Dr Coenobite (Holland): Castles In The Air (Monastery CP4CV1994, CD, 1994)
Nynke Koolstra (lead vocals)
Dr Coenobite was the one-man project of multi-instrumentalist Coen Vrouwenvelder, who here contributes guitars, bass, keyboards, drums, percussion, flute and programming. Mixing instrumentals and songs fronted by Nynke Koolstra, this offer delicate and refined neoclassical symphonic progressive that’s a little low-budget but only occasionally strays into neoprog territory in its rockier moments. As such, it’s certainly a very strong C+ and could have crossed the boundary to B– with a few more memorable riffs and a slightly more widescreen execution. GRADE: C+.
Dr Music (Canada): Dr Music (GRT RCC 23172, 1972)
Rhonda Silver (joint lead vocals), Brenda Gordon (joint lead vocals)
This fifteen-piece horn-rock outfit was mostly white, though most of their influences are from black music. The album is a mixed bag, with the opening ‘Rollin’ Home’ (offering a lightweight contemporary twist on early Sly & The Family Stone, with added prog elements) being probably the best thing on offer. Elsewhere they deliver some overblown gospel-ish ballads and a few barroom jams, most of them fairly unmemorable. However, ‘Try A Little Harder’ has some good fuzz guitar and ‘Dreams’ is an appealing hippie-folk ballad. GRADE: C–.
Dragon Blue (Japan): Hades Park (Avant AVAN 075, CD, 1998)
Tenko (lead vocals)
The album contains some excellent improvisations, fringing RIO in feel, but without strong Brechtian and jazzy improvisations, and instead with a strong rock feel. GRADE: B–.
Dragonmilk (UK): Lion And The Unicorn (Ivan Berg Associates, cassette, 1974)
Hazel Clyne (joint lead vocals), Linda (joint lead vocals)
Issued as part of a series of educational cassettes billed as ‘And For Children…’, this features a mixture of songs and narrations about mythical beasts. The music ranges from mystical folk to baroque progressive rock and mildly trippy seventies pop: sometimes very good, but also sometimes very cheesy (especially with the child’s voice on the opening ‘The Unicorn’). As with most albums, the narration doesn’t really add anything to the set, but was clearly important in the LP’s original context. As a footnote, Dragonmilk was a real gigging band, mostly playing progressive rock; at one point, they supported Fusion Orchestra. GRADE: C+.
Dream Dust (Switzerland): The Meeting (GLR 14.18.31-1, CD, 1995)
Nathalie Galland (joint lead vocals), Nathalie Lüthi (joint lead vocals)
This was marketed as progressive, but there’s little or no prog here: this is melodic stadium rock with crashing programmed drums, catchy melodies and a very eighties feel. GRADE: C.
Dream Logic (USA): Chaotic Era (No label, download, 2019)
Christina Castello (joint lead vocals, viola)
This short EP (three songs in 13½ minutes) hints towards It’s A Beautiful Day with its extensive use of viola, but it’s much more rocking and has something of a modern indie sensibility. It’s quite intriguing stuff and difficult to describe or categorise; whilst there’s nothing truly outstanding here, I certainly wish they’d managed a full album. GRADE: C+.
Dream Radiation (USA): Dream Radiation (Ventricle CD-15, CD, 2003)
Melissa Webb (lead vocals, chimes), Kelly Thistle (instruments, computer)
The last release that I know of on the Ventricle label is at the more experimental end of its repertoire: all echoing vocals and electronic effects, cosmic to the max and almost completely formless. GRADE: C+.
See also Angel Provocateur, Corpse You Luv, Konkrete Kantikle, Steeple Of Fyre, Thistle
Dream Syndicate (USA): The Days Of Wine And Roses (Ruby JRR-807, 1982)
Kendra Smith (occasional vocals, bass)
This long-running neo-psychedelic band’s debut album wears its Velvet Underground influence on its sleeve, particularly through the laconic Lou Reed-like vocals and dirty fuzzed riffing. It’s a solid album, and a fairly accurate pastiche of the Velvets’ more rocking end (as opposed to, say, Super 5 Thor’s variation on their third album) but there’s nothing really outstanding here. GRADE: C+.
