Fl-Fon

 

Flagrante Delicto (Norway): Wait For Me/If We Try/The Vision (Briskeby BY-12, CD, 1999)
Progresssive
Ingvild Sirevåg (lead vocals), Ingrid Salkum (backing vocals)
Limited to 300 copies, this mini-album runs for around eighteen minutes and offers mid-paced prog with hard rock influences, midway in style between drummer Pål Søvik’s other projects Fruitcake and the Guardian’s Office. As with those outfits, this is solid and listenable without being in any way exceptional. GRADE: C+.

Flairck (Holland): Variaties Op Een Dame (Polydor 2925 072, 1978)
Progressive/Folk/Classical
Judy Schomper (violin, viola)
Led by multi-instrumentalists Erik Visser and Peter Weekers, Flairck were a genuinely unique band. An all-acoustic and all-instrumental quartet, they offered delicate and evocative music that wasn’t quite folk or progressive or world music or chamber music, but blended elements of all those styles whilst demonstrating exceptional taste and virtuosity. The title track, at well over 21 minutes, is clearly the centrepiece here, but the album is delicate and beautiful from start to finish. GRADE: B–.
Flairck (Holland): Gevecht Met De Engel (Polydor 2925 097, 1980)
Progressive/Folk/Classical
Sylvia Houtzager (violin, viola, cello, flute, panpipes)
Following a similar template to the previous LP, this has four individual tracks on the first side and the three parts of the ‘Gevecht Met De Engel’ suite on the second. This time round, the instrumentation is slightly more wide-ranging than on their first, and the result is a superb album, with rich symphonic textures and plenty of intricacy. They also manage to integrate lots of panpipes without the results sounding MOR or kitsch, which is an achievement in itself. GRADE: B–.
Flairck (Holland): Live In Amsterdam (Polydor 2678 098, double, 1980)
Progressive/Folk/Classical
Sylvia Houtzager (violin, harp, panpipes)
The band’s first live album, released surprisingly early in their career, features the highlights of their two studio albums, plus the previously unreleased 18-minute ‘De Eerste Dag Na Je Vertrek’. The new number is a bit ponderous and fragmented, but everything else works well, and unlike me the audience seems to find their musical jokes hilarious. GRADE: B–.
Flairck (Holland): Circus (Polydor 2925 122, with inner, 1981)
Progressive/Folk/Classical
Annet Visser (accordion, flute, piccolo, oboe, bagpipes), Sylvia Houtzager (violin, viola, cello, harp)
As the title suggests, this is far more whimsical than their first two studio albums, with much of the music indeed having a circus-like feel. However, there are other parts of extreme beauty, and the new five-piece line-up creates a much more vivacious and much less academic sound, so this is one of their best LPs. GRADE: B.
Flairck With Nelleke Burg & The Regional Orchestra Of South Holland, Conducted By David Porcelijn (Holland): Flairck En Orkest (Polydor 2925 135, with inner, 1982)
Classical/Progressive
Nelleke Burg (lead vocals, trumpet), Annet Visser (spinet, accordion, flute, oboe), Sylvia Houtzager (violin, viola, harp)
This is Flairck’s most ambitious album to date,, recorded with a full symphony orchestra and featuring two side-long tracks: the new ‘Anders Dan Andersen’, which introduces vocals to their work for the first time, and a remake of ‘Gevecht Met De Engel’. Recorded live, it’s a work of remarkable depth and complexity, throwing in everything from electronically treated singing to tablas on the first side. Closer to classical music than to prog or folk, this is a really breathtaking fusion of styles. GRADE: B.
Moustaki & Flairck (Egypt/Holland): Moustaki En Flairck (Polydor 2393 335, 1982)
Chanson/Folk
Martha Contreras (percussion, backing vocals), Sylvia Houtzager (violin, viola, harp, flute, backing vocals), Annet Visser (flute, piccolo, bagpipes, backing vocals)
The combination of Flairck and an orchestra made perfect sense; their collaboration with French (though Egyptian-born and of Greek descent) crooner Georges Moustaki was far less obvious. The results are interesting and creative, with a few experimental touches, but chanson isn’t one of my favourite genres and Flairck’s instrumental prowess is far less exciting in a straightforward song-based format. GRADE: C+.
Flairck (Holland): Bal Masqué (EMI 068 127180 1, with inner, 1984)
Classical/Progressive
Cornee van der Kleij (lead vocals, accordion, saxophone, flute, piccolo), Sylvia Houtzager (violin, viola, harp, backing vocals)
Building on the sound of Flairck En Orkest, the band uses an orchestra on a few cuts here, with a baroque neoclassical sound taking them closer to contemporaries Rondò Veneziano (though without the slight MOR edge). Elsewhere there are cuts where the band plays alone, incorporating all kinds of classical, jazz, ethnic and folk references into their chamber music sound, and one actual song. The result is a fascinating, daring, accomplished, varied and occasionally incoherent record that repays close listening. GRADE: B.
Flairck (Holland): Encore (EMI 068 12 7300 1, with inner, 1985)
Classical/Progressive
Sylvia Houtzager (violin, harp), Annet Visser (flute, piccolo)
Flairck’s third live album again prominently features an orchestra, with the track listing comprising most of Circus, ‘Aoife’ from their first album and one new song co-written with Georges Moustaki. The song has something of a Middle Eastern flavour, but isn’t very exciting (though it is very long, at eleven minutes), whilst the live version of ‘Circus’ isn’t a patch on the studio original, so this is a good LP rather than a great one. GRADE: C+.
Flairck (Holland): Sleight Of Hand (EMI 068 12 7336 1, with inner, 1986)
Folk/Rock
Maggie Reilly (lead vocals), Sylvia Houtzager (violin, harp)
The addition of programmed drums to Flairck’s sound isn’t a welcome development, but for better or worse this is their first album with significant rock elements. It’s also their first (aside from the Moustaki collaboration) to focus entirely on short tracks without a unifying theme, blending five instrumentals with four songs fronted by guest vocalist Maggie Reilly. The result is a pleasant album that presents their intricate music within a more accessible and commercial framework, but it’s also decidedly lightweight and takes them dangerously close to MOR pop. GRADE: C+.
Flairck (Holland): 10 (Cosmic 84023-2, CD, 1988)
Folk/Progressive/Classical
Sylvia Houtzager (accordion, violin, viola, harp, amadinda)
Also released as The Emigrant, this repeats the short track format of its predecessor, with some familiar Flairck themes and melodies cropping up here and there. However, there are no songs and hardly any rock elements, making for a much less commercial (and in retrospect, much less dated) LP containing some excellent music. GRADE: B–.
Flairck (Holland): Alive (Cloud CLCD 8042-040, double CD, 1990)
Classical/Progressive/Folk
Sylvia Houtzager (accordion, violin, viola, harp, lyra, amandinda, angklung)
This expansive two-hour live album sees Flairck returning to their roots, without any orchestrations, guest vocalists or dated rock elements. The result is a beautifully performed and beautifully recorded overview of their career – a true classic of its kind. GRADE: B.
Flairck (Holland): De Optocht (Cloud 3803202, CD, 1992)
Classical/Progressive/Folk
Lorre Trytten (occasional vocals, spinet, percussion, violin, kokyu), Annet Visser (occasional vocals, accordion, percussion, flute, harp, shawm, melodica)
Among Flairck’s most ambitious and complex albums, this is a remarkable tapestry of instrumentals and occasional songs. Inspired by the writings of Nostradamus, the album blends contemporary folk, baroque classical, hymnal and mediaeval music, with lots of other references and quite a few surprises. As a footnote, the album was co-produced by Ton Scherpenzeel of the radically different Kayak. GRADE: B.
Flairck (Holland): Kamers/Chambers (Koch International D&K 86055-2, CD, 1994)
Classical/Progressive/Folk
Annet Visser (percussion, flute, melodica, backing vocals), Cora den Haring (cello, backing vocals)
Inspired by surrealist art, this is another extremely varied album, from an accordion-led version of a Bach piece to choral classical music to gentle, folky diversions to two songs (one a delicate chanson, the other a funky pop number). In the hands of a lesser band, an album like this could have been a formless mess, but Flairck weave all the elements together into a stunning home. GRADE: B.
Flairck (Holland): En Vivo En Chile (No label, double CD, Chile, 1995)
Classical/Progressive/Folk
Annet Visser (occasional vocals, flute, panpipes, melodica), Carla Veen (occasional vocals, cello)
This is the band's most expansive release so far: a live double album running for more than two hours and covering most facets of their sound. Unusually for Flairck, there’s even a snatch of heavily fuzzed guitar that provides a genuinely electrifying moment among the generally genteel arrangements. In short, this is a superb live set confirming their exceptional musical talents. GRADE: B.
Flairck (Holland): De Gouden Eeuw (Bonnet BOR 96016711, CD, 1996)
Folk/Classical/Progressive
Natalia Rogalski (principal vocals, percussion, harmonica), Antoinette Lohman (violin, viola), Carla Veen (viola, cello)
The band’s first song-based album since Moustaki En Flairck works surprisingly well, with the material rooted in both classical music and the chanson and lieder traditions. There’s a slight RIO touch here, with definite hints of Dagmar Krause, but Natalia Rogalski has a much softer voice and the arrangements are far more orchestral. Overall this is an interesting and fairly successful diversion from their usual style. GRADE: B–.
Flairck (Holland): Cuerpos Tocados – Music For The Body (No label, CDR, 1997)
Folk/New Age/Avant-Garde
Natalia Rogalski (joint lead vocals), Judith Sijp (joint lead vocals)
Demonstrating their continued ability to surprise, Flairck here offer a mainly acapella album drawing on different ethnic singing styles from around the world. With titles like ‘Under Water Song’ and ‘Song For One Voice And Two Mountains’, this has one foot in the new age camp, although the music is sufficiently spacy and minimal to avoid being kitsch. With a few genuinely avant-garde moments, it’s an interesting and radical addition to their canon. GRADE: B–.
Flairck (Holland): Symphony For The Old World (No label, double CD, 2000)
Folk/Progressive/Classical
Natalia Rogalski (principal vocals, cymbal, harmonica), Mirella Pirskanan (occasional vocals, violin)
Recorded live, this is Flairck’s largest-scale work: a huge four-part conceptual opus drawing on Celtic folk and baroque classical music, with two shorter pieces making up the second disc. Blending disparate influences in startling ways and demonstrating the highest levels of virtuosity, this is a remarkable piece. GRADE: B.
Flairck (Holland): Kamers/Chambers (TIOPP Media, DVDR, 2010?, recorded 1995)
Annet Visser, Carla Veen
I’m unclear whether or not this DVDR is an official release, but the picture and sound quality is fairly mediocre (though by no means bad). It features most of the Kamers/Chambers album live and demonstrates Flairck to be a fascinating band on stage, weaving in lots of clever musical jokes and theatrical elements. GRADE: B.

