Great Djeli (USA): Great Djeli (Great Djeli CR 281.10, with insert, Holland, 1981)
Abigail Lumsden (occasional vocals, keyboards, violin), Cass Descollenges (occasional vocals, saxophone, flute, recorder)
Led by singer/songwriter Stephen Descollenges, this trio of Californian expatriates cut a lovely album of dreamy hippie folk/rock. The highpoints are the richly melodic opener ‘Mother Moon’, the long, rather psychedelic ‘Primal Scream’ and the proggy instrumental ‘The Hunter’, led by piano and woodwind. Even the less memorable cuts are very pleasant, making this an accomplished album throughout. GRADE: B–.
Great Life (USA): The Great Life (Dean Brown Productions DBP-176, 1976?)
Debbie Combs (joint lead vocals), Debbie Dickau (joint lead vocals)
The opening double whammy of ‘Bless The Lord’ (a strong rocker with a psychedelic edge) and ‘Early Morning’ (a beautiful and haunting folk number) get this obscure Christian album off to a great start. Unfortunately, much of the rest is afflicted by the churchy, MOR sound typifying so much Christian rock, though there are several other pretty good tracks. As a footnote, Dean Brown was a jazz musician and his independent label released quite a number of albums, though this appears terminally obscure. GRADE: C.
Great Loose Band & OK Chorale (USA): Stone Crow (Blue Bong B-10956, 1976)
Gina Simkins (joint lead vocals, percussion)
No prizes for guessing from the label and track titles like ‘In The Land Of The Hashish Eaters’ and ‘In The Court Of King Hsah [sic]’ that this university project LP concerns itself with psychedelic topics. The cover describes it as a live album, but these mostly sound like studio recordings, though of course they could have recorded it on the mixing desk without any audience noise. Musically, this is fun garage rock with psychedelic and folk edges, all as loose and satirical as the band name implies. GRADE: C+.
Great Metropolitan Steam Band (USA): The Great Metropolitan Steam Band (Decca DL 75143, 1969)
This is sometimes offered for sale as blues/rock, but it’s actually quaint country blues in a similar style to Panama Ltd or some of the Insect Trust’s work. It’s well done, for sure, but an acquired taste I haven’t fully acquired. GRADE: C.
Great Saturday Night Swindle (Ireland): The Great Saturday Night Swindle (CBS 82044, 1977)
Rosemarie Taylor (joint lead vocals, keyboards), Ann Curtis (joint lead vocals)
Whilst the Loudest Whisper and Mac Murrough LPs are more expensive, this is possibly the rarest major label album from Ireland: it took me literally years to find a copy, during which time my main Irish contact questioned its very existence. Musically, it’s an accomplished West Coast-style rural folk/rock set, with some progressive edges and strong original material. GRADE: C+.
See also Supply Demand & Curve, Rosemarie Taylor
Great Society (USA): Conspicuous Only In Its Absence (Columbia CS 9624, 1968, recorded 1966)
Comparing this collection of 1966 live recordings by Grace Slick’s first band to Jefferson Airplane’s contemporaneous Takes Off is instructional. Whereas the pre-Slick Airplane owed an obvious heavy debt to the Beatles, the Mamas & The Papas and commercial sunshine pop, the Great Society was a much more adventurous proposition. Witness their startling transformation of the girl group standard ‘Sally Go ’Round The Roses’ into a slightly eerie raga, or the free jazz-influenced saxophone solo to introduce Slick’s own ‘White Rabbit’. With several otherwise unavailable Slick compositions and the lady in fine voice throughout, this is a stunning album that makes one wonder just what she could have achieved had she stuck with the Great Society instead of throwing her lot in with the Airplane. GRADE: A.
Great Society (USA): How It Was (Columbia CS 9702, 1968, recorded 1966)
With well under half-an-hour of music and only one Slick co-write, this is much less essential than the first volume of the band’s 1966 live recordings, and (whilst historically important) gives the impression of a barrel being scraped. Both volumes were repackaged as a double LP in 1971, under the title Collector’s Item From The San Francisco Scene. GRADE: C+.
Great Society (USA): Born To Be Burned (Sundazed SC 11027, CD, 1995, recorded 1965)
Whereas Conspicuous Only In Its Absence presented the Great Society as mildly avant-garde improvisers and psychonauts, streets ahead of Takes Off-era Jefferson Airplane, these 1965 studio recordings are a good deal straighter. It’s not simply that they’re earlier: the major difference is that they were recorded before Grace Slick became a songwriter, with her only solo contribution being a 77-second throwaway entitled ‘Heads Up’. The very rare single ‘Free Advice’/‘Someone [sic] To Love’ is straightforwardly brilliant; the remainder is of historic importance to fans of both the Airplane and Sly Stone (who produced the sessions and allegedly found the band extremely stressful). GRADE: C+.
Great Society (USA): Live At The Matrix 1966 (Floating World FLOATS6348, CD, 2018, recorded 1966)
Conspicuous Only In Its Absence offered stunning experimental psychedelia, but How It Was and Born To Be Burned were remarkably disappointing, so the fourth Great Society release could have been almost anything. It’s actually fairly straight – only once, with a jazzy saxophone solo, does it approach the far-out realms of Conspicuous– but it’s also pretty good (and well recorded, to boot), Whilst ‘Someone To Love’ is the obvious highlight, this is solid garage-rock throughout, and streets ahead of the pre-Slick Airplane. GRADE: B–.
