It’s Me, Dickon’s career went off the rails artistically, though the early-to-mid eighties brought her biggest commercial success. In 1982 she issued the part-compilation All For A Song (compiling four chart singles, two remakes of Beatles songs originally tackled in ‘John, Paul, George, Ringo… And Bert’ and six new numbers) and a dull live album, in 1983 she released a few singles, and in 1984 she finally got around to releasing a new album, Heartbeats. Compiled from sessions with half-a-dozen different producers, this was a solid enough set (the Johnny Mathis duet notwithstanding) but featured only two self-penned songs (both co-writes with fellow singer/songwriter Charlie Dore). Her remaining eighties albums were dull assemblages of pop covers and occasional Dore co-writes, and in 1991 she hit rock bottom with a dreadful set of synthesised Bob Dylan covers. This made it all the more surprising that Parcel Of Rogues was her best album yet: an excellent set of electric folk numbers recalling Deirdre or to a lesser extent Fairport Convention. The arrangements are quite modernistic, including synthesisers, samplers and programmed drums, but there is also plenty of electric and acoustic instrumentation and Dickson is in wonderful voice on brilliant renditions of ‘Van Dieman’s Land’, ‘Sule Skerry’, ‘Lovely Joan’, ‘Geordie’ et al. GRADE: B.

Barbara Dickson (UK): B4 Seventy Four – The Folk Club Tapes (Chariot Music CTVP006CD, double CD, with gatefold minisleeve and booklet, 2013, 

recorded 1969-1973)
Folk
Barbara Dickson (lead vocals, guitar)

This collection of lo-fi mono recordings from Dickson’s folk club days capture her mostly solo and occasionally backed by other folk luminaries (including Martin Carthy, Dave Swarbrick and Rab Noakes). It’s pleasant enough stuff, capturing versions of a few songs that appeared on her earlier albums (and, substantially reworked, on her 1994 masterpiece Parcel Of Rogues). GRADE: C+.

Barbara Dickson (UK): Live In Concert 1976 And 1977 (Gonzo Multimedia CTVP013CD, CD plus DVD, 2016, recorded 1976 and 1977)
Country/Rock
Barbara Dickson (lead vocals, guitar, piano, dulcimer)
This worthwhile archive release captures two short TV broadcasts, both cut when Dickson’s interest in American music was at its peak. Mixing material from Answer Me and Morning Comes Quickly, she largely eschews her own contributions (only ‘Who Was It Stole Your Heart Away?’ is self-penned, and is used to open both sets) and on both occasions segues into other songs halfway through her biggest hit ‘Answer Me’, as though she was already bored with playing it. GRADE: C+.

Difference Engine (USA): Breadmaker (La-Di-Da America LA-DI-DA 9401-2, CD, 1994)
Rock/Psychedelic
Margaret Ayre
Like most shoegaze albums, Breadmaker isn’t the most original or distinctive piece of work, but if you like the genre (which I do) its elated trippiness should prove thoroughly enjoyable. GRADE: C+.
Difference Engine (USA): Calidad (Bedazzled BDZ34, CD, 1997)
Rock/Psychedelic
Margaret Ayre (lead vocals, guitar)
Their second and final album (actually more of an EP, with seven songs in 23 minutes) is both similar to and different from its predecessor. It’s still definitely in the shoegaze or modern indie area, but the songs here are sparsier, folkier and a touch more distinctive, occasionally hinting towards third album Velvet Underground and clearly illustrating the direction the duo would pursue as Fern Knight. GRADE: C+.
See also Fern Knight, Iditarod, Alec K Redfearn & The Eyesores, Valerie Project

Dijelo (USSR): Dijelo (Melodiya 33CM-03409, 1972?)
Pop
With lots of horns, this rather loungy pop album could be seen as an East European equivalent to outfits like the New Seekers. However, it also has some jazz edges, late beat traces, a few mildly progressive embellishments and a slightly eerie, forlorn vibe typical of Soviet releases. GRADE: C+.

Dilfor (UK): Y Dilfor (Westwood WSR002, 1973)
Folk
Dilys Williams (joint lead vocals), Cynthia Roberts (joint lead vocals, guitar)
With full electric backing, this Welsh folk/pop trio offer pleasant versions of ‘Morning Town Ride’ and ‘The Carnival Is Over’, plus some Welsh-language material (including an adaptation of ‘Last Thing On My Mind’). The record has a slight cabaret vibe and is a touch twee, reflecting the group’s stage garb on the back cover, but is pleasant and inoffensive enough. GRADE: C–.

Diliau (UK): Tân Neu Haf (Gwerin SYWM 216, 1979)
Folk/Pop
Meleri Evans (joint lead vocals), Mair Davies (joint lead vocals), Gaynor (joint lead vocals)
Welsh female trio Diliau had been around since the late sixties, issuing a string of EPs and contributing to a number of compilations, but this 1979 effort was their only LP. In theory I shouldn’t like it: this is a polished, catchy Christian folk/pop effort by three middle-aged women; they even use a children’s choir on one cut. Nonetheless, I do: the songs are genuinely catchy, their harmonies are impeccable and the electric arrangements are beautifully judged, never crossing over into MOR schmaltz. They even manage a convincing stab at hard rock on ‘Gole’r Ddinas’ and as a final bonus the brown-and-cream front cover is quite impressive. GRADE: C+.

