F-Fa

 

F/i (USA): Venusian Holiday (Krauted Mind KMR 021/1, red vinyl, Germany, 2015)
Psychedelic
Cary Grace (electronics, Theremin)
This collaboration between Cary Grace and the prolific industrial/noise/space rock band F/i results in four dynamic and very accomplished instrumental improvisations. The music, appropriately enough, hints towards Krautrock whilst also stepping forward from jamming late sixties Pink Floyd; the results are akin to American contemporaries like Subarachnoid Space or to a lesser extent Melting Euphoria. There’s a limit to how engaging this sort of thing can be, and I would never choose this over Grace’s carefully constructed solo albums, but it’s certainly among the better albums of its type. GRADE: C+.
See also Cary Grace, Monday Machines

Fables (USA): Fables (Stone Mountain Music SP1749, 1975?)
Country/Rock
Mary Ellen Jones (joint lead vocals, guitar), Laura Nydell (keyboards)
The attractive hand-drawn sepia sleeve makes this look slightly mystical, but it’s straightforward country/rock. It’s fairly competent country/rock too, with well-judged acoustic and electric arrangements. The two highpoints are an excellent country blues interpretation of Toni Browne’s ‘Willie Mahoney’ and the slightly trippy ballad ‘Timeless Child’, which has a definite late sixties San Francisco vibe, particularly recalling early It’s A Beautiful Day. The rest isn’t particularly exciting, but this is a listenable enough set overall. GRADE: C+.

Fableurs (France): La Belle En Dormant (Corelia CC 77.981, 1977)
Folk
Françoise (joint lead vocals, finger cymbals, violin), Mireille (percussion, flute, psaltery)
This traditional folk album, with percussion occasionally adding a little energy, is delicate, haunting and frequently quite beautiful. Whilst this isn’t the most distinctive LP in the world, it’s a fine example of its genre, with an excellent recording to boot. GRADE: C+.

Fabs (UK): The Fabulous Fabs (RVV 119, Mexico, 1967?)
Beat
Sarah Johnstone (lead vocals, guitar, organ), Maria Kaye (guitar), Margaret Lewis (bass), Lynne Barry (drums)
This all-female British beat band’s album was issued only in Mexico, and just two copies are known on the collectors’ circuit, placing it among the five rarest British beat LPs. The album mostly comprises stripped-down cover versions of material ranging from ‘Dancing In The Street’ to ‘Wipeout’ and ‘A Whiter Shade Of Pale’, plus a couple of rudimentary original compositions. GRADE: C+.

Face To Face (UK): Face To Face (Face To Face FTF 002, 1972)
Folk/Rock
Not the same band as the post-Sonsong group of the same name, this outfit issued an eponymous album on an eponymous label in 1972. Only two copies have resurfaced to date, and both have sold for considerable sums. This is despite the fact that the album is fairly unremarkable religious pop/rock, with some electric folk leanings. It does, however, include a mesmerising acid-folk rendition of Leon Rosselson’s ‘Across The Hills’. Since they shared a label (and given that there are no musician credits on either album), this could conceivably have been the same band as Exordium. GRADE: C.

Fact (West Germany): As A Matter Of Fact (Mausoleum SKULL 8364, Belgium, 1984)
Metal
Patricia Huth (guitar)
Capturing a certain era of metal perfectly, this is unintentially hilarious. It’s not just the manic, but rather artless, fast-paced thrash riffing that continues unchanged from song to song; it’s also the ridiculously high-pitched screaming vocals (that, almost unbelievably, are actually by a man). Comedy value aside, this is a pretty tiresome record that makes one glad metal progressed so much during the next decade. Strangely, the back cover lists a different label name and catalogue number (Earthshaker ES 4005), so it’s not clear whether this is a second pressing. They went on to issue a second album Without Warning the following year, which I’ve been lucky enough not to hear. GRADE: E.

Factor Burzaco (Argentina): Factor Burzaco (Burzaco, CD, 2007)
Jazz/Rock/Progressive/Avant-Garde
Carolina Restuccia (lead vocals)
This enjoyable Argentine album operates towards the more mainstream end of RIO and avant-prog, with some mainstream rock and progressive moves thrown in. It’s still quite experimental in parts, and is consistently accomplished and listenable without really bringing anything new to the genre. GRADE: C+.
Factor Burzaco (Argentina): II (Altrock ALT018, CD, Italy, 2011)
Jazz/Rock/Progressive/Avant-Garde
Carolina Restuccia (principal vocals)
Like their first, this contains some excellent RIO material, at one point sounding rather like Cos. Now and again, they give strong hints that they are capable of making a brilliant album, but this isn’t it, despite the absence of any really poor tracks – some of the weirdnesses sound forced and the disc as a whole never quite hangs together. GRADE: C+.
Factor Burzaco (Argentina): 3 (Altrock ALT039, CD, Italy, 2014)
Jazz/Rock/Progressive/Avant-Garde
Carolina Restuccia (principal vocals)
This is a bit more satisfying than their first two – they seem more comfortable this time around, and the album pushes in a number of interesting directions. Not everything works brilliantly, but this is a varied, creative and imaginative album containing plenty of fine moments. GRADE: B–.

Factory Of Dreams (Portugal/Finland): Poles (Progrock SPV 452602 CD, CD, Germany, 2008)
Metal/Progressive
Jessica Lehto (lead vocals)
Given the members’ other work (vocalist Jessica Lehto had previously worked with Beto Vazquez Infinity whilst multi-instrumentalist and composer Hugo Flores was ex-Project Creation), I expected this to be some kind of ostentatious progressive power metal. Instead, this is a symphonic gothic metal album, displaying admirable restraint in both the vocals and arrangements. It isn’t the most original album in the world, sounding like innumerable other acts, but at least half of the songs are excellent and at its best this is a solid B–. GRADE: C+.
Factory Of Dreams (Portugal/Finland): A Strange Utopia (Progrock PRR521/SPV 452802, CD, Germany, 2009)
Metal/Progressive
Jessica Lehto (lead vocals)
This is in the same basic style as their first, but demonstrates a few more progressive influences, with some longer and more involved material. This isn’t to the album’s benefit, as the tempo changes are not well handled, but that isn’t the biggest drawback: the messy, ostentatious (and loud) programmed drums make many of the songs rather heavy going. Thus, whilst the best material on their first merited a B–, the worst numbers here merely merit a C. GRADE: C+.
Factory Of Dreams (Portugal/Finland): Melotronical (Progrock PRR522, CD, Germany, 2011)
Metal/Progressive
Jessica Lehto (joint lead vocals)
Melotronical this may be, but Mellotronical it sadly isn’t. Nonetheless it’s a clear step up from A Strange Utopia: still a touch messy in parts, but with significantly superior material and with Hugo Flores’s vocals sharing centre-stage to add variety. GRADE: C+.
Factory Of Dreams (Portugal/Finland): Some Kind Of Poetic Destruction (Progrock PRR523, CD, Germany, 2013)
Metal/Progressive
Jessica Lehto (lead vocals)
More than its predecessors, this harks back to Flores’s previous outfit Project Creation, with lots of symphonic keyboards and a science fiction concept behind the lyrics. It’s still closer to gothic metal rather than prog, however, though Flores and Lehto create a suitably epic sound on most cuts. GRADE: C+.
See also Beto Vazquez Infinity

Fahrenheit (Venezuela): Fahrenheit (AR VD 83 - 089, 1983)
Metal
Janet Goitia (principal vocals)
This supple hard rock and metal band was formed by guitarist Antonio Rassi upon the break-up of Estructura, but they sound more like a slightly heavier early Equilibrio Vital with fewer progressive elements. That’s not to say that it’s simplistic: the material is mostly song-based, but there’s a fair bit of instrumental complexity and invention on offer. Housed in a dramatic textured black sleeve, this is a very rare album. GRADE: C+.

