R-U Kaiser (Chile): Ocelos (Watcher CD-001, CD, 2007)
Pilar Nuñez (joint lead vocals), Bárbara Wilson (joint lead vocals)
Why they named themselves after Krautrock supremo Rolf-Ulrich Kaiser (whom they quote in the booklet), I have no idea, as this isn’t cosmic in any way. In some ways, it’s typically South American, with the usual dense arrangements, but it doesn’t have the metal edges typical of Latin American prog and is more ambitious than most, essentially functioning as a 35-minute suite of richly symphonic rock. That’s not to say it’s perfect: the logic of having two similar-sounding vocalists (who sometimes stray into soprano territory) eludes me, but it’s a promising debut that nearly – but not quite – crosses the boundary between C+ and B–. GRADE: C+.
R-U Kaiser (Chile): Desde La Oscuridad (Mylodon MyloCD114, CD, 2018)
Claudia Navarro (joint lead vocals), Elend Doll (joint lead vocals)
R-U Kaiser’s much-delayed second album – recorded with an entirely different line-up, aside from the drummer – is not only musically similar to their first but also uncannily similar in terms of quality. By that, I mean they’ve once again produced an album that’s nearly but not quite great, though the majestic climax to the closing title track – which does actually hint towards the Krautrock reference in their name – pushes this over the line to B–. Nonetheless, whilst there’s nothing exactly new here, they’re extremely good at what they do and their sumptuous symphonic prog stands head and shoulders above most such music from Latin America. GRADE: B–.
Rachel’s Memory (Germany): Understated Drama (MellowJet cdr-rml201, CDR, 2012)
Antje Auer (lead vocals, violin)
This Frequency Drift offshoot is not dissimilar to that band’s predecessor Echofields with its largely electronic backing and slight trip-hop edges. This is nice stuff, betwixt progressive rock and pop, but I certainly miss the rock edges of the parent band. GRADE: C+.
See also Frequency Drift
Radar Favourites (UK): Radar Favourites (Reel Recordings RR 017, CD, with digipak, 2010, recorded 1974)
Cathy Williams (lead vocals, keyboards, glockenspiel)
This is mostly nowhere near as weird as you’d expect from a band with Geoff Leigh, Charles Hayward and GF Fitz-Gerald in the line-up, but it’s every bit as good. These five mainly instrumental jams (four studio, one live) may have varying sound quality, but the quality of the performances remains impressive throughout. GRADE: C+.
See also Geoff Leigh & Cathy Williams
Rademaker Packeiser & Co (West Germany): The Devil's Horse (Atelier Im Bauernhaus PL516, 1981)
Marie Christine Torré-Schäfer (joint lead vocals, guitar)
Rademaker Packeiser & Co was one of those odd German bands that was obsessed with folk music from the British Isles: so much so that the songs on side one are interspersed with dialogue recorded in a County Kerry pub to give the impression of a band performing on stage. That said, their material isn’t particularly Celtic, and with its intricate arrangements (including flute, harp, pipes, dulcimer, accordion and recorder) sounds nothing like a folk club act. The highpoint of the first side is their beautiful reading of ‘Scarborough Fair’, where their folk/psych influences come to the fore, whilst the mostly instrumental second side shows them stretching out to sound a little like Ougenweide, with some electric bass providing a sudden jolt of energy. Overall, it’s an unusual, intriguing and mostly very successful set. They had previously cut a self-titled album with a smaller, all-male line-up. GRADE: B–.
Radiant Set (USA): Live (Five Star FSRS-1409, 1971?)
Louise De Leon (joint lead vocals), Shirley Vanzant (joint lead vocals)
This lounge rock album includes a broad range of covers – everything from ‘La Bamba’ and ‘Twist And Shout’ to two Beatles numbers. The highpoints are ‘Kites Are Fun’, on which they capture the intended Free Design vibe, and a trippy instrumental version of ‘Nights In White Satin’, with trumpet replacing the original flute. The rest is rather disposable, notwithstanding an oddball ‘Hey Jude’, mainly played as an instrumental before the anthemic chant is rendered gently by one of the female singers to flute accompaniment. GRADE: C.