See also Guild Of Temporal Adventurers, Mazzy Star, Opal, Rainy Day, Kendra Smith
Dreams Of Sanity (Austria): Komödia (Hall Of Sermon HOS 7061, CD, Switzerland, 1997)
Sandra Schleret (joint lead vocals), Martina Hornbacher (joint lead vocals)
This Austrian band lack nothing in ambition: Komödia appears to be a concept album, with songs of up to fourteen minutes and plenty of shifts of mood and tempo. On the downside, the melodies are solid rather than memorable, the tempo changes aren’t always well handled, and the production is a touch thin and unflattering, so the results are good rather than great. GRADE: C+.
Dreams Of Sanity (Austria): Masquerade (Hall Of Sermon HOS 7062, CD, Switzerland, 1999)
Sandra Schleret (principal vocals)
Martina Hornbacher is gone, and with her the perversely Abba-like harmonies that made their first album quite distinctive. That apart, this is a bit of a step up from their first, with a meatier production and some good use of symphonic keyboards. However, I do have my reservations: this concept album, based on ‘The Phantom Of The Opera’ is more than a little cheesy (particularly the cover of the Andrew Lloyd-Webber song of the same name, performed as a duet with labelmates Lacrimosa’s Tilo Wolff) and the sluggish drumming undermines the music in places. However, it’s the lack of sturm and drang – pretty essential for this kind of album – that prevents this from joining the top ranks of symphonic metal. GRADE: C+.
Dreams Of Sanity (Austria): The Game (Hall Of Sermon HOS 7063, CD, Switzerland, 2000)
Sandra Schleret (lead vocals)
It all came together for Dreams Of Sanity on their third and final album: the rocking passages are powerful, the ballads are genuinely beautiful, the tempo changes are well handled, and – equally significantly – the level of conceptual pretension has been toned down significantly. GRADE: B–.
See also Alas, Elis, Eyes Of Eden, Korova, Siegfried, Therion, Underhill, Beto Vazquez Infinity
Dreamtime (Australia): Dreamtime (No label, 2011)
Catherine Maddin (occasional vocals, bass), Tara Wardrop (drums)
Probably the last thing I expected from a modern Australian band, this is hard retro acid rock, strongly recalling the Crystalized Movements stable. It’s perhaps a touch more song-based than Wayne Rogers and Kate Biggar’s projects, though the emphasis is still very much on the squalling guitars and intense jamming rather than the lyrics or music – and therein lies its downfall.
Dreamtime (Australia): Sun (No label, 2013)
Catherine Maddin (occasional vocals, bass), Tara Wardrop (drums, percussion)
Album number two has guests on synthesiser and sitar, significantly fleshing out the band’s sound. More importantly, it also has some well-crafted songs underpinning all the spaciness, with the set effectively straddling late sixties acid-rock jamming and nineties shoegaze ambience. GRADE: B–.
Dreamtime (Australia): Strange Pleasures (Cardinal Fuzz/Sky Lantern/TYM CF065/SLR203/TYM050, black CDR, with gatefold minisleeve, UK, 2016)
Catherine Maddin (joint lead vocals, bass, Theremin), Tara Wardrop (drums, percussion, backing vocals)
They seem to get better with each album: this is a stunning 76-minute space-rock stew uniting all kinds of psychedelic influences into an immersive whole. I can hear influences from everything from Hawkwind to Syd Barrett to Gong’s You, all expertly blended to create one of the best modern albums of its type. GRADE: B.
Julie Driscoll, Brian Auger & The Trinity (UK): Open (Marmalade 607 002, some with insert, 1967)
Julie Driscoll (principal vocals)
Quintessential Swingin’ London hipster jazz/rock jams, with lashings of infectious Hammond organ work and the definitive reading of ‘Season Of The Witch’. A few copies have surfaced with a large square card insert. GRADE: B–.
Julie Driscoll, Brian Auger & The Trinity (UK): Streetnoise (Marmalade 6008 005/6, double, 1969)
Julie Driscoll (principal vocals, guitar)
A sprawling double album covering a huge range of territory, from showtunes (‘Let The Sunshine In’ and ‘I’ve Got Life’) to loungey covers (‘Light My Fire’) to folk (‘Looking In The Eye Of The World’ and ‘Vauxhall To Lambeth Bridge’) to gospel (‘Take Me To The Water’) and of course the Hammond-driven jazz-rock and borderline psych/prog for which Driscoll and Auger are best remembered (‘Indian Rope Man’). The result could have been fragmented and patchy, but this excellent set is actually surprisingly cohesive. GRADE: B.