Fair Ltd (West Germany): Stepping Stone (Modern Music Studio A-3919, 1978)
Progressive
Brigitta Kleijn (principal vocals, percussion)
Side one of this obscure album offers a mixture of soft rock and keyboard-led sympho-prog, and is pleasant throughout. In contrast, the first two cuts on side two have definite disco and funk leanings that don’t work at all well and often reveal the significant limitations of Brigitta Kleijn’s vocal style. Thankfully, the final ‘Habana’ is excellent, with some powerful lead guitar work, but this is a very patchy record. GRADE: C.

Fairport Convention (UK): Fairport Convention (Polydor 583 035, 1968)
Folk/Rock
Judy Dyble (joint lead vocals, piano, recorder, autoharp)
Fairport’s first and best album shows none of the British folk influences that marked their later works, and instead takes its cues from American singer/songwriters and West Coast rock bands. Covering a wide variety of late sixties styles, it’s a fine LP but inconsistent in terms of mood or quality – like almost all their albums, there are a couple of rather average tracks. Judy Dyble is strangely underused, taking lead vocal duties on just three out of twelve tracks, but she’s the band’s secret weapon – whether it’s providing the crystalline vocal on the brilliant cover of ‘Chelsea Morning’, superb harmonies on the energetic ‘Time Will Show The Wiser’, the eerie recorder solo on the psychedelic masterpiece ‘Jack O’ Diamonds’ or some weird autoharp strumming on ‘The Lobster’, which suggests that the band could have gone on to become a superb doomy progressive rock outfit in the style of King Crimson. GRADE: B.
Fairport Convention (UK): What We Did On Our Holidays (Island ILPS 9092, 1969)
Folk/Rock
Sandy Denny (joint lead vocals, guitar)
Even more varied than its predecessor, this also includes some notable filler but is undeniably a strong LP overall. Sandy Denny’s ‘Fotheringay’ and Richard Thompson’s ‘Meet On The Ledge’ demonstrate the brilliance of their two key songwriters, ‘I’ll Keep It With Mine’ shows their interpretative flair, and ‘Nottamun Town’ marks an early and impressive foray into acid-folk. GRADE: B–.
Fairport Convention (UK): Unhalfbricking (Island ILPS 9102, 1969)
Folk/Rock
Sandy Denny (principal vocals)
How you feel about Fairport Convention’s third album may hinge on what you think of Bob Dylan, as three out of the eight tracks are covers of his songs. I don’t like his work, and I don’t care for any of their interpretations – the novelty pidgin French version of ‘If You Gotta Go, Go Now’ that gave them a minor hit single is quite execrable. Thompson’s original ‘Cajun Woman’ is also a throwaway. That leaves one good song (Denny’s ‘Autopsy’) and three absolute classics – the stunningly atmospheric ‘Genesis Hall’ and ‘Who Knows Where The Time Goes?’ and the magnificent, pioneering eleven-minute prog-folk masterpiece ‘A Sailor’s Life’. GRADE: B–.
Fairport Convention (UK): Liege And Lief (Island ILPS 9115, 1969)
Folk/Rock
Sandy Denny (lead vocals)
Unlike their earlier albums, Liege And Lief is consistent both in terms of style and quality. Therein, however, lies its one drawback – whilst the original compositions ‘Farewell Farewell’ and ‘Crazy Man Michael’ are superb and ‘Matty Groves’ and ‘Tam Lin’ are prog folk milestones, a little more variety in the mood or instrumentation might not have gone amiss. So whilst this album’s claim to be the first electric folk LP is probably true, within a year bands like Steeleye Span and Trees had taken the template and made even better LPs from it. GRADE: B.
Fairport Convention (UK/USA): Fairport Live Convention (Island ILPS 9285, with inner, UK, 1974)
Sandy Denny
Fairport being Fairport, this live set, with Sandy Denny back on board, covers a wide range of styles, and musically ranges from the brilliant to the downright awful. Several cuts are completely uninteresting, but ‘Sloth’ is as majestic as ever, and taut, nervous versions of ‘Matty Groves’ and ‘John The Gun’ beat the studio originals into the proverbial cocked hat. GRADE: C+.
Fairport Convention (UK/USA/Australia): Rising For The Moon (island ILPS 9313, with inner, 1975)
Folk/Rock
Sandy Denny (joint lead vocals, guitar, piano)
Denny’s first studio album with Fairport since Liege And Lief sees her dominating the band, as she fronts and writes or co-writes seven of the eleven tracks. The closing ‘One More Chance’ may just be the best thing she ever wrote (although ‘Who Knows Where The Time Goes?’ is much more celebrated): a superb piece of progressive folk with intriguing, clever lyrics and a lengthy instrumental section that gradually builds in intensity to a shattering climax. Elsewhere, the album is consistently good (especially on ‘White Dress’, ‘Stranger To Himself’ and ‘Dawn’) and the cuts fronted by Trevor Lucas and Dave Swarbrick work well enough on their own terms, whilst not dovetailing perfectly with Denny’s numbers. GRADE: C+.