Radio (West Germany): Active (Rouge 001, red vinyl, with booklet, 1983)
Jennifer Hensel (lead vocals, bass)
If you ever wondered what Jennifer and Winfried Kowa got up to after leaving Octopus, this six-track mini-LP is your answer. It’s a clear attempt to jump on the new wave bandwagon and not dissimilar to Nena, though there are some reggae rhythms suggesting a strong influence from the Police. With a few hard rock touches and plenty of guitar solos, it could also be regarded as a logical (and more blatantly commercial) step forward from Octopus’s undistinguished Rubber Angel. GRADE: C.
See also Kowa, Octopus
Radiomöbel (Sweden): Gudang Garam (Chockskivor II, 1978)
Carin Bohlin (lead vocals)
This is the absolute cream of the basement progressive genre – long, amateurish jams based around swirling synthesiser and endlessly soloing acid guitars, with occasional interjections from Carin Bohlin’s plaintive voice (which at times resembles Renate Knaup-Krötenschwanz). Sometimes it makes me think of a low budget Carol Of Harvest without the folk elements; at others, it’s closer to hard psychedelia or (occasionally) even metal. The second side sags and meanders a little, but the first is quite brilliant – as good as this style could ever get. Overall, the album sounds more like Krautrock than anything Swedish and a good five years earlier than its release date. The band also issued an earlier LP with a male vocalist, which is apparently in more of a garage psych vein. GRADE: B.
Ragged Heroes (UK): Annual (Celtic Music CM 013, 1983)
Vikki Clayton (principal vocals)
This brilliant electric folk album takes almost all its cues from Liege And Lief-era Fairport Convention, and indeed singer Vikki Clayton later stood in for Sandy Denny at Fairport reunions (and recorded an album of her songs). This is deservedly one of the most sought-after British albums of the early eighties. GRADE: B–.
See also Vikki Clayton, Fairport Convention
Raggerty (UK): Borrowed Time (Sweet Folk & Country SFA 032, 1975)
Jenni Trevitt (joint lead vocals, guitar), Maryl Davey (joint lead vocals, guitar, mandola)
Cut by a female duo (with Jenni Trevitt writing nearly all the material) plus guests on guitars, bass and keyboards, this is a pleasant album of singer/songwriter folk/rock. The material is gentle and haunting, with a rather nervous and amateurish feel, whilst the two women’s voices are quite odd: one very soft and hesitant like a little girl, the other with a high-pitched and quavery tone. GRADE: C+.
Raglan Road (Australia): Raglan Road (EMI Custom Pressing YPRX-1735, 1983)
Kirsty McCallum (occasional vocals, violin)
This gentle album of acoustic Irish folk is pleasant enough but very generic. However, it is quite rare, with the retitled second pressing (Irish Folk Songs, Larrikin LRF-132) being rather easier to find. GRADE: C.
Ragnarok (New Zealand): Ragnarok (Revolution RVLP-1002, 1975)
Lea Maalfrid (joint lead vocals)
This rather lo-fi but effectively tripped-out progressive album bears more than a passing resemblance to Second Album or Air Cut-era Curved Air, though with the classical edges replaced by synthesised spaciness. The band went on to cut a second LP without Lea Maalfrid, while she – far less predictably – went on to become a professional songwriter who penned pop hits for artists including Sheena Easton. GRADE: B–.
See also Lea Maalfrid
Rahmann (Algeria/France): Rahmann (Ramsès 2393 252, France, 1979)
Liza Deluxe (occasional vocals), Nadi Yamina Hadi (occasional vocals)
This mainly Algerian band’s sole album offers tightly-arranged, complex jazz/rock with a few experimental edges and some notable influences from North African and Muslim music. Leader Mahamad Hadi plays oud and snitra in addition to guitars and guitar synthesiser; he would later go on to become the principal musician on Nico’s superb Drama Of Exile. The band was all-male and all-instrumental, but Magma’s Liza Deluxe contributes wordless vocals to the opening cut ‘Atlanta’, whilst Nadi Yamina Hadi (presumably Mahamad’s wife or sister) does the same on ‘Nadiamina’. GRADE: B–.
