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Fear Itself (USA): Fear Itself (Dot DLP 25942, 1969)
Ellen McIlwaine (lead vocals, guitar, organ, harmonica)
The cover makes them look like lightweight rural rockers, but the album is nothing of the kind – for the most part, it’s powerful blues/rock with a psychedelic edge. Not everything works brilliantly – the short novelty song ‘Bow’d Up’, oddly sung by Ellen McIlwaine in near-falsetto, is plain annoying – but the album can be quite exceptional, as on the extended ‘In My Time Of Dying’. GRADE: C+.
See also Ellen McIlwaine

Feathers (USA): Gnomeozoic Live (Feathers Family, CDR, with minisleeve, 2005)
Ruth Garbus, Shayna Kipping, Meara O’ Reilly
I’m not keen on the falsetto male vocals on ‘Past The Moon’, but everything else on this psychedelic folk EP (three songs in about 22 minutes) is just about perfect. Sometimes melancholic, sometimes intense, sometimes mantric, this is excellent stuff, blending acoustic and electric instrumentation to great effect. Despite the title, none of this sounds like it was recorded live. GRADE: B–.
Feathers (USA): Feathers (Feathers Family FF-03, 2005)
Ruth Garbus, Shayna Kipping, Meara O’ Reilly
Their album proper features slightly different versions of all three songs from the CDR, plus five new numbers. The unpleasant falsetto vocals put in a further appearance, but mostly this is a fine album, creating a generally eerie and psychedelic mood. GRADE: B–.
Feathers (USA): Tour Paint (Feathers Family FF-04, CDR, with minisleeve, 2005)
Ruth Garbus, Shayna Kipping, Meara O’ Reilly
Running for approximately 19 minutes, this four-track EP covers quite a wide range of ground. I’m not so keen on the jaunty ‘Angel In The Sky’, but the other three songs are excellent psychedelic folk. GRADE: B–.
Feathers (USA): Something’s Wrong With Feathers (Feathers Family, CDR, with minisleeve, 2006)
Ruth Garbus, Shayna Kipping, Meara O’ Reilly
Their second and final full-length album is as patchy as their earlier work, spanning various strands of psychedelic and avant-garde folk and light bluesy rock, and sometimes hinting at Shide & Acorn. As a result, some cuts are a bit average, but overall it’s another pleasing set. GRADE: B–.
See also Ruth Garbus, Idea Fire Company

Feminine Complex (USA): Livin’ Love (Athena 6001, 1969)
Mindy Dalton (joint lead vocals, guitar), Judi Griffith (joint lead vocals, tambourine), Jean Williams (joint lead vocals, bass), Pame Stephens (joint lead vocals, organ), Lana Napier (joint lead vocals, drums)
The opening ‘Hide And Seek’ has plenty of psychedelic guitar (and sounds uncannily like Siouxsie & The Banshees for the first thirty seconds), but most of the rest is good-natured soulful pop with a dreamy, hippie vibe. Overall this is a very enjoyable album, and (along with the somewhat different Daisy Chain) a rare example of an all-girl band playing psych-tinged sounds. GRADE: C+.

Fenster (West Germany): Doch Wir (BASF 20 21717-3, 1972)
Jasmine Bonnin (joint lead vocals)
This German folk trio is probably best remembered – if at all – for launching the career of singer/songwriter Jasmine Bonnin (though she doesn’t write anything here). It’s a nice, if slightly generic album, with mostly self-penned material fronted by harmony vocals, crystalline acoustic guitars and a lively rhythm section, avoiding all the pitfalls of coffeehouse folk. GRADE: C+.
See also Jasmine Bonnin