Directing Hand (UK): A Old Soul At The Helm (Chocolate Monk CHOC. 135, CDR, 2005)
Industrial/Avant-Garde
Christina Carter, Hanna Tuulikki
Don’t be fooled by the presence of ‘Rosemary Lane’ or the fact that Directing Hand mutated into the superb Trembling Bells – this is pure avant-garde improvisation that’s devoid of melody, variety or merit. Christina Carter puts in a cameo appearance on the closing cut, contributing some wordless wailing. GRADE: E.
Directing Hand (UK): Bells For Augustin Lesage (Secret Eye AB-OC-19, CD, 2005)
Folk/Psychedelic/Avant-Garde
Christina Carter, Hanna Tuulikki, Isobel Campbell
This has a few industrial moments recalling its predecessor, but thankfully only a few; for the most part, it’s much folkier and a lot more structured. I can even hear the beginnings of the Trembling Bells sound with the horns on the closing ‘Lowlands Away’. GRADE: C+.
Directing Hand (UK): Beast In (Time-Lag, CDR, USA, 2007)
Psychedelic/Avant-Garde
Karen Constance
This is quite different from their earlier work – a single 27-minute psychedelic rock jam recalling the wilder end of Wayne Rogers and Kate Biggars’s various projects. It’s by no means bad for what it is, but there’s a limit to how exciting this sort of thing can be. GRADE: C+.
Directing Hand (UK): What Put The Blood (Dancing Wayang DWR002, LP plus 3" CDR, with insert, 2008)
Folk/Psychedelic/Avant-Garde
Lavinia Blackwall (principal vocals, guitar, keyboards, percussion, cello, harp)
The radical change in line-up – with the band now a duo of Alex Neilson and Lavinia Blackwall – changes their sound completely. This is mournful, minimalist acid-folk with an eerie feeling and some avant-garde edges here and there, representing an interesting variant on Trembling Bells’ full-blooded electric folk sound. The first 100 copies came with a bonus 3" CDR solo EP by Lavinia Blackwall, featuring four songs on which she plays all the instruments. I like this better than the album proper – it’s lovely stuff, and close to a B–. GRADE: C+.

Directing Hand (UK): Songs From The Red House (Singing Knives SK010, with insert, 2008)
Folk/Psychedelic/Avant-Garde
Lavinia Blackwall
This time round, Blackwall and Neilson appeal to be channelling their inner Yoko Ono on a few cuts – she wails at the top of her lungs while he thrashes his kit. Elsewhere, there are folkier moments (including the excellent ‘My Lagan Love'’, which closes side one) making for an unusual but intriguing LP. GRADE: C+.
See also Christina Carter, Charalambides, Trembling Bells

Dirt Woman (USA): Dirt Woman (No label, download, 2018)
Metal/Garage/Psychedelic
Zoë Koch (lead vocals, guitar)
This 20-minute, three-song EP offers a grungy mix of doom metal, garage rock and heavy acid-rock – all punkish and trebly to the maximum. It’s all rather enjoyable, and admirably unpretentious, though as my description suggests that lacks the powerful bottom end that makes the best doom truly majestic. GRADE: C+.

Disciple (USA): Come And See Us As We Are (Avco Embassy AVE 33015, 1970)
Pop/Soul
Sandy Crespo (lead vocals, percussion)
This enjoyable soul/pop LP features good singing, musicianship, arrangements and production. There’s nothing especially original or life-changing here, but Disciple managed a highly competent album that should have brought them more commercial success. GRADE: C+.

Discordia (Finland): Utopia Perfection (Discordia DISC002, CD, 2007)
Progressive
Riika Hänninen (joint lead vocals, whistle), Liisa Lipas (keyboards, violin, santour)
This very varied prog album pastiches a wide variety of seventies and progressive metal styles, with some great melodies and riffs, powerful instrumental performances and an excellent recording. On the downside, the Tolkien-inspired lyrics are among the worst I’ve ever seen, but at least they’re amusing. GRADE: B–.

Discordia (Finland): Season Changes (Discordia DISC004, CD, 2014)
Progressive
Riika Hänninen (joint lead vocals)
Their first album was not only incredibly varied but extremely witty, including nods to all manner of progressive and pomp-rock genres, complete with satirical (I assume) lyrics. In contrast, Season Changes is remarkably straight. Certainly, there are a few nods towards RIO and the vocal arrangements are complex and knotty, but for the most part this is conventional modern prog and a world away from their remarkable debut. GRADE: C+.

Discus (Indonesia): 1st (Mellow MMP 365, CD, Italy, 1999)
Jazz/Rock/Progressive
Nonnie (principal vocals)
This Indonesian band’s album is schizophrenic indeed: the instrumentals are ambitious and complex, fringing RIO, zeuhl, world music and occasionally avant-garde classical, but the songs are something else. Upbeat, commercial and catchy, complete with soul-inflected vocals that are not at all to my taste, they sound like they were extracted from one of the numerous anodyne jazz-fusion albums to surface in the mid-seventies. As a result, about two thirds of the disc is superb, whilst the remainder is decidedly cheesy and distinctly avoidable. As a footnote, an original Indonesian pressing apparently exists with a different running order, but I have never encountered it. GRADE: B–.
Discus (Indonesia): …Tot Licht! (Muséa FGBG 4500.AR, CD, 2003)
Progressive/Metal/Avant-Garde
Nonnie (joint lead vocals, handclaps)
Quite different from their first, this is a fusion of RIO and metal elements with a strong avant-garde edge, at times recalling bands like Sebkha-Chott, Sleepytime Gorilla Museum and Unexpect. With wild shifts of mood and tempo and multiple vocalists on each song, it’s a creative and interesting record, if occasionally messy and incoherent. Ironically, the most straightforward cut – the lovely folk ballad ‘PESAN’ – is also the best. GRADE: B–.