See also Jefferson Airplane, Jefferson Starship, Paul Kantner, Grace Slick, Starship
Great Speckled Bird (Canada): Great Speckled Bird (Ampex A10103, 1969)
Sylvia Tyson (joint lead vocals)
Solid country/rock from a one-shot band led by Ian and Sylvia Tyson, with ex-Kangaroo drummer ND Smart II in tow. The opening ‘Love What You’re Doing Child’ is the most rocking and least country of the cuts, and the best thing on offer. GRADE: C.
Cindy Grecco (USA): Cyndi Grecco (GW Entertainment KM 7427, 1982)
Cyndi Grecco (lead vocals)
I originally assumed that this self-titled album – housed in a plain white sleeve with a handwritten dedication from the artist on the rear – was some kind of folk private pressing. In fact, it appears to be a test pressing for an album released as Wish Upon A Star and it’s big production pop/AOR with a bit of a showtune edge and not a great deal to recommend it. Grecco had previously released a 1976 album titled Making Our Dreams Come True, which I haven’t heard – and I think I’ll keep it that way. GRADE: D+.
Green House Band (UK): Mirage (Market Square Music MSMCD126, CD, 2003)
Madeleine Worrall (principal vocals)
Formed by ex-Albion Band members Graeme Taylor and Michael Gregory, this one-off project seems to have been a tribute to Pentangle, since nearly all the material is associated with Bert Jansch or John Renbourn. Unsurprisingly, the end result bears a definite resemblance to Pentangle, although the disc also recalls a lighter and more acoustic Fairport Convention. Given the quality of the album, it’s surprising that Madeleine Worrall did not record again, instead concentrating on her career as an actress (as well as a director and poet). GRADE: B–.
Green Lyte Sunday (USA): Green Lyte Sunday (RCA LSP 4327, 1970)
Susan Darby (joint lead vocals)
This is one of those albums that’s almost always misdescribed when offered for sale, usually being dubbed ‘harmony pop’ or ‘soft psychedelia’. It’s actually nothing of the kind, blending jazzy and progressive influences on fairly short songs, occasionally resembling the British band Affinity (though it’s nowhere near as good). GRADE: C+.
Green Man (UK): What Ails Thee? (No label, 1975)
Janie Pittman (joint lead vocals, tambourine, dulcimer, tamboura)
I’ve seen this obscure private pressing compared favourably to both Caedmon and Trees, but whilst it’s a fine album in its own right, it sounds to me more like a cross between Spriguns Of Tolgus and Oberon, with a dark, sinister and sparse mix of acoustic and electric instruments, and a mainly traditional repertoire. The album contains numerous strong tracks, including spinechilling readings of ‘Poor Sally Sat A-Weeping’ (more commonly known as ‘Once I Had A Sweetheart’), ‘The Rolling Of The Bones’ and ‘Nottamun Town’, and comes housed in a mystical black-and-white paste-on sleeve. As a footnote, the CD reissue on Kissing Spell adds four excellent bonus tracks. No date is given for these, but they are presumably several years later than the album, since they are much more overtly psychedelic, and make extensive use of synthesiser effects, particularly on one impressively trippy electric guitar instrumental. GRADE: B–.
See also Various ‘Shepway Folk’
John Michael Green (Canada): Still The Innocent (No label ACR 8044, with inner, 1980?)
Kim Buller (occasional vocals)
This album frequently turns up on dealer lists described as having ‘alternate male/female vocals’. That’s nonsense: Kim Buller duets with Green on ‘Follow Your Heart’ but is otherwise restricted to backing vocals. Nonetheless, this is an enjoyable singer/songwriter album with a solid rural folk/rock sound including some assertive rock drumming and some almost psychedelic guitar leads. GRADE: C+.
Kathe Green (USA): Run The Length Of Your Wildness (Deram DES 18026, 1969)
Model and actress Kathe Green was very much the driving force behind her debut album, writing or co-writing almost all the cuts. Recorded in the UK, with beat veteran Wayne Bickerton producing, it features epic orchestrations, taking the music close to soft pop and pure MOR. Often grandiose and dramatic, it’s beautifully crafted but also overly polished and just a little generic. GRADE: C+.
Green Carnation (Norway): Journey To The End Of The Night (Prophecy Productions PRO 031, CD, with digipak and booklet,
Vibeke Stene (joint lead vocals), Linn Solaas (occasional vocals), Synne Larsen (occasional vocals)
The parallel band to In The Woods…, with most of the same members, here takes In The Woods…’ atmospheric, doom-influenced progressive metal style to the next level, with songs of up to eighteen minutes. Trippy, minimalist and frequently quite weird, it’s an intriguing and very single-minded record. GRADE: B–.
Green Carnation (Norway): Light Of Day, Day Of Darkness (Prophecy Productions PRO 042-2, CD, with digipak, 2006)
Synne Larsen (occasional vocals)
Green Carnation went completely overboard here, with a single sixty-minute song covering a wide range of musical ground. For the most part, it has melodic male vocals, but Synne Larsen adds her modal tones at a couple of points and there are both adult and children’s choirs. The results are somewhat comparable to Therion, though Green Carnation have a much more understated style and use orchestrations more sparingly, and have to be heard several times to appreciate the album fully. GRADE: B.
