Lau-Li

 

Laura (France): Laura (Laura L 00180, with insert, 1980)
Progressive
Catherine Mercier (backing vocals)
This low-budget keyboard and flute-led progressive album has a genuinely odd style of songwriting, arrangement and production that makes it quite distinctive. It’s highly synthesised and rather thin-sounding, but lively and punchy too, with early neoprog touches but also a rather dark feel in parts; they could also produce quite good acoustic music, as the short ballad ‘Regards’ demonstrates. Overall, there’s nothing tremendously exciting on offer, but this is a solid album and it’s reassuring that underground bands were making music like this in 1980. GRADE: C+.
Laura (France): Colis Postal (Laura L 00281, with insert, 1981)
Progressive
Catherine Mercier (occasional vocals)
Their second and final album is slightly better than their first, but also slightly more conventional in the style of writing. Other than giving more emphasis to the new wave influence underpinning their style, this is largely business as usual, with the same synthesiser-dominated arrangements, the same thin recording quality and the same very quiet mastering (not an asset, given the cheap, noisy vinyl used). Once again, this is far from a classic, but it’s interesting basement prog from an era when such artefacts were rare. GRADE: C+.

Rose Laurens (France): Dérassionable (Flarenasch 723.652, with inner, 1982)
Pop
Rose Laurens (lead vocals)
The former Sandrose singer’s first solo album (following several sought-after singles as Rose Merryl in the mid-seventies) is symphonic pop with lots of synthesisers and occasionally a dramatic feel recalling Catherine Lara. ‘Africa’, which give her a huge hit single, is wonderful, but the remaining songs are fairly nondescript, creating a listenable but forgettable LP. GRADE: C.
See also Sandrose

Lavender Blues (Australia): Wake Up Sister (No label LB 001, with insert, 1978)
Folk
Carole Deagan (joint lead vocals, guitar), Nicole Mortier (joint lead vocals, guitar, tambourine banjo), Dorelle Pinch (joint lead vocals, guitar, tambourine)
As the band name implies, this is lesbian folk, in this case in a mid-sixties coffeehouse style with rather formal singing. Whilst it’s listenable enough, with mainly original material, it’s surprising that people were still making this kind of music in the late seventies. GRADE: C–.

Lawlessness (France): On The Run (Saravah SHL 1097, 1983)
Rock/Metal
Nina Jones (joint lead vocals), Jenny Scott (joint lead vocals)

This stripped-down heavy rock album owes an obvious debt to both Led Zeppelin and the NWOBHM, with some nice bluesy edges. If it’s a bit light on great songs, that’s made up for by the chunky riffing and excellent recording, and the line-up, featuring two female vocalists, is certainly unusual. GRADE: C+.

Linda Lawley (USA): Linda Lawley (Line LICD 9.00800, CD, West Germany, 1989)
Rock/Soul
Linda Lawley (lead vocals)
The former Eternity’s Children vocalist’s solo debut offers well-crafted soulful rock and AOR, mixing a few originals with some familiar covers. It’s all very professional if a little anonymous, but the typically eighties drum sound (some played live, some programmed) detracts somewhat. She went on to cut a second solo LP Love Strike, which I haven’t encountered. GRADE: C.

See also Eternity's Children, Knickers

Juliet Lawson (UK): Boo (Sovereign SVNA 7257, 1972)
Singer/Songwriter
Juliet Lawson (lead vocals, guitar, piano)

With David Costa producing and Bias Boshell providing bass and keyboards, this is something of a Trees reunion, but only on the somewhat psychedelic ‘Let Me Not Put You Down’ is there any musical resemblance. Elsewhere, this is pleasant, fairly sedate stuff, with Costa’s extensive use of the studio (most notably the lead vocal on ‘Who Is India?’ wandering across the soundstage) adding some distinction. There’s also a fair bit of variety, taking in everything from the stage show edges of ‘Dear Fool’ to the Caribbean textures of ‘Only A Week Away’. GRADE: C+.

Juliet Lawson (UK): The One That Got Away (Ravishing RR CD 2350, CD, 1995)

Singer/Songwriter

Juliet Lawson (lead vocals)

Juliet Lawon is in fine voice on her second album, and she probably delivers some good songs too, though it’s hard to tell after what arrangers and principal musicians Bim and Bud Sinclair have done to them. For the most part, their backing blends elements of electro-pop and jazz-funk, complete with funky guitar, programmed drums and lots of synthesisers. Things improve towards the end, with the band rocking out on the standout cut ‘Misha’, which indicates what could have been achieved elsewhere. GRADE: C.

Juliet Lawson (UK): Where I’m Coming From… (No label, CDR, 2003)
Singer/Songwriter
Juliet Lawson (lead vocals, guitar, piano)
Once again, Lawson is in fine voice, and this time the backing – jazzy, warm and intimate – complements her singing perfectly. Relaxed, mellow and understated, this is lovely stuff and those who enjoyed her debut should definitely explore her recent discography. GRADE: C+.
Juliet Lawson (UK): Songs From The Suitcase (No label, black CDR, with minisleeve, 2012)
Singer/Songwriter
Recorded in 2009 but released in 2012, this four-track EP may be my favourite of Juliet Lawson’s recordings. Her vocals are simply lovely, taking on almost Annette Peacock quality, and the mellow, jazzy backing is once again perfectly matched. As a bonus, the recording quality is simply superb. GRADE: C+.
Juliet Lawson (UK): Love And The Older Woman (No label, CD, with minisleeve, 2015)
Singer/Songwriter
Juliet Lawson (lead vocals)
This is slightly less jazzy than her last couple of albums, with arranger and multi-instrumentalist Christian Marsac providing some sensitive semi-acoustic settings. It’s also a lovely, gentle and refined set that once again showcases Lawson’s singing most effectively. GRADE: C+.

Lawsons Singing Duo (UK): The Lawsons Singing Duo (Emidisc, 10" acetate, 1968?)
Folk
This curious single-sided acetate consists of five songs performed to piano backing in a rather formal, slightly theatrical style by a male and female duo. The material – ‘The Sun Worshipping Grand Papa’, ‘Don’t You Know?’, ‘Don’t Ring Us’, ‘War And Peace’ and ‘Soon You Leave’ – appears to be original. GRADE: C–.

Jane Laxton & Julia Oakley (UK): Jane Laxton And Julia Oakley (No label, unreleased 10" acetate, 1971?)
Folk
Only one copy is known of this album, which consists of naïve and lo-fi teenage folk. Some of the material has a Christian slant, and much of it is familiar (‘Mr Tambourine Man’, ‘Edelweiss’, ‘This Land Is Your Land’, ‘Donna Donna’), but there may be some original numbers too, as Laxton was a covered songwriter. GRADE: C.