Flairck & Corpus (Holland): Circus Hieronymous Bosch (Alpha Centauri Entertainment ACE 11043 F, DVD, with booklet, 2002)
Classical/Folk/Progressive
Marieke van der Heyden (occasional vocals, cello, harmonica, musical saw), Anne van der Heuvel (bells, cello), Mariëlle Nieuwenhuis (winds)
This live performance, accompanying a ballet, mixes familiar themes (unsurprisingly including some from Circus) with new music, and the results are extremely impressive. The DVD may be watched with footage of either the band or the dancers, whilst the special features include a documentary about Hieronymous Bosch and the performance and interviews with the participants. GRADE: B.

Flairck & Basily (Holland/Indonesia/Hungary/Romania): Global Orchestra (No label, DVD plus CD, with booklet, Holland, 2011)
Folk/Progressive/Classical
Luluk Purwanto (lead vocals, violin)
This live set (running for 106 minutes on the DVD and truncated to 79 minutes on the accompanying CD) finds Flairck performing with the Dutch gypsy orchestra Basily, Indonesian violinist Luluk Purwanto, a Hungarian percussionist and a Romanian cymbalon player. Unsurprisingly, the music – which mostly appears new, though ‘Variations On A Lady’ and ‘Circus’ are interpolated – draws heavily on gypsy styles, though there are lots of classical and folk references as well. The performances are, as usual, ferociously complex and exceptionally eclectic, with plenty of scope for dazzling solos, and the staging as usual, is pretty static, recalling a classical concert more than a rock gig. GRADE: B.

Flairck (Holland): Back Alive! (Home 413309, CD, 2020)
Classical/Folk/Progressive
Zhazira Ukeyeva (violin), Anouk Sanczuk (violin, viola)
Despite the title, this is Flairck’s first studio album in 20 years, and it’s an extremely welcome return. Some may find their acoustic chamber music – not quite classical, not quite folk and certainly not rock – too austere, but I find it richly virtuosic, beautifully crafted and hugely impressive. GRADE: B–.
See also Cado Belle, Mike Oldfield, Maggie Reilly, Judy Schomper, Erik Visser & Sylvia Houtzager, XII Alfonso

Flake (Australia): How’s Your Mother? (Violets Holiday SHVL-934-365, 1971)
Rock/Psychedelic
Sharon Sims (joint lead vocals, percussion)
Most of the tracks are West Coast-influenced guitar rock: quite heavy but also very catchy and commercial. However, several are straight pop with a late sixties feel, including all three of the singles (‘This Wheel’s On Fire’, ‘Reflections Of My Life’ and ‘Life Is Getting Better’). For sure, this isn’t going to win any awards for originality, and it was a couple of years behind contemporary trends even when it was released, but the material and performances are consistently strong, making this one of the most enjoyable Australian albums of the era. GRADE: B.

Flake (Germany): Psychedelaction (No label, CDR, 1998)
Psychedelic/Pop
No prizes for guessing from the title that this is psychedelic: in this crazy groovy, melodic, late sixties pop-tinged stuff exploring similar territory to the slightly later Instant Flight. It’s a pity that this fairly short four-track EP was their only release, as they had real talent. There are no credits on the artwork, but this was a five-piece band including two women and the songs have female vocals throughout.

GRADE: B–.