Julie Driscoll (UK): 1969 (Polydor 2480 074, 1971)
Julie Driscoll (lead vocals, guitar)
Very different from her organ-driven work with Brian Auger, 1969 is a powerful and often stark blend of jazz/rock, folk and psychedelia. Several of the tracks are uncannily similar to Linda Hoyle and Affinity, in terms of both vocal style and arrangement. GRADE: B–.
Droitwich High School Blues Band (UK): What Is There To Say… (Hollick & Taylor HT/LPS 1540, with insert, 1977)
Sally Juggins (joint lead vocals), Freda Stephen (occasional vocals, French horn), Ailsa Berrow (occasional vocals), Sally Kennewell (occasional vocals, clarinet), Anita Radford (occasional vocals, clarinet), Joy Smith (occasional vocals, clarinet), Catriona Drummond (occasional vocals, clarinet), Jane Dobson (occasional vocals), Julia Roberts (occasional vocals), Rebecca Piese (occasional vocals), Helen Billingham (occasional vocals), Gillian Emmanuel (saxophone), Karen Haddock (trumpet), Sharon Maysey (flute)
This school project album is very much a game of two halves: side one is a series of instrumental brass-rock covers of material from composers as diverse as Duke Ellington, Isaac Hayes, Stevie Wonder, Ennio Morricone and Frank Zappa, whilst side two is an original song suite composed by the music teacher. This is much folkier in mood, though still with slight jazz undertones from his electric piano, and contains some great moments: ‘Sirens’ Song’ is a lovely ballad, whilst the acid-rock guitar of ‘The Bitter End’ seemingly comes out of nowhere. Overall this is one of the better British school project albums: it’s professional enough to be enjoyed without any irony whilst amateurish enough to have real charm, and contains several excellent cuts. GRADE: C+.
Drosselbart (West Germany): Drosselbart (Polydor 2371 126, 1971)
Jemima Palmer (occasional vocals)
With a powerful post-psychedelic rock style, this excellent album recalls a cross between Frumpy, Tomorrow’s Gift and the East German Panta Rhei, though there’s also a hint of the punkish edge of early Amon Düül II. For the most part, the arrangements are dominated by chunky guitar and organ work and guttural male vocals, but ‘Du Bist Der Eine Weg’ is a beautiful ballad sung by Jemima Palmer. Several cuts feature Christian lyrics. GRADE: B–.
Druckknöpfe (West Germany): Rock (Rock Gegen Rechts 00 0002, with insert, West Germany, 1980)
Andrea Engen (joint lead vocals), Bettina Harder (keyboards)
Whilst not exactly groundbreaking, this melodic political album offers a pleasing mix of mainstream rock and progressive elements. It covers a fair range of ground, with one cut adding violin to resemble Curved Air and another having jazz-fusion edges, but mostly features mid-paced tempos and some nice chunky guitar. They went on to cut a second and final album Fahnenflucht (1982) with an all-male line-up. GRADE: C+.
Druids (UK): Burnt Offering (Argo ZFB 22, 1970)
Judi Longden (occasional vocals)
This is an odd example of an album overshadowed by its sleeve: given the spectacularly gothic cover design, depicting mediaeval peasants being burned alive in a wicker man, many people must have been disappointed to discover that the actual music is straightforward traditional folk. Nonetheless, it’s very good traditional folk: not dissimilar to hundreds of private pressings issued in the early seventies, but benefiting from the added polish of a major label budget. Folk/rock stalwart John Tams puts in an early appearance, guesting on whistle and backing vocals. GRADE: C+.
Druids (UK): Pastime With Good Company (Argo ZFB.39, 1972)
Judi Longden (occasional vocals, guitar, drum, recorder)
Housed in another attractive sleeve, this doesn’t add much to the impression left by their first, but it’s another well performed and excellently recorded set of traditional folk. Once again, Judi Longden inexplicably gets only one solo vocal, on the superb ‘The Irish Girl’, despite being the band’s best singer. GRADE: C+.
Druidspear (UK): …Slow (Anew ANEW CD 1, CD, 1996)
This obscure band, who are still active today, played festival folk/rock similar to a number of other nineties acts, but without the punky and space-rock edges often associated with the style. Dub reggae rhythms do appear here and there, but for the most part this offers a well-judged mixture of acoustic and electric instrumentation (including a fair bit of Bluehorses-like violin) to create a decidedly seventies-influenced sound. Overall it’s an excellent album that should have gained much more attention at the time. GRADE: B–.