Lazy Farmer (UK): Lazy Farmer (Songbird 1C 062-31 130, West Germany, 1975)
Folk/Rock
Sandy Jones (banjo, backing vocals)
Having two dedicated banjo players in a folk band is a novelty, and not necessarily a good one as it’s not among my favourite instruments. However, the results avoid brashness and this is an excellent acoustic folk/rock album, offering intricate and sensitive versions of mostly traditional material. GRADE: B–.

Catherine Le Forestier (France): Music Of Aziza (Philips 9101 283, 1980)
Folk/Avant-Garde
Catherine Le Forestier (lead vocals, percussion, violin)
Accompanied only by her own violin and percussion, the former Babel member offers an unusual and rather eerie solo set. With lots of electronic treatments, the feel is simultaneously neoclassical and decidedly ethnic, with definite echoes of Babel’s disturbing quasi-tribal sound, although this never achieves the same intensity. In some ways, this could be seen as a highly innovative album, hinting at the sort of music artists like Sheila Chandra, Dead Can Dance and Enya would produce later in the decade. Le Forestier also issued a number of other solo LPs, although I believe these are quite different, falling squarely into the chanson or singer/songwriter style. GRADE: C+.
See also Babel

Lear (Switzerland): Swiss Rock History, Volume One (Blue Moon SRH 001/96, 1996, recorded 1969-1979)
Rock/Progressive
Beba Kürsteiner
Lear issued only one recording during their lifetime (a solitary track on an obscure compilation), but this retrospective set captures twelve live and studio cuts from across a decade. With all-original material and a sound similar to Analogy, Circus 2000, Sandrose or early Earth & Fire, they were a fine band and there is some excellent music on offer here. Inevitably there are a few weaker moments, but given their level of talent they should have landed a record deal and were clearly capable of making some outstanding LPs. GRADE: B–.

Leathercoated Minds (USA): A Trip Down The Sunset Strip (Viva V 6003 / VS 36003, 1967)
Pop/Psychedelic
Terrye Tillison
Mixing original songs, covers and sound effects recorded on the Sunset Strip itself, this exploitation album was the work of a young JJ Cale and a husband-and-wife duo. Whilst Cale’s original compositions are inevitably quite bluesy, this only occasionally hints at his future direction. It’s a pleasant if inconsequential harmony pop and light psych cash-in. GRADE: C.

Leaves’ Eyes (Norway): Lovelorn (Napalm NPR 145, CD, with book sleeve, Austria, 2004)
Metal/Progressive
Liv Kristine Espenaes (principal vocals, keyboards)
Liv Kristine Espenaes’s post-Theatre Of Tragedy band isn’t far removed from that band’s early work, but is even more lush and symphonic. Despite occasional death growls, all rough edges are smoothed out, with the music carried aloft on rich swathes of keyboards and heavy but restrained guitars. It’s all beautifully crafted and impressively mellifluous, but leaves one wondering how a genre as superficially abrasive as metal can end up sounding so safe and so soft. GRADE: C+.
Leaves’ Eyes (Norway): Vinland Saga (Napalm NPR 164, CD, Austria, 2005)
Metal/Progressive
Liv Kristine Espenaes (principal vocals, keyboards)
Album number two has an even more epic sound, with lots of folky and classical references and partly Norwegian lyrics. The sound is majestic and impressive, including some well-judged moments of heaviness, but lacks the individually outstanding songs that would have made it a classic. GRADE: C+.
Leaves’ Eyes (Norway): Njord (Napalm NPR 512, CD, with digipak and booklet, 2009)
Metal/Progressive
Liv Kristine Espenaes (principal vocals)
This is even more refined that its predecessor, with epic orchestrations and classical choirs on richly melodic material. The only problem is that this sort of music had become commonplace by 2009, and despite the superb performances this brings nothing new to the genre. GRADE: C+.

Leaves’ Eyes (Germany/Norway): We Came With The Northern Winds/En Saga I Belgia (Napalm NPR 291, double DVD plus double CD, with digipak, booklet and slipcase, 2009)
Metal/Progressive
Liv Kristine Espenaes (principal vocals), Alla Fedynitch (bass)
This lavish package features a two-and-a-half hour tour documentary and a 90-minute live set on both DVD and CD. The documentary is unusually good, with genuinely frank and interesting interviews, and the live show is excellent both musically and visually, with some well-judged theatrics. In fact, their polished music works surprisingly well onstage, making this an ideal introduction to the band and its work. GRADE: B–.
Leaves’ Eyes (Germany/Norway): Meredead (Napalm NPR 375, CD plus DVD, with digibook sleeve, 2011)
Metal/Folk/Progressive
Liv Kristine Espenaes (principal vocals)
Both more folky and more epic than their previous work, Meredead has lots of Celtic instrumentation, vast orchestrations and huge swelling choirs. It’s also far more progressive, with some well-judged shifts of mood and tempo, some much more aggressive sections and some strong original songs, resulting in their finest studio album. The bonus DVD features five live tracks, completing an excellent package.

GRADE: B–.
Leaves’ Eyes (Germany/Norway): Symphonies Of The Night (Napalm NPR 512, CD, with digipak and booklet, 2013)
Metal/Progressive
Liv Kristine Espenaes (principal vocals)
Much less interesting than its predecessor, this offers enjoyable symphonic metal that breaks no new ground for the band. With is beautifully crafted arrangements, it’s consistently good but at the same time it’s never great. GRADE: C+.

Leaves’ Eyes (Germany/Norway/Holland): King Of Kings (AFM AFM 519-9, double CD, with digibook, 2015)
Metal/Progressive
Liv Kristine Espenaes (principal vocals)
King Of Kings is another epic, folky, dramatic, orchestrated tale of Norse mythology: entirely predictable for the band but beautifully done. The second disc offers acoustic and instrumental reworkings of the set, offering another dimension to the album and the band’s music, and completing an accomplished (and beautifully packaged) set. GRADE: B–.

Leaves’ Eyes (Germany/Finland/Holland): Fires In The North (AFM AFM 596-5, CD, with digipak, Germany, 2016)
Metal
Elina Siirala (lead vocals, violin)
More an EP than an album, Fires In The North serves to introduce new vocalist Elina Siirala following Liv Kristine Espanaes’s surprising departure. The music, however, is not a departure, and these five cuts (electric and acoustic versions of ‘Fires In The North’ and re-recordings of ‘Edge Of Steel’, ‘Sacred Vow’ and ‘Swords In Rock’) offer their usual epic brand of metal. GRADE: C+.