Flamborough Head (Holland): One For The Crow (Cyclops CYCL 108, CD, UK, 2002)
Progressive
Margriet Boomsma (lead vocals, flute, recorder)
For the most part, this is keyboard-led soft sympho-prog: not complex or challenging, but with long, stately compositions that effectively create a wistful and melancholy mood. At times, the music recalls their countrymen Earth & Fire circa Song To The Marching Children or Atlantis, with a few added baroque touches. The band also throws in several lovely instrumentals, including the short acoustic guitar-and-recorder number ‘Separate’ which at one point quotes from Fleetwood Mac’s ‘Oh Well (part two)’. GRADE: C+.
Flamborough Head (Holland): Tales Of Imperfection (Cyclops CYCL 152, CD, UK, 2005)
Progressive
Margriet Boomsma (lead vocals, flute, recorder)
I like Margriet Boomsma’s voice and wistful lyrics, but I like the instrumentals even better: there are some superb moments here, and a wholly instrumental album from the band could be a delight. Overall, this is perhaps a touch livelier and more robust than its predecessor, but really there’s very little to choose between them. As a footnote, it’s uncanny how much some of the guitar lines on ‘Mantova’ sound like Jerry Garcia. GRADE: C+.
Flamborough Head (Holland): Live In Budapest (Cyclops CYCL 165, CD, UK, 2007)
Progressive
Margriet Boomsma (lead vocals, flute)
This pleasant live set offers a good choice of material and some accomplished performances. However, it doesn’t really add to the impression created by their studio albums or offer any other facets of their sound. GRADE: C+.
Flamborough Head (Holland): Looking For John Maddock (Cyclops CYCL 170, CD, UK, 2009)
Progressive
Margriet Boomsma (lead vocals, flute, recorder)
This is their most ambitious album, with a 20-minute title track, but musically it’s in the same easy-going sympho-prog vein as their earlier work. Whilst lacking the highpoints of Tales Of Imperfection, this is another pleasant LP. GRADE: C+.
Flamborough Head (Holland): Lost In Time (OSKAR 1058 CD, CD, Poland, 2013)
Progressive
Margriet Boomsma (lead vocals, flute, recorder)
Unsurprisingly, this doesn’t deliver any surprises, with Flamborough Head sticking to a well-tried and tested formula. Also unsurprisingly, it contains some lovely mellow material including some fine extended instrumental passages. GRADE: C+.

Flamborough Head (Holland): Shreds Of Evidence – Obscure Live Tracks And Other Rarities (OSKAR 1072 CD, CD, with digipak, 2017, recorded 2010-2015)
Progressive
Margriet Boomsma (principal vocals, guitar, flute, recorder)
This collection of contributions to samplers, largely composed of cover versions, starts out in fine form, offering some epic, majestic prog with folky edges and fine keyboard arrangements. In particular, the lovely ‘Year After Year’ strongly reminds me of Véronique Sanson whilst the excellent instrumental ‘Mantova’ impresses as much as ever. However, the set sags towards the end – whether through lack of inspiration or simply lack of variety is difficult to say. GRADE: C+.

Flamborough Head (Holland): Live At Progfarm 2006 (& Northern Prog Festival 2013) (Oskar 1073 2CD, double CD, 2017, recorded 2006 & 2013)
Progressive
Margriet Boomsma (lead vocals, guitar, flute)
The band’s second live album features two complete sets, recorded nine years apart: both focus on their longer-form compositions and, like their studio albums, confirms their considerable talent for creating dreamy soft prog. There is no duplication of material between the two sets, but there’s also little sense of artistic progression in nearly a decade, and this lack of variety and adventure is the band’s biggest downfall. GRADE: C+.

Flaming Bess (West Germany): Verlorene Welt (Polydor 2372 062, with inner, 1981)
Progressive
Marlene Krükel (joint lead vocals)
Packaged in a lurid fantasy sleeve, this sympho-prog album appears to be a concept set, mixing instrumental passages with male narration and mostly wordless female vocals. Beautifully played and richly melodic, the music varies from folky to borderline disco to near-MOR moments, never pushing any boundaries but always displaying superb hooks and outstanding musicianship. GRADE: C+.

Flaming Row (Germany): Elinoire (Progressive Promotion PPR CD 005, CD, 2011)
Progressive/Metal
Kiri Geile (occasional vocals), Michaela Auer (occasional vocals), Jessica Schmalle (occasional vocals), Anne Trautmann (occasional vocals), Sandra Thieleman (occasional vocals)
Rock opera isn’t one of my favourite styles, but despite breaking no new ground (imagine a fusion of melodic neoprogressive and power metal motifs, and you’re close) this is listenable enough and not too bombastic. Of the various female singers, only Kiri Geile is credited as a full band member; Anne Trautmann is more integrally a member of Seven Steps To The Green Door, but does very little here. GRADE: C+.

Flaming Row (Germany): Mirage – A Portrayal Of Figures (Progressive Promotion PPRCD020, double CD, with digipak and booklet, 2014)
Progressive/Metal
Kiri Geile (joint lead vocals), Anne Trautmann (joint lead vocals), Melanie Mau (joint lead vocals), Maggy Luyten (joint lead vocals), Anja Hampe (occasional vocals)
Like their first, this is overblown progressive metal rock opera – packed with singing, heavy on concept and varied to boot (with everything from folky diversions to ragtime piano thrown into the mix). As such, its appeal may be fairly selective, though those disliking rock opera could enjoy the second disc, which has the album in instrumental form. Those disliking bombast are not likely to relish either disc, however. GRADE: C+.
See also Frequency Drift, Melanie Mau & Martin Schnella, Seven Steps To The Green Door

Flap (Japan): Flap (Flap TBP-II, USA, 1978)
Rock
Kikuku Murakami (principal vocals, keyboards)
Privately released by four Japanese expatriates living in California, this is a lovely album of melodic rock that sounds a few years earlier than its release date. Most songs have folky edges and a bit of a late sixties hippie feel, but there are also a couple of harder-edged rockers with good guitar work and something of of a psychedelic flavour. The closing six-and-a-half minute ‘Sunset’ is especially impressive. All the songs are originals, penned by the guitarist, and have Japanese lyrics and a distinctly Nippon feel. This is a very rare and expensive LP, with an attractive and striking black-and-white cover. GRADE: C+.

Fleetwood Mac (UK/USA): Future Games (Reprise K44513, UK, 1971)
Rock/Progressive
Christine Perfect (joint lead vocals, keyboards)
Totally different from their first four albums, this excellent LP saw Fleetwood Mac incorporating strong West Coast and progressive rock elements into their sound. Danny Kirwan’s three compositions are superb, but it’s Bob Welch’s sublime title track that really steals the show, with its shimmering layers of multiple guitars, hypnotic two-note organ line and dreamy harmonies. GRADE: B.
Fleetwood Mac (UK/USA): Bare Trees (Reprise K44181, UK, 1972)
Rock/Progressive
Christine Perfect (occasional vocals, keyboards)
Heavier and more direct than its predecessor, Bare Trees is another stunning album, running the gamut from the jamming progressive of ‘Child Of Mine’ to the Hendrix-like guitar histrionics of ‘Danny’s Chant’, joyous instrumental ‘Sunny Side Of Heaven’, poignant ‘Dust’ and two of Christine Perfect’s most resonant compositions. GRADE: B.
Fleetwood Mac (UK/USA): Penguin (Reprise K44235, UK, 1973)
Rock
Christine Perfect (joint lead vocals, keyboards)
The departure of lead guitarist and principal songwriter Danny Kirwan left a huge gap at the heart of Fleetwood Mac; new members Bob Weston and Dave Walker, who contribute one lightweight song apiece and barely play on the album, didn’t come close to filling it. Consequently, Penguin is far less accomplished than its two predecessors, though it contains mostly very good material. The main problem is that, unlike other Mac albums, Penguin sounds like three solo albums compiled together, with each of the singers and songwriters pulling in different direction – Christine Perfect offers bluesy pop, Bob Welch delivers atmospheric soft prog, and Dave Walker prefers stripped-down soulful blues. Highpoints include the eerie extended ‘Night Watch’ (on which Peter Green allegedly plays uncredited lead guitar), the lovely pop song ‘Did You Ever Love Me?’ and a brilliantly bizarre basement cover of ‘(I’m A) Road Runner’. GRADE: C+.
Fleetwood Mac (UK/USA): Mystery To Me (Reprise K44248, with insert, UK, 1973)
Pop/Rock
Christine Perfect (joint lead vocals, keyboards)
More consistent and assured than Penguin, this nonetheless includes a fair degree of filler: the first three tracks on side two in particular define the term ‘unmemorable’. That said, ‘Keep On Going’ is wonderfully atmospheric, with a superb string arrangement and Christine Perfect’s sultriest vocal, ‘Hypnotised’ is simultaneously deeply mellow and distinctly eerie, and the opener ‘Emerald Eyes’ hints at the accomplished soft rock style that would later bring the band superstardom. GRADE: C+.
Fleetwood Mac (UK/USA): Heroes Are Hard To Find (Reprise K45026, UK, 1974)
Pop/Rock
Christine Perfect (joint lead vocals, keyboards)
Among the band’s weakest albums, this sees Christine Perfect on fine form (three good songs out of four) but Bob Welch struggling with the onerous task of writing the bulk of the material (one good song out of seven – the wonderfully taut ‘Angel’). Listening to this LP, you would never guess that world domination was just around the corner for the band (though, alas, not Welch). GRADE: C+.
Fleetwood Mac (UK): Madison Blues (Shakedown SHAKEBX110Z-UK, double CD plus DVD, with booklet and box, 2003, recorded