Drum Circus (West Germany/Switzerland/Belgium/USA): Magic Theatre (Garden Of Delights CD 093, CD, Germany, 2003, recorded 1971)
Carole Muriel (joint lead vocals)
This one-off project was essentially a collaboration between three drummers (as the band name suggests), a couple of jazz musicians and Brainticket’s Joël Vandroogenbroeck and Carole Muriel. Their album was intended for release on the jazz label MPS but rejected as too experimental, and it did not appear for more than 30 years. The title track, which would have taken up all of side one on the proposed LP, is simply astounding, ranging from martial drum duels to squalling free jazz to world music improvisations to hints of Brainticket-style psychedelia. If anything, the five shorter tracks intended for the B-side are even more wide-ranging, creating a remarkably inventive and exciting jazzy Kraut space trip. GRADE: B.
See also Brainticket
Duanes (Ireland): Comin’ On Strong (Owlsong SRTX/80/CUS802, UK, 1980?)
Majella Duane, Phyllis Duane, Marion Duane, Sheila Duane, Orla Duane
When I discovered the album in a charity shop for the princely sum of 50p, I feared the worst from the cheesy cover and sleeve notes (‘their career started with an audition for the TV Talent Show ‘Opportunity Knocks’ which ultimately led to them winning it four times and also winning outright the coveted Variety Club Award’). The three disco-flavoured MOR cover versions are indeed quite monstrous, with a mood similar to the Nolans, but the seven self-penned cuts are mostly surprisingly good pop, coupling strong hooks to effective arrangements with mild rock edges. The whole thing is very professionally produced too, making me wonder why they failed to land a major label deal. GRADE: C+.
Dell Dudenhoeffer (Australia): My Life – Dell Dudenhoeffer Sings The Songs Of Edgar F Penzig (No label EFP-001, 1975)
Dell Dudenhoeffer (lead vocals, guitar)
The title doesn’t make this sound enormously promising, but this is among the most expensive and sought-after Australian private pressings. Musically it’s excellent folk with Dudenhoeffer accompanying herself on acoustic guitar; well-written songs and her powerful voice (sometimes recalling a slightly more fragile Grace Slick) lift this well above the norm for folk and singer/songwriter fare. GRADE: C+.
Pascal Duffard (France): Dieu Est Fou (CBS 81589, 1976)
Armande Altaï (occasional vocals), Mauricia Platon (occasional vocals), Maria Popkiewicz (occasional vocals), Anna Prucnal (occasional vocals), Benadette Val (occasional vocals)
This unusual concept album blends elements of free jazz, modern classical, opera, progressive rock, the avant-garde and dramatic singer/songwriter music into an unsettling whole. If sometimes rather disjointed, it’s certainly very interesting and creative, owing an obvious heavy debt to Magma. The impressive line-up of vocalists and musicians includes Mauricia Platon (ZAO), Maria Popkiewicz (Magma), Francis Moze (Magma, Gong), Claude Engel (Magma), Jeff Seffer (Magma, Zao) and Tim Blake (Gong).
See also Armande Altaï, Magma, Bernard Paganotti, Anna Prucnal, ZAO, ZOU
Lesley Duncan (UK): Sing Children Sing (CBS 64202, 1971)
Lesley Duncan (lead vocals, guitar)
Lesley Duncan is highly unusual for a British singer/songwriter, with a West Coast-influenced sound, notable country and gospel influences, and rich band backing (including Elton John on piano). The result is enjoyable, but her famed ‘Love Song’ (covered by Elton John and Olivia Newton-John, among others) is the only really outstanding composition here. GRADE: C+.
Lesley Duncan (UK): Earth Mother (CBS 64807, 1972)
Lesley Duncan (lead vocals, guitar)
Aside from the clever segue of the title track into the barbershop quartet-style ‘By And Bye’, this is broadly similar to her debut and in no way original or adventurous. However, she has a lovely voice, an excellent crew of backing musicians and real flair for composing gently catchy hooklines. GRADE: C+.
Lesley Duncan (UK): Everything Changes (GM GML1007GM, 1974)
Lesley Duncan (lead vocals, guitar)
Quite a misnomer: nothing’s changed, as this is in broadly the same style as her first two LPs, though perhaps a little more sixties-influenced and less American in flavour. But this is probably her best collection of songs, with some really lovely melodies. Arguably this is the pick of her albums. GRADE: C+.