Leaves’ Eyes (Germany/Finland): Sign Of The Dragonhead (AFM AFM 611-2, double CD, with digipak and booklet, Germany, 2018)
Metal/Progressive
Elina Siirala (principal vocals)
The change of vocalist from Liv Kristine Espenaes to Elina Siirala hasn’t changed their sound one iota. This doesn’t represent any kind of artistic step forward from their previous albums and it doesn’t break even a millimetre of new ground. So why the B–? They’re incredibly accomplished at what they do, and this is simply superb symphonic metal and the recording is wonderful too. They even include a bonus disc with instrumental versions of the full album for those don’t like soprano and/or death vocals. GRADE: B–.
See also Angel Nation

See also Liv Kristine, Theatre Of Tragedy

Danny Lee & The Children Of Truth (USA): One Way (RCA LSP 4611, 1971)
Pop
Sandy Smith, Marlene Aderholt
If you can imagine a Christian New Seekers, you’re getting close: this is gruesomely cheerful religious pop, with only the bluesy ‘More Than Just A Man’ being worth a second listen. The only real surprise is that they managed to land a major label deal, rather than putting it out on one of the many Christian labels specialising in this sort of thing. GRADE: E+.
Danny Lee & The Children Of Truth (USA): Danny Lee And The Children Of Truth (RCA LSP 4714, 1973)
Pop
Basically more of the same: inane, tooth-rottingly sweet saccharine pop that is strangely at odds with the pompous sleeve notes (‘Danny may well be the first Christian artist to deal deeply and prophetically with the important problems of our time, bridging the theological/secular gap with pertinent comments on Christian participation and involvement in these problems’). GRADE: E+.
Danny Lee & The Children Of Truth (USA): Essence (Impact R3246, 1974)
Pop
Lee may have changed labels, and thankfully altered his musical style a little to include stronger blues and gospel influences, but at heart this is still inane pop. ‘What Have You Got To Lose?’ asks the first track on side two. Short answer: my sanity, if I listen to Mr Lee’s first two albums again. GRADE: C–.

Rita Lee (Brazil): Build Up (Polydor 40.055, 1970)
Pop
The Mutantes’ singer’s solo debut is orchestrated soft pop and bossa nova, with a very middle-of-the-road flavour and an arch, theatrical feel. In fact, it’s not until the ninth cut that any significant rock elements emerge. On one level, this could be seen as the logical extension of certain tendencies within Mutantes’ style; on the other, despite some similarly satirical elements, this signally lacks the parent band’s eclecticism and sense of adventure, and whilst well done is far from my taste. At least it ends with its best track: the uncharacteristically heavy psychedelic rocker ‘Eu Vou Me Salvar’. GRADE: C+.
Rita Lee (Brazil): Hoje É O Primeiro Dia Do Resto Da Sua Vida (Polydor 2451.017, 1972)
Pop/Rock/Psychedelic
Rita Lee (principal vocals)
As on her first, Lee is largely backed by Mutantes, but this time round the disc sounds like a Mutantes album. It’s definitely at the lighter end of the Mutantes repertoire, and many listeners may find the songs too whimsical and throwaway, but they’re pretty inventive slices of trippy pop. This is easily the best of her many solo LPs. GRADE: B–.
Rita Lee & Tutti Frutti (Brazil): Atrás Do Porto Tem Una Cidade (Philips 6349 111, 1974)
Pop/Rock
Rita Lee (lead vocals, keyboards, percussion), Lúcia Turnbull (guitar, handclaps, backing vocals)
Following the collapse of the Cilibrinas Do Éden project, Lee and Turnbull formed a very different new band called Tutti Frutti. The opening ‘De Pés No Chão’ is quite dreadful, falling somewhere between glam and rock and roll revivalism, but the second number ‘Yo No Creo Pero’ is a pleasant piece of prog with some good Mellotron work. Sadly, most of the rest is bog-standard funky seventies pop/rock, redeemed only by a few interesting arrangement touches. With a total running time of under half an hour, the end result sounds half-hearted in more ways than one. GRADE: C+.
Rita Lee & Tutti Frutti (Brazil): Fruto Proibido (Som Livre 410.6006, with insert, 1975)
Blues/Pop/Rock
Rita Lee (lead vocals, guitar, synthesiser)
This was Lee’s first really big-selling album, shifting some 700,000 copies. It’s also her most commercial to date, being straightforward blues/rock with a barroom feel and a definite Rolling Stones influence. Nonetheless the songwriting is of a high standard and there are some excellent instrumental performances, making this a more substantial and satisfying LP than its slightly more adventurous predecessor. GRADE: C+.
Rita Lee & Tutti Frutti (Brazil): Entradas E Bandeiras (Som Livre 403.6090, with insert, 1976)
Blues/Pop/Rock
Rita Lee (lead vocals, guitar, piano, flute)
Unsurprisingly, they chose not to vary a winning formula, and this is once again a well composed and performed album of catchy bluesy rock. However, it’s remarkable how an artist who began her career making such innovative music could quickly settle into issuing such predictable and derivative records. GRADE: C+.
Gilberto Gil & Rita Lee (Brazil): Refestança (Som Livre 403.6137, 1977)
Rock
Rita Lee (joint lead vocals)
This one-off live collaboration sees the two legends of tropicália performing both together and separately, sometimes on their own material and sometimes each other’s. With backing from their respective bands (Tutti Frutti and Refavela), the duo offer some lively rock with strong Brazilian edges, making for a very enjoyable if not enormously substantial LP. GRADE: C+.
Rita Lee & Tutti Frutti (Brazil): Babilônia (Som Livre 403.6149, with insert, 1978)
Rock
Rita Lee (lead vocals, guitar, flute)
This album marked Lee’s first work with her long-time collaborator Roberto de Carvalho, but as the band’s keyboardist and second guitarist he only gets to co-write one cut. Musically, this is business as usual, with some pleasant, lightweight Rolling Stones-like rock, although ‘Agora É Moda’ shows Lee beginning to develop an interest in disco music. GRADE: C+.
Rita Lee (Brazil): Rita Lee (Som Livre 403.6193, with inner, 1979)
Pop
Rita Lee (lead vocals, guitar, percussion, flute)
This is credited as a solo album, but Roberto de Carvalho co-wrote more than half the cuts, bringing a different flavour to the music. For the most part, this is a pop album of no particular distinction, with influences from funk, disco and reggae, plus a couple of Rolling Stones-style rockers thrown in for good measure. The best number is probably the ballad ‘Doce Vampiro’: significantly, the only cut Lee wrote alone. GRADE: C.
Rita Lee (Brazil): Rita Lee (Som Livre 403.6217, with inner, 1980)
Pop
Rita Lee (lead vocals, synthesiser, percussion, flute)
Charting Lee’s continued artistic descent, this is a really grim mixture of soulful, funky pop and polished ballads, packed with naggingly catchy hooklines and bland, overworked arrangements. It’s a very professionally executed record, for sure, but in all the wrong ways.

