Mag-Magi

Mag Mell (France): Le Roi Des Fées – The King Of The Fairies (Escalibur CD 844, 1992)
Folk
Françoise Cornwell (lead vocals, guitar, harp), Mathilde Walpoel (harp)
This folk duo offer a lovely and delicate collection of Irish and Scottish folk songs, with arrangements mainly built around harp and acoustic guitar. I could have done without their rendition of the hoary old chestnut ‘Dirty Old Town’, but otherwise this is lovely stuff from start to finish, hinting at both Mac Murrough and seventies Clannad. GRADE: C+.

Magdalena (Japan): Magdalena (Vice 28EC-1001, with insert, 1986)
Progressive
Megumi Tokuhisa (lead vocals)
This dramatic symphonic progressive album is mainly remembered for launching the career of Megumi Tokuhisa, who went on to become the long-term vocalist for Teru’s Symphonia. Musically, it’s very well put together, but despite some powerful moments and Tokuhisa’s striking quasi-operatic singing it’s mostly pleasant but unremarkable neoprogressive. Hiroko Nagai and Kazuhiro Miyatake from Mr Sirius guest here and there. GRADE: C+.
See also Pazzo Fanfano Di Musica, Teru’s Symphonia, >>Megumi Tokuhisa

Magenta (UK): Canterbury Moon (Cottage Cot.821, with insert, 1978)
Folk
Jan Macauley (joint lead vocals, guitar, piano, glockenspiel, whistle)
Nothing to do with the better-known neoprogressive band of the same name, this Magenta was an acoustic folk band with rich and varied instrumentation (guitars, mandolin, dulcimer, bouzouki, glockenspiel, harmonica and whistle). The nearest comparison would be the equally obscure Stained Glass, or perhaps Dando Shaft without the world music edges, and like those two bands they compose the bulk of their material whilst managing to capture a distinctly traditional vibe. GRADE: C+.
Magenta (UK): Recollections (Little Stan Productions LSP 811, double, with inserts, 1981)
Folk
Jan Macauley (joint lead vocals, keyboards, glockenspiel)
This ambitious double album, which culminates with a superb 14-minute progressive folk suite (by far the best thing they did) is clearly the band’s magnum opus. Whilst still resembling their first album, they use keyboards much more extensively this time around, moving their sound slightly closer to folk/rock (though all the other instrumentation is acoustic). Whilst this is a lengthy set with relatively little variety, it mostly offers lovely, delicate material, displaying exceptional sensitivity in songwriting and arrangement. GRADE: B–.
Magenta (UK): Wot’s Next Then…? (Little Stan Productions LSP 831, with insert, 1983)
Folk

Jan Macauley (joint lead vocals, keyboards, glockenspiel, whistle)
Inevitably more concise than its predecessor, and perhaps a touch more traditional too, this is still a lovely album, mixing sensitive interpretations of trad material with Arthur Brown’s wistful originals. In fact, it’s a great pity that they didn't reform for nearly 30 years, as they're a band of considerable talent. GRADE: C+.

Magenta (UK): Wrecking Man (Little Stan Productions LSP 1601, CD, 2011)
Folk
Jan Macauley (keyboards, backing vocals)
It’s pleasing to see Arthur Brown and Jan Macauley regrouping as Magenta, as their side-projects simply weren’t in the same league. This is a decent comeback, with a good set of songs from Brown, though I could have done without the tinny drum machine on the opening ‘Wrecking Man’. GRADE: C+.
Magenta (UK): Let It Fall (Little Stan Productions LSP 1701, CD, 2017)
Folk
Jan Macauley (keyboards, backing vocals)
Whilst they’re still definitely a folk band – and include a couple of traditional numbers to prove it – Magenta create more of a singer/songwriter mood here. It’s all lovely, delicate stuff, but I wish they’d once again produce an album with the ambition and expansiveness of Recollections. GRADE: C+.

See also Bulldog, Jan Macauley & Judith Champion

Magenta (UK): Revolutions (F2 Music 200105, double CD, 2001)
Progressive
Christina Murphy (joint lead vocals)
This grandiose double album – featuring four twenty-minute conceptual suites plus a couple of short linking instrumentals – divided opinions sharply. Some progressive rock fans considered it the finest sympho-prog release since the seventies; others saw it as the embarrassing spectacle of a barely competent band collapsing under the weight of its own pretensions. I tend towards the latter camp: Magenta can produce some catchy melodies and pleasant instrumental textures, but there’s no real complexity or vision here, with each of the suites being a lengthy, one-paced procession of typical neoprogressive elements. Nonetheless, they’re adequate musicians and Christina Murphy has a pleasant voice, so this is perfectly listenable stuff even if it’s a million miles away from the landmark album they probably thought they were making. GRADE: C+.