See also In The Woods…, Naervaer, Tristania
Greenwall (Italy): From The Treasure Box (Rock Revelation RR CD 03, CD, with gatefold minisleeve, booklets and obi, 2005)
Michela Botti (lead vocals)
This beautifully packaged set is also appealing musically, offering several delicate and relaxed songs plus a mainly instrumental suite of 26 minutes. It’s all too understated to deserve classic status, but this unpretentious and melodic album is a worthy addition to the Italian prog canon. As a footnote, Sophya Baccini of Presence helps out on backing vocals. Recorded between 1999 and 2003, this was actually the band’s third album: the group had started life as the solo project of multi-instrumentalist Andrea Pavoni. Their first album Il Petalo Del Fiore E Altre Storie (Mellow MMP 362, CD, 1999, but mostly recorded in 1989 and 1990) was a varied affair, from some excellent instrumentals to a very underwhelming song with high-tech backing. A later re-recording of the latter, with Tiziana Brasile on lead vocals, is added as an uncredited bonus track. GRADE: C+.
Greenwall (Italy): Zappa Zippa Zuppa Zeppa! (ElectRomantic Music ART 1361, CD plus DVD, with gatefold minisleeve and booklets, 2014)
Michela Botti (principal vocals)
I assume the title is a dedication to Frank Zappa, and certainly this is much jazzier than their earlier work. Essentially, this alternates jazzy rock (quite good and quite inventive) and melodic symphonic ballads (also quite good), with some mild experimentation thrown in. However, as that description suggests, this doesn’t have the truly great songwriting that would have elevated it to the next level. The bonus DVD offers an odd mishmash of stuff: a couple of promotional videos, some backstage footage, interviews, snippets from rehearsals, a demo, their contribution to the Kalavala multi-artist compilation and a cover of ‘Larks’ Tongues In Aspic’ (which beats anything on the album proper), GRADE: C+.
Greenwall (Italy): The Green Side Of The Moon (Filibusta FR1706, CD, with gatefold minisleeve and booklets, 2018)
Michela Botti (principal vocals)
As the title suggests, this is partly a remake of the entire Dark Side Of The Moon album, plus some ‘bonus material’ (which takes up nearly half the disc and is mostly self-penned, aside from a cover of ‘Wish You Were Here’). Credit where due, Greenwall don’t slavishly parrot Pink Floyd’s vision: there are some tweaks to the running order and they make the material their own (‘The Great Gig In The Sky’ now has loungy saxophone rather than Claire Torry’s impassioned wailing and ‘Money’ has a jazz-meet-doo-wop feel). However, I find the entire concept odd, and deeply flawed, for two reasons. First, their interpretation of the material doesn’t better Pink Floyd’s. Secondly, and perhaps more significantly, they sound far more energised on their own material, which has much more to offer in the way of lively jamming. Copies ordered directly from the band could be purchased with a bonus sleeveless DVDR, which features dancers performing to the first half of Dark Side…, a version of ‘Wish You Were Here’ mixing studio footage and animation, a photo gallery and two bonus tracks (different versions of ‘Eclipse’ and ‘Money’). Strangely, ‘Mudmen’, the bonus track from the vinyl version (Filibusta FR1705YL, double, with inner and booklet), isn’t included; this is an excellent instrumental that (unsurprisingly) strongly recalls Pink Floyd. GRADE: C+.
See also Various ‘Kalevala – A Finnish Progressive Rock Epic’, Various ‘More Animals At The Gates Of Dawn – A Tribute To Pink Floyd’
Grey-Star (USA): Grey-Star (Emotion MS-11111, 1981)
Ruby Starr (joint lead vocals)
This is typical turn-of-the-eighties catchy hard rock with a glossy sheen; Starr is in good voice, but I don’t like the rather glib singing of her co-vocalist Michael Findling. Nor do I think much of their interpretation of ‘Piece Of My Heart’, a song well suited to Starr’s vocal style but not to the polished arrangements. GRADE: C.
See also Ruby Jones, Ruby Starr
Greylevel (Canada): Opus One (ProgRock PRR360, CD, USA, 2006)
Esther Barber (occasional vocals)
This band’s music is difficult to describe because they’re genuinely original: ‘progressive’ comes closest as a label, but doesn’t fully capture their style. In essence, Greylevel cross the most ambient elements of seventies Pink Floyd and King Crimson, weld it to folky singer/songwriter material and elements of trip-hop, and add plenty of spacy synthesisers. The end result, on minimalistic, haunting tracks of up to seventeen minutes, is never very exciting or ostentatious, but it’s extremely atmospheric, hypnotic and well-crafted, and could just as easily be classified as space-rock, folk/rock or ambient progressive metal. GRADE: B–.
Greylevel (Canada): Hypostatic Union (ProgRock PRR361, CD, USA, 2011)
Esther Barber (backing vocals)
With the band expanding from a trio to a five-piece, this much heavier second album often takes them firmly into the realms of progressive metal. It’s still recognisable as the work of the band that cut Opus One but they now recall lots of other metal outfits, so whilst this is a consistently good LP, it’s far less original and creative than their first. GRADE: B–.
Mari Griffith (UK): Mari Griffith’s Welsh Folk (Rediffusion ZS 131, 1973)
Doing exactly what it says on the tin, this album offers interpretations of twenty Welsh language folk songs, with Griffith accompanied by her own acoustic guitar. Since she has a lovely voice and very clear delivery, it should definitely please those who like this sort of thing. GRADE: C+.