GRADE: C–.
Rita Lee & Roberto de Carvalho (Brazil): Saúde (Som Livre 403.6243, with inner, 1981)
Pop/Funk
Rita Lee (principal vocals)
For the most part, this is even worse than its predecessor, with a very dated early eighties production. However, ‘Atlântida’ is a solid rock track, indicating that Lee and de Carvalho could still write good riffs and tunes when they really tried. GRADE: D+.
Rita Lee & Roberto de Carvalho (Brazil): Rita Lee É Roberto de Carvalho (Som Livre 403.6266, with inner, 1982)
Pop
Rita Lee (principal vocals, synthesiser, percussion, autoharp, whistle, effects)
Making its predecessor sound like a masterpiece, this is an endlessly cheerful procession of bouncy, funky, jazzy pop grooves with lots and lots of horns. If they have music in hell, it would be this sort of stuff endlessly looped. At least ‘Cor-de-Rosa Choque’ is pleasant enough. As a final depressing footnote, this was Lee’s bestselling album, shifting over two million copies. GRADE: E+.
Rita Lee & Roberto de Carvalho (Brazil): BomBom (Som Livre 403.6296, with inner, 1983)
Pop
Rita Lee (principal vocals)
The opening ‘On The Rocks’ suggests that the duo has gone AOR, and is the best thing on offer. Meanwhile, the remainder is in their familiar funky pop style: pretty bad, but a slight step up from the ghastly record that preceded it. GRADE: D+.
Rita Lee & Roberto de Carvalho (Brazil): Rita É Roberto (Som Livre 403.6331, with insert and poster, 1985)
Pop/Rock
Rita Lee (lead vocals, kazoo)
With a bit more of an AOR influence and a higher rock quotient, this isn’t as obnoxiously bad as some of their work. However, it is identikit mid-eighties pop/rock of no distinction whatsoever, and utterly without craft or finesse. GRADE: D+.
Rita Lee & Roberto de Carvalho (Brazil): Flerte Fatal (EMI 422971, with inner, 1987)
Pop/Rock
Rita Lee (lead vocals)
Occasionally a little folkier than normal, this is mostly business as usual and another very disappointing LP. Their Portuguese cover of ‘Blue Moon’ is pretty pointless, but the Tutti Frutti-style blues/rocker ‘Para Com Isso’ is the best of a poor crop of originals. GRADE: E+.
Rita Lee & Roberto de Carvalho (Brazil): Zona Zen (EMI 066 791720 1, with inner, 1988)
Pop/Rock
Rita Lee (lead vocals, percussion, autoharp)
Their cover of ‘C’est Si Bon’ is dreadful, but that’s the only song harking back to the worst of earlier Lee & de Carvalho albums. For the most part this is a perfectly listenable, if unexciting, collection of Tutti Frutti-style bluesy rockers and acoustic ballads, only occasionally marred by dated eighties production touches. GRADE: C.
Rita Lee & Roberto de Carvalho (Brazil): Rita Lee É Roberto de Carvalho (EMI 795593 1, with inner, 1990)
Blues/Rock
Rita Lee (principal vocals, autoharp, kazoo)
Like its predecessor, this mostly concentrates on blues/rock material, and is solid without being especially interesting. ‘Esfinge’ is probably the best cut, whilst the whimsical ‘Tipo Inesquecível’ and ‘La Miranda’ don’t do much for me. GRADE: C.
Rita Lee (Brazil): Em Bossa ’N Roll (Som Livre 2044-2, CD, 1991)
Folk
Rita Lee (principal vocals, guitar), Gal Costa (occasional vocals)
Despite the title, this live album doesn’t really fuse bossa nova and rock and roll; it’s an unplugged album of Lee’s greatest hits, on which she’s accompanied only by a second guitarist. Alongside the originals, there are covers of the Beatles, the Rolling Stones and the Police, with fellow tropicália luminary Gal Costa putting in a guest appearance; the end result is her best album since the seventies. GRADE: C+.
Rita Lee (Brazil): Rita Lee (Som Livre 400.1215, CD, 1993)
Rock
Rita Lee (lead vocals, guitar, percussion)
Although there are a few lighter ballads and bossa nova pieces, this is mostly a solid guitar rock album with definite hard rock leanings. It’s not especially original or creative, but it is well done and blows away anything Lee released with Roberto de Carvalho during the eighties. GRADE: C+.
Rita Lee (Brazil): A Marca Da Zorra (Som Livre 2070 2, CD, 1995)
Rock
Rita Lee (principal vocals)
This live set features a broad cross-section of material, but most of it is delivered as straightforward guitar-led barroom rock. It’s all inoffensive enough, if very one-dimensional, but the audience sounds like it is having a wonderful time. GRADE: C.
Rita Lee (Brazil): Santa Rita De Sampa (PolyGram 534 962-2, CD, 1997)
Pop/Rock
Rita Lee (principal vocals, autoharp)
The first couple of cuts are rather good polished rock with a bluesy edge, but things quickly get more varied – and unfortunately, rather more whimsical. Once again it’s a patchy record, but about a third of it is enjoyable and it never plumbs the depths of her worst work. GRADE: C.
Rita Lee (Brazil): Acústico (PolyGram 532 286-2, CD, 1998)
Folk/Rock
Rita Lee (principal vocals, guitar, whistle, kazoo, blower)
The idea of an ‘unplugged’ Rita Lee live album didn’t fill me with confidence, but this is an enjoyable set with full band backing (oddly, including electric instrumentation) and a well-chosen set of songs. GRADE: C+.
See also Cilibrinas Do Éden, Everyone Involved, Mutantes, Lúcia Turnbull

Left Hand Solution (Sweden): Falling (Left Hand Tapes 002, cassette, 1993)
Metal
Kicki Hoïjertz (lead vocals)
Left Hand Solution’s second demo tape (the first was with a male vocalist) offers 22 minutes of stripped-down, doom-influenced metal. Inevitably, the sound has a basement vibe and there’s no real sense of the band stretching out on the five short songs, but this is nonetheless a promising if unassuming debut. GRADE: C+.
Left Hand Solution (Sweden): Shadowdance (Massproduction MASS CDS 03, CD, 1994)
Metal
Kicki Hoïjertz (lead vocals)
The band’s first commercial release – also an EP, with six tracks totalling 27½ minutes – is a huge step forward from their demo: powerful, majestic doom metal with real atmosphere and swagger. The 2003 reissue (as an HDCD) oddly reorders the tracks and adds half-a-dozen bonus cuts: some of these are more uptempo, even tending towards thrash at times, but others are closer to the original EP and are highly enjoyable. GRADE: B–.