Dundurs (Sweden): Vilciena (Latvian Music LM LP 35, 10", with insert, 1969)
Britta Emmer-Zālīte (backing vocals), Ieva Zālīte (backing vocals), Silvija Springe (backing vocals)
With its echoey recording, piercing fuzz guitar and Pāvils Johanssons’s plaintive tenor voice, Vilciena is an album steeped in eerie atmosphere. Its claustrophobic sound, hesitant playing and simple (yet highly effective) original songs, plus Latvian covers of ‘Yummy Yummy Yummy’, ‘Somebody To Love’ and ‘This Wheel’s On Fire’, conjure up dystopian visions of the band recording furtively, hoping to escape the attentions of the KGB before their subversive music is smuggled to the West to be pressed in tiny quantities. In fact, they were expatriate Latvians based in Sweden, and the unusual recording quality stemmed from the fact that it was taped in an office building during the evenings. Notwithstanding, the LP has a mood that’s completely different from their subsequent work – or just about anything else I’ve ever heard. GRADE: B.
Dundurs (Sweden): Reiz Agrā Rīta Izgājām (Latvian Music LM LP 41, 1972)
Britta Emmer- Zālīte (occasional vocals), Ieva Zālīte (flute, backing vocals)
Replacing the claustrophobic atmosphere of their first with a breezy and carefree mood, this is much folkier, with a bit of a lounge edge to several cuts. For the most part, it’s solid rather than exceptional, though there are four outstanding numbers: the haunting acid-folk song ‘Nāc Paskaties’, fronted by Britta Emmer-Zālīte; the lengthy ‘Flautas Tonis’, with its frequent tempo shifts; the powerful acid-rocker ‘Visi Celi’; and the superb ‘Tu Esi Sarkans’, which begins as a lightweight hard rocker before developing into an effective flute-led jam. GRADE: C+.
Dundurs (Sweden): Zilais Karuselis (Latvian Music LM LP 44, 1974)
Britta Emmer- Zālīte (joint lead vocals, guitar, percussion), Ieva Zālīte (occasional vocals, flute)
Focusing on the acid-folk elements of its predecessor, Dundurs’ third album features some beautiful and haunting material. It’s a varied set too – everything from an acapella number to an instrumental, some heavier acid-rock recalling their debut and even a mutant rock and roller to finish, all steeped in the loungy, hesitant, eerie atmosphere that makes their music unique. GRADE: B–.
Dundurs & Gunārs Zvejnieks (Sweden): Dzīves Ratinš (Latvian Music LM LP 49, 1978)
Britta Emmer- Zālīte (joint lead vocals, guitar, tambourine), Ieva Zālīte (occasional vocals, guitar, flute)
Dundurs became a full-time band after the release of Zilais Karuselis, playing live for the first time in 1975, and ended their career with this contractual obligation album, which they have all but disowned. Teaming them with keyboardist and arranger Gunārs Zvejnieks to play the material of songwriter Alfrēds Vinters, the LP has a formal, middle-of-the-road feel completely unlike their earlier work. Vintars’s songwriting isn’t a patch on their own and this is definitely the least of their albums, but their own personality manages to show through here and there. GRADE: C.
Michael Dunford’s Renaissance (UK/USA): The Other Woman (HTD CD 27, CD, UK, 1995)
Stephanie Adlington (lead vocals)
This was originally credited solely to ‘Renaissance’ (apparently causing considerable annoyance to Annie Haslam, who issued an album as ‘Annie Haslam’s Renaissance’ the same year), but I’ve altered the credit to reflect that this is not a proper Renaissance LP – it’s Michael Dunford with a young American singer and a few seasoned session players. Musically, it’s folky soft rock bearing a slight resemblance to Renaissance, but bland and uninspired – Adlington is no Annie Haslam and Michael Dunford is a fraction of the composer he was twenty years previously. Most of the material is new, but there’s also a poor remake of ‘Northern Lights’. The best cut ‘Love Lies, Love Dies’ was also recorded (in a superior version) by Annie Haslam’s Renaissance. GRADE: C.
Michael Dunford’s Renaissance (UK/USA): Ocean Gypsy (HTD CD 71, CD, UK, 1997)
Stephanie Adlington (lead vocals)
The second and final album by this incarnation of Renaissance takes a different tack, focusing mainly on re-recordings of mid-seventies material by the original band. I don’t like this type of LP, but it’s beautifully done, with Adlington’s less theatrical vocal style and folkier backing (with hand percussion replacing drums) creating a very different mood. GRADE: B–.