Magenta (UK): Seven (F2 Music 200403, CD, 2004)
Rock/Progressive
Christina Murphy (principal vocals)
Seven ­– a concept album about the seven deadly sins, with another substantial running time of 79 minutes – is both better and worse than its rather underwhelming predecessor. On the plus side, Christina Murphy sings everything (whilst her voice is serviceable rather than exceptional, she’s certainly better than Rob Reed), there are real strings, and it sounds as though they had a more generous recording budget. On the downside, it’s even less exploratory than Revolutions and contains even more neoprog clichés. It’s also packed with lyrics, which would make sense if the band had anything interesting to say (or could even stay on topic: ‘Lust’ is about witch trials, a subject they’d already covered on Revolutions, whilst ‘Sloth’ is about Native American mythology). The uptempo ‘Pride’ lifts things slightly and ‘Envy’ has a lovely chorus melody, but for the most part this is pretty drab fare. The 2009 deluxe reissue (Tigermoth ECDTMR008, with slipcase) adds a bonus DVD with a surround sound mix of the album (excellent), some live clips (not bad), an interview (average) and an overview of the mixing process (tedious in the extreme). GRADE: C.
Magenta (UK): Another Time… Another Place… (F2 Music 200411, double CD, 2004)
Progressive
Christina Murphy (principal vocals)
These live performances are much more dynamic than the bland, mannered studio versions, and both band and audience sound like they’re having fun. Yet Another Time… Another Place… ultimately confirms rather than dispels my original impression of the group – they still sound like an ironic parody of a progressive rock band for the most part. Except for the cringe-inducing moment when Christina Murphy yells ‘Let me see your hands in the air!’, when a little irony might not have gone amiss. GRADE: C+.

Magenta (UK): The Gathering (F2 Music 200510D, DVD, with booklet, 2005)
Progressive
Christina Murphy (lead vocals, percussion)
A live DVD – following straight after a live album – seems a strange move so early in the band’s career, but perhaps they were taking lessons from Mostly Autumn. In any case, this is a lively performance, the band have a pleasant stage presence, and the whole thing is far preferable to anything they’ve released before. GRADE: C+.
Magenta (UK): Home/New York Suite (F2 Music 200606A/B, double CD, with slipcase, 2006)
Rock/Progressive
Christina Murphy (lead vocals)
This conceptual suite about a woman leaving Liverpool to start a new life in New York during the seventies (no, I don’t know why, either) sees the band abandoning the Genesis-cum-Yes-cum-almost everyone else style of their first two albums. To describe this as Céline Dion-cum-The Wall-era Pink Floyd with a hint of Renaissance might be a touch unfair, but its mix of ballads and mildly spacy instrumental sections isn’t what you’d call invigorating. GRADE: C+.
Magenta (UK): Magenta: The Singles (Tigermoth TMR002, CD, 2007)
Rock/Progressive
Christina Murphy (lead vocals)
The first eleven numbers – mostly comprising re-recordings of material from the band’s singles – offer a mixture of stadium-rock and ballads that are tuneful, catchy and well-crafted but so slick and polished and unadventurous that they make me wish I were listening to some progressive rock instead. The three ‘bonus tracks’ offer reworkings of epics from earlier in the band’s career, but they’re so overblown and pretentious and – once again – so unadventurous that they make me wish I were still listening to the first eleven songs. GRADE: C.
Magenta (UK): Live At The Point 2007 (Tigermoth DCDTMR007, double CD, 2008)
Rock/Progressive
Christina Murphy (lead vocals, percussion)
On the first song ‘Speechless’ they remind me of Landmarq, but thankfully the resemblance is short-lived, though both bands are operating in the same area. Christina Murphy’s vocals are generally less theatrical than those of Tracy Hitchings, whilst the music is rather more varied, making this a listenable enough set. GRADE: C+.