1970-1971)
Blues/Rock
Christine Perfect (joint lead vocals, piano)
This fascinating archive release commemorates the short-lived line-up of Mick Fleetwood, John McVie, Jeremy Spencer, Danny Kirwan and Christine Perfect, compiling four studio songs from Perfect (also used as the bonus tracks on The Complete Blue Horizon Sessions reissue of her 1970 LP), five Fleetwood Mac studio demos, numerous live recordings and a lengthy DVD interview with Jeremy Spencer. It’s a varied and interesting set, from Perfect and Kirwan’s bluesy pop through to Spencer’s blues and rock and roll pastiches, with the highpoints including lengthy, jamming versions of ‘Station Man’, ‘Crazy ’Bout You Baby’ and the sublime ‘The Purple Dancer’ (which appears in both studio and live interpretations). GRADE: B–.

Fleetwood Mac (UK/USA): Radio Waves 1968-1988 (Anglo Atlantic CDAA052, double CD, UK, 2016, recorded 1968-1988)
Rock
Christine Perfect (joint lead vocals, keyboards), Stevie Nicks (joint lead vocals)
The main attraction of this semi-legitimate release is a near-complete live set from December 1974 (annoyingly, ‘Future Games’ and ‘Bermuda Triangle’ are omitted) featuring the short-lived line-up with two keyboardists. The sound quality is decent but the performances are rather lukewarm, with two keyboard players being no substitute for the two guitarists that had spearheaded all previous line-ups. The remainder of disc one is made up of recordings by the Peter Green line-up (excellent) and the entirety of disc two by excerpts from gigs by the Buckingham-Nicks line-ups (mostly excellent, though the out-of-tune singing on ‘Everywhere’ is woeful). GRADE: B–.
See also Buckingham Nicks, Chicken Shack, Christine Perfect

Flibbertigibbet (Ireland/UK/Canada): Whistling Jigs To The Moon (Stanyan Africa 3 EE 7002, with insert, South Africa, 1978)
Folk
Alison O’ Donnell (joint lead vocals, percussion, autoharp), Jo Dudding (joint lead vocals, percussion, whistle, recorder, sopranino, whistle)
Although Flibbertigibbet was based in South Africa, none of its members hailed from there: all four were expatriates, including two ex-Mellow Candle members (Alison O’ Donnell and her husband David Williams). Musically this bears no resemblance to Mellow Candle, being fairly traditional folk with some rock tinges (most songs are based around acoustic guitar, mandolin, electric bass and percussion, with very occasional use of drums). The material is mostly traditional, although there are several self-penned cuts; the latter are uniformly superb, while the traditional interpretations are merely pleasant, the majority being taken at an unusually fast tempo. GRADE: B–.
Flibbertigibbet (Ireland/UK/Canada): My Lagan Love (Kissing Spell KSCD 902, UK, 1998, recorded 1978)

Folk

Alison O’ Donnell (joint lead vocals, guitar, percussion, autoharp, kazoo), Jo Dudding (joint lead vocals, percussion, recorder, sopranino, whistle)

This interesting addendum to their studio sets compiles 18 numbers – all traditional, the majority seemingly live. For the most part, this is delightful and delicate acoustic folk that equals the quality of their studio recordings, but I could have done without the diversions into jugband territory on ‘Mobile Line’ and ‘Take Your Fingers Off It’. GRADE: B–.
See also Éishtlinn, Mellow Candle, Alison O’ Donnell, Owl Service, United Bible Studies

Floating Opera (USA): Floating Opera (Embryo SD 730, 1971)
Rock/Psychedelic
Carol Lees (keyboards)
Despite fairly short tracks, this is excellent jamming rock with a psychedelic edge and some powerful guitar and organ work. The heavier tracks are the best, with the opening double whammy of ‘Song Of The Suicides’ and ‘The Vision’ being particularly effective. GRADE: C+.

Flock (Australia): Cool Living Water (Melchizedec YPRX-1176, with insert, 1973?)
Folk/Rock
Kay Fitzgerald (joint lead vocals, guitar, organ)
For the most part, this obscure Christian private pressing isn’t particularly good, offering mediocre folk/rock with some slightly symphonic keyboard work but also weak or quasi-operatic vocals. However, the near-seven minute ‘Broken Arrow’ is a psychedelic folk masterpiece that seems to belong on a different album entirely. The LP is also very attractively packaged, with a sepia-tinged sleeve and matching lyric insert. GRADE: C.

Floss (USA): Cruisin’ (Silver Crest Custom BW41775, with insert, 1976)
Rock
Beth Sovern (drums)
It’s no accident that this band has a female drummer: their sound is frequently a dead ringer for late-period Velvet Underground, especially on the opening ‘Feelin' Alright’. Unlike the Velvets, they don’t pen their own material aside from a solitary instrumental (a slightly spooky piece, hinting towards the John Gilbert & Meade River LP), but they cover the best: Dylan (‘All Along The Watchtower’, one of his few songs I really love), the Beatles and the Stones. The result is an enjoyable and unpretentious garage rock LP packed with naïve period charm. Reputedly only 100 copies were pressed, making this extremely rare. GRADE: C+.

Flowers Must Die (Sweden): Kompost (Rocket Recordings LAUNCH113, yellow vinyl, with inner and download card, UK, 2017)

Psychedelic

Lisa Ekelund (principal vocals, violin, Theremin)

They don’t just share a label with their countrymen Goat: this sounds exactly like Goat without the African elements, offering tripped-out jamming drawing heavily on early Amon Düul II. This is a bit more diffuse than either Amon Düül II or Goat: much of it sounds improvised and it covers a wide range of territory, with some sections working better than others. Nonetheless, 90% of this is pretty damn good, so if you like either of those bands (or indeed Gong, whom they namecheck) you should love this. GRADE: B­–.

