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Rookery (UK): Waikiki Hawaii Bound (No label SAL 302, 1975?)
Wanda, Sita
The backstory behind this bizarre album of Hawaiian-themed folk/rock is arguably more interesting than the music itself – this nameless private label issued a number of albums, all of whose catalogue numbers begin ‘SAL’. I also possess Gog Magog’s Great Rock Gospel Hits (SAL 311) and Tithe Barn’s Smash Hits For Kids (SAL 327), which suggests that each of its releases was in a different style. All came in striking minimalist black-and-white sleeves, and none have the band name printed on them, which in every case was added with a rubber-stamp. As a final twist, this isn’t an original release – it’s a reissue of a 1969 album issued in the Netherlands as Royal Hawaiian Minstrels and West Germany as Waikiki-Hawaii. GRADE: C+.

Room (UK): Pre-Flight (Deram SML 1073, 1970)
Jane Kevern (lead vocals, tambourine)
This extremely rare LP offers highly-arranged, complex, jazzy progressive rock with strong post-psychedelic jamming elements, falling somewhere between Affinity, Fusion Orchestra and Goliath. On the downside, a couple of tracks are average blues/rock workouts, but the closing instrumental freakout ‘Cemetery Junction’ is superb, featuring some stunning acid guitar leads. GRADE: C+.

Rosa Luxemburg (France): I & II (Spartakus Musique, CD, 2009)
Marie Catherine (joint lead vocals)
Given its rather austere packaging and concept about different historical revolutions (very similar to Schmetterlinge’s Proletenpassion), I expected this to be RIO. In fact, it’s mainstream progressive, ranging from the folky to (occasionally) the hard rocking and with a melliow song-based style, though also some moments of complexity. In summary, this is a good album, with excellent singing and musicianship throughout, but it could have been even better had they pushed a few more boundaries. GRADE: C+.

Rosalia (Japan): Zillion Tears (Made In Japan MCD-2014, CD, 1990)
Iori Sakagami (lead vocals), Yukiyo Takeda (guitar), Eiko Fujimoto (bass), Naomi Miura (keyboards, backing vocals), Emiko Nishida (drums)
This all-female prog band (including Naomi Miura, also of Ars Nova and Kings’ Boards) only issued this sole EP, featuring three songs and an instrumental totalling around 23 minutes. It’s typical Japanese neoprogressive, with a rather bombastic style, and whilst listenable is probably more a curio than anything. GRADE: C.
See also Ars Nova, Various 'Kings’ Boards'

Rose Among Thorns (UK): Rose Among Thorns (HTD HTDCD6, CD, 1990)
Elaine Morgan (lead vocals, tambourine)
The obvious reference point for the folky progressive rock here is eighties Renaissance, complete with a modernistic drum sound and production style. As such, Rose Among Thorns have not chosen to emulate the band’s golden period and this could only occasionally be described as ambitious, but it’s nonetheless a decent enough set. GRADE: C+.
Rose Among Thorns (UK): This Time It’s Real (HTD HTD CD8, CD, with digipak, 1992)
Elaine Morgan (principal vocals)
Second time around, they sound like a cross between late Renaissance (or perhaps solo Annie Haslam) and Clannad, refracted through a neoprogressive prism. For sure, it’s highly derivative but it was also influential on a new generation of Welsh prog bands – the template for Karnataka is right here. On the downside, this is again fairly unambitious (two songs over five minutes, and then not by much) and sometimes glib both musically and lyrically (rhyming ‘change’ with ‘rearrange’ twice is twice too often) but Karnataka could only dream of making an album with this many hooks, so this just about crawls over the line between C+ and B–. GRADE: B–.
Rose (UK): Butterfly Dreams (HTD HTDCD31, CD, 1995)
Elaine Morgan
It’s not just their name that’s truncated: the band are down to a duo of Elaine and Derek Morgan, and that’s the biggest weakness of their third and final album. With its programmed drums, this often sounds like a set of demos rather than the finished article, though the songs are decent enough and the style is broadly in keeping with their first two. The band’s only other release was the 1996 compilation Highlites (HTD CD 63), which includes five previously unreleased songs – all home recordings and mostly MOR ballads, though (ironically) ‘The Ballad Of Scwd Clyn Gwyn’ is a rather good instrumental. GRADE: C+.