Magenta (UK): Metamorphosis (Tigermoth CDTMR006, CD, with slipcase, 2008)
Progressive
Christina Murphy (lead vocals)
This reverts to the style of Revolutions and Seven, but also represents a huge step forward: the music here is varied, dynamic and carefully constructed, none of which are terms I’d normally associate with Magenta. However, I’m still lukewarm about their music for three reasons: it’s all too sweet, it’s all too wordy and it’s all too pompous, with lyrics that say a lot less than the band intended. The album was also released as a DVD, The Metamorphosis Collection (Tigermoth DVDTMR003, with booklet, 2008), featuring a surround sound mix (pretty good), a ‘making of’ documentary (not bad), several interviews (ditto), another ‘inside the mix’ feature (as tedious as the first) and a video for the shortest song ‘Prekestolen’. GRADE: C+.
Magenta (UK): Live At The Point 2007 (Tigermoth DVDTMR007, DVD, with booklet, 2009)
Rock/Progressive
Christina Murphy (lead vocals, percussion)
The video version of the Point set is excellently filmed, making for another accomplished live document. Extras include a short ‘behind the scenes’ documentary, some brief interviews, the music video for ‘Speechless’ and two slideshows. GRADE: C+.
Magenta (UK): Live At Real World 2009 (Tigermoth TMR2CD005, double CD plus DVD, 2010)
Folk/Rock/Progressive
Christina Murphy (lead vocals, percussion)
This is subtitled an ‘acoustic concert with string quartet and oboe’, and that pretty much sums up its contents. This is Magenta unplugged, seated and sedate in front of a small audience, and whilst I’m never particularly keen on this kind of thing the material works well enough in its new setting. GRADE: C+.
Magenta (UK): Chameleon (Tigermoth TMRCD0911, CD, 2011)
Rock/Progressive
Christina Murphy (lead vocals)
After their leap forward with Metamorphosis, the band takes several steps back with Chameleon. This is identikit neoprog and borderline AOR – melodic and polished but bland, predictable, dreary and uninvolving. Even their moderate knack for writing a catchy hook seems to have deserted them. Some copies came with a bonus DVD The Chameleon Project (Tigermoth DVDTMR003, with minisleeve), featuring a surround sound mix (a phrase involving sows’ ears and silk purses springs to mind), an interview and some promotional videos.

GRADE: C–.
Magenta (UK): Live: On Our Way To Who Knows Where (Tigermoth TMRCD0912, double CD, 2012)
Progressive
Christina Murphy (lead vocals)
The Chameleon material that was so underwhelming in the studio works better on stage, and the back catalogue selections are well chosen (though I could have done without a lengthy medley of material from Revolutions). In fact, this may be their best live album. GRADE: C+.

Magenta (UK): The Twenty Seven Club (Tigermoth TMRCD0913, CD plus DVD, with slipcase and postcards, 2013)
Rock/Progressive
Christina Murphy (lead vocals)
This concept album about rock stars who died young – with songs devoted to Jim Morrison, Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin and Brian Jones among others – presents two problems. The first is that despite reams of lyrics, the band offer zero insight into the lives of their subjects; the second is that mention of the Doors, Hendrix, Joplin and the Stones invites comparisons between their music and the ditchwater dull, predictable neoprog here, making the album sound even worse than it actually is. The accompanying DVD features a surround sound mix of the album, a very long (and dull) ‘making of’ feature and a promo video. GRADE: C–.
Magenta (UK): The Singles – Complete (Tigermoth TMR0615, double CD, with gatefold minisleeve, 2015)
Rock/Progressive
Christina Murphy
This expanded and revised edition of The Singles drops many of the songs from the single-disc volume and adds a plethora of new material to fill two lengthy discs. None of the songs is new, but there are quite a number of remixes and alternate versions, so there’s plenty to tempt Magenta fans. For the rest of us, this is probably the best overview of their studio work and far superior to the first incarnation. GRADE: C+.

Magenta (UK): Chaos From The Stage (Tigermoth TMRDVD1116, DVD plus CD, with gatefold minisleeve, 2016)
Progressive
Christina Murphy (lead vocals, tambourine)
Perhaps they were being ironic when they chose the title: there’s nothing chaotic about Magenta’s performances here, which are pleasant, tasteful, competent, heartfelt and ultimately a bit dull. This certainly outclasses their last couple of studio sets, and there’s nothing wrong with any of it, but faint praise is the best I can muster for any of their rather underwhelming oeuvre. GRADE: C+.

Magenta (UK): We Are Legend (Tigermoth TMRCDDVD0517, CD plus DVD, with gatefold minisleeve and booklet, 2017)
Progressive
Christina Murphy (lead vocals)
Nobody could accuse Magenta of lacking ambition – the three pieces here run for 26, 11 and 11½ minutes respectively. Nor could anyone accuse We Are Legend of being anything other than unfailingly pleasant and consistently well-crafted. The problem is that it doesn’t deliver any great riffs or melodies or anything in the way of excitement. The bonus DVD features an excellent surround sound mix, an interview with Rob Reed and a number of video clips. GRADE: C+.

Magenta (UK): We Are Seven – Live 2018 (Tigermoth TMRDVD0918, double DVD, with gatefold minisleeve, 2018)
Progressive
Christina Murphy (lead vocals, tambourine)
I may not be enthralled by Magenta’s material and may not share Rob Reed’s self-assessment as a prog auteur (neoprog journeyman would be nearer the mark), but there’s no argument that this is a damn good gig. As the title suggests, the first disc consists of the complete We Are Legend album plus ‘Speechless’ and ‘Prekestolen’ and the second of Seven in its entirety plus ‘The Lizard King’. As a result, whilst the first DVD is fairly likeable, the second eventually feels interminable. GRADE: C+.