See also Nevada, Renaissance
Monte Dunn & Karen Cruz (USA): Monte Dunn And Karen Cruz (Cyclone CY4101, 1969)
Karen Cruz (joint lead vocals, guitar)
Rooted in the coffeehouse, this mostly features original material, largely penned by Cruz, with varied settings ranging from folk/rock to country/rock and baroque strings. It’s a moderately pleasant period piece, but I can’t say I’m particularly impressed by either their singing or their writing. GRADE: C–.
Dunwich (Italy): Sul Monte É Il Tuono (Black Widow BWR CD 005-02, CD, 1993)
Caterina Sanna (lead vocals)
This extremely unusual album offers gothic, neoclassical music with a very Italian feel, based around keyboards and programmed drums. One point of reference would be Dead Can Dance, but this is rooted more in metal, with some heavy riffing, and industrial music. With most tracks linked together to form a lengthy suite, it’s complex, challenging and adventurous, often moving to dark realms hinting at Jacula and Antonius Rex, but whilst intermittently brilliant also contains passages that don’t work at all well. GRADE: B–.
Dunwich (Italy): Il Chiarore Sorge Due Volte (Pick Up PKPROG 1903, CD, 1995)
Caterina Sanna (lead vocals)
Whilst recognisable as the work of the same band, this tones down the metal elements considerably and is much folkier, with strong mediaeval influences. It’s more cohesive as a musical suite, with strings being used to great effect, but also a touch repetitious, without the constant surprises delivered by its predecessor. Once again, I’m baffled why the band had such an unusual line-up (singer, keyboardist and drum programmer) as the music would have worked much better with live drums. GRADE: B–.
Dunwich (Italy): Eternal Eclipse Of Frost (Rising Sun Productions 0082092 RS, CD, 1999)
Caterina Sanna (principal vocals)
Almost like the yang to Il Chiarore Sorge Due Volte’s yin, this is an extremely heavy album whose epic arrangements recall a cross between Antonius Rex and Therion. It’s varied as well, with more relaxed choral passages, folk elements, narration and mediaeval touches, adding up to what is easily the band’s most coherent and impressive piece of work. As a footnote, the guest musicians include Barbara Barbatelli (of seventies folk outfit Róisín Dubh) on violin and hurdy-gurdy. GRADE: B.
Dunwich (Italy): Heilagmanoth (No label, CD, with digipak and booklet, 2007)
Francesca Naccarelli (lead vocals)
Reforming with a new female singer, Dunwich returned with an album faithful to their original style. This isn’t as dark or heavy as its predecessor, but it still has strong metal elements along with lots of mediaeval touches and plenty of complexity. Overall, this is another fine release. GRADE: B–.
Duo (USA): The Duo (Saxon Productions 629, 10”, 1967?)
As the band name suggests, this extremely obscure album was cut by a husband-and-wife duo, plus a friend contributing lead guitar. With mostly self-penned material, this displays strong influences from rock ’n’ roll and early sixties music and has a good mainstream rock sound, with decent recording quality and some garage and lounge edges. GRADE: C+.
Duo Zépur (France): Duo Zépur (Harmonie Si Do Ré 1384, 1986)
Natalie Tachnakian (joint lead vocals, guitar), Christine Djortayan (joint lead vocals, guitar)
Recorded by two young girls of Armenian descent, this gentle folk album sets traditional Armenian poems to mostly original music. With their sweet, pure harmonies and simple backing from acoustic guitars, this has something of a school project feel, although there’s inevitably a slight Eastern undertone to the music. The LP is now extremely rare, although the band appears to be active today. GRADE: C+.
Judy Dyble (UK): Enchanted Garden (Talking Elephant TECD068, CD, 2004)
Judy Dyble (lead vocals)
Returning to the studio after nearly three and a half decades, Dyble managed a hugely impressive solo debut. All the songs were co-written with Marc Swordfish and the backing band is essentially Astralasia plus a few fellow travellers from the neo-psychedelic scene. On the first couple of cuts, the effect is breathtakingly trippy, with Dyble’s ethereal English Rose vocals set over a shimmering backdrop combining real and electronic instrumentation. Over the course of a whole album, the lack of variety and the slightly arch nature of the approach become more obvious, but this is still modern psychedelic music at its best and a quite remarkable return for Dyble. GRADE: B–.