Left Hand Solution (Sweden): Fevered (Nuclear Blast NB 239-2, CD, Germany, 1997)
Metal
Mariana Holmberg (principal vocals)
Slightly different from their earlier work, this is essentially a gothic/doom hybrid, largely serving as a vehicle for new singer Mariana Holmberg’s ethereal and wonderfully expressive voice. She adds a highly distinctive edge to the songs, which borrow from styles far beyond metal, occasionally hinting towards post-punk acts like Siouxsie & The Banshees to create an intriguing sonic blend. GRADE: B–.
Left Hand Solution (Sweden): Light Shines Black (Massproduktion MAS CD-84, CD, with poster booklet, 2001)
Metal
Mariana Holmberg (lead vocals)
Their techno-styled cover of Eurythmics’ ‘Missionary Man’, whilst an interesting idea on paper, is pretty disastrous; but elsewhere this offers rather good gothic-cum-doom metal in the style of its predecessor. In particular, the acoustic closer ‘A Road To Nowhere’ provides a nice change of pace, whilst suggesting some possible artistic diversions for the future. GRADE: B–.
Left Hand Solution (Sweden): Through The Mourning Woods (No label, download, 2019)
Metal
Mariana Holmberg (lead vocals)
Eighteen years on from their last album and Left Hand Solution haven’t learned any new tracks (or been exactly productive, with the six songs totalling 34 minutes). However, it doesn’t really matter as, whilst rather slight, this is up to the standards of their previous work and they’re clearly very adept at what they do. GRADE: B–.
Left Hand Solution (Sweden): Dead Of Winter (No label, download, 2021)
Metal
Mariana Holmberg (lead vocals)
This is even shorter than its predecessor, totalling a mere 29 minutes, and is somewhat straighter too. Nonetheless, it’s powerful, dynamic stuff, demonstrating that the band haven’t lost their mojo, and their surprise cover of ‘Jolene’ is excellent, putting bad memories of ‘Missionary Man’ to bed. However, the question remains: will they ever cut a full album again? GRADE: B–.

See also Siebenbürgen

Left-Handed Marriage (UK): On The Right Side Of The Left-Handed Marriage (No label, 1967)
Folk/Pop
Jenny Rusbridge (joint lead vocals)
This obscure band is best remembered for featuring a pre-Queen Brian May in one of its line-ups but this exceptionally rare private pressing was recorded before he joined. With all-original material and simple backing from acoustic guitar and bass, it’s an appealing set with a feel that’s as close to underground pop as to folk and a basement ambience similar to some of the Holyground albums. On the downside, it’s not a varied record, despite showcasing three different singers, but it’s probably more celebrated for its sardonic lyrics than anything.

GRADE: C+.
Left-Handed Marriage (UK): Crazy Chain (No label LHM 1, CD, 1993)
Pop
Jenny Rusbridge (joint lead vocals)
Issued in a run of 500 numbered copies, the band’s long-delayed second album is a bit different, with backing from guitars, keyboards (including some parts by Renaissance alumnus Peter Gosling) and drum machines. The result is a classy and nostalgic, if inevitably low-budget, collection of melodic pop songs. As a bonus, the album closes with three 1967 recordings from the incarnation featuring Brian May. GRADE: C+.

Leftovers Folk Group & Fraser Lamont (UK): Folk And Such (Action FMC.933, 1969)

Folk

Gaye McCallum (joint lead vocals, kazoo)
Housed in a handsome black-and-white flipback sleeve, this obscure album is split between a Scottish folk group and a soloist. With accompaniment from acoustic guitars, mandolin and banjo, they offer pleasant interpretations of both traditional and contemporary numbers, with an appealing late sixties folk club sound. GRADE: C+.

Legend (UK): Light In Extension (Pagan Media PMCD001, CD, 1991)
Progressive
Debbie Chapman (lead vocals, tambourine)
The oddest thing about Light In Extension is its production: the drums are very well recorded but the drummer often favours an electronic kit, so they sometimes sound programmed rather than live. Whilst the album as a whole has a definite low-budget mood, it’s well ahead of the neoprogressive pack with some genuinely catchy hard-rocking riffs, and they’re not afraid to stretch out and jam. Another key asset is Debbie Chapman, whose voice reminds me of the singer from Inkubus Sukkubus (as do the riffs) and, less predictably, Joan Bartle from Stone Angel. It all adds up to an intriguing, enjoyable and unassuming debut. GRADE: C+.
Legend (UK): Playing With Fire (Pagan Media PMVC005, VHS, 1993)
Progressive
Debbie Chapman (lead vocals, tambourine)
Although inevitably low-budget, this live video is well filmed and the band turns in a spirited performance. In a live context, their metal roots become even more obvious, despite the lush symphonic sheen. GRADE: C+.
Legend (UK): Second Sight (Pagan Media PMR CD 6, CD, 1993)
Progressive
Debbie Chapman (lead vocals)
This is a bit straighter than their first, due in part to a change of drummer, so whilst it’s marginally more professional it’s also less interesting. Nonetheless, it’s not without its moments – ‘I Close My Eyes’ (perhaps significantly the only cover version) is simply gorgeous. GRADE: C+.
Legend (UK): Triple Aspect (Pagan Media PMR CD 9, CD, 1996)
Progressive
Debbie Chapman (lead vocals)
This is by far their most ambitious album, with the title suite running for nearly half an hour and ‘Lyonesse’ for more than 12 minutes. Emphasising the folkier side of their sound, it features some excellent vocals from Debbie Chapman and some lovely melodies, though as with all their work it’s a bit overly lyrical. Sound quality this time round is pretty good, but the whole thing still feels rather low-budget, making one wonder what they could achieve with unlimited time at a top-end studio. GRADE: C+.
Legend (UK): Cardinal Points (No Fish NF CD 3, CD, 2011)
Progressive
Kerry Parker (lead vocals)
The band’s comeback album shares the ambition of its predecessor, featuring four long songs (averaging around 15 minutes apiece) stitched together by sound effects. As usual, the music is packed with lyrics and not particularly exploratory, though they do stretch out a little on the closing ‘Drop In The Ocean’. Overall it’s a solid and welcome comeback, with new vocalist Kerry Parker’s deeper, more sensual and far less folky vocals creating a somewhat different vibe. GRADE: C+.

Legend (UK/Australia): Spirit (Ravenheart RAV 1053, CD, UK, 2013)
Progressive
Beck Siàn (lead vocals)
Legend have always packed their lengthy songs with lyrics, but this time there’s so much verbiage it took four people to co-write it all. Add in more pronounced metal references than usual, lots of ostentatious riffing, a new Kate Bush-influenced vocalist with faint operatic pretensions and four backing singers to provide epic quasi-choral counterpoint, and one might conclude that Legend are becoming too bombastic for their own good – especially as they don’t have much to say either lyrically or musically. GRADE: C+.