Hayley Griffiths (UK): Silver Screen (Sure Fire Music Group, CD, 2010
Hayley Griffiths (lead vocals)
From the title, I expected this to be a selection of classic film themes, but it’s actually dreamy pop with a folky edge and mainly synthesised arrangements. In some ways, it’s not so different from Karnataka, whom Griffiths would go on to join, although this has no progressive elements. However, it is equally pleasant, one-paced and forgettable, though a touch more commercial. GRADE: C.
Hayley Griffiths (UK): Celtic Rose (Sure Fire Music Group HG CD002, CD, autographed, with digipak and tissue paper wrap, 2011)
Hayley Griffiths (lead vocals)
This is slightly different from its predecessor, featuring no self-penned material and consisting of interpretations of Irish-themed songs (though I’m not quite sure why, since Griffiths is Welsh). It’s all a bit MOR – I could particularly have done without her version of ‘You Raise Me Up’ – but it’s nicely done and more enjoyable than her first, whilst again relating to the music of Karnataka (in a somewhat different way). GRADE: C+.
Hayley Griffiths Band (UK): Live (Posh & Rock HGDVD001, double DVD, 2020)
Hayley Griffiths (lead vocals)
Griffith’s solo albums were both pretty underwhelming, but she can be a force of nature onstage – she single-handedly lifted Karnataka to a B– rating (an astonishing achievement for such a pedestrian band) on their last live DVD. Her personality isn’t much in evidence here as she barely addresses the audience during the three sets, but she’s lively enough and the music – a mixture of hard rock, neoprog and a few ballads – is pretty good even if it doesn’t make any great impression. There’s also a faint cabaret vibe that hangs over the proceedings, reminding me of numerous seventies and eighties albums on labels such as Sain, so ultimately this can be summed up in four words: very showbizzy; very Welsh. GRADE: C+.
See also Karnataka
Carol Grimes & Delivery (UK): Fools Meeting (B&C CAS 1023, 1970)
Carol Grimes (lead vocals, percussion)
This seminal Canterbury album brought together the talents of Phil Miller, Pip Pyle, Roy Babbington and Lol Coxhill. The disc’s combination of knotty jazzy prog with psychedelic guitar and assertive female vocals evokes contemporaries Catapilla and Fusion Orchestra, though Grimes’s bluesy singing puts me more in mind of Janis Joplin. Unsurprisingly, the LP also frequently recalls its participants’ other musical projects, with the arrangements and performances being as good as you’d expect from the personnel involved. GRADE: B–.
Carol Grimes (UK): Warm Blood (Caroline CA-2001, 1974)
Carol Grimes (lead vocals)
Grimes’s solo debut often resembles Maggie Bell’s vocally, instrumentally and conceptually – like Woman Of The Night, this consists entirely of cover versions. The main difference is in the musical emphasis: this is blues with a hint of soul, rather than the other way round, and unlike Bell, Grimes favours prominent horns whilst eschewing call-and-response backing vocals. Also, like Bell, Grimes displays none of the ambition or invention of her former band (in this case I mean Delivery, since this is a definite step up from her dull set with Uncle Dog). Nonetheless, for straightforward blues/rock this is excellently done, and strongly recommended for anyone who likes the genre.
Carol Grimes (UK): Carol Grimes (Decca SKL-R 5258, 1975)
Whereas Maggie Bell moved from soul towards rock on her second solo LP, Grimes moved from blues towards soul. Known as ‘the Memphis album’, this was recorded in both Memphis and Nashville with an array of top session players. It’s a fine album, with predictably excellent singing and arrangements, but once again Grimes writes nothing so it’s all a touch generic. GRADE: C+.
See also Sweet FA, Uncle Dog
Chantal Grimm & Le Groupe Sybil (France): Variations En Femmes Majeures (Le Chant Du Monde LDX 74 678, 1978)
Chantal Grimm (lead vocals, guitar), Hélène Bohy (guitar, bass, piano, percussion, flute, backing vocals), Elisabeth Valletti (bass, percussion, harp, backing vocals), Isabelle Caillard (percussion, violin, backing vocals)
Singer/songwriter Chantal Grimm has a truly lovely voice, and her female backing band (plus a few guests) provide some beautiful baroque settings for her excellent material. With no rough edges at all, this may be too dainty and too feminine for many ears, but to me it’s a beguiling little gem. GRADE: B–.
See also Elisabeth Valletti
Grin (Holland): A View From The Valley (Hasznee 90075, with booklet, 1985)
Marjolein van der Hombergh (keyboards, backing vocals)
Somewhere between new wave, hard rock and song-based progressive in style, this odd album features lots of saxophone and funky guitar work. There’s a definite Van Der Graaf Generator influence at work here, with quite a doomy feel to several cuts, but overall this isn’t an especially memorable record. GRADE: C+.
Gringo (UK): Gringo (MCA MKPS 2017, 1971)
Annette Casey (joint lead vocals)
Starting life as a pop outfit called Toast, Gringo had moved towards progressive rock by the time of their sole album. Housed in a stunning art deco-style sleeve, it features well-crafted songs featuring some complex riffs and tempo changes but also strong emphasis on harmony vocals. The album is interesting as an early example of the Canterbury genre: bassist John G Perry went on to Caravan, one of the giants of the style, whilst Annette Casey became a member of the commercially successful pop group Thunderthighs. GRADE: C+.