Judy Dyble (UK): Spindle (Talking Elephant TECD084, CD, 2006)
Judy Dyble (lead vocals, autoharp)
The opening cover of ‘See Emily Play’ (somewhere between rave and metal in mood) is in rather questionable taste, whilst the second cut is so similar to Enchanted Garden that I almost swore it was a reprise of one of its songs. Elsewhere, however, this is a bit different, being much folkier and more acoustic, with the psychedelic, ambient and near-dance elements toned down. This is a much patchier album than its predecessor, with a few rather average tracks, but it’s also much more varied and sometimes quite brilliant (especially the superb ‘Honeysweet’). GRADE: B–.
Judy Dyble (UK): The Whorl (Talking Elephant TECD094, CD, 2006)
Judy Dyble (lead vocals, autoharp)
This companion piece to Spindle is another lovely album, with gentle, trippy backing perfectly complementing Dyble’s cut-glass singing. The most notable tracks include the highly psychedelic ‘Seventh Whorl’, the catchy ‘Road To Somewhere’ and a remake of ‘I Talk To The Wind’ from her Giles, Giles & Fripp days. GRADE: B–
Judy Dyble (UK): Talking With Strangers (Brilliant/FiXiT FXTR CD113, CD, some autographed and numbered, 2009)
Judy Dyble (principal vocals, autoharp)
Recorded with a different set of collaborators, Dyble’s fourth solo album featured the talents of Jacqui McShee, Julianne Regan, Ian McDonald, Simon Nicol, Celia Humphris and Robert Fripp, among others. The nineteen-minute ‘Harpsong’ is the key cut and is superb progressive folk with strong rock elements; the other songs are shorter and more acoustic, with more of a late sixties or early seventies feel than her other albums. Overall, this is probably her best LP. As a footnote, the first 1000 copies were numbered, of which the first 500 were autographed. GRADE: B–.
Judy Dyble (UK): Flow And Change (Gonzo Multimedia HST150CD, CD, 2013)
Judy Dyble (principal vocals)
Slightly different from her previous albums, this is far less psychedelic and concentrates largely on orchestrated ballads. The results are beautiful and atmospheric, and superbly showcase her disctinctive vocals, but I don’t find this as compelling as her earlier work
Judy Dyble (UK): Live At WM Jazz (Cromerzone CZ00019, CD, 2014)
Judy Dyble (principal vocals)
With chamber music-style backing, this live album is exquisite, creating some genuinely dark and haunting atmospheres. The well-chosen material is drawn mainly from her solo career, but there are also effective backwards glances in fine versions of Fairport Convention’s ‘If I Had A Ribbon Bow’ and Trader Horne’s ‘Jenny May’. It’s just a pity there are only eleven songs, as this is one live LP that really leaves me wanting more. GRADE: B–.
Judy Dyble (UK): Gathering The Threads (Starcrazy SC001, triple CDR, with digipak and booklet, 2015, recorded 1964-2014)
Limited to 250 copies, Gathering The Threads marks Dyble’s first fifty years of making music. It includes music by Judy & The Folkmen, Giles, Giles & Fripp and Fairport Convention as well as her solo work and numerous collaborations, and incorporates numerous demos (such as an avant-garde improvisation with Richard Thompson from 1966, a handful of recordings from her ‘lost years’ in the seventies and eighties, and even a commercial for a brand of audio tape). Not everything works well (the synthesised version of ‘See Emily Play’, complete with a reggae rhythm, is bizarre) and the long gaps between her recordings leads to some jarring shifts of style. Nonetheless, there is some superb music on offer, with the third disc, focusing on her recent collaborations, being especially good. The only obvious downside is nothing from Trader Horne, which I assumed stemmed from a licensing issue. GRADE: B–.
Judy Dyble & Andy Lewis (UK): Summer Dancing (Acid Jazz AJXCD46, CD, with gatefold minisleeve and booklet, 2017)
Judy Dyble (principal vocals, percussion, autoharp)
Andy Lewis makes an excellent replacement for Dyble’s original solo collaborator Marc Swordfish, bringing the same modernistic sensibility to bear without diluting her distinctive vision. Punctuated by sound effects, this is a beautiful, wistful tapestry of feather-light songs that sounds thoroughly contemporary whilst also evoking Dyble’s stellar contributions to the first Fairport Convention LP. GRADE: B–.