Magenta (UK): Home – 2019 Limited Edition (Tigermoth TMRCD0719, CD, with gatefold minisleeve, 2019, recorded 2006)
Rock/Progressive
Christina Murphy (lead vocals)
According to Rob Reed, this remix of Home (but not New York Suite) involved ‘solving problems in the arrangements’ and ‘adding fresh dynamics and colours’ whilst ‘keeping what was good about the originals – the vocals, which are amazing – but re-working the backing tracks: adding new things, and then taking away anything that did not earn its keep from the original recordings’. I haven’t done a back-to-back comparison between the two versions but, like the original, this is pleasant, melodic and mellifluous, but it’s also soporific in the extreme. GRADE: C+.

Magenta & Friends (UK): Acapela 2016 And 2017 (Tigermoth TMRSE1119, double DVD and double CD, with gatefold minisleeve, 2019)
Folk/Rock/Progressive
Christina Murphy, Angharad Brinn, Karla Powell, Claudine Cassidy, Fran Murphy
The ‘Acapela’ in the title refers to the venue: this isn’t Magenta performing their material acapella, which might have been genuinely interesting. Meanwhile, the ‘Friends’ of the title indicates that this is the Magenta extended family performing, including material from Kompendium and solo Christina Murphy, Rob Reed and Chris Fry. The two semi-acoustic performances with a chamber orchestra – reproduced in full on the DVDs and mostly on the CDs – showcase some fine musicianship and confirm the band’s pleasant stage presence, far removed from the stadium-rock moves that characterised their early career. Yet for all that, these sets contextualise Magenta’s music in an unflattering way – it’s all pleasant but unexciting, and, whether they’re performing their newest or oldest material, it all sounds the same. The moments when the music briefly really comes alive – during the Rob Reed and Kompendium sets in the first set and Murphy’s final solo number in the second – also tend to highlight the lack of excitement elsewhere. Perhaps the problem is best summed up by the cover of ‘Willow’s Song’ from ‘The Wicker Man’: sung by Angharad Brinn rather than Christina Murphy, it’s beautifully arranged and the performance is note-perfect, but it completely fails to capture the sinister atmosphere of the original. This confirms my impression, nearly two decades and countless releases on from their debut, that Magenta may have chops, talent and taste, but they simply don’t possess that altogether more indefinable quality – flair. GRADE: C+.

Magenta (UK): Masters Of Illusion/The Lost Reel (Tigermoth CDTMR006, double CD plus DVD, with gatefold minisleeve, minisleeve, booklet, photographs, insert and tin, 2020)
Progressive
Christina Murphy (lead vocals)
Amazing as it seems, Magenta have now been producing overblown concept albums for nearly two decades, none of which I’ve rated lower than a C– or higher than a C+. That’s not to say that they’re all of a piece: some are significantly better than their average (notably Metamorphosis) and others substantially worse (step forward, The Twenty-Seven Club). Masters Of Illusion definitely belongs in the former category, and is one of the best things the band has ever recorded. However, it’s still a C+ as it’s tasteful rather than atmospheric and pleasant rather than inspiring, and ultimately is a long set that’s rather short on great ideas. A bonus DVD features a fairly good surround sound mix, pretty basic promotional videos for two songs and an interview with Rob Reed, whilst copies purchased from the band came bundled with a bonus CD The Lost Reel which features alternate versions of five of the six songs (as well as four older numbers). I like several of them more than the versions on the main album: in particular, the instrumental version of the title track is far superior, confirming that I like Reed more as a composer than a songwriter. GRADE: C+.

Magenta (UK): Rockfield Session Live 2018 (No label, download, 2020)
Progressive
Christina Murphy
Whether this should be titled Rockfield Session Live 2018 or Live At Rockfield Studios is debatable – the metadata says one thing and the artwork another. What isn’t arguable is that this live set depicts Magenta at their best: the sound quality is excellent, the performances are first-rate, the song selection is well judged, and nothing really outstays its welcome. I still don’t find them a very exciting band, but if you like Magenta you should absolutely love this. GRADE: C+.