Grits (USA): As The World Grits (Cuneiform 55008, CD, 1993, recorded 1972-1975)
Amy Taylor (joint lead vocals, bass, violin)
The San Franciscan band Grits existed throughout the seventies, but never issued any recordings during their lifetime; three archive CDs have since appeared. This one focuses on studio demos recorded between 1972 and 1975, alternating between songs (which somewhat recall Hatfield & The North, without that band’s trademark humour and eclecticism) and instrumentals. Both types of material work well, and there are some excellent moments here, but with exclusively short tracks the music never quite reaches its full potential. GRADE: C+.
Grits (USA): Rare Birds (Cuneiform 55012, CD, 1997, recorded 1996)
Amy Taylor (joint lead vocals, bass, violin)
This live set from August 1976 has the long jams that their studio collection didn’t. With cuts of up to 26 minutes bookending a few actual songs, this reveals them to have been an extremely talented outfit, with lots of Canterbury and classical references in the music (though their basic style is closer to mainstream jazz-fusion). GRADE: B–.
Grits (USA): Rock And Roll Madness (No label, CDR, 2008, recorded 1978)
Amy Taylor (principal vocals, bass)
This belated third and final volume features a set of studio demos from 1978. By this time, the band had dropped most of their progressive and experimental elements, so this is a set of fairly straightforward songs fronted by Amy Taylor. They’re mostly pretty good, but unlike Rare Birds there are no outstanding moments here. GRADE: C+.
Grodeck Whipperjenny (USA): The Grodeck Whipperjenny (People PS 3000, 1970)
Mary Ellen Bell (principal vocals)
Almost uniquely among female vocal psychedelic obscurities of its era, this superb album owes nothing to early Jefferson Airplane or the Mamas & The Papas. Instead we get two pieces of acid-funk with some of the dirtiest fuzz guitar ever committed to vinyl, a brilliantly-arranged orchestral instrumental and, to top it all, an amazing ten-minute closer with a highly pretentious title (‘Evidence For The Existance [sic] Of The Unconscious’). Aside from a two-minute protest folk/rocker that doesn’t really cut it for me, this is remarkable from start to finish. GRADE: B.
Groop (USA): The Groop (Bell 6038, 1969)
Susan Musmanno (joint lead vocals), Corlynn Hanney (joint lead vocals)
This vocal group’s album is one of the rarest major label LPs of the late sixties: presumably Bell didn’t bother distributing or promoting it as the band quickly fell apart. Musically, it’s similar to acts like the Love Exchange, the Mamas & Papas or the Sunshine Company, offering nice harmony pop peaking on the energetic ‘Time Fire’ and a fine cover of ‘Goin’ Back’. GRADE: C+.
See also Corlynn Hanney
Grootna (USA): Grootna (Columbia C 31033, 1971)
Anna Rizzo (joint lead vocals)
A solid jamming rock band with a bluesy musical base, Grootna were probably little different from dozens of other Californian groups of their era. However, they were lucky enough to secure the patronage of Marty Balin, which led to them landing a deal with Columbia. That’s not to say they were without talent: this is a very competent LP, and sometimes a very enjoyable one, but in retrospect it’s hard to imagine how anyone thought they would break through to the big time. GRADE: C+.
Groovy Judy (USA): Groovy Judy (Hey Judy Productions GRJ002, CD, 2004)
Judy Gascoyne (lead vocals, guitar)
On the opening ‘Jimi’s Sister’, Judy Gascoyne compares herself to Hendrix, but whereas Hendrix was a relentless innovator, Groovy Judy is unashamedly retro, starting with her name and the slightly psychedelic yellow cover. That’s not to say she isn’t talented: she’s an excellent singer, songwriter and guitarist, and these nine songs effectively blend funk, soul, blues and classic rock in different combinations. In fact, this is just about as good as good-time rock gets. GRADE: C+.
Groovy Judy (USA): Life (Hey Judy Productions GRJ003, CD, 2006)
Judy Gascoyne (lead vocals, guitar, ukelele)
Gascoyne’s second and final album is a bit longer and more substantial than her first (though I have no idea why she chose to record ‘Jimi’s Sister’ again). On the opening ‘Be Who You’ve Got To Be’, she seems to be channelling Sly & The Family Stone, both lyrically and musically, and this works well throughout (including a lovely relaxed instrumental, ‘Sunrise’). For sure, this isn’t the most profound record, but then that really isn’t the point of Groovy Judy. GRADE: C+.
Wendy Grose (Australia): Backyard Of Blue (EMI Custom Records APPLA-015, 1975)
Wendy Grose (lead vocals, guitar, piano)
This is top-notch mid-seventies singer/songwriter music in a slick, slightly jazzy style similar to Joni Mitchell’s Court And Spark. Grose has both a fine voice and considerable songwriting talent, and the electric band backing is highly professional, which makes it all the odder that the album is a private pressing rather than a major label release. She was managed by the well-known Albert Brothers, so should easily have been able to land a mainstream recording deal, particularly as this could have sold well with the right promotion. GRADE: C+.
Groundstar (USA): Forced Landing (Stellar SR 2549, 1980)
Sharon Jordan (joint lead vocals, keyboards)
This is a rather good, if inevitably dated, hard rock/AOR album with a few minor powerpop, symphonic and space-rock leanings. Two different pressings exist, with variant (but quite similar) cover art. GRADE: C+.