See also Magma
Railroad Gin (Australia): A Matter Of Time (Polydor 2907 014, 1975)
Carol Lloyd (lead vocals)
The album isn’t as wild as singer Carol Lloyd looks on the sleeve, but she definitely takes her cues from Janis Joplin, Maggie Bell and Elkie Brooks. Blending influences from blues/rock, jazz, funk and progressive, the disc offers some interesting cuts including the superb ‘The End’, which opens with Jimi Hendrix-like guitar histrionics before offering some powerful rock jamming including plenty of Jethro Tull-like flute. Also noteworthy are the two-part title track, with prominent orchestration, and a rather experimental cover of ‘Come Together’ with heavily processed vocals and lead guitar. GRADE: C+.
Railroad Gin (Australia): Journey’s End (Polydor 2907 025, 1976)
Carol Lloyd having departed to form her own band, the new vocalist was one Judee Ford, and she has an unusual voice: high-pitched and quavering, yet piercing and powerful. Musically, this is a little different too, showing the band moving in a lighter funky rock direction with lots more percussion and flute. This isn’t as adventurous as its predecessor (notwithstanding an unusual and effective cover of ‘Riders On The Storm’) and doesn’t equal its very best moments, but it’s far more confident and consistent, making it the better of their two albums. GRADE: C+.
See also Carol Lloyd Band
Walter Raim Concept (USA): Endless Possibilities (MTA MTS 5020, 1970)
They look like tripped-out hippies on the cover, but this is actually lush harmony pop with MOR edges, similar to Free Design. GRADE: C.
Rain (Canada): The Rain Album (Axe AXS 501, 1972)
Phyllis Brown (principal vocals, piano)
With decent instrumental performances throughout and mainly original songs, this soul-tinged pop/rock album is pleasant enough. It was also a big seller at the time, with the single ‘Out Of My Mind’ reaching the Canadian top ten. As on her earlier solo album, Phyllis Brown demonstrates that she has a fine voice; she would later go on to considerable success under the name of Charity Brown. Beware of dealers describing this as ‘progressive rock’ or ‘psychedelia’, as I have seen happen on a couple of occasions – it is nothing of the kind. GRADE: C.
See also Phyllis Brown
Rain Fell Within (USA): Believe (Dark Symphonies DARK 7, CD, 1999)
Dawn Smith (lead vocals, keyboards)
Gothic metal with soprano vocals and a classical touch, this is elegant, beautiful and well crafted. On the downside, it’s also lacking in distinction or excitement and fails to bring anything new to a relatively crowded genre. GRADE: C+.
Rain Fell Within (USA): Refuge (Dark Symphonies DARK 16, CD, 2001)
Dawn Smith (principal vocals, keyboards), Laurie Ann Haus (occasional vocals)
The band’s second and final album is in the same vein as their first: majestic, melodic and beautifully crafted but ultimately rather insignificant. Following their break-up, most members (including Laurie Ann Haus, who is credited a full band member despite appearing only on the final song) formed Ephemeral Sun, whilst Dawn Smith went on to other projects. GRADE: C+.
See also Autumn Tears, Dawn Desirée, Ephemeral Sun, Todesbonden, Witch-Hunt
Rain Garden (UK): Practical Candle Magic (TRG 006, cassette, 1991)
Mary Browne (lead vocals, percussion, saxophone)
The beautiful, tranquil, Eastern-tinged tracks on this lovely album are too minimalist and unpretentious to be described as progressive, but also too involved and intricate to be called new age. But on every cut, leader and multi-instrumentalist Chris Conway really shows his mettle. GRADE: C+.
Rainbow Band (USA): The Rainbow Band (Elektra EKS-74092, 1971)
Gentle, haunting Eastern-tinged spiritual folk/rock albums like this appeared on a number of private labels during the seventies. Perhaps surprisingly, this one got a major label release. That’s not an adverse comment on its quality, as it’s quite gorgeous, with consistently fine performances and no extended lapses into chanting and ethnic ragas, as is typical for this kind of thing. But even in 1971, when a lot of people were stoned, it’s hard to see how Elektra expected to find a large audience for it. GRADE: B–.
Rainbow Boogie Band (USA): Rainbow Boogie Band (Capital City CC-2110, 1980)
Basically a country/rock outfit, this band is notable for two things: the excellent female vocalist (who often resembles a less histrionic Stevie Nicks) and unexpected symphonic progressive diversions on a couple of songs. GRADE: C+.