Légende (France): Départs (No label 59191, with insert, 1989)

Rock
Agnès Coqueriaux (joint lead vocals)
The band formerly known as Northern Cross returns with an album that, unlike its predecessor, is wisely sung in French. Like their earlier effort, this offers rather amateurish home-made music with a garage flavour, though the folk elements are toned down here, with the emphasis much more on rock (quite heavy rock in the case of the very effective ‘Gloria Mundi’). GRADE: C+.
Légende (France): Tempus Fugit (Pegase 59192, CD, 1993)
Rock/Progressive
Agnès Coqueriaux (occasional vocals, percussion)
This concept album – which traces the history of Flanders from 1302 until 1917 – has the same lo-fi, home-made feel as their earlier work, but the style is quite different, being symphonic rock and soft progressive. The results are unassuming and enjoyable, and this sounds like the product of a cohesive band rather than a loose collective. Unlike their first LP, which is easy to find, this is exceptionally scarce.

GRADE: C+.
See also Northern Cross

Leger De Main (USA): The Concept Of Our Reality (Progressive Music Management PMM-0100, CD, 1995)
Progressive
Melissa Blair (lead vocals)
Although the band’s biggest influence was probably Rush, this reminds me of Presence more than anyone, with a similarly messy approach: different instruments riff manically at the same time, whilst the vocal lines often seem to have little connection with the music beneath. In fairness, this isn’t as tiring as Presence, due to lighter and more varied arrangements, and Melissa Blair’s singing isn’t as shrill as Sophya Baccini’s (though she does attempt an overly dramatic vocal approach similar to Tracy Hitchings). Nonetheless, this rarely rises above the mediocre and is in parts almost unlistenable. In any case, the last and most straightforward track (‘Distorted Pictures’) is certainly the best. GRADE: C.
Leger De Main (USA): Second First Impression (Progressive Music Management PMM-0200, CD, 1997)
Progressive
Melissa Blair (lead vocals)
As the title suggests, the band intended to go in a slightly different direction with their second album, showcasing a more complex and progressive sound. It is not an improvement. Again, manic riffs alternate with folky passages, but no amount of tempo changes or soloing can disguise the fact that the band have very little talent for writing songs. Both albums were remixed and remastered (and also resequenced in the case of Second First Impression) for the compilation A Lasting Impression (Progressive Music Management PMM-0102R, double CD, 2005) with two pleasant bonus tracks: acoustic re-recordings of two numbers from The Concept Of Our Reality. Meanwhile, the band went on to issue a third album under the new name of Mythologic. GRADE: D+.
See also Mythologic

Betsy Legg (USA): Betsy (No label PRP-41072, 1972?)
Folk
Betsy Legg (lead vocals, guitar)
Accomplished by her own acoustic guitar and occasionally a second guitarist and bassist, Legg offers, lovely gentle interpretations of contemporary singer/songwriter material. With familiar numbers like ‘Reason To Believe’, ‘Leaving On A Jet Plane’, ‘Early Morning Rain’ and ‘Help Me Make It Through The Night’ this isn’t the most profound or original album, but it is delicate, charming and beautiful. GRADE: C+.

Jane Leichhardt (USA): A Woman Like Me (Metromedia MD 1011, 1969)
Folk/Rock
This is a solid collection of folk/rock and pop from a capable hippie singer/songwriter. The arrangements (by rock ’n’ roll veteran and Buddy Holly collaborator Tommy Allsup) range from strings to fuzz guitars, making this an enjoyable if rather lightweight period piece. GRADE: C+.

Geoff Leigh & Cathy Williams (UK): Mirage (Hard World HWCD004, CD, 2006)
World Music/New Age
Cathy Williams (lead vocals, harmonium, bells, tampura, singing bowls)
Anyone expecting a second Radar Favourites set is going to be in for a surprise: this is a mixture of folk, new age and world music styles. It’s very nice too, with a pleasantly trippy and floating mood, though it’s the last thing I would have anticipated from any Henry Cow alumnus. GRADE: C+.
See also Radar Favourites

Lemurian Folk Songs (Hungary): Maro (No label, download, 2017)
Psychedelic
Kriszti Benus (lead vocals)
The songs and jams here feature some excellent guitar work and fine vocals by Kriszti Benus, but – pleasing as they are – they don’t really go anywhere; not even to the furthest reaches of improvisational space. GRADE: C+.
Lemurian Folk Songs (Hungary): Jam In Copenhagen 2018 (No label, download, 2018)
Psychedelic
Kriszti Benus (lead vocals)
Whereas their first album featured individual songs and instrumentals, their second is a single 27½-minute jam. It’s a step us musically, too – this is relaxed, spacious stuff recalling Ash Ra Tempel circa Join Inn, with Benus’s echoed vocals channelling Rosi Müller to great effect. GRADE: C+.

Lemurian Folk Songs (Hungary): Ima今 (No label, download, 2019)
Psychedelic
Kriszti Benus (lead vocals, keyboards)
It all comes together for Lemurian Folk Songs here: four jams totalling over 39 minutes, and they’re excellent jams too. Once again, I can hear references to Ash Ra Tempel and other seventies greats, though this is very contemporary too, and packed with superb guitar work. 

GRADE: B–.

Lemurian Folk Songs (Hungary): Logos (No label, download, 2020)
Psychedelic
Kriszti Benus (lead vocals, keyboards, tambourine)
It all comes together for Lemurian Folk Songs here: four jams totalling over 39 minutes, and they’re excellent jams too. Once again, I can hear references to Ash Ra Tempel and other seventies greats, though this is very contemporary too, and packed with superb guitar work. 

GRADE: B–.

Lemurian Folk Songs (Hungary): Live (Psychedelic Source, download, 2020)
Psychedelic
Kriszti Benus (lead vocals)
Released to commemorate the band’s final gig before a second lockdown – as they note, ‘Hungary is closed now, no concerts allowed, no borders open for escape’ – this offers just over an hour of peak psychedelic jamming. Let’s hope for a swift vaccine so they can start delighting us again – or alternatively, that they spend their time in lockdown productively. GRADE: B–.

See also Forrás Sessions, Paranormal Family, Pilot Voyager, Psychedelic Source, Red Gem Space Funk, Satorinaut, Sessions With Hisa Shiroma, Various 'Psychedelic Source Records – Finalizing 2020 Compilation'

Lend A Hand (USA): Lend A Hand (Leihan LR-101. 1975?)
Folk/Rock
Jane Berret (joint lead vocals, guitar, piano), Renée Berret (joint lead vocals, guitar, piano, percussion), Debbie Carlson (joint lead vocals, guitar, percussion), Linda Carlson (joint lead vocals, guitar), Susan Shirah (joint lead vocals, guitar), Gale Trippsmith (joint lead vocals, guitar, percussion)
With its massed female harmonies, simple acoustic and occasionally electric backing and echoey sound, this teenage band’s album sounds like a school project. With a strong Christian bias and covers of material from ‘Godspell’ and ‘Jesus Christ Superstar’ it’s not the most original LP in the world, but it is naïvely charming and hauntingly beautiful. Coupled with its extreme scarcity, this has made it a fairly expensive collectible. GRADE: C+.