Dismal Euphony (Norway): Python Zero (Nuclear Blast 27361 65012, CD, Germany, 2001)
Metal
Anja Natasha (joint lead vocals)
The album has some interesting instrumental textures and an occasional slight psychedelic tinge to the guitar work (especially on the opening ‘Critical Mass’), but it’s also very relentless and rather one-dimensional, with some of the tempo changes not being especially well handled. On the plus side, the final third of the album ups the experimentation quotient considerably, almost approaching Sleepytime Gorilla Museum and Unexpect levels of weirdness, while the closing ‘Flyineye’ surprisingly recalls early Babe Ruth. GRADE: C+.

District 97 (USA): Hybrid Child (The Laser’s Edge LE1057, CD, 2010)
Rock/Metal/Progressive
Leslie Hunt (lead vocals), Katina Kleijn (cello)
Comprising four shorter songs plus a 27½-minute suite about alien abductions, District 97’s debut offers progressive hard rock that’s typically American. Busy, messy riffs adorn songs with soaring choruses rooted in AOR and snatches of sound effects collide with gentle ballads in a mixture that’s something of a curate’s egg but certainly has its moments. Perhaps its most noteworthy feature is the extensive use of cello as a lead instrument. GRADE: C+.

District 97 (USA): Live @ Calprog (No label, CDR, no artwork, 2010)
Rock/Metal/Progressive
Leslie Hunt (lead vocals, tambourine)
Despite being completely home-made by the band, with a handwritten label and no artwork, this live album boasts superb sound quality. The loss of Katina Kleijn’s cello robs them of their most distinctive feature, but I prefer this to their studio set: losing the messy riffing and overly dense sound, they reveal themselves to be a solid hard rock band with a penchant for a few mildly interesting experiments.

GRADE: C+.

District 97 (USA): Trouble With Machines (The Laser’s Edge LE1065, CD plus DVD, 2012)
Rock/Metal/Progressive
Leslie Hunt (lead vocals)
This is a solid step up from their first: less frenetic, more diverse, more confident and more accomplished. At times they resemble everyone from Finneus Gauge to Thinking Plague, with a marked jazzy edge, though they also have one foot in pomp-rock and AOR; the whole thing is again very, very American. The biggest failing, however, is the reams of lyrics: if they stretched out and gave their material more room to breathe, they could be genuinely impressive. The first 2000 copies came with a bonus DVD Live At Rites Of Spring: this is professionally filmed and showcases a fine performance, demonstrating Leslie Hunt to be a very vivacious frontwoman. GRADE: C+

District 97 (USA): Live @ ROSFest (No label, double CDR, no artwork, 2012)
Rock/Metal/Progressive
Leslie Hunt (lead vocals, tambourine)
The CD version of Live At Rites Of Spring (despite the slightly different titling) proves it to have been a fine show, although the band’s slightly messy, riff-driven, quintessentially American style wouldn’t qualify as one of my favourite genres of prog. GRADE: C+.

District 97 (USA): Live From WFPK (No label, DVDR, no artwork, 2012)
Rock/Metal/Progressive
Leslie Hunt (lead vocals, tambourine)
Inevitably more amateurish than their first DVD (though the sound quality is superb), this features the band performing a lunchtime gig for a local radio station. Mixing music and interviews, it’s a strong document of their live capabilities; it’s just a pity they couldn’t be bothered with any packaging. GRADE: C+.

District 97 (USA): Life From WFPK (No label, DVDR, no artwork, 2012)
Rock/Metal/Progressive
Leslie Hunt (lead vocals, tambourine)
Another packaging-free venture (and unlike the DVD, this doesn’t have a printed label), but it’s nice to have the CD version of this short but solid set. GRADE: C+.
District 97 With John Wetton (USA/UK): One More Red Night – Live In Chicago (Primary Purpose, CD, USA, 2014)
Rock/Metal/Progressive
Leslie Hunt (occasional vocals)
District 97’s fourth successive live release (fifth if you include the DVD included with Trouble With Machines) is a bit different: John Wetton takes nearly all the lead vocals and the setlist entirely comprises material from his career. Whilst District 97’s style dovetails well enough with King Crimson’s, this remains a rather baffling venture. GRADE: C+.

District 97 (USA): In Vaults (The Laser’s Edge LE 1072, CD, 2015)
Rock/Metal/Progressive
Leslie Hunt (lead vocals)
As with their previous two studio sets, the riff-driven, jazzy, quintessentially American heavy rock here is solid without being outstanding. District 97 are clearly competent at what they do, but this simply isn’t one of my favourite styles of prog. GRADE: C+.

District 97 (USA): Artifact (No label, double CD, with gatefold minisleeve and T-shirt, 2016)
Rock/Metal/Progressive
Leslie Hunt (principal vocals)
The band’s rarest release was issued in a limited run of 125 copies to Kickstarter subscribers who offered a not inconsiderable $100; remaining copies (without the T-shirt) were put on general sale for a fairly substantial $89.99. Compiling two complete sets – one from 2016 with their current line-up and their last show from 2015 with their original line-up – it’s a solid enough set, though their brand of riff-driven progressive hard rock is never going to make them one of my favourite acts. GRADE: C+.

District 97 (USA): Live At De Boerderij (No label, DVDR, 2018)

Progressive/Metal

Leslie Hunt (lead vocals)

Despite its title, this features two separate live sets (one not particularly long, the other very short), a few promotional videos and an (unusually interesting) interview with drummer Jonathan Schang. It confirms my impressions of District 97 live – great musicianship, great stage presence, great frontwoman and great riffs, but the lack of variety in their material ultimately tells. GRADE: C+.