Flowers Must Die (Sweden): Där Blommor Dör (Rev/Vega rvr020, double, with insert, some with original artwork, 2018)
Psychedelic
Lisa Ekelund (lead vocals, violin, Theremin)
The sprawling, tripped-out jams here bring lots of different influences to mind. Principally, I can hear elements of Ash Ra Tempel and Gong’s Camembert Électrique, but Flowers Must Die borrow from anything and everything trippy, heavy and freaky. The result isn’t the most profound album in the world – but if you love jamming, you’ll love these jams. GRADE: B–.

Flowers Must Die (Sweden): Live In Liège (No label, download, 2021)
Psychedelic
Lisa Ekelund (lead vocals, violin, Theremin), Hanna Östergren (percussion), Laura Agnusdei (saxophone)
The five wild jams here cover a fair range of territory – all of it trippy and mantric and spaced-out to the max. In fact, the 48 minutes here are so good I could cheerfully have listened to another hour. GRADE: B–.

See also Katla

Flying Island (USA): Flying Island (Vanguard VSD 79359, 1975)
Jazz/Rock/Progressive
Faith Fraioli (violin, flute)
Consisting of ten instrumentals ranging from under three to over six minutes, the album offers some well-structured jazzy prog with excellent ensemble playing. At times, it’s a bit too slick and mellow for its own good, which is par for the course for the genre, but there is certainly some excellent music here. GRADE: B–.
Flying Island (USA): Another Kind Of Space (Vanguard VSD 79368, 1976)
Progressive
Faith Fraioli (violin)
For their second and final LP, the band opted for a much heavier and more rock-oriented sound, with the jazz elements significantly reduced. Like their debut, there’s nothing really killer here, but once again there are no obvious weak moments. GRADE: B–.

Flying Lesbians (West Germany): Flying Lesbians (No label FO 3-V4, with inner, 1975)
Rock
Monika Mengel (joint lead vocals, percussion), Monika Jaeckel (joint lead vocals, percussion), Danielle de Baat (joint lead vocals, guitar, bass), Cillie Rentmeister (joint lead vocals, keyboards, harmonica), Christel Wachowski (guitar, percussion), Monika Savier (bass, percussion), Gigi Lansch (drums)
No prizes for guessing that this is feminist rock from an all-female and apparently all-lesbian band. It’s a varied album, with slight progressive touches here and there but also a very vocal approach (with lyrics in both German and English). Monika Jaeckel later collaborated with Barbara Bauermeister of the rather similar Lysistrara in Witch Is Witch. GRADE: C+.
See also Witch Is Witch

Flying Vision (Japan): All Night Metal Party ’84 To ’85 (Rock Maker RC-001-D, cassette, 1985)
Metal
This all-female metal band don’t break any new ground with their live EP, but this is nice stripped-down stuff recalling Metallica, Iron Maiden and all the other icons of eighties metal. GRADE: C+.

Focus (UK): Shades Of Life (No label FOCUS 2, double, 1972)
Folk
Merry Carr, Rosie Wheen, Chris Bond
This ambitious privately-released double album features no fewer than 34 tracks, but despite the faintly psychedelic-sounding title, it’s straightforward acoustic folk with versions of songs by the Beatles, Mamas & Papas, Bee Gees, Gordon Lightfoot, Davy Graham, Ewan MacColl, Phil Ochs and Paul Simon. The band was a six-piece, consisting of three men and three women, and the catalogue number implies they may also have had an earlier release. GRADE: C.

Fold (UK): Spiral (Orange Sky ORA CD 101, CD, 1995)
Folk/Rock
Vicky Smallwood (occasional vocals)
Their energetic, violin-led, seventies-influenced countercultural folk/rock sound strongly reminds me of Bluehorses (who came slightly later, so may have been strongly influenced by the Fold). However, the closing ‘Spiral Down’ – sadly the only number fronted by the talented Vicky Smallwood – is a tripped-out, haunting ballad and the album’s highpoint. Unusually for this type of outfit, they don’t indulge in any folk/punk crossovers, and unusually for a low-budget recording this has magnificent sound quality. GRADE: B–.
Fold (UK): Close Up (Orange Sky ORA CD 102, CD, 1997)
Folk/Rock
Joanna Shiel (occasional vocals)
This longer and more substantial second album offers the same energetic violin-led folk/rock sound, once again with a pleasing retro edge. The occasionally lightweight compositions don’t always match the impressive instrumental sections, but this is a strong album throughout, culminating in the delicate acoustic ballad ‘Toujours Avec Toi’, which for some reason they chose to perform in French. GRADE: B–.
Fold (UK): Life Is Beautiful (Orange Sky ORA CD103, CD, 1999)
Folk/Rock
Hanna Burchell (percussion, mandolin, flute, backing vocals), Linda Game (violin)
This short (three songs in 12¼ minutes) was the band’s first recording with new member Hanna Burchell and also their last for ten years. The two songs are decent enough, if fairly straight, but unsurprisingly they really shine on the lovely closing instrumental. GRADE: B–.
Fold (UK): A Change Has Got To Come (Orange Sky ORA CD105, with digipak, CD, 2009)
Folk/Rock
Hanna Burchell (occasional vocals, percussion, mandolin, flute), Linda Game (mandolin, violin)
The songs and in particular the instrumentals are a bit more robust here, and whilst this never equals the highest points of their earlier work it’s the most consistent of their releases. In particular, the dual mandolins add distinction to their powerful folk/rock sound.

GRADE: B–.
See also Pan, Jon Wood

Simon Foley (UK): To Strive With Princes (Look LK-LP - 6324, with booklet, 1978)
Folk/Rock
Kathy Edwards (occasional vocals)
Along with Mountain Ash Band’s somewhat similar The Hermit, this is probably the most ambitious folk-related private pressing from Britain in the seventies. A rock opera about the life and execution of Sir Thomas More, To Strive With Princes employs exclusively acoustic guitars but also features a rhythm section, extensive use of keyboards and backing vocals, and even a (thankfully brief) contribution from a children’s choir. With occasional use of phasing and a definite pop sensibility in parts, it’s a lovely, delicate album and a most unusual release for a private label. As a footnote, Kathy Edwards’s vocals remind me of Joan Bartle from Stone Angel, and it’s a pity she is not featured more heavily. GRADE: C+.