Fern Knight (USA): Seven Years Of Severed Limbs (Normal 246 CD, HDCD, Germany, 2003)
Margaret Ayre (lead vocals, guitar, contrabass, piano, drums, percussion, cello)
Margaret Ayre and Michael Corcoran’s new project represents a logical step forward from the second Difference Engine album: there’s still a marked third Velvet Underground album sensibility at play, though now blended with a British traditional folk sensibility. Dominated by acoustic guitar, cello, contrabass and cello, the results are lovely, sparse and mildly psychedelic, though there’s also a modern indie sensibility at play that prevents it from equalling the seventies greats. GRADE: C+.
Fern Knight (USA): Music For Witches And Alchemists (VHF #101, CD, with gatefold minisleeve, 2006)
Margaret Ayre (principal vocals, guitar, percussion, cello), Meg Baird (occasional vocals), Orion Rigel Dommisse (keyboards)
For the second Fern Knight album, Ayre teams up with a larger palette of new collaborators, including Meg Baird and Greg Weeks from Espers. Unsurprisingly, the music is transformed: this is exquisite psychedelic folk, with Weeks’s acid leads adding psychedelic spice whilst Ayre’s cello delivers classical flourishes. The result is an exquisite psychedelic folk LP that can stand alongside Espers’ own work. GRADE: B–.

Fern Knight (USA): Fern Knight (VHF 110, CD, with gatefold minisleeve and booklet, 2007)
Margaret Ayre (lead vocals, guitar, contrabass, keyboards, percussion, cello)
Like its predecessor, this is a beautiful, dark and haunting acid-folk album, with the growling fuzz guitar adding a faintly unsettling edge. If it has a failing, it’s all very wistful, with occasional moments of rock energy lifting the mood considerably, but that’s only a slight failing and overall this is delightful stuff. GRADE: B–.

Fern Knight (USA): Solstice Box (No label, quadruple CDR, with insert, box and hip flask, 2009, recorded 2003 to 2007)
Margaret Ayre (lead vocals, guitar, keyboards, percussion, cello)
This lavishly packaged set compiles the original demos for Music For Witches And Alchemists and Fern Knight, plus the 2005 EP Blithewold, a few demos for the forthcoming Castings plus an entire disc of instrumental improvisations. The result is a gargantuan work that runs the gamut of (mainly) acoustic acid-folk styles – a truly remarkable and mesmerising collection. GRADE: B–.
Fern Knight (USA): Castings (VHF #122, CD, with digipak, 2010)
Margaret Ayre (lead vocals, guitar, cello)
Fern Knight’s last album is also their heaviest, mixing their customary forlorn folk style with powerful acid-rock. Whilst all their releases are remarkable, this is their masterpiece, with the dynamic rock edges adding stunning counterpoint to Margaret Ayre’s delicate voice and haunting songs. GRADE: B.

See also Difference Engine

Ferris Wheel (UK): Can’t Break The Habit (Pye NPL 18203, 1967)
Diane Ferraz (joint lead vocals)
Blending soul, hippie-rock and hints of psychedelia, this multi-racial band sometimes sounds like a more commercial Sly & The Family Stone, without any of the funk elements. GRADE: C+.
Ferris Wheel (UK): Ferris Wheel (Polydor 583006, with insert, 1970)
Linda Lewis (joint lead vocals, gong)
Completely unrecognisable as the work of the same band, their second is a folky, mellow rock affair with strong singer/songwriter edges. It’s all very nicely done, but not especially distinctive. Following the band’s break-up, Linda Lewis went on to become a disco and soul superstar. GRADE: C.

Festival (USA): Come, Arrow, Come! (Language Of Stone 005, CD, with digipak, 2008)
Lindsay Powell (joint lead vocals, guitar, piano, kalimba, zither), Alexis Powell (joint lead vocals, piano)
This project by Lindsay Powell (Cake Bake Betty, Fielded, Ga’an) and (I presume) her sister offers some lovely, mildly psychedelic, folk/rock. With some lovely female harmonies, it’s a very pleasant and enjoyable album. GRADE: C+.
See also Cake Bake Betty, Fielded, Ga’an

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