See also Heritage
Group Featuring Vangie Carmichael (USA): The Warm And Groovy Sounds (Pete S 1108, 1968?)
Isabel Baker, Diana Lee, Gail Martin, Carol Kaye, Vangie Carmichael, Andrea Kostelas, Betty Jane Baker, Gwenn Johnson
Warm, yes, but not especially groovy, as this is standard late sixties MOR/soft pop with no psychedelic or popsike elements whatever. I’m presuming the Isabel Baker who appears on this album is not the same person that cut the ‘real people’ classic I Like God’s Style. GRADE: C.
Group Image (USA): A Mouth In The Clouds (Community A-101, 1968)
Sheila Darla (lead vocals)
This obscure but not expensive album opens brilliantly with the heavy acid-rock jam ‘Hiya’, overlaid with vocalist Sheila Darla wailing and screaming like Catapilla’s Anna Meek. However, the second track is an upbeat pop-tinged number and the third an offbeat jazzy shuffle that develops into another powerful acid jam, indicating the album’s high level of eccentricity. Thereafter the LP isn’t very exciting, but it’s still an excellent period piece, and definitely worth obtaining just to hear ‘Hiya’. GRADE: C+.
Groupe Théâtral Des Mascarons (France): Un Vallon… Comme Ça! (No label PH 814, 1976?)
Isabelle Montandon (joint lead vocals), Sylvie Monnet (joint lead vocals), Catherine Dubois (joint lead vocals), Anne-Claude Berthout (joint lead vocals), Françoise Bobillier (joint lead vocals), Corinne Salzmann (joint lead vocals), Catherine Montandon (joint lead vocals)
They may be conceptually similar to Chêne Noir, but that’s where the resemblance ends. This is jazzy stage show stuff – jazzy, tuneful, catchy and a little arch, with a bit of a school project edge. It’s all perfectly listenable, but it’s all pretty MOR, and a little of Chêne Noir’s experimental wildness would have lifted it enormously. GRADE: C+.
Growing Concern (USA): Growing Concern (Mainstream S-6018, 1968)
Bonnie MacDonald (occasional vocals), Mary Gartski (occasional vocals)
When the female vocalists are singing, their high, pure voices often create a haunting, sepulchral mood different from all other albums of the era (notable on the superb opener ‘Hard Hard Year’ and the intro to ‘Edge Of Time’). But when the male singer is upfront, this is pretty generic, in a relaxed early Jefferson Airplane or Byrds vein. Nonetheless, it’s consistently pleasant and (unsurprisingly) a longstanding collectible. GRADE: C+.
Growing Dream (Canada): Seeds (No label GF-00195, CD, 1995)
Kathleen Poulin (joint lead vocals, percussion)
This mellow Christian album often resembles a less grandiose and ambitious Renaissance, with slight jazzy edges and a lot of saxophone. Incorporating some more mainstream rock and a few straight ballads, the disc is quite patchy and frequently too middle-of-the-road for its own good, but there are some pretty decent moments. GRADE: C.
GTOs (USA): Permanent Damage (Straight STS 1059, with booklet, 1969)
Pop/Rock/‘Incredibly Strange Music’
Pamela Des Bordes, Miss Mercy, Miss Christine, Miss Cinderella, Miss Sandra
One of Frank Zappa’s odder projects, this combines the dubious vocal talents of a few young groupies with musical backing from the Mothers Of Invention plus Jeff Beck and Nicky Hopkins. The singing is frequently horrendous, with high-pitched, off-key harmonies, though this is probably deliberate; in any case, less than half the short album is musical, with the remainder comprising performance poetry, monologues and dialogue. For the most part, the lyrics concern teenage attitudes to sex, and are inevitably quite gauche, although there are some hints of poetic flair. The songs, meanwhile, sound like a cross between the Shaggs and a mutated school musical, and are sometimes surprisingly winsome (especially ‘Do Me In Once And I’ll Be Sad, Do Me In Twice And I’ll Know Better’, co-written and produced by Lowell George). The best cut is ‘The Ghost Chained To The Past, Present And Future’ which fuses a mournful baroque ballad and some heavy psychedelic rock jamming. GRADE: C+.
Guardian’s Office (Norway): The Guardian’s Office (Cyclops CYCL 128, CD, UK, 2002)
Frøydis Maurtvedt (bass, bass pedals)
Another project of the prolific Pål Søvik, this bears more than a passing resemblance to his other bands Fruitcake and Flagrante Delicto, offering similarly downbeat mid-paced prog. On the other hand, this is a bit more early seventies-sounding, with strong hard rock influences. Overall, it’s a decent and very enjoyable album, despite singer Tony Johanssen struggling with some of the English pronunciation. GRADE: C+.
Guidon (UK): Bridge To Eternity (No label, 1986)
Sharron Thornton (joint lead vocals)
This one-off Scottish ensemble was assembled to set the work of poet David Redfearn to music, with the results being issued as a private LP. Musically, it takes most of its cues from progressive rock, with soft symphonic keyboard backing, but all the songs are short and simple, with no extended instrumentals or experimentation. A few numbers are closer to soft pop and are less enjoyable, and there is an ill-advised foray into reggae territory on ‘The Loves Of My Lady’, but most cuts are pretty effective. In addition to sharing the lead vocals, Thornton composes a number of the melodies and co-produces. As a footnote, the LP is dedicated to Barbara Dickson, although there is little musical resemblance. GRADE: C+.