Folk & Rackare (Sweden/Norway): Rackarspel (YTF 50241, with insert, Sweden, 1978)
Folk/Rock
Carin Kjellman (joint lead vocals, guitar, dulcimer)
The first (or second, depending on how you look at it) Folk & Rackare album is interesting for the line-up: two Swedes and two Norwegians (including Jørn Jensen, formerly of Folque and Kong Lavring). It’s mostly in the same traditional folk/rock style as the two earlier Carin Kjellman & Ulf Gruvberg LPs, but the six-minute ‘Bältet’ adds drums for more of an electric folk feel and is probably the highlight. Another interesting cut is ‘Halling Efter Martin Martinsson’, performed entirely on the jew’s harp. GRADE: C+.
Folk & Rackare (Sweden/Norway): Anno 1979 (Sonet SLP-2628, with inner, 1979)
Folk/Rock
Carin Kjellman (joint lead vocals, dulcimer, psaltery)
This is another fine album, full of intricate and beautiful music with well-judged and restrained playing. However, as with all their works, it lacks the dynamics and variety that could have made it a classic. GRADE: C+.
Folk & Rackare (Sweden/Norway): Stjärnhästen (Sonet SLP-2691, with inner, 1981)
Folk/Rock
Carin Kjellman (joint lead vocals, guitar, flute, dulcimer)
In their pale jeans and tops on the back cover, they almost look like Kayak or even Abba, but musically this is business as usual. With slightly more mediaeval elements than the last album, this is another lovely, gentle set. GRADE: C+.
Folk & Rackare (Sweden/Norway): Rackbag (Amalthea AM 53, with inner, 1985)
Folk/Rock
Carin Kjellman (joint lead vocals, percussion, dulcimer)
Their final album is a bit different, being their only foray into full-blown electric folk. It suffers a bit from eighties production, especially in the drums, and is arguably less subtle than their earlier work. However, I strongly prefer electric to acoustic folk, making this my favourite of their LPs. GRADE: B–.
See also Carin Kjellman & Ulf Gruvberg, Thomas Lindahl

Folk Group Of Shenley Court Comprehensive School (UK): Birmingham Lads (No label CH 101/M, with insert, 1970)
Folk
Although the school’s ‘comprehensive’ designation might suggest pupils in their teens, the vocalists here sound considerably younger. However, it’s not all bad news: an adult male singer with a nicely nasal style fronts at least half the album, giving this an earthy and authentic feel. ‘Botany Bay’, sung solo by Pauline Gibbons, is another highlight of a generally satisfying traditional folk LP. GRADE: C+.

Folkal Point (UK): Folkal Point (Midas MR003, 1972)
Folk/Rock
Cherie Musialik (principal vocals)
By far the most expensive and sought-after British traditional folk LP, Folkal Point’s sole album is worth every penny of its two thousand pound price tag. Despite mainly acoustic arrangements (plus electric bass throughout), it’s actually not that traditional, with several contemporary songs and notable rock elements. The overall mood is one of poignancy and loss, brought to life by some exquisitely haunting female vocals. ‘Scarborough Fair’, ‘Victoria Dines Alone’ and ‘Sweet Sir Galahad’ in particular are quite magical, and there are no more than a couple of average tracks on the entire album. GRADE: B.

Folklords (Canada): Release The Sunshine (Allied 11, 1968)
Folk/Rock/Psychedelic
Martha Johnson (autoharp, backing vocals)
With an echoey, lo-fi sound, this is an enjoyable melodic folk/rock album with subtle psychedelic edges and quite a bit of colouring from autoharp. It’s also one of the more expensive Canadian major label albums. Several sources have claimed that band member Martha Johnson went on to front Martha & The Muffins, but I’m almost certain that was an unrelated namesake: the two women look completely different, for a start. GRADE: C+.

Folkus (UK): Alive (Thule SLP 102, 1970)
Folk
Valerie Service
This very rare Scottish folk private pressing features acoustic full band arrangements, with a jazzy touch and some complexity. Their biggest influence was clearly Pentangle, and the album peaks on excellent, lengthy versions of ‘Nights In White Satin’ and ‘Who Knows Where The Time Goes?’. GRADE: C+.

Folkways (UK): No Other Name (Folk Heritage FHR029, 1972)
Folk
Eileen Coxon (joint lead vocals, guitar), Paulette Franklin (joint lead vocals, guitar, tambourine, autoharp)
In terms of copies known, this is among the rarest Folk Heritage albums, but it only sells for a fraction of the price of big names like Blue Horizon. Musically, it’s enjoyable enough traditional folk from a trio including a mother and daughter, with backing from lead guitarist Peter Bethell and bassist Brian Murray, who played with a number of other Folk Heritage and Midas acts. GRADE: C+.

Follies Bazaar (USA): Follies Bazaar (No label, 1977)
Rock
Robin Paige (occasional vocals), Linda Cordeiro (occasional vocals), Margie Roy (occasional vocals), Diane Kalfaran (guitar), Virginia Garzilli (tambourine, backing vocals)
Follies Bazaar was a series of albums by an American university (also responsible for the Right Of Little Rest LP) showcasing various singer/songwriters and bands. Housed in a beautiful fantasy sleeve, this volume offers some excellent hippie-rock and folk/rock. The female-fronted tracks are ‘Dreams Of You’ (a great trippy ballad with a backwards guitar solo), the gentle, haunting ‘Another Road Song’ and the light progressive rocker ‘My Freedom’. The extended folk/rocker ‘Sandpaper To Satin’ and the closing instrumental ‘Seismic Surf’ are also highlights of a solid and surprisingly cohesive LP. GRADE: C+.

Follies Bizarre (USA): Follies Bizarre (No label UR001, 1982?)
Rock
Mary Zema (occasional vocals, guitar), Sue Lamoureux (occasional vocals),  Linda Britto (occasional vocals), Sue Tucker (flute), Ruth Shillings (viola), Susan Williams (cello)
This instalment in the long-running Follies Bazaar series offers a good cross-section of college rock sounds. It opens with a decent blues/jazz number, followed by a nice progressive rock instrumental led by piano and violin and then a haunting orchestrated folk song. Side one closes with Mary Zema’s ‘Ride The Waves’, which is a fine, rather psychedelic number with some excellent fuzz guitar. Over on side two, ‘You Don’t Even Know’, fronted by Sue Lamoureux, is a decent but rather disposable light rocker, Linda Britto’s ‘And You’ is a pleasant ballad hinting at contemporary Olivia Newton-John, before the album closes with ‘This Won’t Be The Last Time’ and ‘The End Of The Line’ by Don Larsen and Kevin Nixon, which fall somewhere between synth-pop and electronic prog. GRADE: C+.

See also Right Of Little Rest

Followers Of The Way (USA): Christian Life Communities (Sadbird SLP - 2513, with booklet, 1973)
Folk
Peggie Telscher (principal vocals, guitar, keyboards, tambourine, recorder), Diane Detonnancourt (occasional vocals)
This Christian folk set is gentle, delicate and unpretentious, with well-written original songs featuring simple acoustic guitar and piano backing. A couple of more uptempo cuts don’t work so well, but the pipe organ instrumental is a nice diversion, and just about everything else is enjoyable. GRADE: C+.
Followers Of The Way (USA): Blessed Weakness (No label PAS-753883, 1975)
Folk/Rock
Peggie Telscher (joint lead vocals, guitar, percussion, recorder), Candy Kennedy (occasional vocals)
Their second and final album sees them moving from folk to folk/rock, with most tracks featuring bass and drums or percussion, as well as occasional contributions from electric guitar and electric piano. Whilst the music and singing still have the rather prim, uptight feel typical of Christian folk, there’s a nice breezy mood to some of the arrangements, making for another enjoyable set. In particular, the gentle, dreamy closer ‘Auf Wiedersehen’ is quite sublime. GRADE: C+.