See also Ghoulies, Elaine Morgan

Rose Garden (USA): The Rose Garden (Atco SD33-225, 1968)
Diana Di Rose (joint lead vocals)
Although it’s extremely pleasant, the band’s brand of Byrds-derived sunshine pop isn’t enormously distinctive. However, in Diana di Rose they had a unique female vocalist for the era: nothing like the usual soaring Grace Slick impersonators, she often resembles a much deeper-voiced Sandie Shaw, with a very understated singing style. GRADE: C+.

Rosebud (France): Discoballs – A Tribute To Pink Floyd (Flarenasch 723.601, 1977)
Miss X (lead vocals)
The title says it all: this bizarre work offers disco interpretations of a number of (sometimes quite obscure) Pink Floyd songs. Actually, it’s as close to funk and pop as disco, but it’s still a truly peculiar venture. It’s mainly of interest here due to the line-up, including three members of Magma (Claude Engel, Jannick Top and Alain Hâtot) plus several top French sessionmen (André Sitbon, Michel Coeuriot, Georges Rodi et al). Who ‘Miss X’ was, I have no idea, but she could conceivably have been Maria Popkiewicz, given the other musicians involved. GRADE: C.

Rosita & Charmaine (UK): God’s Been Good To Me (RCA INTS 1374, 1972)
According to the sleevenotes, these ‘talented twin sisters from Belfast, Northern Ireland’ were 16 when they cut this album. With their bizarre matching high-necked dresses and improbable heavily lacquered coiffures, they look middle-aged – and sound it too, on a collection of prissy MOR Christian folk and country tunes. If you see this in a dealer list described as ‘crystalline teen folk’ or some such nonsense, beware – a beautiful reading of ‘All My Trials’ aside, this is for fans of Val Doonican or Jim Reeves, not RFD or Search Party. GRADE: E+.

Sandy Ross (USA): Sandy Ross (Audio Recorders, unreleased acetate, 1970)
Sandy Ross (lead vocals, guitar)
Only one copy is known of this unreleased album, which comes in a plain white sleeve with handwritten comments attached on post-it notes. Accompanied only by acoustic guitar, Ross offers dark and slightly eerie loner folk tunes, with the best cut being the opening ‘The Girl Lying On The Sidewalk’. Guitar-and-voice singer/songwriter albums can be one-dimensional, but this is a good one deserving a full release. GRADE: C+.
Sandy Ross (USA): Lady Of A Different Time (SLR Productions, with booklet, 1972)
Sandy Ross (lead vocals, guitar, piano, bells)
Ross’s second album is completely different: side one offers a varied set of songs recorded in the studio with electric band backing, whilst side two features Ross and her guitar performing live. The quality of the material is high throughout, and the studio numbers are superbly arranged, but it’s all a little generic. Although this was seemingly a private pressing, she must have had a considerable budget, as it features both an attractive sepia-tinged sleeve and matching lyric booklet. As a footnote, Ross had her songs covered by major performers including Anne Murray and Kim Carnes, and returned to recording in the mid-nineties to issue two CDs, Portraits Of Innocence and Coloring Outside The Lines. GRADE: C+.