Fairport Convention Featuring Sandy Denny (UK/USA/Australia): Live 1974 – My Father’s Place (Rock Beat ROC-CD-3187, CD,

with gatefold minisleeve, 2015, recorded 1974)
Folk/Rock
Sandy Denny (principal vocals, keyboards)
This eleven-song live set is comparatively short but highly satisfying, mixing early seventies Fairport numbers with excerpts from Denny’s then-recent Like An Old-Fashioned Waltz. ‘Matty Groves’ and ‘John The Gun’ particularly impress, as they usually do, whilst a solo version of Waltz’s title track (during which Denny hits a few wrong notes) is interesting and unique. GRADE: B–.
Fairport Convention (UK/USA/Australia): Before The Moon (NMC Music PILOT133, double CD, 2002, recorded 1974)
Folk/Rock/Progressive
Sandy Denny
As the title suggests, this double album (featuring two separate sets from the same night, with a couple of tracks appearing in both) was recorded by the Rising For The Moon line-up before entering the studio to cut that LP. The title track and ‘One More Chance’ (in a rather hesitant version) are both previewed here, along with quite a few numbers from Denny’s solo career plus old Fairport favourites like ‘Who Knows Where The Time Goes?’, ‘Matty Groves’ and ‘Sloth’. Oddly, the second set (apparently a ‘limited edition bonus disc’) is both musically stronger and much better recorded than the first. GRADE: B–.
Fairport Convention (UK/USA/Australia): Who Knows? (Talking Elephant TECD072, CD, 2005, recorded 1975)
Folk/Rock/Progressive
Sandy Denny (joint lead vocals, guitar, piano)
This is a clear cut above Before The Moon in terms of both music and sound quality, making for an excellent disc. The highpoint by far is the stunning ‘Sloth’, but this is solid throughout; even a few throwaway instrumentals and Trevor Lucas-fronted numbers work well enough on their own terms. GRADE: B.
Fairport Convention (UK/USA/Australia): Many Ears To Please (Molldur MDCD 0601, CD, Norway, 2006, recorded 1975)
Folk/Rock/Progressive
Sandy Denny (principal vocals, piano, tambourine)
Although it has superior bootleg sound quality, this was clearly an official release (confirmed by Jerry Donahue mastering and writing the sleevenotes). It documents the majority of a concert in Oslo with roadie Paul Warren on drums (as Dave Mattacks had just left and Bruce Rowlands had not yet joined), missing the start of ‘Six Days On The Road’ for technical reasons and, more annoyingly, the entirety of a 21-minute ‘Sloth’ for space reasons. Despite these quibbles, the end result is an important and enjoyable historical document. GRADE: B–.

Fairport Convention (UK): The Boot (No label, double cassette, 1983)
Folk/Rock
Cathy Lesurf (joint lead vocals)
This gargantuan 31-song set features the band’s entire performance from the 1982 Cropredy Festival, with Cathy Lesurf standing in for Sandy Denny. Whilst the sound quality is somewhat short of studio standard, it’s still better than the title implies; and whilst I can’t imagine anybody choosing to hear these versions over the originals, the performances are mostly admirable and thes show clearly demonstrates the sheer quantity of jewels in Fairport’s back catalogue. GRADE: B.

Fairport Convention (UK/USA/France): The Cropredy Box (Woodworm WR3CD 026, triple CD, 1998)
Folk/Rock
Vikki Clayton (occasional vocals), Cathy Lesurf (occasional vocals), Judy Dyble (recorder, backing vocals)
This triple CD captures two nights at the band’s annual Cropredy Festival, and offers a chronological stroll through their lengthy and varied career. Not unexpectedly, the highpoints are ‘Jack O’ Diamonds’, ‘Genesis Hall’, ‘Matty Groves’ and ‘Sloth’. GRADE: B–.
Fairport Convention (UK/USA/Australia): Live At The BBC (Island/BBC 9845385, 4CD, with book sleeve, 2007, recorded 1967-1974)
Folk/Rock
Sandy Denny (joint lead vocals), Judy Dyble (joint lead vocals)
This excellent archive release features 69 tracks taken from radio sessions between 1967 and 1974, featuring the Judy Dyble, Sandy Denny and all-male line-ups. Highpoints include a version of ‘I Don’t Know Where I Stand’ fronted by Denny rather than Dyble, an eerie ‘Nottuman Town’ and the exclusive Dyble-sung ‘Violets Of Dawn’. Sadly, all eight tracks with Dyble are on the fourth disc, taken from lo-fi off-air recordings since the master tapes had been lost, but this is still very worthwhile for Dyble fans. Most of the earlier Heyday album is duplicated here, so I haven’t bothered to review it separately. GRADE: B–.
See also Bunch, Sandy Denny, Giles Giles & Fripp, Judy Dyble, Fotheringay, Richard & Linda Thompson, Trader Horne

Fairy (Japan): Hesperia (Silver Elephant PROG-0152, CD, 1994)
Progressive
Akiko Hiragaki (lead vocals), Akiko Takahashi (keyboards), Mizuho Suzuki (keyboards, backing vocals)
The second and final album by the band formerly known as Hiroyuki Ishizawa & Glass Castle is a bit better than their first, offering some powerful symphonic rock with lots of keyboards. Belying the group name, this isn’t particularly airy-fairy at all, with some tracks displaying a fair degree of rock energy and some assertive guitar work bordering prog-metal. GRADE: C+.
See also Ars Nova, Danball Bat, Hiroyuki Ishizawa & Glass Castle, Marble Sheep & The Run Down Sun’s Children

Jeremy Faith & The St Mathews Church Choir (France/Austria): Jesus (London SLC 398, USA, 1972)
Rock
This project was masterminded by keyboardist Michel Berger, and ‘Jeremy Faith’ was in fact an Austrian singer named Elmuth Graber. Meanwhile, none other than Véronique Sanson (probably the most famous singer/songwriter in the Francophone world) pseudonymously composed and shares vocals on ‘Tomorrow Will Be The Day’. This is a great album, with a very French feel, offering superbly arranged melodic rock with quite a bit of heavy guitar. It gained a worldwide release, with numerous different versions known to collectors, and the title track was a huge hit back in France. GRADE: B–.
See also Véronique Sanson

Marianne Faithfull (UK): Come My Way (Decca LK 4688, 1965)
Folk
Marianne Faithfull (lead vocals)
Oddly, Marianne Faithfull’s first two albums were released on the same day, with consecutive catalogue numbers – one concentrating on the pop end of her repertoire and the other on folk. This is the folk LP, with simple backing from acoustic guitar, plus occasional double bass and percussion. Faithfull has a lovely, pure voice and the result is a charming set. Although the album was only released in mono in the UK, stereo mixes (superior to these ears) were made for all tracks and issued overseas (and later on CD). GRADE: C+.
Marianne Faithfull (UK): Marianne Faithfull (Decca LK 4689, 1965)
Pop/Folk
Marianne Faithfull (lead vocals)
The pop counterpart to Come My Way features full electric backing plus orchestration, and has a rather MOR feel. With material including ‘Down Town’ and ‘Plaisir D’Amour’ as well as her hit single ‘As Tears Go By’ the result is a pleasant but unexceptional LP. Again the disc was issued only in Britain in mono, but stereo mixes exist for 12 of the 14 tracks and these subsequently appeared on CD. GRADE: C+.
Marianne Faithfull (UK): North Country Maid (Decca LK 4778, 1966)
Folk
Marianne Faithfull (lead vocals)
This is very definitely the follow-up to Come My Way rather to Marianne Faithfull, taking the same approach to both material and arrangements. However, it’s somewhat more contemporary, with sitar putting in an appearance on a couple of cuts. Most of the songs are familiar standards (‘Scarborough Fair’, ‘The Last Thing On My Mind’, ‘First Time Ever I Saw Your Face’, ‘Sally Free And Easy’ et al) and are beautifully performed, even if the whole thing sounds a touch detached (as did Come My Way). Nonetheless this is her best album to date, and its strongest numbers (‘Sunny Goodge Street’, ‘She Moved Through The Fair’, ‘Wild Mountain Thyme’) are genuinely excellent. Despite being released as late as 1966, it was once again only available on mono in the UK, with the stereo mixes remaining largely unheard for decades. GRADE: C+.
Marianne Faithfull (UK): Faithfull Forever… (London PS 482 / LL3482, USA, 1966)
Pop/Folk/MOR
Marianne Faithfull (lead vocals)
This US-only release brings together several cuts from singles, a few numbers that would later appear on Love In A Mist, an epic re-recording of ‘First Time Ever I Saw Your Face’ with both an orchestra and choir, and two exclusive songs. An accomplished set, it’s actually better than Love In A Mist to these ears. GRADE: C+.
Marianne Faithfull (UK): Love In A Mist (Decca LK / SKL 4854, 1967)
Pop/Folk/MOR
Marianne Faithfull (lead vocals)
Album number four is a logical follow-up to Marianne Faithfull rather than North Country Maid, though it also shows her moving in an even more MOR direction. The result is rather a patchy record, but there are still some good songs here. GRADE: C+.