Leon & Malia (USA): Leon And Malia (Que QS 2004, with booklet, 1970)
Folk
Malia Elliott (joint lead vocals, tambourine)
The opening cover of ‘The Boxer’ is rather underwhelming, with a somewhat operatic vocal from Malia Elliott, but it’s a false dawn. From the exquisite ‘Funny Ways’ onwards, this is a beautiful hippie folk album with subtly psychedelic edges and strong influences from the duo’s native Hawaii. Quite simply, this is a stunning album that would fetch a fortune if it were slightly rarer. GRADE: B.
Leon & Malia (USA): Blend (Trim TLP-1972, with insert, 1972)
Folk
Malia Elliott
Once again they open with a cover (this time, Neil Young’s ‘Birds’), and once again offer an absolutely delightful album of hippie folk.

GRADE: B.

Leon’s Creation (USA): This Could Be The Beginning (Studio 10 R-2488, 1970)
Carol (violin, backing vocals)
From the back cover, this mixed-race, mixed-gender band look exactly like Sly & The Family Stone, and on the opening title track they sound exactly like them too (from the Life or Stand! era). On subsequent tracks, the resemblance isn’t quite so strong, but both bands are definitely operating in the same territory, and anybody who likes one will enjoy the other. There are no real weak points, but the best cut is the extended jam ‘Mirage’. GRADE: C+.

Leona (UK): Hope That The World Will Win (No label, with inner, 1980)
Singer/Songwriter
Leona Hosack (lead vocals, guitar)
This country-tinged singer/songwriter album is as beatific and spiritual as its cover suggests – for both better and worse. At its finest (the haunting ‘The Miracle’) it’s quite lovely, but at other times Leona Hosack’s helium-pitched singing and the jaunty backing simply irritate – I can imagine some people not making it past the opening ‘The Sweetest Way’. That song’s title arguably sums up the album’s biggest issue – it’s just too sweet, but about half its cuts are enjoyable nonetheless. GRADE: C.

Leonda (USA): Woman In The Sun (Epic BN 26383, 1968)
Singer/Songwriter
Leonda Hardison (lead vocals, guitar)
This competent singer/songwriter set runs the gamut from bluesy rock to acoustic folk, but despite some dealer descriptions it isn’t psychedelic or particularly mystical. GRADE: C.

Claire Lepage (Canada): Bang! Bang! (Télédisc TD 361, 1966)
Pop
Claire Lepage is widely remembered as one of Canada’s foremost ‘yé-yé girls’, but her sound is often pretty middle-of-the-road. In fact, this album frequently owes as much to the chanson tradition as to pop or beat, making it a rather marginal purchase for rock fans. It does, however, contain a few more inventive and upbeat tracks, and has a very striking textured cover depicting an extreme close-up of Lepage’s face, with no writing or any other design elements. GRADE: C.
Claire Lepage (Canada): L’Histoire De Claire Lepage (Spectrum SP-2-601, double, 1970)
Pop
The first disc is a straight repackage of the Bang! Bang! album, while the second compiles non-LP singles and B-sides from between 1967 and 1969. These are more pop-oriented than the 1966 album, and mostly consist of covers of Anglo-American hits with new French lyrics and titles. ‘La Souris Et La Guitare’ even has some almost psychedelic guitar work, hinting at things to come. GRADE: C.
Claire Lepage & Compagnie (Canada): Claire Lepage Et Compagnie (Trans-Canada TC-766, 1971)
Pop/Psychedelic
Claire Lepage (principal vocals)
This is the Claire Lepage album everyone wants, due to its hard rock backing and plentiful fuzz guitar leads. The disc has a strong pop sensibility too, thanks to some catchy melodies and Lepage’s unexpectedly dreamy and gentle vocals (exactly the opposite of the raw-throated Janis Joplin-style belter one would expect from the arrangements). On ‘Rendez-Vous Express’ the sound almost approaches glam-rock, while ‘L’Amour Est Là’ is an incongruous French language version of ‘Love Grows (Where My Rosemary Goes)’ with lots of horns and strings. The latter is by far the low point of a fine LP that straddles genres very effectively, although the commercial aspects might annoy psychedelic purists. GRADE: C+.

Les I (France): Les I (Celluloid CEL 6598, 1981)
Jazz/Funk/Rock/New Wave
Christiane Cohade (bass)
This album is often described as avant-prog, but whilst it clearly draws from the RIO movement it consists of eleven short tracks and owes just as much to the new wave. Decidedly playful and very French throughout, it takes its main influences from free jazz and funk, with odd, angular riffs and semi-spoken vocals on most tracks. GRADE: C+.
Les I (France): Dans L’Hemisphère Nord (Le Chant Du Monde LDX 74797, with inner, 1983)
Jazz/Funk/Progressive
Christiane Cohade (bass, backing vocals)
Their second album is not dissimilar to their first, but a touch more progressive and decidedly more experimental and cohesive. Altogether it’s an odd release for Le Chant Du Monde, which generally specialised in folk, world and political music. The LP is very strikingly packaged, with a colourful die-cut sleeve and matching inner. GRADE: C+.
Les I (France): Ou Bien (AYAA dt 0686, 1986)
Jazz/Funk/Progressive
Christiane Cohade (joint lead vocals, bass)
Their third and final album is possibly their best, with an understated song style based around prominent bass, shards of funky guitar, discordant horns and semi-spoken vocals. Although not very multi-faceted, this is certainly their most distinctive work. GRADE: C+.
See also Christiane Maria Cohade, L’Empire Des Sons, Virgule 4

Lesoir (Holland): Lesoir (Marista MCD 8751, CD, with digipak, 2011)
Rock/Metal/Progressive
Maartje Meessen (principal vocals, piano, flute)
Lesoir’s symphonic rock sound borrows heavily from prog, but with everything under six minutes they have no predilection for changes of mood and tempo or any urge to stretch out and jam. The end results recall any number of other bands – their countrymen Golden Caves, Panic Room et al or maybe a slightly straighter sidestep from post-van Giersbergen the Gathering (or indeed post-Gathering van Giersbergen). It’s all pleasant enough and occasionally moderately intense – notably new wave-tinged opener ‘Dominion’ – but nothing much actually happens and when all's said and done this is just old-school mellow rock with some crunchy metallic riffs to keep it from tipping over into pop. GRADE: C+.