Roswell Six (USA): Terra Incognita: Beyond The Horizon (ProgRock PRR720/SPV 452762 CD, CD, 2009)
Lana Lane (joint lead vocals)
Sometimes venturing into rock opera, this concept album was a companion piece to a series of fantasy novels by bestselling author Kevin J Anderson. With Erik Norlander composing everything and Lana Lane sharing the vocals, it’s unsurprisingly heavy neoprogressive, with a superstar cast of musicians from other neoprog bands. If pomp-rock is your thing, you might get something out of this, but whilst it’s perfectly professional it struck me as very one-dimensional and tedious. Indeed, the only cut that really seized my attention was ‘Here By Monsters’, and only because the verses are a shameless rip-off of ‘Kashmir’. GRADE: C.
Roswell Six (USA/Canada): Terra Incognita: A Line In The Sand (ProgRock PRR721, CD, USA, 2009)
Sass Jordan (joint lead vocals)
Oddly, apart from singer Michael Sadler, the second Roswell Six album is cut by an entirely different line-up, with one Henning Pauly composing, arranging and producing and playing all the instruments. Musically, it’s not that far removed from its predecessor, although it is less progressive and much closer to metal. As a surprising footnote, Janis Ian was apparently involved in writing the lyrics for two songs. GRADE: C.
See also Aina, Lana Lane, Erik Norlander

Rotary Connection (USA): Rotary Connection (Cadet Concept LPS 312, 1968)
Minnie Riperton (joint lead vocals), Judy Hauff (joint lead vocals)
The first album by this pioneering black vocal group is superficially similar to contemporaries like the Fifth Dimension, with its soaring harmonies and rich orchestrations. However, there is an underlying weirdness that sets it apart from the competition, though it’s nowhere near as experimental as some of their later albums. Psychedelic embellishments such as sitar and Theremin are used to good effect, and snatches of electronic and classical-influenced music separate some of the songs, giving the whole thing the feel of a co-ordinated suite. It all sounds extremely dated now, of course, but that’s a key part of its charm. GRADE: C+.

Rotary Connection (USA): Aladdin (Cadet Concept LPS 317, 1968)
Minnie Riperton, Judy Hauff
Richly orchestrated and wonderfully melodic, this is an excellent album that seamlessly blends influences from soul, pop and contemporary rock. Despite some clever production touches, it’s not their most inventive LP, but it is consistently enjoyable and accomplished. The best cuts by far are the slightly eerie Eastern-flavoured ‘I Must Be There’ and the heavier ‘I Feel Sorry’. GRADE: C+.
Rotary Connection (USA): Peace (Cadet Concept LPS 318, 1968)
Minnie Riperton, Judy Hauff
Their magnum opus is a highly creative and experimental suite of Christmas music, arranged in their usual psychedelic soul and rock style. Some cuts are relatively upbeat, but others are dark and sinister – notably a menacing ‘Silent Night’ played on atonal fuzz guitar and handbells, then reprised as a piece of raucous acid-rock. Overall, it’s an impressively ambitious piece of work and a perfect soundtrack for the festive season during the era of the Vietnam War and rising civil disobedience. It also stands head and shoulders above anything else they ever did. GRADE: B.
Rotary Connection (USA): Songs (Cadet Concept LPS 322, 1969)
Minnie Riperton, Judy Hauff
Their covers album is a daring venture indeed. Taking material from sources as diverse as Cream (three out of nine songs), Jimi Hendrix, Otis Redding, the Rolling Stones and the Band, they recast the material in their own familiar style and make it sound surprisingly homogenous. If, like me, you love their brand of psychedelic-tinged soul and funk, with its widescreen production and expansive arrangements, you will thoroughly enjoy this LP – but I can imagine fans of some of the covered bands finding it mildly sacrilegious. GRADE: B–.
Rotary Connection (USA): Dinner Music (Cadet Concept LPS 328, 1970)
Minnie Riperton, Judy Hauff
Like their debut, this inserts short snippets of sound effects and classical music between the songs, but otherwise it’s rather different to their earlier work: the epic arrangements and acid guitars that characterised their previous albums are replaced by a lighter pop style (and even a move into country/rock on one cut). It’s still quite experimental (notably the weird ‘Merry Prankster’) and overall very good, with fine arrangements and performances, and a commendably eclectic approach. GRADE: C+.
New Rotary Connection (USA): Hey Love (Cadet Concept 50006, 1971)
Minnie Riperton (joint lead vocals), Kitty Hayward (joint lead vocals)
Their final album was credited to the New Rotary Connection, for no apparent reason, but it’s musically similar to what went before (if less psychedelic and experimental). It’s beautifully executed and contains some great tracks (especially the lengthy ‘I Am The Black Gold Of The Sun’ and mournful ‘Hangin’ Round The Bee Tree’), but its comparative lack of audacity suggests that they chose to pack it in at the right time. GRADE: C+.
See also Minnie Riperton