District 97 (USA): Septennial (Return To Rosfest) (No label, DVDR, 2019)
Progressive/Metal
Leslie Hunt (lead vocals, tambourine)
Whether this is better or worse than previous District 97 DVDs is moot: their music is very much of a piece. Nonetheless, they’re once again clearly a decent live act, and the tracklisting – including most of the forthcoming Screens album – is different. The DVD also includes some rehearsal footage, with the whole thing clocking it at nearly two hours. GRADE: C+.

District 97 (USA): Septennial (Return To Rosfest) (MindScan, CDR, with digipak, 2019)

Progressive/Metal

Leslie Hunt (lead vocals, tambourine)

The CD version of the Septennial set – along with its DVD counterpart and Screens – confirms my impression that District 97 are steadily improving and may deliver something exceptional sometime soon. On the plus side, their riffs are powerful, the rhythm section is lively and dynamic, and Leslie Hut increasingly seems to be drawing on influences from (American) RIO. However, it’s their lack of variety that’s the issue, and it’s notable that ‘Bread And Yarn’ – where they stretch out and use keyboards to atmospheric effect – stands head and shoulders above the other material. GRADE: C+.

District 97 (USA): Screens (MindScan, DVD, 2019)
Progressive/Metal
Leslie Hunt (lead vocals)
Whilst not exactly groundbreaking, this is probably their best to date – confident, powerful and beautifully recorded to boot. It’s pretty varied too, from jazzy, off-key vocal lines hinting at a heavier Thinking Plague through to straight rockers and some effective symphonic moments. In addition to a conventional CD, a DVD was released with 48/24 and surround sound versions of the album. GRADE: C+.

District 97 (USA): Screenplay (Mindscan D97-005-CD, double CD, with digipak, UK, 2021)
Progressive/Metal
Leslie Hunt (principal vocals)
District 97 are an impressive band live, as their numerous DVDs testify – but that’s due to Leslie Hunt’s charisma, which isn’t apparent via audio. This 25-track collection – the entire Screens album on the first disc and 16 other cuts on the second, including a slew of unremarkable covers – is impressive in its scope and scale. However, the Screens material is less accomplished live than in the studio whilst the second disc sees them abandoning their riff-driven style for some jamming jazz-fusion with only moderate success. GRADE: C+.

See also Leslie Hunt

Sophia Djebel Rose (France): Sophia Djebel Rose (No label, CD, with minisleeve, 2020)
Folk/Psychedelic
Sophia Djebel Rose (lead vocals, guitar, keyboards)
At 23 minutes and five songs, this EP isn’t the most substantial release, but it’s certainly very good: dark, eerie and minimalist folk with subtly psychedelic edge and simple backing from acoustic guitar and keyboards. At times, it strongly hints towards Nico without directly resembling her, and it certainly makes me look forward to a full album from Djebel Rose. GRADE: C+.

Ted Dłużewski & Maria Teresa Dłużewski (Poland): Kino Ikon (Piglet PR 2008, Sweden, 1988)
Progressive
Maria Teresa Dłużewski (lead vocals)
Ted Dłużewski had previously been one of the driving forces behind TeddyBjörn Band, which released an interesting album blending new wave and progressive music. This set with his wife Maria Teresa (who provides the wordless vocals whilst he plays most of the instruments) is also intriguing, blending prog (including a side-long suite) with electronic arrangements and some gothic, neoclassical and pop touches. It sounds a little dated today, but it’s also quite distinctive and very different from the neoprogressive music that was commonplace at the time. GRADE: B–.

Do Me Bad Things (UK): Yes! (Must Destroy/Atlantic 5050467 7573 2 5, double CD, with gatefold minisleeve and booklet, 2005)
Pop/Rock/Metal/Progressive
Chantal Brown (joint lead vocals), Kimberley Whalley (joint lead vocals), Clare Macdonald-Haig (joint lead vocals)
This is one of those odd albums that throws a bit of everything into the mix: whilst the basis of the music is snappy pop/rock, most songs have metal riffs, soul-inflected vocals and the kind of knotty tempos associated with jazz-fusion. In small doses it’s exhilarating, but with almost every song using the same modus operandi the album eventually becomes rather less than the sum of its parts. Chantal Brown subsequently went on to form Vôdun and also guested with Chrome Hoof and Knifeworld. GRADE: C+.
See also Vôdun

Akio Dobashi (Japan): Fox (Virgin VJCP 58, CD, 1990)
Pop/Progressive
Annie Haslam (joint lead vocals)
How Annie Haslam came to be involved in this odd album, I have no idea. In any case, Dobashi was a multi-instrumentalist, and this LP offers a peculiar blend of electro-pop and pastoral proggy instrumentals. Haslam contributes lead vocals and lyrics to three songs (with the 1994 reissue – Apollon International APCY-8210 – apparently featuring a fourth) and these are among the better numbers, although they’re far from brilliant. GRADE: C–.
See also Annie Haslam, Nevada, Renaissance