Rainbow Chasers (UK): Fortune Never Sleeps (Talking Elephant TECD073, CD, 2005)
Ruth Angell (joint lead vocals, guitar, shaker, violin), Jo Hamilton (joint lead vocals, guitar, keyboards, viola)
One of Ashley Hutchings’s many projects, Rainbow Chasers offered pleasant acoustic folk recalling Acousticity-era Albion Band. Use of violin and viola on several cuts adds a slight classical or chamber-folk edge, but this isn’t a particularly distinctive LP. GRADE: C+.
Ashley Hutchings & Rainbow Chasers (UK): Appearing At Huntingdon Hall (Secret Films SMADVD 235X, DVD, 2005)
Ruth Angell (joint lead vocals, guitar, violin), Jo Hamilton (joint lead vocals, guitar, violin)
No surprises for guessing that the Chasers’ live show isn’t exactly Pink Floyd; in fact, performing in front of a set of a fireplace, they could hardly be more low-key or homely. However, the musicianship is superb, Hutchings exudes an avuncular stage presence and delivers some interesting monologues, and the two female singers’ differing approaches (Angell’s pure English folk tones and Hamilton’s more dramatic soul-inflected approach) work to great effect. GRADE: C+.
Ashley Hutchings & Rainbow Chasers (UK): A Brilliant Light (Secret SMDCD554, double CD, 2005)
Ruth Angell (joint lead vocals, guitar, violin), Jo Hamilton (joint lead vocals, guitar, violin)
Despite the different title, this is an audio version of the Huntingdon Hall CD, although it omits three songs. Quite why, I’m not sure, as neither disc is particularly long and the whole concert could easily have been accommodated. In any case, it confirms that the Rainbow Chasers were able to offer some lovely, delicate folk, not dissimilar to the mid-nineties acoustic Albion Band with Chris While on vocals. GRADE: C+.
Rainbow Chasers (UK): Fortune Never Sleeps (Talking Elephant TECD100, CD, with digipak and booklet, 2006)
Jo Hamilton (joint lead vocals, guitar, viola), Ruth Angell (joint lead vocals, guitar, violin)
With partly electric instrumentation (occasional guitar and bass, plus drums on one number), this moves them in more of a singer/songwriter direction whilst not being very different from what went before. The end results aren’t particularly exciting (though acoustic singer/songwriter fare isn’t my favourite genre), but a couple of experiments (the violin instrumental ‘The Lost Bagpipe’ and the acappella 'The River’s Tale') work pretty well. GRADE: C+.
See also Ruth Angell & Sid Peacock, Lark Rise Band
Rainbow Generator (Australia): Dance Of The Spheres (Fission-Chips, 1978)
Naomi Leago (joint lead vocals)
This Australian duo’s music has a clear Krautrock sensibility, offering a series of skeletal and rather fragmentary instrumental vignettes for electric guitar, synthesiser and drum machine. A female singer is showcased on a couple of cuts, whilst a piece with male narration on side two demonstrates the strongest Kraut influence; a little didgeridoo is the only Antipodean element on the album. The results are suitably trippy (as is the stunning inner gatefold sleeve), but these scrappy vignettes don’t really go anywhere. GRADE: C+.
Rainbow Warriors (France): Rainbow Warriors (No label, CD, France, 1997?)
Michele Dickinson (lead vocals)
This may have been released in the late nineties, but it’s good old-fashioned early seventies-style hard rock – straightforward, unpretentious, stripped-down and enjoyable. GRADE: C+.
Raindance (UK): Raindance (No label XIS 121, 1987)
Tess (joint lead vocals, percussion, violin), Helen (joint lead vocals, percussion, flute)
This is a rather good electric folk album, with about half the cuts being instrumentals with a strong violin and flute presence and slight classical edges. The songs aren’t quite as good, with more of an eighties festival feel (with one unsurprisingly having a reggae beat and lyrics about the Battle of the Beanfield) but this is an accomplished album throughout, and beautifully recorded to boot. The band’s bassist was Ed Alleyne-Johnson, who would go on to become an acclaimed electric violinist and cut a couple of interesting albums with his wife Denyze. GRADE: C+.