Judy Dyble (UK): Earth Is Sleeping (Acid Jazz AJXCD447, CD, 2018)
Judy Dyble (lead vocals, autoharp)
Aside from a remake of ‘Velvet To Atone’ from the Trader Horne LP, everything here is new; and just about everything is haunting, introspective and beautiful. But whilst this is a delicate and richly-crafted album, I like Dyble best when she’s at her weirdest and trippiest, and that side of her music makes only occasional appearances here. GRADE: C+.
Judy Dyble (UK): Weavings Of A Silver Magic (Cromerzone CZ00022, CD, with digipak and booklet, 2019)
Judy Dyble (lead vocals)
I’ve previously written that I prefer Dyble when she’s being weird and trippy, but there are exceptions that prove the rule – and this aptly-titled album is a prime example. Backed by a semi-unplugged band and a chamber orchestra, Dyble showcases original songs of exceptional fragility and beauty, and she’s in stunning voice throughout. This 2016 gig must indeed have been magical to attend, and it all culminates in a stunning reading of ‘I Talk To The Wind’. GRADE: B–.
Dyble Longdon (UK): Between A Breath And A Breath (English Electric Recordings EERCD0026, CD, with gatefold minisleeve, inner and booklet, 2020)
Judy Dyble (joint lead vocals, autoharp)
The late Judy Dyble’s final recordings, in collaboration with David Longdon and his Big Big Train cohorts, features some of her most personal material. Longdon’s musical settings complement her wistful lyrics personally, with hints of modern jazz, a few progressive diversions and a lovely, trippy mood. Listening to Between A Breath And A Breath is a bittersweet experience in more than one sense of the term: whilst it’s a delightful album, it also makes clear what a great talent we lost on 12th July 2020.
See also Fairport Convention, Giles, Giles & Fripp, Ashley Hutchings, Trader Horne
Dzintars (USA): Dzied (No label, 1975)
Lolita Ritmanis (joint lead vocals, bass, piano), Brigita Ritmanis-Osis (joint lead vocals, bass, piano), Inta Kurmina (joint lead vocals), Ilga Dambergs (joint lead vocals), Mara Saukante (joint lead vocals), Linda Ranke (joint lead vocals)
This unusual album was put together by a number of musicians of Latvian descent living in the USA. Mixing original songs with covers (including ‘Yesterday’ and ‘Will You Love Me Tomorrow?’), it has an odd style, setting solo or massed vocals against piano backing (with occasional use of electric bass and percussion). The end result is closer to MOR than anything else, although there is a sedate singer/songwriter feel to the LP as well, and occasionally a forlorn, haunted atmosphere that could appeal to some folk/psych fans. From the cover, which shows the band clad in seventies dinner suits and cocktail dresses, they were probably aiming at the Latvian cabaret circuit, if there was such a thing. Apparently Lolita Ritmanis was only 12 when this album was made. GRADE: C.
Dzintars (USA): Pie Jums Ar Dziesmu (No label RA-6176, 1976?)
Lolita Ritmanis (joint lead vocals, guitar, bass, flute), Brigita Ritmanis-Osis (joint lead vocals, piano), Inta Kurmina (joint lead vocals), Ilga Dambergs (joint lead vocals), Andra Zommere (joint lead vocals), Laura Zommere (joint lead vocals)
Their second is more uptempo, with slightly wider-ranging instrumentation, although piano remains the dominant instrument. Again, it’s all very MOR, sometimes approaching the realms of mid-seventies pop acts like the Brotherhood Of Man, and underground rock fans will not enjoy this. However, there are still some pleasantly dreamy moments, although fewer than on their debut. That said, ‘Vizija’, with lots of flute, is easily their best recording. GRADE: C–.
Dzintars (USA): A Faraway Song (No label, 1978)
Lolita Ritmanis (joint lead vocals, bass, keyboards, flute), Brigita Ritmanis-Osis (joint lead vocals, piano), Ilga Dambergs (joint lead vocals), Andra Zommere (joint lead vocals), Laura Zommere (joint lead vocals)
Whilst still with strong MOR and cabaret influences, this is a little more oriented towards pop and rock than their earlier albums. Full band arrangements are more widely used, and there’s even some mildly psychedelic lead guitar work on ‘Nenak Miegs’. This is their only LP with English lyrics and with material mainly written by the Ritmanis sisters; it’s also their best, containing some very pleasant material.
See also Lolita Ritmanis & Brigita Ritmanis-Osis