Bonnie Dobson (Canada): Bonnie Dobson (Nimbus 9 SLP 4219, 1969)
Folk/Rock
Dobson cut five albums in the early-to-mid-sixties, but these were in a coffeehouse folk style and outside my area of interest. This, however, is a delightful soft rock LP, combining electric band arrangements with sweeping strings and a few period touches such as sitar. Aside from the definitive version of her most famous song ‘Morning Dew’, the LP contains several excellent original compositions plus well-judged covers of ‘Let’s Get Together’, ‘Everybody’s Talking’ and other sixties standards. GRADE: B–.
Bonnie Dobson (Canada): Good Morning Rain (RCA LSP 4277, USA, 1970)
Folk/Rock
Another lovely soft rock LP, not quite as mellifluous or as eerily beautiful as its predecessor, but still elegantly arranged and quite enchantingly sung. Eight of the eleven songs are covers, which is a pity, as Dobson is a fine songwriter. In particular, I could have done without yet another version of ‘Streets Of London’, but her interpretation of ‘Milk And Honey’ is spellbinding. GRADE: C+.
Bonnie Dobson (Canada): Bonnie Dobson (Argo ZFB 79, UK, 1972)
Folk
Bonnie Dobson (lead vocals, guitar)
A total change of direction: this is straightforward traditional folk, with simple acoustic backing. Dobson’s gorgeous voice makes it a very pleasing listen, with a rather English feel (although most of the songs are unsurprisingly Canadian). GRADE: C+.
Bonnie Dobson (Canada): Morning Dew (Polydor 2383 400, UK, 1976)
Folk/Country/Rock
Bonnie Dobson (lead vocals)
As its title suggests, the album opens with a radically reworked version of ‘Morning Dew’ with a countryish edge, fuzz guitar, funky congas and disco-ish strings. The end result is as odd as this description suggests, and I’d certainly never choose it over the defining 1969 version, but it works surprisingly well on its own terms. Most of the rest is cover versions, in a light country/rock and folk/rock style – pleasant and given distinction by her lovely voice, but never particularly memorable. GRADE: C+.

Bonnie Dobson (Canada): Take Me For A Walk In The Morning Dew (Hornbeam HBR0003, CD, with gatefold minisleeve and inner, 2014)
Folk/Rock
Bonnie Dobson (lead vocals, guitar)
Dobson’s first album in nearly four decades largely consists of re-recordings of material from earlier in her career (inevitably including her umpteenth version of ‘Morning Dew’). Nonetheless, this is a fine album, with Dobson in excellent voice and a crack team of musicians bringing the original and traditional songs to life with verve and sensitivity. GRADE: C+.

Doggerel Bank (UK/Isle of Man): Silver Faces (Charisma CAS 1079, UK, 1973)
Spoken Word/Rock/Progressive
Susan Baker (violin, viola, mandolin, harp)
Basically Barrow Poets under another name, Doggerel Bank shared the same penchant for musical whimsy and slightly surreal poetry. However, the musical backing here has a much stronger rock flavour, with strong progressive elements, making this a very enjoyable and creative album. GRADE: C+.
Doggerel Bank (UK/Isle of Man): Mister Skillicorn Dances (Charisma CAS 1102, UK, 1975)
Spoken Word/Folk/Rock
Susan Baker (violin, viola, mandolin)
Even more whimsical than Silver Faces, this is closer in feel to the parent band, making you wonder why they didn’t involve the remaining members and release it as a Barrow Poets LP. The line-up of guests is varied and interesting, including Clare Torrey, Tina Charles and Gary Boyle. GRADE: C+.
See also Susan Baker, Barrow Poets

Dogtooth Violet (USA): Dogtooth Violet (Dogtooth DTV-1024, with insert, 1975)
Country/Rock
Pam Grimes (joint lead vocals, guitar, percussion)
This is a pleasant, mellow country/rock set with a good mix of acoustic and electric instrumentation and quite a bit of hand percussion. Whilst some cuts tend more towards the country end of the equation, with lots of slide guitar, they also get into a jamming Grateful Dead mood on the excellent seven-minute ‘Roll My Soul’, making this one of the better LPs of its type. GRADE: C+.

Dogwatch (UK): Penfriend (Bridge House BHLP002, with booklet, 1979)
Progressive/New Wave
Linda Kelsey (keyboards)
The Cardiacs weren’t the only ones crossing prog with new wave, as this short-lived band’s live album proves. With both theatrical and pub-rock leanings, the music is song-based yet quite complex, taking in elements of space-rock, modern jazz trumpet, funky and disco rhythms, and more. The result is an odd blend but I like it, and it’s certainly far more distinctive than most British prog from the late seventies and early eighties. GRADE: C+.