Rotglut (West Germany): …Einfach Nur Leben! (Trikont Unsere Stimme US - 0064, with booklet, 1979)
New Wave/Progressive
Ariane Ehinger (keyboards, backing vocals), Cordula Metke (backing vocals)
Mixing influences from punk and prog, this anarchist rock album ranges from good krautrock to tepid pub-rock, with the longer and more involved pieces unsurprisingly being the best. Overall it’s a patchy LP, sometimes sounding like a very poor man’s Stranglers, but it does have its moments. GRADE: C+.
Rotglut (West Germany): Drunter Und Drüber (Trikont Unsere Stimme 33/30, with booklet, 1980)
New Wave/Progressive
Ariane Ehinger (occasional vocals, keyboards)
Their second and final album is in a similar style, although a bit less exploratory and experimental. That said, the songwriting is of a much higher standard second time around, with a few excellent numbers on offer, so I prefer this to their debut. GRADE: C+.

Rother Valley (UK): Country Reflections (Arny’s Shack AS 002, 1975)
Shirley Marston (joint lead vocals)
No prizes for guessing that this private pressing offers country music (in this case with a slight cabaret edge). On the plus side, it has nicely stripped-down arrangements, including some wah-wah guitar, so this is surprisingly listenable. GRADE: C+.

Rough Spells (Canada): Ruins At Midday (Fuzzed & Buzzed/Dark Hedonistic Union DHU041/Fnb002, some on coloured vinyl, with insert and poster, 2020)
Sarena Sairan (joint lead vocals, guitar), Maija Martin (joint lead vocals, guitar), Kerry Martin (bass)
This mostly female band’s debut is an enjoyable hard rock set, offering eight songs in just over 30 minutes. As that description suggests, it’s perhaps a bit slight, but it’s all thoroughly enjoyable, making me hope they’ll stretch out a little more on the follow-up. GRADE: C+.

John Roush & Friends (USA): The Cry Of The City (Seeds Of Truth SOT #0010, with booklet, 1983)
Kay Winston (joint lead vocals)
Issued to support an inner-city ministry, this is an enjoyable album of Christian rock: mostly bluesy, sometimes quite hard and effectively soulful when Kay Winston is singing; there are even elegant instrumentals to close each side. The suitably bleak cover and unusually direct lyrics are also refreshing for a Christian LP. GRADE: C+.

Rowan Amber Mill (UK): Midsummers (Millersounds milledcd004, CDR, 2009)
Kim Guy (principal vocals, percussion, recorder)
Three versions of ‘Summer is Icumen In’ tell their own story: Rowan Amber Mill clearly take their inspiration from ‘The Wicker Man’ in particular, seventies folk horror in general, and more broadly retro psychedelic folk sounds recalling the female-sung cuts from the first Gwydion album. Unlike comparable acts, they don’t resort to industrial edges to convey a sinister edge to their sound, instead relying on cloying sweetness and eerie sound effects; the result is a delightful debut. GRADE: B–.
Rowan Amber Mill (UK): Heartwood (Millersounds milledcd005, CDR, with digipak and booklet, 2010)
Sharon Eastwood (principal vocals, recorder)
This is more confident and more consistent than their first, though markedly less eccentric, so it’s moot which is better. In any case, both are lovely, trippy folk albums, with rich and intricate acoustic instrumentation and soothing singing. GRADE: B–.
Emily Jones & The Rowan Amber Mill (UK): The Book Of The Lost (Millersounds OWLMILL006, CD, with digipak and booklet, 2013)
The Rowan Amber Mill give full rein to their (or, since I understand the ‘band’ was now down to multi-instrumentalist and vocalist Stephen Stannard, should that be his?) folk horror proclivities here. The soundtrack to an imaginary horror compendium show from the seventies, this features a song and a snatch of dialogue and effects for each of the four films, sandwiched between versions of the show’s supposed theme music. The songs are lovely, the dialogue elements are self-indulgent and the whole thing is rather arch (though I do like the mocked-up posters for the films, including ‘The Villagers’ being distributed by ‘British Liger’ in another ‘Wicker Man’ reference). GRADE: B–.
Angeline Morrison & The Rowan Amber Mill (UK): Silent Night Sounds For A Cold Winter’s Evening (Millersounds milledcd007, CD, with digipak, 2014)
Angeline Morrison (lead vocals)
A 22-minute EP of Christmas songs at this stage in the band’s career strikes me as a baffling move, as does changing vocalists yet again (perhaps they’re aiming to equal Wappasou’s record?). As Christmas EPs go, this is very, very good, but as Rowan Amber Mill albums go it’s a bit disappointing. GRADE: C+.