Rainwater Touring Company (USA): The Theater Project Concerts (Grinn G 1003, 1974)
Kathy Pierson (occasional vocals, guitar, piano, dulcimer)
As the title suggests, this extremely rare private album compiles extracts from a number of live performances aimed at raising funds for a theatre venture. For the most part, the music is relaxed hippie-folk with a mellow rural, backwoods vibe, but the more electric ‘Bring Her Down’ and ‘Gypsy Lover’ (which closes the disc and runs for more than 13 minutes) add a bit of a psychedelic edge. Overall it’s an accomplished and unassuming set, and one hopes they achieved their goal. GRADE: C+.
Rainy Day (USA): Rainy Day (Llama E 1024, 1984)
Susanna Hoffs (joint lead vocals, guitar), Kendra Smith (joint lead vocals)
This collaboration between (later) Opal members Kendra Smith and David Roback, the Bangles’ Susanna Hoffs and various other members of the eighties paisley underground features charming covers of some of their favourite songs. However, pleasant as their versions of ‘I’ll Keep It With Mine’, ‘Flying On The Ground Is Wrong’, ‘Sloop John B’, ‘I’ll Be Your Mirror’ et al are, I can’t imagine choosing to listen to any of them in preference to the original. GRADE: C+.
See also Dream Syndicate, Guild Of Temporal Adventurers, Kendra Smith
Ram-Zet (Norway): Pure Therapy (Spikefarm Naula 009, CD, 2000)
Miriam Elisabeth Renvåg (occasional vocals), Renate Grimsbø Kuldbrandstad (occasional vocals)
An odd record indeed: Ram-Zet blend influences from all different kinds of extreme music, including black and power metal, hints of techno and frequent classical and avant-garde touches, topping off the relentless riffing with death vocals, electronics, violin and more. Whilst the end result is perhaps more interesting than enjoyable (and certainly reflects their concept of exploring a schizophrenic man’s mind), there is some good music on offer here. GRADE: C+.
Ram-Zet (Norway): Escape (Spikefarm Naula 022, CD, 2002)
Miriam Elisabeth Renvåg (joint lead vocals), Ingvild Johannesen (violin, backing vocals)
Maintaining the odd, rather schizoid style of their first album, this is again quite an intriguing record. It’s all very austere, and once again the shrill death vocals don’t do much for me, but this certainly has its moments. GRADE: C+.
Ram-Zet (Norway): Intra (Tabu Recordings RUBA013, CD, 2005)
Miriam Elisabeth Renvåg, Ingvild Johannesen
This is perhaps their best album to date, with plenty of variety and interest. As usual, it’s all a little relentless for me, but it’s the screeching death vocals that are the biggest drawback. GRADE: C+.
Stuart Ramakar & The Gandharvas (USA): Second Generation (Govinda 98 – 25, with insert, 1979)
New Wave/‘Incredibly Strange Music’
Damayanti (backing vocals)
From the back cover it’s obvious this is a Hare Krishna LP, but it’s not at all apparent from the music. The eight-minute opener ‘Love Goes On Forever’ is louche urban funk, similar to Collective Star but with disco edges in keeping with the times, whilst everything else is lively new wave. Meanwhile, the flat, slurred vocals addd a ‘real people’ edge to the proceedings. Altogether, it’s a strange piece of work indeed. GRADE: C+.
Ramases (UK): Space Hymns (Vertigo 6360 046, with poster, 1971)
Dorothy Frost (occasional vocals)
Ramases was a central heating salesman from Sheffield named Barrington Frost who believed himself to be a reincarnation of an Egyptian pharaoh; he cut this album with his wife Dorothy (who co-wrote everything and assisted with the vocals, but didn’t get an artist credit) and musical backing from the nascent 10cc. A good album, it blends folk/rock, prog and pop/rock influences, and lyrically has a quirky, off-kilter science fiction theme. The duo had previously cut some rare psychedelic singles as ‘Ramases and Selket’ and ‘Ramases and Sel’. GRADE: B–.
Ramases (UK): Glass Top Coffin (Vertigo 6360 115, 1975)
Dorothy Frost (occasional vocals, guitar)
Nowhere near as good as Space Hymns and belying its cosmic cover, Glass Top Coffin is a pleasant album of soft hippie rock with fairly prominent orchestrations. Indeed, only the catchy title track has any real rock energy. GRADE: C+.