Yvon Guilcher (France): Chansons À Danser (Le Chant Du Monde LDX 74 641, 1976)
Emmanuelle Parrenin (joint lead vocals, épinette des Vosges)
Although credited as an Yvon Guilcher solo album, this is a collaboration between the same nucleus of musicians that recorded the earlier Chants À Répondre Et À Danser and Galant Noyé LPs. Most of the material consists of rounds, generally performed with simple backing from percussion, although a few songs feature additional instrumentation. GRADE: C+.
See also Chants À Répondre Et À Danser, Confrèrie Des Fous, Phil & Emmanuelle Fromont, Galant Noyé, Gentiane, Emmanuelle Parrenin,
Phil Fromont & Claude Lefebvre
Guild (USA): Sasarras (No label KM 2381, 1978)
Renée Redeker (joint lead vocals, guitar, piano)
The outfit formerly known as the Minstrel String Guild return for a third album in their usual jazzy folk style. With lots of hand percussion, the music often resembles a more psychedelic twist on contemporary Joni Mitchell, especially on the two best cuts ‘Moon Song, Woman Song’ and ‘Buzy [sic] People’. Meanwhile, a number with ee cummings-derived lyrics, a Béla Bartok instrumental and a closing silent track inspired by John Cage hint at avant-garde interests not apparent from their earlier work. As a footnote, Ben and Shannon Staley from Locksley Hall and Shennandoah sing on ‘Zulu Love Song’. GRADE: C+.
Guild (USA): Musik (No label KM 4812, 1980)
Renée Redeker (joint lead vocals, guitar, piano, dulcimer)
Slightly different from its predecessor, this drops the percussion and the jazzy leanings to offer a mainly acoustic singer/songwriter work (although a few cuts have heavy and somewhat psychedelic lead guitar). With a fine set of songs, it’s possibly their best release, with at least half the album being really impressive. For no obvious reason, they subsequently changed name yet again and continued as Redeker. GRADE: C+.
See also Minstrel String Guild, Redeker
Guild Of Temporal Adventurers (USA): The Guild Of Temporal Adventurers (Fiasco, 10" LP, 1992)
Kendra Smith (principal vocals, guitar, bass, keyboards)
For the most part, this mini-album (six songs plus a few ambient interludes, totalling around 25 minutes) is not dissimilar to Smith’s previous band Opal. The self-penned material (along with a cover of Can’s ‘She Brings The Rain’) has a nicely trippy feel, particularly on the floating and rather eerie ‘Iridescence 31’. GRADE: C+.
See also Dream Syndicate, Opal, Rainy Day, Kendra Smith
Guillotine (Canada): Guillotine (Ampex A-10122, USA, 1971)
Consisting of bluesy, jazzy rural rock and prog, this obscure album isn’t particularly original or distinctive, but the songwriting and performances are accomplished throughout. Singer Carol Breval has an unusual voice: often similar to Janis Joplin, but much gruffer and in a lower register. The band was from Quebec, but the disc was recorded at Island and Olympic Studios in London and only issued in the States. GRADE: C+.
Guitar Ensemble (USA): Have Faith (No label LPS-811, 1970)
Mary Kay Johnsen (organ, backing vocals)
As its name suggests, this Christian band was made up of a large number of acoustic guitarists, but the disc also features bass, organ, accordion, percussion and saxophone. The end result is a mellow album of basement folk/rock with a charmingly quaint atmosphere and a delicious lost-in-time ambience recalling a school project LP. As a footnote, the selection of material is nothing if not eclectic, including instrumental versions of both ‘Greensleeves’ and ‘(Sittin’ On) The Dock Of The Bay’. GRADE: C+.
Guitar Ensemble (USA): The You-N-You (No label LPS-812, 1971)
Mary Kay Johnsen (joint lead vocals, organ)
Whilst recognisably the work of the same band, this has a lighter, dreamier feel, with the watery organ sound creating an almost psychedelic ambience. As another plus, Mary Kay Johnsen gets to sing lead, and she has a lovely, gentle voice, making this an excellent LP. An occasional Latin influence shows through (probably due to their location in New Mexico), most notably on the bolero-flavoured ‘The Call’, which recalls ‘White Rabbit’ in its rhythms. The band went on to cut a third and final album under the name of Concern. GRADE: B–.
See also Concern
Gulp (UK): Season Sun (Sonic Cathedral SCR085LP, blue vinyl, with postcard flexidisc, 2014)
Formed by Super Furry Animals bassist Guto Pryce and his wife Lindsey Leven, Gulp offer melodic and hypnotic loungy psychedelic pop in a style somewhere between Stereolab and Air. With its breathy female vocals, bouncy rhythms and extensive fuzz guitar, it’s a likeable set, but this isn’t what you’d call an ambitious or visionary album. GRADE: C+.
Guma Guma (France): Love Circus (Guma Guma GGPRD4, CD, with digipak, 2011)
Barbara Lezmy (principal vocals, flute)
This blues/rock album is straighter than Barbara Lezmy’s earlier project Arkham, though it also incorporates lots of ethnic edges and a light-hearted, mildly humorous feel. With good musicianship and decent riffs and tunes, it’s an enjoyable and accomplished album.