Falckenstein (West Germany): Falckenstein (Nature 0060.179, 1979)
Folk/Rock/Progressive
Monika Marie Domin (occasional vocals, guitar, dulcimer, sopranino)
Falckenstein operated in parallel with the long-running Fiedel Michel, with the two bands sharing several key members. In many ways, they were the yin and yang of each other, with Fiedel Michel playing traditional acoustic folk whilst Falckenstein offered progressive folk/rock with full electric arrangements and songs of up to nine minutes. This is by far the better of their two incarnations, and the LP contains some really excellent material. GRADE: B–.
Falckenstein (West Germany): Feuerstuhl (Nature 0060.268, with inner, 1980)
Folk/Rock/Progressive
Monika Marie Domin (occasional vocals, guitar, dulcimer)
Somewhat different from its predecessor, this sees the band blending electric folk with prog-edged melodic rock, with the album possibly being some kind of concept piece. It’s pleasant enough, but the traditionally-influenced numbers are certainly the best, and it’s a definite step down from their first. They went on to cut a third and final LP with an all-male line-up, which apparently took them further in the direction of soft prog. GRADE: C+.
See also Fiedel Michel

Fall Of Saigon (France): Les Zuto Pistes (Gazul GA8851, CD, 2011, recorded 1981-1984)
New Wave/Pop/Progressive
Florence Berthon (principal vocals, tambourine, melodica)
Similar to contemporaries Vidéo-Aventures, Fall Of Saigon were one of those odd French acts whose music fell midway between new wave, synth-pop and avant-prog. This CD compiles their 1982 12" EP (Atem 7013) with seven live and studio bonus tracks including unusual covers of Kraftwerk’s ‘The Model’ and the Doors’ ‘The End’ (the latter presumably a tribute to Nico). Interestingly, the two numbers from 1984, which end the disc, are much more conventional rock, indicating that the band was moving away from its experimental roots. Overall, this is an excellent tribute to a quirky piece of French rock history. GRADE: C+.

Famiglia Della Ortega (Italy/Venezuela): La Famiglia Della Ortega (Carosello CLN 25029, Italy, 1973)
Folk/Rock/Progressive
Isabella Iombarda (joint lead vocals), Iolanda Andreoli (backing vocals), Gianna Ducci (backing vocals), Delia Ducci (backing vocals), Emily (backing vocals)
The energetic hoedown of ‘Merryon’ does very little for me, but overall this is a lovely, dreamy album of folk/rock with a very Italian feel and notable psychedelic and progressive edges. The closing ‘Awamalaia’ is particularly impressive, and it’s a shame that the whole album isn’t of the same standard. Whilst the bulk of the twelve members were Italian, the eponymous Ortega brothers hailed from Venezuela.

GRADE: B–.

Family Affair (UK): The Family Affair (Saga FID 2124, 1968)
Pop
Linda Cream (occasional vocals)
The sleevenotes sum this up perfectly: ‘a pleasant, entertaining album featuring a boy and girl in vocal harmony with a lively backing’. As that description suggests, this cash-in album attempted to duplicate the music of numerous mixed-sex West Coast pop duos, refracted through a Swingin’ London prism. Johnny Cream is both a competent singer and songwriter, and the effect is somewhat similar to the first String Driven Thing album. Nothing is known about the band’s origins, but despite the pseudonyms (guitarist ‘Sharon Gable’ is clearly male) I’d assume from the cover photograph that they were Asian. GRADE: C+.
See also Linda & Noel

Family Dogg (UK/Gibraltar): A Way Of Life (Bell SBLL 122, UK, 1969)
Pop
Christine Holmes (joint lead vocals), Zooey (joint lead vocals)
The band name and cover might lead you to expect psychedelia, but in fact this is a lushly orchestrated middle-of-the-road harmony pop LP (though there’s some unexpected fuzz guitar on ‘Save The Life Of My Child’). The band’s eclectic line-up included both prolific hit songwriter Albert Hammond and Blue Peter presenter Christine Holmes (aka glam-rocker Kristine Sparkle). Meanwhile, backing musicians included Jimmy Page, John Paul Jones, John Bonham, Clem Cattini, Alan Hawkshaw and Alan Parker. GRADE: C.
See also Kristine Sparkle

Family Of Apostolic (USA): The Family Of Apostolic (Vanguard VSD 79301/2, double, 1969)
Folk/Rock/Psychedelic
Gilma Townley (joint lead vocals, bass, keyboards, percussion, violin), Deirdre Townley (occasional vocals, harmonium)
This double album is one of the most fascinating American major label releases of the late sixties. The band has a Christian bent, as the name suggests, but this is by no means religious folk. Indeed, the twenty-two songs range from melodic organ-driven psychedelia (‘Did You Like The Party?’) to Fairport Convention-style electric folk/rock before Fairport invented it (‘Fiddler A Dram’), oddball singer/songwriter fare (‘Old Grey House’), an Indian raga (‘Dholak Gheet’), a bizarre instrumental combining a music box with people coughing and blowing their noses (‘Water Music’), a Nico-style pump-organ piece by a three-year-old (‘Taking Me Home’) and even what sounds like the Shaggs attempting a childlike piano ballad backed by menacing animal noises (‘Zoo Song’). There are a lot of studio effects and trickery too, mainly because band leader John Townley owned Apostolic Recording Studios; he later claimed that this was the first album ever recorded using a 12-track deck. This is one of the earliest-known acid-folk artefacts, and also one of the most ambitious; were it a British private pressing, it would sell for astronomical sums. Anyone liking the genre, or with an interest in late sixties avant-gardism, should snap up a copy while they still can. GRADE: B.