Ramases (UK): Complete Discography (StormVox CDSV02, sextuple CD, with digibook, 2013, recorded 1968-1975)
This comprehensive career retrospective features remixed versions of the Space Hymns and Glass Top Coffin albums, discs of outtakes from each, a disc compiling the rare Ramases & Sel(ket) singles and more outtakes, and finally a disc of covers by an array of modernistic, spacy, vaguely trip hop-ish rock bands I’ve never heard of. Whilst I question the rationale behind the latter CD, the rest is good stuff and this is a superb testament to Ramases and his (their?) music. GRADE: C+.
Ramatam (USA): Ramatam (Atlantic SD 7236, 1972)
April Lawton (guitar)
Formed by ex-members of the Jimi Hendrix Experience and Iron Butterfly, plus one of two hotshot female guitarists of the time (the other being Charlotte Vinnedge of Nitro-Function), Ramatam offered some convincing instrumental performances on their debut. But, like many second division hard rock acts of the day, their chops were not matched by their songwriting skills, and there’s nothing here that sticks in the mind. GRADE: C–.
Ramatam (USA): In April Came The Dawning Of The Red Suns (Atlantic SD 7261, with inner, 1973)
April Lawton (occasional vocals, guitar, bass, organ, harmonica)
Their second album isn’t much more exciting than their first, with side one being given over to a mix of listless near-ballads and dull bar-room rockers. Side two is better and more energetic, but it’s a pity they stretch out on so few extended guitar-driven jams, as this was clearly their forte. GRADE: C.
Rancho High School (USA): Celebration (Rancho High School RHS-1000, no sleeve, with insert, 1977)
Cynthia Des Hotel, Laura Gale, Melody Walker
Only one copy appears to be known of this school project LP, which comes with a plain white sleeve and a minimalistic insert with basic credits. Belying its low-budget appearance, it offers slick, well-recorded versions of material like ‘If You Leave Me Now’, ‘Muskrat Love’ and ‘Evergreen’, varying between funky uptempo numbers with horns and more MOR ballads. It even ends with a lively instrumental ‘Make Me Smile’ that reminds me more than a little of a better-played version of ‘Dialater Blues’ from the Collective Tools LP. GRADE: C+.
Random Harvest (UK): Random Harvest (Random Harvest RH 501, 1982)
Cathy Wood (joint lead vocals, guitar, percussion, whistle), Kathy Galloway (joint lead vocals)
This Scottish folk/rock band certainly didn’t go for obvious material on their privately pressed album – alongside the expected ‘The Shearing’s Not For You’ and ‘Curragh Of Kildare’, we get covers of Curved Air’s ‘Back Street Luv’, Gerry Rafferty’s ‘Baker Street’, Sandy Denny’s ‘Rising For The Moon’, John Lennon’s ‘Imagine’ and the Stones’ ‘Honky Tonk Women’. Whilst none of the versions here equals the original, this is a bold and creative album that often sounds similar to mid-seventies Fairport Convention (though all the guitars are acoustic). GRADE: C+.
Rantz (USA): Rantz (Casino, 1982)
Susan Starr (joint lead vocals), Janet Mix (flute)
The opening ‘Do You Remember?’ is an absolutely wonderful mixture of hard rock, psychedelia and progressive with slashing fuzz guitar and spacy flute; it would be a classic had Susan Starr not chosen to perform it in a semi-spoken manner recalling new wave stylists like Lene Lovich or Toyah Willcox. None of the other songs is as good (‘Tee Vee’ comes close but Starr once again ruins it) but despite the terrible singing this is an enjoyable enough album of prog-edged rock and folk, housed in a striking and colourful sleeve. GRADE: C+.
Rasberry Jam II (USA) / People (USA): If We Only Have Love (House Of Guitars 3769, 1969?)
This obscure album devotes one side apiece to ‘the folk sounds of Rasberry Jam 2’ and ‘the rock sounds of People’, although it has been speculated that both bands comprised the same group of people. In any case, Rasberry Jam offer rather old-fashioned harmony folk with a Christian slant to some of the material whilst People are as much pop as rock and deliver a broad cross-section of cover versions. The only real surprise on the second side is a rather amateurish version of ‘White Rabbit’ that suggests an interest in psychedelic music not evident elsewhere. In any case, the People side is certainly the more enjoyable. GRADE: C.