See also Arkham
Guran (Sweden): Musiktruppen Guran (MNW 69P, with booklet, 1976)
Anne Winqvist (joint lead vocals)
Like many political rock albums, this is overly whimsical and rather scrappy, with the only constants being the strong ethnic influences (from reggae to funk) and the consistently impressive guitar work. However, when it’s good it’s excellent, with the highlights being the laconic, proggy ‘Ekorrhjulet’ and ‘Liten Sång’ and the lovely instrumental ‘Folke’. GRADE: C+.
Guran (Sweden): I Sista Minuten (Amalthea AM9, with booklet, 1979)
Anne Winqvist (lead vocals, maracas)
Reggae and Caribbean rhythms are even more prominent on their second LP, which has a breezy pop feel absent from their debut. Whilst this can be annoyingly jaunty in parts, it still has some good guitar work and includes two strong instrumentals (which notwithstanding aren’t as good as their equivalents on the previous album). Nonetheless, this has its moments, including the interesting title track with backing from drums and percussion only, and is still perfectly listenable. GRADE: C+.
Gurnemanz (West Germany): Fair Margaret And Sweet William (No label, reel-to-reel tape, 1972)
Manuela Schmitz (principal vocals, guitar, recorder)
Their debut is straightforward folk, with electric bass and occasional electric guitar the only rock elements and a little sitar adding colouring. The material is all English, with a bit of a renaissance feel, and the sound quality is often dreadful as one might expect. With some eerie recorder, sitar and zither stylings, the best cut is the haunting and rather psychedelic ‘To His Love’. Overall, this is a nice gentle album with some sweet moments, but it’s not really exceptional in any way and it’s odd that a German band would have wanted to play this material in the first place. As a footnote, the band were all teenagers at the time, with Manuela Schmitz having just turned fifteen. GRADE: C.
Gurnemanz (West Germany): Spielmannskinder (No label F 665.558, 1975)
Manuela Schmitz (principal vocals, guitar, percussion, recorder, whistle)
Album number four (there were two intermediate reel-to-reel tapes, 1973’s Liaze and 1974’s Sisu, which I have not heard) inevitably has far superior sound quality. Musically it’s in the same vein, offering delicate, mainly acoustic folk with mediaeval edges: sometimes quite beautiful but mainly unremarkable. The best cuts are ‘Left Behind’ and ‘Das Jüngste Schwesterlein’, which add some sitar. GRADE: C.
See also Gaia
Gutura (France): Des Êtres Au Cerveau Apparent… (Sterne STE 26510, with inner, 1980)
Sylvie Zo Strinati (lead vocals)
This one-off album from a totally unknown band offers improvised (or so it sounds) guitar-led music topped off with wailing, grunting and screaming rather than conventional vocals. Whilst it owes something to early Krautrock (there are occasional hints of Amon Düül II circa Phallus Dei among others), there are post-new wave elements as well (in a parallel universe, one could imagine Siouxsie & The Banshees having gone in this direction). Overall, it’s a creative, original and unusual album, yet strangely inconsequential at the same time, with an odd, amateurish black-and-white sleeve adding to the sense of mystery. Sylvie Strinati apparently went on to a band called Providence, which released one album that I have never encountered. GRADE: C+.
Gwen & Gordon (UK): Songs Of Rogues And Roses (Folk Heritage FHR004M, 1969)
This obscure duo’s album is among the earliest and rarest releases on this fanatically collected label, and musically offers typical downbeat traditional folk. It’s pretty good, but I like the material on their equally scarce 1970 EP better. GRADE: C+.
Gwydion & The California Wicca Blues Band (USA): Songs For The Old Religion (Nemeton NEM 101, with insert, 1975)
Dana Corby (joint lead vocals, guitar, dulcimer)
Gwydion Pendderwen was a Californian mystic who cut a couple of albums in addition to other activities; this one, as the title suggests, focuses on paganism. The cuts sung by Dana Corby (‘Spring Strathspey’ and ‘The Sun God’, on which she sounds uncannily like Grace Slick) are absolutely stunning, whilst the rest is pleasant if unremarkable British-style acoustic folk with a slight mystical edge. GRADE: C+.
Gwydion & Sheela-Na-Gig (USA): The Faerie Shaman (Nemeton NEM 102, with insert, 1982)
Sharon Devlin (bodhrán, harp, autoharp), Sue Draheim (violin)
Pendderwen’s second and final album, recorded shortly before his early death, featured a different backing band including Sue Draheim, who also played in an early line-up of the Albion Country Band. Without the mystical edges of its predecessor, this is a listenable but fairly dull collection of jaunty self-penned folk songs. GRADE: C.
See also Albion Country Band, Any Old Time String Band, John Renbourn Group
Gypsy Rams (Japan): Live! (No label GPCR-1, with insert, 1979)
Housed in an impossibly ancient-looking paste-on sleeve, this university project looks (and sounds) a good deal earlier than its 1979 release date. The Gypsy Rams comprised 18 female students, and their massed (and occasionally solo) vocals and low-budget rock band backing, complete with a mono recording, lends this a strong school project vibe. Most of the material appears to be covers, including virtually unrecognisable versions of ‘The Harder They Come’, ‘All Is Tair [sic] In Love’ and ‘St Louis Blues’. The eleven-minute closer ‘Isn’t It A Shame?’ rather outstays its welcome, but everything else here is winsome, charming and atmospheric; there’s even a decent instrumental by the backing band (which appears to be a studio recording) in the middle of side one. GRADE: C+.