Magenta (UK): Angels And Damned (Tigermoth TMRSE0521, double DVD plus double CD, with gatefold minisleeve, some with booklet, 2021)

Progressive

Christina Murphy (lead vocals)
Time, some scientists argue, is purely relative, and this 20th anniversary live set could be cited as prima facie evidence. The two decades in which they have been in existence – during which my only revelation concerning the band was my discovery of Rob Reed’s solo career, making me wonder why a man with so much talent (though no original vision) chooses to do this with most of his life – have passed in a flash. This lengthy double DVD/CD (shorter songs on the first disc, longer ones on the second) does not. The problem isn’t merely the lack of variety in their material: it’s how resolutely middle-of-the-road they are, never once doing something surprising or exciting, though the staging, playing and filming are beyond reproach. GRADE: C+.
See also Christina, Parzivals Eye, Trippa

Magic Bubble (Canada): Magic Bubble (Columbia ES 90038, 1971)
Rock
Rita Rondell (joint lead vocals)
Despite the psychedelic cover, this is a fairly mainstream bluesy rock album with a slight rural tinge. It covers a wide range of ground, from soulful ballads (‘I’m Alive’ and ‘If I Should Ever Love Again’) to harder-edged rock (‘Whiskey Fire’) and the Fleetwood Mac-like ‘Cry Cry’ (on which Rita Rondell sings in a lower register than normal and sounds uncannily like Christine Perfect). I also like the long, slow version of ‘Summertime’ that closes the LP. This isn’t the most mould-breaking album, but the material is consistently good and almost every song benefits from winsome period guitar and organ work. Rondell later went on to a prolific solo career as Rita Chiarelli. GRADE: C+.

Magic Bus (UK): Magic Bus (No label, CD, 2010)
Psychedelic/Progressive
Rowan Day (flute, whistle, backing vocals)
This is a lovely album of folky, trippy psychedelia, stepping forward from the more pastoral end of the seventies Canterbury sound. They can jam effectively too, hinting towards a more robust Grateful Dead, though for the most part this is relaxed and beatific. GRADE: B–.
Magic Bus (UK): Transmission From Sogmore’s Garden (No label, CD, with gatefold minisleeve and booklet, 2014)
Psychedelic/Progressive
Viv Goodwin-Darke (flute, recorder, backing vocals)
The most obvious influence on their second album is the Smell Of Incense (not a phrase I thought I would ever find myself using) though I can hear more than a few hints of Hatfield & The North and Steve Hillage too. This never equals Smell Of Incense at their melodic best and nor does it match the complexity of Hatfield & The North or the trippiness of Steve Hillage but comparisons, as they say, are odious and taken on its own merits this is another fine album of psychedelic and progressive rock. GRADE: B–.

Magic Bus (UK): Phillip The Egg (Back To The Garden, CD, with gatefold minisleeve, 2016)
Psychedelic/Progressive
Viv Goodwin-Darke (percussion, flute, backing vocals)
Once again, their Canterbury influences are obvious: I can even hear a bit of Gong creeping into the closing cut. But whilst this is a great fusion of pastoral psychedelia and progressive rock, that’s not what makes it so special – it’s the quintessentially English atmosphere, so refined and delicate. GRADE: B–.

Magic Carpet (UK): Magic Carpet (Mushroom 200 MR 20, 1972)
Folk/World Music/Psychedelic
Alisha Sufit (lead vocals, guitar)
This album – which is indeed magical – offers a mixture of haunting sitar and tabla-led instrumentals and delicate folk songs from vocalist Alisha Sufit. Her high, pure, nervous voice may not be to everyone’s taste, but I love this from start to finish: the blend of the two different styles creates a vastly stronger LP than would have been achieved by a collection of Sufit’s songs alone, let alone a procession of Indian-flavoured instrumentals. GRADE: B.
Magic Carpet II (UK): Once Moor (Magic Carpet MC 1004 CD, CD, 1996)
Folk/World Music/Psychedelic
Alisha Sufit (lead vocals, guitar, dulcimer)
Returning after an absence of almost a quarter of a century, Magic Carpet are here reduced to a duo of Alisha Sufit and Clem Alford, with a couple of guests providing the tablas. Eschewing the clever structure of the first LP, this has a brief percussive intro and outro bookending seven songs followed by two ragas. Whilst both types of material are accomplished, seven Sufit songs in sequence is probably a bit much in one go – not to mention the 23 minutes of sitar twangling that follows. GRADE: C+.
See also Alisha Sufit