Family Pride (Ireland): Family Pride (Rex RPS.108, 1973)
Pop
Ann Bushnell (joint lead vocals)
Formed by a number of Irish session musicians and singers, this little-known band offered vocal-heavy middle-of-the-road pop somewhere between the Swingle Singers, Brotherhood Of Man and the Mamas & The Papas. Whilst inevitably inconsequential, it’s all rather pleasant, and I particularly like their unusual, loungy version of ‘She Moved Through The Fair’, led by gently pattering bongos and delicate flute. GRADE: C+.

Famous Unknowns (UK/USA): Evolving Within A Chaotic Universe (Poor Person Productions PPPR19, CDR, autographed, with poster booklet and insert, 2000)
Psychedelic/Progressive
Mandie Tor (occasional vocals)
The final release from the consistently fascinating Poor Person Productions label reunites Dave and Mandie Tor with original Earcandy guitarist Mike Curtis and offers a continuous suite of music that mixes melodic songs with some spacy jamming. With the soupy mix and electronically treated vocals, the results are trippy in the extreme, though I would have preferred some bass and real rather than programmed drums (which would elevated this to a B–). GRADE: C+.
See also Apotheosis, Bus Trip, Earcandy, Mynd Muzic

Fancy (USA): Meeting You Here (Poison Ring PPR 2238, 1970)
Rock
Christine Ohlman (joint lead vocals)
A bargain bin staple for years, this is now comparatively rare and expensive. It’s mainly sought-after for opener ‘Black Snake’, one of the best hard rock numbers of the early seventies, driven by subtle yet punishing riffs. The remainder of the album isn’t in the same class, but offers above average early seventies bluesy rock and folky ballads, and is likely to please anyone enjoying the style. Fancy later mutated into the Scratch Band, who issued a further album in 1977. GRADE: C+.
See also Scratch Band

Fancy (UK): Wild Thing (Atlantic K 51502) 1973
Rock
Annie Kavanagh (principal vocals), Helen Caunt (occasional vocals)

Spawning two American top 20 singles (the title track actually being cut mainly by sessionmen, with Playboy Bunny Helen Caunt contributing the orgasmic vocals), this offers a lightweight but enjoyable mixture of glam and hard rock. The line-up included Ray Fenwick on guitars and Mo Foster (ex-Affinity) on bass; apparently both Sonja-Kristina Linwood and Carol Grimes auditioned for the vocalist’s role, but it was given to the unknown Annie Kavanagh. GRADE: C+.
Fancy (UK): Something To Remember (Arista ARTY 102) 1975
Rock
Annie Kavanagh (principal vocals)

Toning down the hard rock and glam elements, their second and final album is funkier, bluesier and jazzier. However, the centrepiece is a powerful Vanilla Fudge-style reading of ‘I Was Made To Love Him’, complete with heavy orchestrations and epic running time. The LP was released as Turns You On in the States. GRADE: C+.

Fangorn (Germany): Raindancer (No label, cassette, 1996)
Metal
Grit Vahlpahl (joint lead vocals), Carmen R Schäfer (guitar), Sylke Beyer (bass)
I can’t imagine this figuring among anyone’s favourite albums as it’s simply too generic, but its stripped-down, riff-driven metal is snappy, effective and unpretentious. Even the death growls, occasionally interspersed with the angelic tones of guest Grit Vahlpahl, work well in context, though I remain convinced this would have been better with a different vocal style. GRADE: C+.
Fangorn (Germany): Non-Rhapsodian (GUC 001-97, CD, 1997)
Metal/Progressive
Grit Vahlpahl (joint lead vocals), Carmen R Schäfer (guitar, backing vocals), Sylke Beyer (bass)
The band’s second is considerably more varied and mature, adding some progressive elements, including a metal version of a mediaeval Walther van der Vogelweide piece. But whilst this is a creative, energetic album with plenty of pummelling riffs, there’s still too much in the way of death growls to take it entirely seriously. GRADE: C+.

Fanny (USA): Fanny (Reprise 6416, 1970)
Rock
June Millington (joint lead vocals, guitar), Jean Millington (joint lead vocals, bass), Nickey Barclay (joint lead vocals, keyboards), Alice de Buhr (occasional vocals, drums, percussion)
As the most prominent all-female band of the early seventies (though the only other serious contender was probably Birtha), Fanny attracted a fair amount of media attention. They certainly wouldn’t have done so on their basis of their music: whilst this is a competent mainstream rock LP, there’s nothing distinctive here, and the songwriting is professional rather than inspired. Their cover of Cream’s ‘Badge’ is pretty pedestrian, but the album ends on a high note with the effective rocker ‘Seven Roads’. GRADE: C.
Fanny (USA): Fanny (Reprise 6416, Canada, 1970)
Rock
June Millington (joint lead vocals, guitar), Jean Millington (joint lead vocals, bass), Nickey Barclay (joint lead vocals, keyboards), Alice de Buhr (occasional vocals, drums, percussion)
Owing to the wrong master tapes being despatched, the first 10,000 copies of the Canadian pressing featured an almost entirely different set of songs – basically amounting to a separate LP. Ironically, this is much more enjoyable than the official release, with a more stripped-down and rocking sound. Had this version been used for the full pressing, their critical reputation might have been significantly enhanced. GRADE: C+.
Fanny (USA): Charity Ball (Reprise 6456, with insert, 1971)
Rock
June Millington (joint lead vocals, guitar), Jean Millington (joint lead vocals, bass), Nickey Barclay (joint lead vocals, keyboards), Alice de Buhr (occasional vocals, drums, percussion)
Rather better than their first album (although not the Canadian version), this is a solid and consistent soul-tinged rock LP. There’s nothing truly outstanding here, but there are some nice instrumental touches, including the lively organ on ‘Soul Child’ and the powerful lead guitar on ‘You’re The One’. GRADE: C.
Fanny (USA): Fanny Hill (Reprise MS 2058, with insert, 1972)
Rock
June Millington (joint lead vocals, guitar, clavinet), Jean Millington (joint lead vocals, bass), Nickey Barclay (joint lead vocals, keyboards), Alice de Buhr (drums, tambourine, backing vocals)
Their third album offers some excellent material – the double whammy of the impassioned rocker ‘Blind Alley’ followed by the beautiful ballad ‘You’ve Got A Home’ is especially effective. But elsewhere they offer their usual soul-rock, which is – as normal – tepid rather than terrific. GRADE: C.
Fanny (USA): Mother’s Pride (Reprise MS 2137, 1973)
Pop/Rock
June Millington (joint lead vocals, guitar), Nickey Barclay (joint lead vocals, guitar, keyboards), Jean Millington (joint lead vocals, bass), Alice de Buhr (occasional vocals, drums, percussion)
This is somewhat different to its predecessors, swapping straightahead soul/rock for rather dreamy pop/rock, with the high point being four gorgeous ballads: ‘Old Hat’, ‘Beside Myself’, ‘Regular Guy’ and, best of all, ‘Feelings’. On the downside, drummer Alice de Buhr’s vocals on ‘Solid Gold’ are truly dreadful, which is a pity as it’s not a bad song. But overall, this is a competent, solid, safe, anonymous album, like the vast bulk of their underwhelming output. GRADE: C.
Fanny (USA): Rock ’N’ Roll Survivors (Casablanca NBLP 7007, 1974)
Rock
Patti Quatro (joint lead vocals, guitar), Jean Millington (joint lead vocals, bass), Nickey Barclay (joint lead vocals, keyboards), Brie Howard (joint lead vocals, drums)
Their only album with a different line-up, this includes Patti Quatro (formerly of the Mike Quatro Jam Band) on guitar. However, the sound is the same as before: solid, well played, unimaginative mainstream rock with soul tinges. GRADE: C.
See also Mike Quatro Jam Band