Dol Ammad (Greece): Electronica-Art-Metal (No label, CD, 2002)
Metal/Progressive
Kortessa Tsifodimou (joint lead vocals), Vicky Alexaki (joint lead vocals), Maria Panagiotidou (joint lead vocals), Maria Solaki (joint lead vocals), Zoë Tsokanou (joint lead vocals)
Running for around 28 minutes, the demo album by this Greek outfit – essentially the brainchild of keyboardist, drummer and composer Thanasis Lightbridge – immediately establishes their unusual style. Accompanied by a guitarist, a bassist and both male and female choirs, he offers what sounds like a low-budget twist on Vovin-era Therion for the first half, with epic choirs overlaying manic riffing. However, unlike Therion this doesn’t have the majestic soundscape to match, and instead is rather thin and amateurish, featuring lots of electronics. The more relaxed second half is decidedly more enjoyable, with a sound closer to sympho-prog, making for a solid if rather inconsistent LP. GRADE: C+.
Dol Ammad (Greece): Star Tales (Black Lotus BLRCD77, CD, with digipak and booklet, 2004)
Metal/Progressive
Alexandra Voulgari (joint lead vocals), Zoë Tsokanou (joint lead vocals), Marieta Panagiotidou (joint lead vocals), Vicky Alexaki (joint lead vocals), Maria Stolaki (joint lead vocals)
Lacking the budgetary constraints of the demo, their first album proper gives the choirs the epic dimensions they deserve, with the music rarely sounding chintzy. However, it’s the sumptuous interludes of neoclassical synthesised sympho-prog that really shine, though it’s the interlinking of the two styles that makes Dol Ammad truly distinctive. GRADE: B–.
Dol Ammad (Greece): Ocean Dynamics (Electronic Art Metal EAMRCD001, with digipak and booklet, 2006)
Metal/Progressive
Mary Palaska (joint lead vocals), Kortessa Tsifomidou (joint lead vocals), Alexandra Voulgari (joint lead vocals), Vicky Alexaki (joint lead vocals), Maria Stolaki (joint lead vocals), Sofia Patsi (joint lead vocals), Ntina Strani (joint lead vocals)
Their third is in a similar vein to their second, though perhaps a bit more ponderous, with some minimalist electronic sections linking the choral metal parts. This is by no means a perfect album, and it could probably have benefited from some editing, but it is very well crafted and quite interesting in its juxtaposition of styles. GRADE: B–.
Dol Ammad (Greece): Cosmic Gods: Episode 1 – Hyperspeed (Electronic Art Metal EAMRCD004, CD, with digipak and booklet, 2012)
Metal/Progressive
Anila Teli (joint lead vocals), Kortessa Tsofodimou (joint lead vocals), Melina Paschalidou (joint lead vocals), Dimitra Athanasatou (joint lead vocals), Athanasia Thomopoulu (joint lead vocals)
This is even more varied than usual, mixing up death metal riffing, massed choirs and techno synthesisers in unpredictable combinations. However, it’s less cohesive and satisfying than their earlier work, although it still contains some remarkable passages. GRADE: C+.
Dol Ammad (Greece): Cosmic Gods: Episode II – Astroatlas (No label, download, 2018)
Metal/Progressive
Melina Paschalidou (joint lead vocals), Anila Teli (joint lead vocals), Kortessa Tsifodimou (joint lead vocals), Dimitra Athanasatou (joint lead vocals), Sophia Patsi (joint lead vocals), Athanasia Thomopoulu (joint lead vocals)
This blend of power metal, choral vocals and electronica is both more single-minded and perhaps more simple-minded than earlier excursions, with less in the way of experimentation or progression. That’s both a good and a bad thing: whilst this isn’t likely to win the band any new admirers, not all their experiments worked, whereas this is gripping almost from start to finish. GRADE: B–.

See also Dol Theeta

Dol Theeta (Greece): The Universe Expands (Electronic Art Metal EAMRCD003, CD, with digipak and booklet, 2008)
Progressive/Psychedelic
Kortessa Tsofodimou (principal vocals)
This is occasionally similar to the parent band, but mostly quite different. With the line-up comprising a trio of Thanassis Lightbridge (here contributing only synthesisers and drum programmes plus a few vocals to one number), a guitarist and vocalist Kortessa Tsofodimou, this has none of the epic prog-metal dimensions of Dol Ammad. Instead it’s sort of a psychedelic and techno hybrid, with the guitar contributing stately lead lines rather than crunching power chords; the soundscape is sumptuous enough that the lack of bass or real drums never becomes an issue. GRADE: B–.
See also Dol Ammad

Doll (UK): Listen To The Silence (Beggar’s Banquet BEGA 12, 1979)
Pop
Marion Valentine (lead vocals, guitar)
A very marginal case for inclusion, the Doll are best remembered as one-hit wonders with ‘Desire Me’ (not included here). They were basically a new wave-influenced power-pop outfit in the style of contemporary Blondie or early Martha & The Muffins, but their keyboardist Denis Haines had clear progressive ambitions and his florid, classically-tinged riffs add an unusual flavour to the material. Leader Marion Valentine, who wrote everything, was clearly something of a talent, and it’s surprising that she dropped out of music altogether. GRADE: C+.

Dollie De Luxe (Norway): Rock Vs Opera (Notabene NBLP 104, 1986)
Progressive
Bénédicte Adrian, Ingrid Bjørnov
This duo issued a number of straight pop albums and entered the Eurovision Song Contest before coming up with this oddball high-concept album. The A-side has several short tracks marrying rock standards (such as ‘Satisfaction’ and ‘Gimme Some Lovin’’) performed in an Abba-like style with pieces of operatic music, whilst the flip features Mozart’s ‘The Magic Flute’ with snippets of the Beatles’ greatest hits interpolated. Depending on one’s perspective, the result is either challenging avant-gardism or bathetic in the extreme; personally I like it and think it very creative, although the eighties keyboard and drum sounds have dated rather badly. GRADE: C+.

Dominas (West Germany): Die Dominas (Fabrikneu 666, 10", 1981)
Pop/Progressive
Rosi Müller (joint lead vocals, organ), Claudia Skoda (joint lead vocals, synthesiser)
This odd release falls somewhere between an LP and a single, with one side given over to a seventeen-minute track (playing at 33rpm) and the other featuring two shorter cuts totalling nine minutes (playing at 45rpm). Musically it’s oddball minimalist electropop with a few spacy and avant-garde touches, especially on the long number. Ash Ra Tempel’s Rosi Müller formed half the duo, with her former colleague Manuel Göttsching assisting with programming and Kraftwerk’s Ralf Hutter and Karl Bartos providing the cover design. GRADE: C.
See also Ash Ra Tempel, Galactic Supermarket

Dominican Commercial Folk Group (USA): All We Have (No label DHP-05, with insert, 1975)
Folk/Rock
Martha DeSantis (joint lead vocals, piano, finger cymbals), Joan Carroll (joint lead vocals, guitar), Margaret Board (joint lead vocals, tambourine), Caroline Eppich (joint lead vocals), Laurie Kirkwood (joint lead vocals), Maria Marciano (joint lead vocals), Diane Moore (joint lead vocals), 

Rita Valenti (joint lead vocals)
This above-average school project album features all-original material (by Martha DeSantis and/or Joan Carroll) and well-judged backing ranging from full band settings (recalling a low-budget ‘Godspell’ or similar stage musical) to haunting acoustic folk. On the downside, nearly all the vocals are choral and all the lyrics are Christian. Nonetheless, there is some lovely material here, though the best cuts are the least characteristic: the comparatively rocking ‘Don’t Turn Away’, which has solo vocals from a singer with an unusual voice recalling Buffy Ste-Marie, and the mantric, rhythmic and minimalistic ‘You Got The Love’. GRADE: C+.