Rowan:Morrison (UK): In The Sunshine We Rode The Horses (MillerSounds milledCD011, black CDR, with inserts, stickers, badges and tin, 2019)


Angeline Morrison

In a rather cute move, the Amber Rowan Mill & Angeline Morrison have renamed themselves Rowan:Morrison and returned with their first full-length album. It’s beautiful and haunting pastoral folk with a slightly austere and forbidding edge, and with its lush orchestrations making it hard to believe that it’s the work of just two people. GRADE: B–.

Rowan:Morrison (UK): Fields Of Frost – Silent Songs For A Cold Winter’s Night (MillerSounds milledCD014X, black CDR, with inserts, stickers, badges and tin, 2019)


Angeline Morrison (lead vocals, guitar, autoharp)

In a rather unusual move, the first run of Rowan:Morrison’s Christmas album includes their earlier Christmas EP as bonus material. Arguably the new LP is also more of an EP masquerading as an album, as several tracks appear in two versions (one acapella and the other with instrumental backing), but it’s nonetheless very good, effortlessly pulling off the Amber Mill’s usual trick of sounding both beautiful and sinister. GRADE: B–.

Rowan:Morrison (UK): Lost In Seaburgh (MillerSounds milledCD 015, black CDR, with photos, stickers, badges and tin, 2020)
Angeline Morrison (principal vocals, guitar, autoharp)
The danger of Rowan:Morrison’s seventies-inspired folk horror music – this time expressed via a concept set based around the ghost stories of M R James – is that it can cross the line from atmospheric to arch. Lost In Seaburgh perches on the borderline: whilst the songs are beautiful and haunting, there are too many spoken word passages to my ears, and the music hall-styled ‘Oh! Oh! Antonio!’ feels a touch out of place. Nonetheless, there’s enough fine music here to earn this a B–, though again it perches on the borderline. GRADE: B–.

Rowan:Morrison (UK): Bride Of The Wintertide (MillerSounds milledCD020, CDR, with photos, stickers, poster, badges and tin, 2021)
Angeline Morrison (principal vocals, autoharp)
At just over half an hour, this isn’t the most substantial set, but Rowan:Morrison certainly know how to put together an eerie and atmospheric Christmas set that avoids all the usual pitfalls of the genre. If you like your Yuletide with more than a touch of the Pagan and arcane, this should provide some fine seasonal listening. GRADE: C+.

Rowan Amber Mill (UK): Among The Gorse To Settle Scores (MillerSounds, black CDR, with inserts, badges, stickers and tin, 2020)
Kim Guy (lead vocals)
The first Rowan Amber Mill (as opposed to Rowan:Morrison) release of new material in six years is a 25-minute EP of ‘our very favourite traditional songs’. As such, it’s quite different from the ethereal, trippy folk-horror stuff that is their usual stock-in-trade, consisting of lo-fi electric folk with lots of keyboards adding a symphonic edge. It’s all pleasant enough, but they don’t really bring anything new to any of the songs, so they’re not exactly Steeleye Span. If you prefer a more modern reference, they’re not exactly Offa Rex either. GRADE: C+.