Fantasmagoria (Japan): Energetic Live Demo CD (Vital VR-016, CD, autographed, with obi, 2004)
Jazz/Rock/Progressive
Miki Fujimoto (violin)
Despite the title, this instrumental jazz-fusion band’s demo disc is fairly relaxed, though it features complex, knotty musicianship. It’s pleasant stuff, making for an enjoyable if ultimately slightly inconsequential set. GRADE: C+.

Fantasmagoria (Japan): Official Live Bootleg 2005-2007 (Poseidon PPD-002, DVDR, 2009)
Jazz/Rock/Progressive
Miki Fujimoto (violin)
As the title suggests, the quality of the filming and recording here is competent rather than exceptional, but there’s no denying the virtuosity of the performances. However, like a lot of jazz-fusion outfits their music tends towards the slick and sterile, and over the course of 21 shortish numbers (several of them duplicated across the two sets) their lack of variety becomes obvious too. GRADE: C+.
Fantasmagoria (Japan): Day And Night (Muséa FGBG 4804.AR/Poseidon PRF-051, CD, France, 2009)
Jazz/Rock/Progressive
Miki Fujimoto (violin)
Following on from their live demo CD and live DVD, the band finally issues a studio album, which unsurprisingly contains little new material. However, the interpretations are much heavier, with chunky hard rock guitar riffs and a bright, modern production style; the trade-off is moot, with the music gaining power but losing subtlety and the album eventually becoming rather fatiguing. GRADE: C+.

Fantasy (USA): Fantasy (Liberty LST 7643, with inner, 1970)
Rock/Progressive
Lydia Miller (lead vocals)
This unusual album blends elements of jazzy progressive and fairly heavy West Coast rock across six songs and a lengthy instrumental. With notable psychedelic elements (especially in the lead guitar), it’s an odd piece of work that falls between several stools. Most critics praise the singing of sixteen-year-old Lydia Miller, but whilst she certainly has a remarkably powerful voice for her age, I’m not sure I like it: sometimes she sounds like a harsher Rose Laurens (vocalist for the French progressive band Sandrose) with a slight operatic edge, and at others emulates Janis Joplin. My reservations about her singing are compounded by the strange mix, which sometimes renders the vocals excessively loud for the instrumental backing. Overall, this is significant as a rare example of early American prog, and the ten-minute closer ‘What’s Next?’ is undeniably impressive, but it’s not a record I find myself playing very often. GRADE: C+.

Fantasy Train (USA): Fantasy Train (Fantasy Train Productions FTP-ST-1001, 1984)
Soul/Rock/Funk/Psychedelic
Jackie Ford (joint lead vocals)
The six-and-a-half minute opener ‘Baby’s A Lady’ is excellent jamming psychedelic funk, but it’s the best thing on offer: most of the rest is soulful pop/rock, though still with deft playing. Presumably this mixed-race band mainly played the lounge circuit, and it’s easy to see why they got no further, but this is a pleasant enough LP. GRADE: C+.

Far Meadow (UK/Cyprus): Given The Impossible (Bad Elephant Music BEM035, CD, with digipak and booklet, UK, 2016)
Progressive
Marguerita Alexandrou (principal vocals)
Whilst rooted firmly in neoprogressive, the Far Meadow are a bit more ambitious than most, with plenty of unexpected diversions (not all of which work well). However, there are two serious problems: they sound like they’re influenced by Magenta (not a phrase I ever imagined myself using) and Marguerita Alexandrou sounds like a cross between Christina Murphy and Tracy Hitchings. GRADE: C+.

Far Meadow (UK/Cyprus): Foreign Land (Bad Elephant Music BEM068, CD, with digipak and booklet, UK, 2019)
Progressive
Marguerita Alexandrou (lead vocals)
The Far Meadow’s last album was utterly average modern progressive – there was nothing particularly wrong with it but nothing exactly right about it either. Despite tracks of up to 18½ minutes, Foreign Land falls into the same category. For the most part, they sound like a cross between Landmarq and Magenta (whilst resembling just about every other female-fronted neoprog band you can think of), though they’re a good deal better than Landmarq and this is equivalent to one of Magenta’s more listenable efforts. That may make it sound as though I’m damning this set with the faintest of praise – and I am. 

GRADE: C+.

Faraway Folk (UK): Live At The Bolton (RA 6006st, 1970)
Folk/Lounge
Shirley Turk (joint lead vocals, bell, kazoo), Judy Whittington (joint lead vocal, washboard, kazoo)
Torbay-based Faraway Folk could never really decide whether they wanted to be a folk/rock band or a cabaret outfit, and most of their albums contain elements of both. Their live debut actually blends the two styles, with a few touches of comedy – sometimes quite successfully and sometimes not, as one can imagine. GRADE: C.
Faraway Folk (UK): Time And Tide (RA RALP 6012, 1972)
Folk/Pop
Shirley Turk (joint lead vocals, percussion, kazoo), Judy Whittington (joint lead vocals, percussion, recorder)
A big step forward from their debut, this features full electric band backing and mostly original compositions, several of them of good quality. In particular, ‘Melanie’, ‘Seasons Of Time’ and ‘Lady Waiting’ are quite lovely, with a melodic acid-folk sound and heavy used of tuned percussion recalling Trader Horne. Elsewhere, the album offers some pleasant traditional folk, plus – inevitably – one or two pieces of rural rock rubbish. GRADE: C+.
Faraway Folk (UK): On The Radio (RA RALP 6019, 1974)
Folk/Pop
Shirley Turk (joint lead vocals, percussion, recorder), Bryony Smith (bass, banjo, backing vocals)
The electric arrangements are here to stay, but the choice of material on this collection of radio sessions is rather questionable. The emphasis is strongly on pop/rock covers (the songs performed are as varied as ‘Early Morning Rain’, ‘She’s Leaving Home’ and ‘What Shall We Do With The Drunken Sailor?’), the mood is middle-of-the-road and the overall effect is forgettable. GRADE: C.
Harry H Corbett & Faraway Folk (UK): Only Authorised Employees To Break Bottles (RA RALP 6022, 1974)
Shirley Turk, Bryony Smith
Before finding superstardom in ‘Steptoe and Son’, Harry H Corbett was a folk singer, and he returned to his roots with this obscure LP. This was one of Faraway Folk’s most electric albums, with the music often resembling Back Alley Choir or Fairport Convention. Corbett’s vocals are, however, something else, being performed in a theatrical style and a variety of bizarre accents (West Indian, Scouse, Scottish and, most of all, the peculiar whining tones he employed as Harold Steptoe). The end result, laced with all kinds of odd sound effects, is truly peculiar, although not displeasing for all that. Their three cassettes aside, this is by some distance Faraway Folk’s rarest album. GRADE: C+.
Faraway Folk (UK): Seasonal Man (RA RALP 6029, 1975)
Folk/Rock
Shirley Turk, Bryony Smith
Their most famous and sought-after album, the superb Seasonal Man is in an entirely different league to anything else they ever did. There are no folk club, country/rock or cabaret elements here, just world-class electric folk with slight progressive touches and a strong mix of original and traditional songs. With its well-structured tracks, acid guitar leads, haunting recorders and mellow male and female vocals, Fairport Convention, Steeleye Span or Trees fans should investigate this immediately. Four numbers are reprised from the previous year’s cassette Especially For You (RA RACC 6025), which I have not heard. GRADE: B.
Faraway Folk (UK): On Stage (RA RACC 6030, cassette, 1975)
Folk/Pop
Shirley Turk, Bryony Smith
The yin to Seasonal Man’s yang (and presumably issued almost simultaneously, given the consecutive catalogue numbers), On Stage is a pleasant but unremarkable album focusing on the cabaret and pop/rock side of the band’s repertoire. GRADE: C.
Faraway Folk (UK): The Battle Of The Dragons (Faraway Folk Productions FFP 001, cassette, 1977)
Folk/Psychedelic
Shirley Turk (joint lead vocals, tambourine, flute)
The band’s final album, again issued only on cassette, is by far their strangest and most adventurous. A surreal theatrical concept piece sometimes resembling an audio pantomime, it has a haunting and mystical atmosphere, with a strong psychedelic edge to the electric folk backing. It’s a real pity it’s so obscure, with just a handful of copies known. One final EP (Shadow Of A Pig) later, and Faraway Folk were no more. GRADE: C+.