Folque (Norway): Folque (Philips 6317 025, with inner, 1974)
Folk/Rock
Lisa Helljesen (principal vocals)
Their favourite band was clearly Steeleye Span: not only do they offer Norwegian-language versions of ‘Alison Gross’ and ‘Twa Corbies’ but some of the arrangement ideas are directly lifted too (notably the banjo on opener ‘Skjøn Jomfru’, which is a dead ringer for Maddy Prior’s playing on ‘Lowlands Of Holland’). There are also a fair few Fairport Convention touches, mixed in with some traditional Norwegian folklore, so whilst this isn’t the most original album in the world, it’s a fine electric folk set by any measure. GRADE: B–.
Folque (Norway): Kjempene På Dovrefjell (Philips 6317 034, with inner, 1975)
Folk/Rock
Lisa Helljesen (principal vocals)
Once again, it’s fun spotting the Steeleye Span references – ‘Jarven Av Murray’ seems to base its arrangement principally on ‘Blackleg Miner’, whilst ‘Heming Og Harald Kongjen’ blends elements of ‘Copshawholme Fair’ and ‘One Night As I Lay On My Bed’. Overall, this is a little livelier and more varied than their first, though it’s a bit inconsequential and scrappy too, at just thirty-one minutes (and with more than half the tracks under two-and-a-half minutes). Either way, their own personality would only really assert itself with their third LP. GRADE: B–.
Folque (Norway): Vardøger (Philips 6317 646, with poster, 1977)
Folk/Rock
Lisa Helljesen (principal vocals)
Album number three is a huge step forward – confident, richly arranged electric folk with some excellent vocal and instrumental performances. Whilst this is nowhere near as innovative as Trees, Malicorne or early Steeleye Span, for sheer listening pleasure it stands alongside the best in the genre. GRADE: B.
Folque (Norway): Dans, Dans, Olav Liljekrans (Mai 7802, with booklet, 1978)
Folk/Rock
Jenn E Mortensen (principal vocals)
They may have changed both their female vocalist and label (surprisingly to Mai, best known for its Socialist folk output) but this is in a very similar style to its predecessor – and every bit as impressive. GRADE: B.
Folque (Norway): Fredløs (Mai 8001, with poster, 1980)
Folk/Rock
Jenn E Mortensen (principal vocals)
This is their most dynamic album, ranging from some very heavy electric guitar riffs to sensitive acoustic moments. It’s also another folk/rock classic with fine performances throughout. GRADE: B.
Folque (Norway): Landet Ditt (Talent TLS 4046, with inner, 1981)
Folk/Rock
Jenn E Mortensen (principal vocals)
New drummer Pål Søvik brings a heavier touch to the band (and would later go on to work with several progressive rock outfits, including Flagrante Delicto, Fruitcake, Guardian’s Office and White Willow). This isn’t a subtle approach to electric folk and once again their resemblance to Steeleye Span (this time in the All Around My Hat or Rocket Cottage period) is obvious, but this has a sheer class and consistency that Steeleye’s later albums mostly failed to achieve. GRADE: B.
Folque (Norway): Sort Messe (Strawberry SRLP 011, 1983)
Folk/Rock
Jenn E Mortensen (lead vocals)
Typically for an electric folk band, Folque started out playing rock arrangements of traditional material and ended up focusing on their own compositions. This is a varied album, from borderline rock and roll to country/rock, but mostly it’s in a mainstream folk/rock style and well up to their usual standard; the psychedelic closer ‘Hymne’ is especially good. A few longer songs would have been welcome, enabling them to stretch out, but by any standard this was a solid end to their career. GRADE: B–.
Folque (Norway): Dans Dans (Pan PALP 02, 1991, recorded 1984)
Folk/Rock
Jenn E Mortensen (principal vocals)
Issued several years after the band’s break-up, this live album is curiously short and slight (well under half-an-hour). Musically it’s pretty good, with some lively performances, although the rather thin sound undercuts the band’s power. Ultimately, enjoyable as it is, this is more a historical document than a cornerstone of the band’s catalogue. GRADE: C+.

Brigitte Fontaine (France): 13 Chansons Décadentes Et Fantasmagoriques (Jacques Canetti 48 815, 1966)
Jazz/Chanson
Brigitte Fontaine (lead vocals)
Brigitte Fontaine has apparently disowned her obscure solo debut, and I share her opinion: this is a rather arch fusion of big band jazz and chansons with a somewhat mediocre set of (entirely self-penned) songs. It’s certainly interesting as a historical document, however,. The album has twice been reissued on CD, as 17 Chansons Décadentes Et Fantasmagoriques (with four bonus tracks) and Dévaste-Moi (without the bonus cuts). Like many sixties French LPs, this is remarkably short, with more than half the tracks being under two minutes. GRADE: C–.