Magic Hour (USA): No Excess Is Absurd (Twisted Village TW-1031, CD, with box and booklet, 1994)
Garage/Psychedelic
Kate Biggar, Naomi Yang
This collaboration between Crystalized Movements’ Wayne Rogers and Kate Biggar and Galaxie 500’s rhythm section of Naomi Yang and Damon Krukowski represents a union of the two bands’ styles (though Rogers writes all the original material). The highpoint is their nine-minute version of ‘Sally Free And Easy’, gently sung by Naomi Yang, which sees them channelling the softer side of the Velvet Underground (as opposed to the experimental and noise elements that had inspired Rogers and Biggars’s earlier work). The remainder is heavier garage psych, though more melodic and spacious than Crystalized Movements. GRADE: C+.
Magic Hour (USA): Will They Turn You On Or Will They Turn On You? (Twisted Village TW-1035, CD, 1995)
Garage/Psychedelic
Kate Biggar, Naomi Yang
This has a slightly different format from its predecessor, with five short songs followed by the twenty-minute jam ‘Passing Words’. The shorter numbers aren’t particularly exciting, featuring the band’s usual mid-pace garage rock jamming and Rogers’s rather dreary vocals, but there are some fine moments of acid-rock during the jam. GRADE: C+.
Magic Hour (USA): Secession 96 (Twisted Village TW1039, CD, 1996)
Garage/Psychedelic
Kate Biggar, Naomi Yang
Unlike previous Magic Hour albums, this is entirely instrumental. For the most part it’s the band’s usually heavy acid-rock jamming, without the twisted experimental edges that characterise side-projects like Vermonster, but there are also some more relaxed ethnic moments. Overall it’s a very effective LP and probably their best release. GRADE: C+.
See also BORB, Crystalized Movements, Damon & Naomi, Galaxie 500, Heathen Shame, Major Stars, Various ‘Deep Funnels Of Entry – A Twisted Village Compilation’, Various ‘Marvelous Sound Forms’, Vermonster, Kate Village & Wayne Rogers, Wormdoom

Magic Moments At Twilight Time (UK): Creavolution (Music & Elsewhere MMATT CD1, CD, 1995)
Psychedelic/Progressive/Pop
Leonie Jackson (joint lead vocals), Inga Leru (joint lead vocals)
Magic Moments At Twilight Time’s low-budget fusion of Blondie, Hawkwind, and Giorgio Moroder, with a dash of folk and prog – all whooshing synthesisers and trebly drum machine – is fascinating, frequently surprising and above all good fun. 22 years later, the album was remastered, adding considerable presence and improving the sound quality significantly, as Creavolution Reborn (TMR CD8170, CD, 2017). Oddly, despite being billed as ‘The Brain Dead Studio Analogue Remaster’, this reissue was only released in digital form. GRADE: C+.

Magic Mushroom Band (UK/Australia/Ireland): The Politics Of Ecstasy (Pagan Music PML 003, with posters, UK, 1986)
Kim Oz (backing vocals), Jane Bradfield (backing vocals)
Their debut album owes an obvious heavy debt to Radio Gnome-era Gong, whilst mixing in some influences from punk. It’s also rather pop-ish in parts and quite song-based, despite some pretty good jazzy jams. The sound quality isn’t bad, if a little thin, and this certainly has its moments even if their songwriting is a touch rudimentary. GRADE: C+.
Magic Mushroom Band (UK/Australia/Ireland): Feed Your Head (No label, cassette, UK, 1986)
Psychedelic/Garage
Kim Oz (backing vocals), Jane Bradfield (backing vocals)
Whilst there is some good music here – ‘Warming The Valves’ is a great acid-rock jam in a similar vein to Crystalized Movements – this is all over the place, ranging from punk (‘Wide-Eyed Electric’) to reggae (‘Revolution’) territory. The sound quality is equally variable, reflecting the fact that this was recorded at various gigs from 1982 to 1986, though it rarely rises above the resolutely lo-fi; worse, at this stage in their career everyone in the band was struggling to sing in tune. They must have been thrilling live, but whether some of this should have been documented for posterity is a different matter. GRADE: C.
Magic Mushroom Band (UK/Australia): Bomshamkar! (Aftermath AFT 3, UK, 1987)
Psychedelic/Pop
Kim Oz (backing vocals)
Their singing, writing and musicianship has come on in leaps and bounds, and this is pretty well recorded too. Notwithstanding the trippy patterns on the cover, this is all too cheerful and melodic to be a mind-melting psychedelic masterpiece, but it’s all catchy enough and represents a good snapshot of the late eighties underground rock scene. GRADE: C+.
Magic Mushroom Band (UK/Australia): Eyes Of The Angel (Aftermath AFT 8, UK, 1989)
Psychedelic/Pop/Progressive
Kim Oz (occasional vocals)
Decidedly their best album to date, this features some quite impressive long jams and a more daring, progressive edge. For sure, it’s still rather lightweight and pop-influenced, and the odd cover of ‘Are You Experienced?’ doesn’t work terribly well, but aside from the typically thin sound this is a thoroughly enjoyable LP. GRADE: C+.
Magic Frantic Mushrooms (UK/Australia): Dance With The Devil (Voiceprint VP307CD, CD, UK, 2005, recorded 1989)
Rock/Psychedelic
Kim Oz (occasional vocals), Sam Turner (violin)
Recorded during a transitional phase in the band’s career but not released by its intended label, this is quite different from their other work. Cut by an expanded line-up including several musicians who never worked with them again, Dance With The Devil offers a sort of psychedelic rockabilly sound with very guitar-dominated arrangements. Although throwaway, it’s rather likeable, but the direction they subsequently pursued was decidedly superior. GRADE: C+.
Magic Mushroom Band (UK/Australia): Process Of Illumination (Fungus MMBCD 1, CD, UK, 1990)
Psychedelic
Kim Oz (joint lead vocals, synthesiser), Sam Turner (violin)
This was where their space trips really took flight: largely leaving behind their pop roots, the band created a powerful album full of long, stoned jams led by squalling guitars, sci-fi synthesisers and wailing violins. The catalyst for change may have been the addition of drummer Marc Swordfish from side-project Astralasia; certainly, this album reaches levels of intensity beyond anything hinted at by earlier releases. A vinyl version was also issued, early copies of which came with an elaborate poster sleeve. GRADE: B–.
Magic Mushroom Band (UK/Australia): Spaced Out (Fungus FUN 001, CD, with foldout diecut 7" minisleeve and comic, UK, 1991)
Psychedelic
Kim Oz (joint lead vocals, synthesiser), Sam Turner (violin)
The title is apt, as this is their best and most psychedelic album overall. It’s a varied disc, from guitar rock in the style of their earlier work to new age-ish sitar and flute-led soundscapes to psychedelic house grooves (making clear the influence of Gong’s You upon the style). The result inevitably isn’t particularly cohesive, but it is mostly very good indeed. The album was issued on both vinyl and CD in diecut foldout sleeves, limited to 1000 numbered copies, with the first 500 also featuring a comic insert. GRADE: B–.
Magic Mushroom Band (UK/Australia): Re-hash (Magick Eye EYECDLP 1, CD, UK, 1992)
Psychedelic
Kim Oz (occasional vocals, synthesiser), Sam Turner (violin)
As the title suggests, this comprises re-recordings of material from various phases in the band’s career. All are redone in their then-current Gong’s You-meets-rave style (reflecting their simultaneous explorations of dance music in Astralasia). The programmed drums get annoying after a while, and a little more variety would have been welcome, but this is great space-rock at the poppiest end of the spectrum.