Farm Band (UK): The Farm Band (Mantra S-3333, double, with inners and poster, 1972)
Rock/Psychedelic
Louise Dotzler (occasional vocals), Kaymarie (occasional vocals), Cynthia (piano, French horn)
Also known as the Tennessee Farm Band, this was the musical wing of a religious commune simply known as the Farm. Eschewing the ragas or drippy folk one might expect from such an outfit, the Farm Band focused on Grateful Dead-influenced guitar rock, with subtle rural edges and a predisposition for long jams (four tracks out of eight are over ten minutes, with ‘I Believe It’ running for eighteen). Whilst the playing is more memorable than the actual songs, this is an excellent album of its kind, containing some really superb moments. GRADE: B–.
Stephen & The Farm Band (USA): Up In Your Thing (Farm FE-1776, 1973)
Rock/Psychedelic
Linda Hershfield (occasional vocals), Kaymarie (occasional vocals)
With eight songs over one LP rather than two, their second album inevitably isn’t as expansive. However, it does feature a more consistent set of songs, and again there’s some superb guitar soloing, making for another excellent set. The disc came housed in a top-opening thick card sleeve; in most cases, this is in sepia, but a few examples have resurfaced with the same design in full colour. GRADE: B–.
Farm Band (USA): On The Rim Of The Nashville Basin (Farm FB-1001, 1975)
Country/Rock/Progressive
Linda Hershfield (joint lead vocals, piano), Louise Dotzler (occasional vocals)
The band’s third album is very much a game of two halves. Side one is all country/rock, reflecting the ‘Nashville’ in the title, and consists entirely of short songs distinguished only by the strong guitar-based arrangements. Side two, in contrast, harks back to their earlier sound, offering excellent jamming rock on ‘Baile De Los Changos’ (an absolutely superb instrumental), ‘Roncho Rondo’ (a straightforward rock and roller with a great instrumental break) and ‘Excusa M’wah’ (another fine instrumental, but far too short at under three minutes). Overall, it’s a bit of a step down from their first two, and rather difficult to grade, with side one being C+ and side two B–. GRADE: C+.
Farm Band (USA): Communion (Farm 1013, 1977)
Rock/Psychedelic/Progressive
Linda Hershfield (joint lead vocals)
Although this has a few rootsy touches, it drops all its predecessor’s country influences for a welcome return to their original jamming rock sound. It’s a toss-up which of their three non-country albums is their best release, but this is certainly a very strong contender. The band subsequently returned as the more new wave-oriented Nuclear Regulatory Commission. GRADE: B–.
See also Nuclear Regulatory Commission

Mark & Suzann Farmer (USA): We’ve Been There (MSJ MSJ-001, 1978)
Singer/Songwriter
Mixing originals by Mark Farmer with cover versions, this is a mellow album with sparse electric backing (principally guitar, keyboards and drum machine) and a distinctly home-made vibe. The most celebrated songs is their cabaret-style rendition of Fleetwood Mac’s ‘Dreams’, which is certainly startling but doesn’t necessarily demonstrate the duo at their best; my vote would go to the title track, with its hazy, psychedelic flute. GRADE: C+.

Farmers Union (Holland): Reunion (Universe Productions LS 15, 1979)
Folk/Rock
Liedwien Schaper (principal vocals)
This is a pleasant album of traditional folk/rock, with electric bass throughout and a few electric guitar leads here and there. As usual, ‘Once I Had A Sweetheart’ is spellbinding, whilst other highpoints include ‘Lovesong’ and ‘Hero Of Fairytaleland’. A few cuts sung by male band members are comparatively mediocre, coming close in style to any number of Folk Heritage acts, but overall this is a fine pastiche of British folk sounds. Interestingly, they cover the Insect Trust’s ‘Ragtime Millionaire’ among other material. GRADE: B–.

Farnham Singers, Girls’ Choir & Patrick Nelson (UK): Farnham Singers, Girls’ Choir And Patrick Nelson (Castleton JDC 0078, 1974?)
Classical/Folk
This choral album could have some appeal for school project collectors, though it’s closer to classical than folk, with mostly unaccompanied performances of everything from ‘Summer Is Icumen In’ and ‘The Praties’ to ‘What A Wonderful World’. Four songs are fronted by folk singer and guitarist Patrick Nelson, and are probably the best things on the disc. GRADE: C+.