Monica Dominique, Palle Danielsson & Leroy Lowe (Sweden/USA): Tillägnan (DagVisa DAG 02-1001, Sweden, 1980)
Jazz
Monica Dominique (piano)
Those expecting Solar Plexus-style loungy Hammond prog here will be disappointed: Dominique, who composes nearly everything, sticks to piano and the rhythm section mainly stick to sedate tempos. As instrumental modern jazz with trad roots goes, this is pleasant enough, and it could definitely appeal to those liking Mimi Lorenzini and Ann Ballester’s post-Édition Spéciale recordings. GRADE: C+.
Monica Dominique (Sweden): Inside The Rainbow (Phono Suecia PS 42, 1988)
Jazz
Margareta Bengtson (occasional vocals), Katarina Wilczewski (occasional vocals), Monica Dominique (keyboards)
Ranging from quartet performances to big band numbers, this is a varied album of mostly instrumental modern jazz. The mood is always mellow and tuneful and sometimes funky, and this is a solid LP of its type, but there are slim pickings here for rock fans. GRADE: C+.
See also Solar Plexus

Don (Yugoslavia): Ispod Maske (Diskos LPD-9077, 1984)
Rock
Vojislava Jovanovic (lead vocals)
This Yugoslav band's sole album alternates between polished, mildly symphonic hard rock and lighter soul-influenced rock with horns. The former material is much more satisfying to my ears, though the latter is also fairly well done, making it a pity that they attempted to cover so much ground. GRADE: C+.

Don Juan Matus (Peru): Visiones Paganas (Espiritus Inmundos EL 003, CD, 2008)
Rock/Metal/Progressive
Veronik (occasional vocals, flute)
I’ve seen this described as both doom metal and psychedelia, but it’s not quite as simple as that. The basic style is raw early seventies hard rock with a doom influence, but interspersed with folky passages, bluesy moments, sound effects and various other diversions; the whole thing has an unmistakably South American feel. Whilst it’s an odd, disjointed record (not to mention an extremely short one) and not everything works well, there are some interesting ideas here. GRADE: B–.
Don Juan Matus (Peru): Más Allá Del Son Poniente (Espiritus Inmundos EL-012, CD, 2010)
Rock/Metal/Progressive
Veronik (occasional vocals, guitar, theremin, flute)
Again a short record, this is a more straightforward heavy rock album than its predecessor, although they still manage to work in a number of other elements (including a spacy, echo-drenched drum solo). Once again, the really striking thing is how authentically early seventies-sounding this is: if this had been presented to me as an obscure South American private pressing from 1973, I wouldn’t have batted an eyelid. GRADE: B–.

Don Juan Matus (Peru): Espejismos (Espiritus Inmundos EI 021, CD, with minisleeve and inner, 2013)
Rock/Metal/Progressive
Veronik (occasional vocals, guitar, keyboards, drum, flute, Theremin)
Like their earlier albums, this feels somewhat scrappy and disjointed – this time by design, as the disc mixes alternate versions of old numbers with solo cuts by the various members. However, there’s no denying the quality of the music, which mostly varies between effective stoner rock and elegant, folky prog, spiced up with a few ethnic diversions (and quite a lot of Theremin). GRADE: B–.
Matus (Peru): Claroscuro (Espiritus Inmundos EI 023, CD, with gatefold minisleeve and inner, 2015)
Rock/Metal/Progressive
Veronik (occasional vocals, guitar, bass, Theremin)
They’ve changed their name but not their sound: like its predecessors, this alternates effective stripped-down hard rock and metal with some folkier moments and even one jazzy number. More cohesive than their previous work, this stakes a strong claim to being their best album – and it’s superbly recorded and packaged to boot. GRADE: B–.

Don’t Touch (UK): Time And Space (No label, cassette, 1990)
Rock
Tracie Thomas (lead vocals)
This five-song demo offers decent melodic rock with some hard rock leanings, but there’s nothing particularly exceptional on offer.

GRADE: C.