GRADE: B–.
Magic Mushroom Band (UK/Australia): R U Spaced Out 2? (Magick Eye CDLP3, CD, UK, 1993)
Progressive/Psychedelic/Pop
Kim Oz (synthesiser, backing vocals), Sam Turner (violin)
This is rather more varied than their last couple of albums, ranging from trancy psych through bluesy and folky rock to a long jazzy piano solo. Overall it’s more progressive than their earlier work, whilst reintroducing the lighter pop elements of their eighties albums; there are several very good tracks on offer, but overall the band sounds like it has passed its peak. Unusually, this is their only album to have a notable early seventies feel; all the rest channel the late sixties and mid-seventies Gong through a distinctive eighties or nineties prism. GRADE: C+.
Magic Mushroom Band (UK/Australia): Live 1989 (Woof Tapes, cassette, UK, 1993, recorded 1989)
Psychedelic
Kim Oz (joint lead vocals, synthesiser)
The Mushrooms’ second live album is a big improvement over their first, with some very good (if quite raw) performances and decent sound quality. About the first third is acoustic, including some lighthearted goofing around, before they embark on their usual extended space trips. GRADE: C+.
Mushroom Band (UK/Australia): Magic (Magick Eye CDLP8, CD, UK, 1994)
Psychedelic
Kim Oz, Sam Turner
The band’s final album of new material (issued under a slightly altered name, for some reason) is an improvement over its predecessor and contains some fine psychedelia. That said, it definitely has the feel of a band on its last legs, with different composers pulling in different directions: there’s everything here from Hare Krishna-style mysticism (‘When Dreams Collide’) to trancy electronica (‘Halfway Down And About To Fall’ and the two ‘Microburst’ interludes) to a remarkably faithful late Beatles pastiche (‘There’s The Twist’). The result is a largely excellent album that simply doesn’t hang together, sounding more like a compilation of different groups. GRADE: B–.
Magic Mushroom Band (UK/Australia): Spaced Out III (Spacetakes And Outcakes) (Voiceprint vp308cd, CD, 2004, recorded 1990)
Psychedelic
Kim Oz (occasional vocals), Sam Turner (violin)
As the subtitle makes clear, this album compiles a number of unreleased studio sessions from 1990 (in between Spaced Out and R U Spaced Out 2?). The material is a mixture of unreleased songs, remakes of numbers stretching back to the beginning of the band’s career, and early versions of compositions that would appear on later albums. Overall this is a good set, although the officially released versions were generally better. GRADE: B–.
See also Astralasia, Cheapsuit Oroonies, Evil Edna’s Horror Toilet, Harrold Juana, Moonboot Oz, Ullulators