Brigitte Fontaine & Jacques Higelin (France): 12 Chansons D’Avant Le Déluge (Jacques Canetti 48 846, 1966)
Jazz
Brigitte Fontaine (joint lead vocals)
The opening ‘Maman J’Ai Peur’ is an impressive piece of weird folk with odd jazzy and avant-garde touches, but after that the album mostly offers jazz: sometimes modern and sometimes quite traditional. Whilst there is some good material here, this is a scrappy LP that doesn’t really hang together, and the very short running time (well under half an hour) contributes to its insubstantial feel. Further, not everything is new, with several songs being duplicated from 13 Chansons Décadentes Et Fantasmagoriques. More (separate) recordings by Fontaine and Higelin were later compiled as 15 Chansons D’Avant Le Déluge, Suite Et Fin… in 1976; all Fontaine's contributions were again taken from her solo debut. GRADE: C.
Brigitte Fontaine (France): Brigitte Fontaine Est… Folle (Saravah SH 10001, 1968)
Pop/Chanson
Brigitte Fontaine (principal vocals)
Nowhere near as freaky as its beautiful and weird cover, this is a charming album of orchestrated pop with a few avant-garde edges. The irresistibly catchy ‘Eternelle’ is the best cut by far, but unlike her earlier work there are no weak moments. GRADE: C+.
Brigitte Fontaine & Areski with Art Ensemble Of Chicago (France/Algeria/USA): Comme À La Radio (Saravah SHL 10006, with book sleeve, France, 1969)
Jazz/Folk/Avant-Garde
Brigitte Fontaine (principal vocals)
Fontaine’s first album with her husband, Algerian percussionist Areski Belkacem, was also the first where her distinctive sound took shape. Whilst some tracks here are modern jazz with avant-garde edges, others introduce Areski’s trademark ethnic percussion and lots of North African elements. The result is a highly original and creative album with a rather unsettling feel that’s streets ahead of anything she’d done previously. GRADE: B–.
Brigitte Fontaine (France): Brigitte Fontaine (Saravah SHL 1034, 1972)
Folk/Avant-Garde
Brigitte Fontaine (principal vocals)
Dropping most of the jazz elements, Fontaine offers an album of unusual ethnic-tinged folk. This is a very experimental record, with snatches of dialogue and screaming between tracks, a spoken-word number, an eerie long cut with a classical cello arrangement (‘L’Auberge’) and even a piece consisting of Fontaine sobbing against an acapella backing (‘Une Minute Cinquante-Cinq’). Unsurprisingly, not everything works brilliantly, but this is certainly a very bold and exciting LP. Strangely, all CD reissues omit the final song ‘Merry-Go-Round’ and replace it with an alternate take of ‘L’Éternel Retour’ from Fontaine’s 1980 album Les Églantines Sont Peut-Être Formidables. GRADE: B–.
Areski & Brigitte Fontaine (Algeria/France): Je Ne Connais Pas Cet Homme (Saravah SH 10041, 1973)
Folk/World Music
Brigitte Fontaine (joint lead vocals)
Slightly less experimental than its predecessor, this is a fine album of rather weird ethnic folk with lots of Algerian elements and occasional classical touches. By now, Fontaine and Belkacem had really hit their stride, creating music of considerable distinction and originality. GRADE: B–.
Areski & Brigitte Fontaine (Algeria/France): L’Incendie (BYG 529.026, 1973)
Folk/World Music
Brigitte Fontaine (joint lead vocals)
In parts, this is a little straighter and a little more sombre than the last few albums. However, there is some outstanding music on offer, expecially ‘L’Engourdie’ with its squalling fuzz guitar, and the manic, mantric ‘Les Borgias’. GRADE: B–.
Areski & Brigitte Fontaine (Algeria/France): Le Bonheur (Saravah SH 10059, 1975)
Folk/World Music/Avant-Garde
Brigitte Fontaine (joint lead vocals, tambourine, effects)
Much weirder than the last couple of Areski & Fontaine albums, this mixes tracks recorded in the studio and in concert and adds in lots of sound effects and unexpected shifts of mood. The result is another excellent LP, whilst not really breaking any new ground for the duo. GRADE: B–.
Brigitte Fontaine & Areski Belkacem (France/Algeria): Vous Et Nous (Saravah RSL1071, double, France, 1977)
Folk/Psychedelic/Progressive
Brigitte Fontaine (joint lead vocals)
This 33-track double album isn’t just Fontaine’s most ambitious and expansive project, but also easily her best. The opening title track sounds like Malicorne with weird synthesiser effects (and is later reprised in a quasi-mediaeval version that’s even closer to Malicorne) whilst the following ‘Patriarcat’ is a lengthy piece resembling a less frenetic Catherine Ribeiro with electronic backing. Subsequent tracks are folkier, but still much more varied than their usual fare, making this an album of considerable depth. A single LP version was also released (Saravah RSL1070). GRADE: B.
Brigitte Fontaine & Areski Belkacem (France/Algeria): Les Églantines Sont Peut-Être Formidables (Saravah RSL 1091, with inner, 1980)
Folk/Rock/Progressive
Brigitte Fontaine (joint lead vocals), Ann Ballester (keyboards)
The last album jointly credited to Fontaine and Belkacem marked a considerable change of direction, with the latter sticking to vocals and contributing none of his trademark ethnic percussion. Instead much of the backing is provided by Édition Spéciale, with Mimi Lorenzini in the producer’s chair. If their brand of slick jazzy prog appears an odd match with Fontaine’s style, the results are indeed quite variable, although some cuts simply feature accompaniment from kanoun and there are even spoken-word sections. The ten-minute ‘Tout-Le-Monde Se Rappelle Peut-Être De Quoi Il S’Agit’ is the most ambitious composition the duo ever attempted, but despite some interesting moments this is a definite step down from the last few LPs. Fontaine herself disowned the album and refused to allow it to be reissued for many years. GRADE: C+.
Brigitte Fontaine (France): French Corazon (Midi MIL-1040, with booklet and obi, Japan, 1988)
Pop/Rock
Brigitte Fontaine (principal vocals)
Even more wide-ranging than its predecessor, this covers everything from funky pop to new wave to hard rock to borderline prog to Arabian music. Whilst it’s a solid album throughout, the overall impression is of an artist trying desperately to remain contemporary whilst broadening her market appeal. Although this is credited as a solo set, Areski produces, co-writes everything and duets on two songs. The disc was originally released only in Japan, but subsequently appeared in France both under its original name and as Le Nougat. GRADE: C+.
Brigitte Fontaine (France): Genre Humain (Virgin 724384050023, CD, 1995)
Funk/Progressive
Brigitte Fontaine (lead vocals)
This succeeds where the last two albums failed (as did Fontaine’s contemporaries like Catherine Ribeiro and Béatrice Tékielski) in updating her sound for the nineties. With funky, mildly proggy rock backings and quite a few influences from modern dance music, Fontaine creates some outstanding grooves and shows herself to be an artist of considerable relevance and import. GRADE: B–.
Brigitte Fontaine (France): Les Palaces (Virgin 7243 8451062 6, CD, 1997)
Pop/Funk/Chanson
Brigitte Fontaine (principal vocals)
Somewhat different from its predecessor, this shows her moving closer to electronica on some numbers and returning to her chanson roots (with mainly keyboard and orchestral backing) on others. The result is another good album, but overall a far less striking piece of work (even if it is arguably more innovative). GRADE: C+.
Brigitte Fontaine (France): Kékéland (Virgin 724381066126, CD, 2001)
Rock/Psychedelic
Brigitte Fontaine (principal vocals)
With the involvement of everyone from Sonic Youth to Jim O’ Rourke, this sees Fontaine upping the rock quotient considerably, though the cuts range from borderline psych to electronica to sweeping orchestrated ballads. Not everything works well, but in general this is a bold and successful album. GRADE: B–.
Brigitte Fontaine (France): Rue Saint Louis En L’Île (Virgin 72434732361 1, CD, with slipcase, 2004)
Pop/Rock
Brigitte Fontaine (principal vocals)
As varied as its predecessor but a little more pop-oriented, this breaks no new ground for Fontaine – but it’s still another fine album. GRADE: B–.
Brigitte Fontaine (France): Libido (Polydor 984 322 0, CD, with digipak and booklet, 2006)
Chanson/Rock/Avant-Garde
Brigitte Fontaine (lead vocals)
Possibly the most inventive of Fontaine’s recent albums, this alternates epic orchestrated ballads and avant-garde rock, mixing the two approaches on the excellent ‘Mendelssohn’. With consistently fine material throughout, Libido proves that her artistry really stood the test of time. GRADE: B–.
Brigitte Fontaine (France): Prohibition (Polydor 5320222, CD, 2009)
Rock
Brigitte Fontaine (principal vocals)
Rather more rocking than her last few LPs, this is another strong set that shows Fontaine continuing to experiment subtly, whilst remaining within her established style. GRADE: B–.
Brigitte Fontaine (France): L’Un N’Empêche Pas L’Autre (Universal Music 276 739-1, CD, 2011)
Rock/Chanson
Brigitte Fontaine (joint lead vocals)
This unusual album features four new songs and nine re-recordings of older numbers (three of them not having appeared on Fontaine’s regular albums in their original forms), with the majority being performed as duets. The latter concept doesn’t work especially well, but this is nonetheless a consistently fine album, with the spacy, psychedelic ‘Gilles De La Tourette’ (significantly, a new song and not a duet) being the highpoint, followed by a heavy garage-rock reinterpretation of ‘Inadaptée’ from Brigitte Fontaine Est… Folle. GRADE: B–.
Brigitte Fontaine (France): J’ai L’Honneur D’Être (Silène 375156-4, CD, 2013)
Rock/Chanson
Brigitte Fontaine (lead vocals)
This is a varied set indeed, ranging from borderline psychedelic and mildly avant-garde rock through dramatic ballads to borderline music hall-style stuff. As usual, it’s very creative and beautifully executed, but the archness factor is frequently a little high for me. GRADE: C+.

Brigitte Fontaine (France): Terre Neuve (Verycords, CD, 2020)
Rock/Psychedelic
Brigitte Fontaine (lead vocals)
Like her fellow octogenarian Yoko Ono, whom she often resembles here, Brigitte Fontaine hasn’t let age blunt her pioneering spirit or her musical experimentation. The scratchy garage backing here is psychedelic in a completely different way from her formative work with Areski Belkacem – as are her wild vocalisations, ranging from singing to speaking to snoring – and thoroughly modern too. Alternatively, one could classify this as Édith Piaf on acid – but whatever you call it, she called it correctly as this does indeed continue to break new ground. GRADE: B–.