Rasberry Jam (USA): Here’s Rasberry Jam (House Of Guitars 122769, 1970)
Nancy Bostrum, Paula Tonkyn, Donna LoPorto
The eponymous opening cut is a loathsome novelty song, but most of the rest is exquisite hippie folk in a completely different league to the earlier LP. With a very British style, this contains some of the loveliest folk music to emerge from America. The band is credited on the back cover as ‘Rasberry Jam III’; their first recordings, preceding the split album, were on a college sampler. GRADE: B–.
Rat Salad (USA): Double Dose Of Doom (Doom 1, 1994, recorded 1978?-1981?)
Cheri Blade (principal vocals), Simona Queen (occasional vocals)
This is basically Force (who issued an EP in 1981 and a retrospective LP ten years later) with a different female singer. Their style is very similar to Force, although the material is not as well recorded; it’s not clear whether Rat Salad preceded or followed Force chronologically. Strangely, side one features four songs by Rat Salad and one by Force, and side two four by Obstination and one by Asylum (different names for the same all-male doom band). GRADE: C+.
See also Force
Genya Ravan (USA): Genya Ravan (CBS S64872, 1972)
Genya Ravan (lead vocals)
For her first solo album, the former Goldie & The Gingerbreads and Ten Wheel Drive singer concentrated entirely on cover versions. Although neither original nor distinctive, this is an enjoyable set of funky soul/rock, bearing a passing resemblance to contemporary Ike & Tina Turner. Her diversions into mellow modern jazz on ‘I’m In The Mood For Love’ and Afro-rock on ‘Takuta Kalaba/Turn On Your Love Lights’ are quite a surprise, however. GRADE: C.
See also Ten Wheel Drive
Michael Raven & Joan Mills (UK): Death And The Lady (Folk Heritage FHR 047, 1972)
Joan Mills (lead vocals)
This collaboration between acoustic guitar maestro Michael Raven and the excellent folk singer Joan Mills is one of the rarer Folk Heritage releases, having been pressed in a run of 250 copies. The performances are good enough that one never notices the absence of any other instruments, with a mixture of traditional and original compositions. GRADE: C+.
Mike Raven & Joan Mills With Saga (UK): The Jolly Machine (Folk Heritage FHR 053, some with booklet, 1974)
Joan Mills (joint lead vocals, bodhrán)
With folk band Saga in tow, this has fuller instrumentation than Death And The Lady, including harmonium, bodhrán, violin and mandolin as well as acoustic guitar. However, if anything it’s even more doleful, with a procession of mournful ongs about the plight and penury of working people in the Midlands during the Industrial Revolution. The result is not only a fine and atmospheric LP, but also a fascinating piece of social history. GRADE: C+.
Joan Mills & Michael Raven (UK): Hymn To Ché Guevara (Folk Heritage FHR 054, 1974)
Joan Mills (lead vocals, guitar, tambourine)
With a pressing of just 100 copies, this is even rarer than their earlier releases. It’s also possibly their best, with the delicate, sparse arrangements built around acoustic guitar but also featuring tambourine, violin, mandolin and melodica. However, it’s not their scarcest: their 1976 album Can Y Melinydd only appeared as a sleeveless test pressing on the Dutch Stoof label (MU 7430). GRADE: C+.
Michael Raven & Joan Mills (UK): Can Y Melinydd (The Miller Song) (Stoof MU 7430, no sleeve, 1976)
This is the least-known of Raven & Mills’s albums, due to it never progressing beyons test pressing stage (it’s reputed that 65 sleeveless copies were produced before the release was cancelled). That’s a pity, as it’s arguably their best, with a spacy, eerie feel and typically sparse arrangements that set Mills’s plaintive vocals against Raven’s acoustic guitar (and, less typically, occasional electric, bass, percussion, mandolin, dulcimer and flute). At its best – notably on side one’s closer ‘Clark Coluille’ – this offers some superb acid-folk, making its lack of an official reissue a tragedy. GRADE: B–.