Lesoir (Holland): Transience (V2 VVNL24152, CD, with digipak, 2013)
Rock/Metal/Progressive
Maartje Meessen (lead vocals, piano, flute)
Like their first, this is quite atmospheric and very professional, with heavy riffs and symphonic keyboard textures in all the right places. But also like their first, the riffs and melodies aren’t particularly memorable, there’s no sense of the band taking any risks, and excitement is in short supply. GRADE: C+.
Lesoir (Holland): Luctor Et Emergo (V2 VVNL26412, CD, with digipak, 2013)
Rock/Metal/Progressive
Maartje Meessen (principal vocals, piano, flute)
It’s easy to be won over by Lesoir’s sheer sonic heft: their best album to date, this is full of assertive riffing and richly symphonic keyboards. But once again, it would have been nice if they’d taken a few risks – or even managed a few memorable hooks, as one track sounds very much like another (and just like most of the songs on their first two). GRADE: C+.
Lesoir (Holland): Latitude (Gentle Art Of Music GAOM 054, CD, with digipak, 2017)
Rock/Metal/Progressive
Maartje Meessen (lead vocals, piano, flute)
What can I say about Lesoir that I haven’t said before? Other than noting that their level of craft seems to be improving with each album, I’ll only be able to answer that when they do something they haven’t done before. GRADE: C+.
Lesoir (Holland): Mosaic (GlassVille GVR192748, CD, with digipak and booklet, 2020)
Rock/Metal/Progressive
Maartje Meessen (principal vocals, keyboards, flute)
The best thing here is the seven-minute near-instrumental ‘Dystopia’, in which Lesoir channel Pink Floyd and to a lesser extent more modern prog stylists like Anekdoten. That said, the extended instrumental coda to the closing ‘Two Faces’ is also pretty intense, with both pieces suggesting that the band have a genuinely good album in them. Elsewhere– as usual – they’re high on polish but rather low on inspiration. GRADE: C+.

Lesoir (Holland): Babel (Dutch Music Works, single-sided LP, 2022)
Progressive
Maartje Meessen
After years of mediocrity – offering “prog” music far less progressive than, say, Magenta or even Landmarq – Lesoir unexpectedly redeem themselves here with a 20½-minute suite. In the global scheme of things, it’s not the most adventurous piece of music but by their own standards it’s nothing short of miraculous: a powerful, well-constructed piece that ebbs and flows in all the right places, taking them to realms I never thought they’d dare to visit. GRADE: B–.

Cathy Lesurf (UK): Surface (Fun FUN 002, 1985)
Pop/Rock
Cathy Lesurf (lead vocals)
Some of Lesurf’s contributions to the Albion Band suggested that she could make an excellent solo album, but this isn’t it. Belying its impressive cast of guest musicians (Jerry Donahue, Dave Pegg, Dave Mattacks, Phil Beer, Doug Morter) this is more polished eighties rock than folk/rock, hinting towards Barbara Dickson at her most commercial. The ultimate problem isn’t Lesurf’s voice or songs, but the era in which it was made – to hear such capable musicians slathering their arrangements in stadium-rock drums, chunky guitars and cheesy synthesisers is really rather depressing. GRADE: C.
See also Albion Band, Fiddler’s Dram, Ashley Hutchings, Oyster Ceilidh Band

Levee Camp Moan (UK): Levee Camp Moan (County COUN LP 133, 1969)
Blues/Rock
Sal Bristow (joint lead vocals)
This fairly straight blues/rock album, which has no real psychedelic or progressive leanings, gives an intriguing indication of how the first couple of Fleetwood Mac LPs might have sounded had Christine Perfect joined the band three years earlier. Perhaps surprisingly, it is one of the few British private pressings to sell consistently for more than £1000. The band also contributed several cuts to the even scarcer Peacock Farm Concerts album; these do not appear to feature Sal Bristow, even though she was still apparently a member of the band. GRADE: C+.

Alison Faith Levy & Mushroom (USA): Yesterday, I Saw You Kissing Tiny Flowers… (4Zero FZ003, CD with digipak, UK, 2005)
Rock/Progressive
Alison Faith Levy (lead vocals)
The cover and title suggest flower-pop, but this is anything but: more a mixture of jazz-edged rock experimentation and hints of post-rock. The styles are disparate and difficult to describe, but just about everything works well. GRADE: C+.

Philip John Lewin (USA): Diamond Love And Other Realities (Gargoyle BWM-102, 1976)
Singer/Songwriter/Jazz/Rock/Progressive
Toni Hoyland (joint lead vocals)
This singer/songwriter’s album is mostly mellow and mildly jazzy, characterised by his eloquent electric piano and quavery vocals. The electric backing band, who add elegant Steely Dan-like counterpoint to his material, includes singer Toni Hoyland, who performs ‘Hanging Around And Waiting’ solo, as well as duetting with Lewin on a couple of other songs (and contributing backing vocals). The proggy closing instrumental ‘Drummer’s Lament’ may also be of interest. As a footnote, Lewin cut three other albums without Hoyland. GRADE: C+.

Jeannie Lewis (Australia): Free Fall Through Featherless Flight (EMI EMC-2505, 1973)
MOR/Progressive
Jeannie Lewis (principal vocals)
Jeannie Lewis was essentially a chanteuse who crossed over into progressive music, but in a completely different way from, say, Catherine Ribeiro. Free Fall Through Featherless Flight stitches together songs from disparate sources (none of them self-penned) into conceptual suites, including some spoken word sections. With relatively few rock elements, the end result resembles a rather surreal stage musical, an impression confirmed by the photos in the inner gatefold, which depict Lewis as primarily a performance artist. The best cut is also the hardest rocking: the powerful progressive number ‘Do Not Go Gentle’. Her musical director and principal collaborator was Michael Carlos of Tully. GRADE: C+.
Jeannie Lewis (Australia): Looking Back Towards Tomorrow – In And Out Of Concert (EMI EMA.307, with insert, 1974)
Blues/Rock/Progressive
Jeannie Lewis (lead vocals)
As the title suggests, Lewis’s second offers a mixture of studio and live tracks, and once again nothing is self-written. Although Michael Carlos remains her musical director, this sounds completely different from her first: side one offers a mixture of soft rock and blues/rock elements, whilst the superb second side largely consists of mildly experimental progressive rock. Surprisingly, this also got a release on the celebrated Mainstream label in the States (Mainstream 417). GRADE: B–.
Jeannie Lewis (Australia): Tears Of Steel And The Clowning Calaveras (EMI EME-1001/1002, double, 1976)
Progressive
Jeannie Lewis (principal vocals, percussion)
This ambitious double album was Lewis’s magnum opus, and the soundtrack to a vast multimedia stage show. The first three sides (‘Clowning Calaveras’) bring together material from writers as diverse as Leonard Bernstein, Phil Ochs, Loudon Wainwright III, Jimmy Webb, Dory Previn, David Bowie and Víctor Jara, whilst the fourth (‘Tears Of Steel’) is composed by Michael Carlos, with Lewis providing some lyrics herself. As usual, the music blends influences from stage musicals and progressive rock, with some spoken word passages linking the material. GRADE: B–.
See also ’Fore Day Rider Blues Band