Magicfolk (UK): Magicfolk (No label, CD, 2007)
Folk/Rock/Psychedelic
Michelle Glover (lead vocals, guitar), Josephone (saxophone, flute, clarinet, backing vocals), Vicky Grady (backing vocals)
With a good mixture of acoustic and electric backing and powerful guitar leads to most songs, this is an excellent album of dreamy folk/rock. All the material is self-penned, with a decidedly mystical edge and notable psychedelic touches, plus well-judged use of wide-ranging instruments (hand percussion, saxophone, flute, clarinet, banjo and bouzouki). GRADE: B–.
Magicfolk (UK): Tales Of Power (No label SHMFCD02, CD, with digipak and booklet, 2011)
Folk/Rock/Psychedelic
Michelle Glover (principal vocals, guitar, keyboards, percussion, flute), Rachael Murray (flute, backing vocals)
Their second album is every bit as good as their first, with a slightly trippier feel to much of the material. The spoken voiceover about elves and ‘faery rings’ makes me cringe a little, but otherwise this is another consistently fine set. GRADE: B–.
Magicfolk (UK): Saltarello (No label SHMFC03, CDR, with digipak, 2014)
Folk/Rock/Psychedelic
Michelle Glover (principal vocals, guitar, keyboards, percussion, flute, recorder, piccolo), Kim Thompsett (occasional vocals, guitar), Rachael Murray (flute, whistle)
Album number three is mostly instrumental, and sees Magicfolk continuing the tradition of bands like Morrigan (who in turn continued the tradition of Fairport Convention, Steeleye Span, Folque et al). Beautifully arranged and expertly played, this is an excellent LP of electric folk, with no obvious weak moments. Guest Kim Thompsett duets with Michelle Glover on an eerie and very effective version of ‘Bedlam Boys’. As a footnote, only 50 copies of the physical CD were produced. GRADE: B–.

Magickal Folk Of The Faraway Tree (Ireland): The Mildew Leaf (No label, CDR, with wraparound sleeve and insert, 2003)
Folk
This is nowhere near as whimsical as their name suggests: rather than Incredible String Band-style oddness, this is traditional acoustic folk with a spacy and subtly psychedelic atmosphere. Despite the presence of a couple of Gaelic songs, they don’t sound Irish at all, more closely resembling European seventies bands like Bröselmaschine, Opo or Sourdeline. Several songs are acapella, with a more British sound, and the whole thing is pretty short at around 24 minutes. GRADE: B–.
Magickal Folk Of The Faraway Tree (Ireland): The Cat’s Melodeon (Deserted Village DV20, 3" CD, with minisleeve and insert, 2005)
Folk
Their second release is even less substantial, offering seven songs totalling 16 minutes. This time round, their Celtic roots are much more obvious and the English and European edges are largely missing. The result is a lovely album of traditional folk that never equals the peaks of its predecessor. GRADE: C+.
Magickal Folk Of The Faraway Folk (Ireland): The Soup And The Shilling (Deserted Village DV37, double CD, 2010)
Folk
Curiously, the band’s third release compiles their first two (though The Mildew Leaf inexplicably loses a track, replaced by a song from a multi-artist compilation) with a new album. The new LP is another pleasant traditional folk set, with a slightly eerie ‘Wicker Man’ feel here and there. GRADE: C+.

Magister Dixit (France): Cellule De Crise (No label, CDR, 2006)
Jazz/Rock/Progressive/Avant-Garde
Mélanie Fossier (joint lead vocals), Sophie Perret (joint lead vocals, piano), Bita Rezannia-Picot (joint lead vocals, violin)
Sadly, this zeuhl band never got beyond recording this demo, which features five cuts totalling just under 29 minutes. With no distinctive style, they operate at the lighter and more vocal end of Magma’s repertoire, though the album can sometimes be quite intense too.

GRADE: C+.

Sally Magill & Martin Young (USA): Take 1 (Two:Dot HRH 7169, 1969)
Folk/Rock
Sally Magill (lead vocals)
This unusual duo of a female singer and a male multi-instrumentalist (overdubbing electric and acoustic guitars, bass, keyboards, drums, banjo and zither) perform a mixture of covers and original songs by one Karen Gross. With arrangements ranging from simple acoustic guitar to full electric settings, this is a varied album, with Magill’s plaintive, rather countryish voice adding a slightly strange vibe to the proceedings. GRADE: C+.