Donna Jean (USA): Donna Jean (Muscle Shoals DJCD-101, CD, 1996)
Rock
Donna Godchaux (principal vocals)
Returning with a new band after an absence of well over ten years, the former Grateful Dead and Heart Of Gold Band singer offers a superior album of soulful barroom rock. This is as far from the cutting edge as it’s possible to get, but the songs are well written and arranged and the band creates some pleasant and mellow grooves. GRADE: C+.
Donna Jean & The Tricksters (USA): Donna Jean And The Tricksters (Heart Of Gold HGR 129, with digipak and booklet, 2008)
Rock
Donna Godchaux (joint lead vocals), Wendy Lanter (occasional vocals)
This was recorded with an entirely different backing band to the 1996 album (a Grateful Dead tribute outfit called the Zen Tricksters, whose dreams must have come true when they found themselves working with an actual Dead member). Musically it’s a bit more soulful than its predecessor, as well as far closer to the Grateful Dead, with quite a bit of excellent Jerry Garcia-style guitar work (notably on the thirteen-minute ‘Me And Kettle Joe’ and the seven-minute ‘Travelin’ Light’). The former in particular is quite outstanding, and it’s a shame that the album didn’t include more of this kind of extended jamming. GRADE: C+.
Donna Jean Godchaux Band (USA): Iridium Live 004 – 7.12.2012 (Iridium Live 004, CD, with minisleeve, 2012)
Rock
Donna Godchaux (joint lead vocals)
This live set offers solid barroom rock, with a few fine jams, but much of it is rather lacking in inspiration and individuality. GRADE: C+.
Donna Jean Godchaux Band With Jeff Mattson (USA): Back Around (Heart Of Gold, CD, with digipak, 2013)
Rock
Donna Godchaux (principal vocals)
In a similar vein to the Tricksters LP, this is possibly Godchaux’s best post-Grateful Dead work. It’s all too unassuming to be a classic – very much at the most easy-going end of the Dead – but she’s in fine voice throughout and there are some excellent songs, in particular the superb extended ‘Darkness Darkness’. GRADE: C+.
See also Jerry Garcia Band, Ghosts, Grateful Dead, Heart Of Gold Band, Keith & Donna, ZÓÉ

Dorian Gray (West Germany): Idaho Transfer (New Blood NPA 476, 1976)
Progressive
Claudia Schippel (joint lead vocals)
A fine example of the basement progressive genre, Idaho Transfer features guitar-dominated arrangements, murky (though perfectly acceptable) sound quality and long, jamming tracks with something of a psychedelic edge. There is little virtuosity on display, and Claudia Schippel’s tuneless vocals add a punky edge (sometimes recalling a number of Japanese singers, especially with her very poor diction), creating a quite distinctive atmosphere. At a push, this could be compared to a more diffuse and rambling Arktis without the hard rock edges or to early Amon Düül II without the ambition or experimental moments. GRADE: B–.

Jeremy Dormouse (Canada): Toad (No label t-13, 1968)
Folk
Lynda Squires (occasional vocals), Carol Delorme (occasional vocals)
This otherwise undistinguished contemporary folk LP – which offers adequate but unspectacular covers of standards like ‘It’s All Over Now, Baby Blue’, ‘High Flying Bird’ and ‘Suzanne’ – is chiefly notable for two things. The first is two appearances by Lynda Squires, later of Reign Ghost, who fronts ‘High Flying Bird’ and ‘I Need A Friend’. The second is its rarity, as it was an extremely limited private pressing. Whether either of those factors should compel you to hear it is moot. GRADE: C.
See also Reign Ghost

Dos-Mukasan (Kazakhstan): Dos-Mukasan (Melodiya C60-07677, USSR, 1977)
Lounge/Rock/Psychedelic
T Nar’aeva (occasional vocals)
This bizarre album opens with a remarkable lengthy instrumental that sounds like something from the Krautrock underground, complete with fuzz guitar, weird keyboard effects, a drum solo and some wordless vocals from guest T Nar’aeva. This classic track is followed by a weird folkish number sung by Nar’aeva that alternates mournful verses resembling Selda Bağcan with an uptempo chorus that sounds like Russian traditional folk. The third cut is a romantic ballad with Nar’aeva again upfront, whilst the remainder of the album is loungy orchestrated soft rock with male vocals, reflecting the unpromising cover. Altogether, this is a peculiar and schizophrenic LP. GRADE: C.

Double Helix (UK): The Butterfly Effect (Seventh Star Studios 7SS 031, CDR, 2000)
Rock/Progressive
Jill Arroway (joint lead vocals, keyboards, sequencer), Sandy Leigh (joint lead vocals, keyboards)
What do you get when you cross a former member of Solstice with a soi-disant classical composer-cum-soprano vocalist? That isn’t a joke, but this album is. With all the backing from synthesisers and drum machines, this is low-budget cosmic rock: twiddly, ornate, pretentious, messy and utterly inept. As an added bonus, this is a concept album with a silly science fiction theme, and for a classically trained singer Jill Arroway seems to have enormous difficulty staying in tune – imagine a karaoke take on Jon Anderson and you’ll be close. I would call them the Shaggs of prog, but the Shaggs had vision, originality and charm. GRADE: E.

See also Solstice

Down With The Gypsies (Germany & Austria): Rehearsal EP (No label, download, 2016)
Rock
Gaba Wirzbicka (joint lead vocals, guitar, keyboards), Melina Tzimou-Weis (guitar)
This four-track set, running for 20½ minutes, feature some nice jamming rock with psychedelic and slight progressive references and a late sixties or early seventies feel. Overall, it’s nicely atmospheric, evocative stuff, if perhaps a little vague in its musical textures. GRADE: C+.
 Down With The Gypsies  (Germany & Austria): Live At Psyka Festival (No label, download, 2017)
Rock/Psychedelic/Progressive
Gaba Wirzbicka, Melina Tzimou-Weis
Their second EP, about a minute longer than their first, features a completely different set of material. This represents a huge step forward: these are excellent psychedelic jams, with extensive use of flute heightening the trippiness considerably. It’s just a pity that their set wasn’t two or three times as long. GRADE: B–.

Down With The Gypsies (Germany/Austria): Kassiopeia (Urtod Void UD35, cassette, with download card, Germany, 2017)
Psychedelic/Progressive
Gaba Wirzbicka (lead vocals, guitar, keyboards), Melina Tzimou-Weis (guitar)
Their studio album offers wonderful psychedelic rock: tripped-out, spacious and atmospheric, aided by a stunning 3D recording. Once again, the flute work is particularly noteworthy, but this is a hugely absorbing and engrossing listen from start to finish. GRADE: B–.