Farpoint (USA): First Light (No label SCM102, CD, 2002)
Progressive
Dana Oxendine (joint lead vocals, keyboards, flute)
With a somewhat unusual sound, this band is rooted in rural rock but adds lots of elements from prog. They’re capable songwriters too, creating a lovely, unassuming LP that benefits from two lead vocalists with strongly contrasting styles (Dana Oxendine has a dreamy, ethereal voice whilst Clark Boone has the kind of throaty tones that one would commonly associate with a blues or country/rock band). The best cut by far is the richly melodic ‘To The River’, but there are no obvious weak moments. GRADE: C+.
Farpoint (USA): Grace (No label SCM103, CD, 2003)
Progressive/Folk/Rock
Dana Oxendine (joint lead vocals, keyboards, flute)
This is slightly different from their first album, being gentler and folkier on some cuts and more self-consciously dramatic on others. They’ve also made the religious lyrics much more overt second time around, although they thankfully steer clear of simple preaching. As with its predecessor, this is a beautifully crafted album and a most enjoyable listen, although ultimately very unassuming. GRADE: C+.
Farpoint (USA): From Dreaming To Dreaming (No label SCM104, CD, 2004)
Progressive
Dana Oxendine (joint lead vocals, flute)
Once again very song-based, this is a good example of their usual fusion of symphonic and rural (though not country) styles. Challenging and creative it isn’t, but they certainly have pleasant voices and competent songwriting chops. GRADE: C+.
Farpoint (USA): Cold Star Quiet Star (No label SCM-105, CD, 2007)
Progressive
Jennifer Meeks (occasional vocals, flute)
Album number four followed several line-up changes, including the departure of both their singers. The loss of Clark Boone’s world-weary vocals deprived the band of its most distinctive feature, but musically this is a huge step forward, with a much more progressive feel. It’s still gentle rather than challenging or exciting, but the band wins through on sheer warmth, and by any standards this is a fine melodic rock LP. GRADE: B–.
Farpoint (USA): Kindred (10t 10T10050, CD, 2011)
Rock
Jennifer Meeks (occasional vocals, flute)
Having taken a major step forward with Cold Star Quiet Star, Farpoint took two steps back with the follow-up. This is a very straight guitar rock LP, with one extended song and two short instrumentals designed to placate progressive fans. Whilst competent enough, it’s all very generic and utterly lacking in the mellow, spacy atmosphere of its predecessor. GRADE: C+.
Farpoint (USA): Water Of Life – Live At The Sumter Opera House (No label SCM-106, CD, 2012)
Rock/Progressive
Abby Thompson (joint lead vocals, keyboards)
Whilst this offers a solid selection of material and is decidedly more progressive than the last studio set, the indifferent sound quality undermines the power of the songs. The end result is a lukewarm live album that adds little to the band’s reputation. GRADE: C+.
Farpoint (USA): Paint The Dark (10T 10T10074, CD, 2014)
Rock/Progressive
Abby Thompson (joint lead vocals, piano)
This has stronger progressive elements than Kindred, especially on the 12-minute ‘Vision Quest’ and the varied ‘Stand’. However, whilst the arrangements are well-crafted and the progressive breaks effective, I don’t find the mid-paced material very inspiring, and the lyrics are more overtly Christian than usual. As a footnote, former vocalist Jennifer Meeks guests on flute. GRADE: C+.

Farriers (UK): The Farriers (Broadside BRO 112, 1969)
Folk
Diane Brice (joint lead vocals)
This attractively packaged folk album is doubtless extremely rare, but being wholly acapella, its appeal is likely to be highly selective. It’s excellently done nonetheless, with the band creating a surprisingly varied spectrum of moods on traditional standards like ‘Boys Of Bedlam’, ‘Let No Man Steal Your Thyme’ and ‘She Moved Through The Fair’. GRADE: C+.

Farriers & Kempion (UK): Brummagem Ballads (Broadside BRO 119, 1976)
Folk
Diane Brice (joint lead vocals)
The Farriers’ second and final album is a split venture with Kempion, who accompany themselves on a wide range of acoustic instruments. It’s a wise move, with the two bands’ radically different approaches complementing one another and creating a varied and enjoyable traditional folk set, bolstered by an excellent recording. GRADE: C+.

Farwatch (USA): Transmigrated (No label, download, 2016)
Progressive/Metal
Mary Flowe (lead vocals)
This obscure download-only release is certainly one of the better progressive metal albums of recent years – Farwatch have real grasp of melody, dynamics and time changes. These four long songs, packed with chunky riffs and spindly solos drawing from power metal, consistently impress with their craft, energy and diversity, adding up to a fine debut. GRADE: B–.

Fastilio (Italy): Fastilio (Erosha ERH 003, CD, 1995)
Jazz/Avant-Garde/Progressive
Margareth Kammerer (lead vocals), Filomena Forleo (guitar, piano, melodica), Flavia D’Angelantonio (bass), Olivia Bignardi (drums, percussion, clarinet), Silvia Fanti (drums, harmonica), Daniele Cattivelli (saxophone)
This all-female RIO outfit offer a varied selection of songs and improvisations, displaying an obvious heavy influence from Henry Cow and the Art Bears but with stronger free jazz, folk and neoclassical elements. There’s a distinctly Italian feel too, with hints of Gramigna, Opus Avantra and Pierrot Lunaire at times, creating an interesting if slightly scrappy album. GRADE: C+.

Fat City (USA): Reincarnation (ABC Probe CPLP 4508-S, 1969)
Folk/Rock/Psychedelic
Taffy Nivert
This oddly-named act was in fact a duo consisting of Bill Danoff and Taffy Nivert (best known as co-writers of ‘Take Me Home Country Roads’). There’s nothing John Denver-like here, though, as this is a nice album of period folk/rock and light psychedelia with baroque edges. There are several strong tracks, but the best is probably the beautiful and haunting ‘Easter Island’, which is something of a minor classic. GRADE: C+.
Fat City (USA): Welcome To Fat City (Paramount PAS 6028, with inner, 1972)
Folk/Country/Rock
Taffy Nivert (joint lead vocals)
The country/rock cuts that open each side are rather underwhelming, but for the most part their second and final LP is another tasteful set. It’s very different to their debut, though, offering stripped-down folk/rock with a rural flavour; the heartfelt protest song ‘Readjustment Blues’ is probably the best thing on offer, whilst in contrast the two closing cuts (‘Baby, What’s Wrong With You?’ and ‘The Fat City High School Fight Song’) are truly dreadful. GRADE: C.
See also Bill & Taffy

Fat Water (USA): Fat Water (MGM SE 4660, 1969)
Blues/Rock
Vicki (joint lead vocals)
Resembling both Big Brother & The Holding Company and the more rocking side of Jefferson Airplane circa Bark, this is typical bluesy, late-sixties West Coast rock. Notwithstanding the lack of a distinctive identity and the presence of a couple of throwaway tracks, it’s is an excellent example of its style: the Grace Slick-like vocals are powerful and piercing, the melodies are anthemic, and the instrumental work is deft and punchy. GRADE: C+.

Didi Favreau (USA): Rebirth Of Wonder (RSVP ES 8004, 1968)
Singer/Songwriter/Jazz/Avant-Garde
Didi Favreau (lead vocals, guitar)
With moods ranging from the tranquil to the intense, this jazzy singer/songwriter affair is varied, creative and interesting. The second side is far freakier than the first, venturing into free jazz territory akin to early Annette Peacock without the electronics, although this isn’t as daring or experimental as its reputation suggests. GRADE: C+.