Rowan Amber Mill (UK): Golden Strings To Tether The Sun (MillerSounds milledCD017, CDR, with photos, stickers, badges and tin, 2020)
Kim Guy (lead vocals, guitar, recorder)
Typically for the Rowan Amber Mill, this album is beautifully packaged, with a custom tin and all kinds of inserts. Also typically for a Stephen Stannard project, it recycles a fair amount of material – five of the six tracks from Among The Gorse To Settle Scores reappear here in slightly different versions, alongside eight new pieces. I found the music there to be good rather than great, and the feeling persists here – I definitely prefer Rowan Amber Mill in folk horror mode and I certainly prefer my electric folk with full band backing. That’s not to say that the versions here are in any way poor, but in every case I prefer versions by other bands – whether that’s Steeleye Span or Tickawinda. In fact, the best thing by far is the beautiful, lush instrumental ‘Now The Green’, which is more in the vein of the Rowan Amber Mill’s early work. GRADE: C+.

Royal Squeezit (Japan): O•P (Creativeman Disc CMDD*0036, CD, with obi, 1996)
Emi Eleonola (lead vocals, keyboards, accordion)
The duo of Demi Semi Quaver leader Emi Eleonola and much-travelled violinist Katsui Yuji offer an odd, fractured little album full of chamber music vignettes and quirky experiments. It’s all rather intriguing, and represents an interesting addition to the RIO canon, but I definitely prefer Eleonola in her more rock-oriented day job. GRADE: C+.
See also Demi Semi Quaver

Royal Thunder (USA): Royal Thunder (Relapse RR7150, CD, 2010)
Melanie Parsons (lead vocals, bass)
This is an enjoyable set of doom and stoner metal, with a fair amount of variety and some atmospheric moments. On the downside, it doesn’t have the crushing heaviness or distinctive vision to place it among the all-time doom classics, but it’s solid and accomplished from start to finish. GRADE: C+.
Royal Thunder (USA): CVI (Relapse RR7175, CD, with obi, 2012)
Melanie Parsons (lead vocals, bass)
A huge step forward from its rather uneven predecessor, this is an excellent doom metal set. In fact, at its best this isn’t too far behind modern masters of the genre like Blood Ceremony and Windhand. GRADE: B–.

Royal Thunder (USA): Crooked Doors (Relapse RR7624, CD, 2015)
Melanie Parsons (lead vocals, bass, piano)
This is a definite change of direction: away from metal towards a seventies hard rock sound. It works well, with a suitably dry retro sound and plenty of energy, but it’s not in the same league as its more powerful and majestic predecessor. GRADE: C+.

Royal Thunder (USA): Wick (Spinefarm 2557331332, CD, with digipak, 2017)
Melanie Parsons (lead vocals, bass, piano)
Whilst in the same vein as its predecessor, this has more going for it: more poise, more swagger and better hooks, sometimes coming across as a lighter and more sprightly cousin of Fireball Ministry. As such, this is close to the divide between C+ and B–, but despite its consistency the lack of a truly killer track fails to push it over the line. GRADE: C+.

Yoko Royama (Japan): Sunny Days (Bonsai BNCD-001, CD, with obi, 1990)
Yoko Royama (principal vocals, guitar, keyboards, percussion, flute, whistle, programming, effects)
The Vermilion Sands vocalist’s solo album is a revelation: moving away from the Renaissance-by-numbers style of her band, she offers a delightful collection of folky self-penned songs and interpretations of traditional material. True, it could have been improved had she used more guest musicians (the programmed bass and drums inevitably detract, though not terminally) and had a bigger budget, but it’s still a delightful, unassuming and deeply charming record. GRADE: B–.
See also Theta, Vermilion Sands

Olga Rozhnova & Voyage Group (USSR): The Road (Russian Disc R60 01104, 1990)
Olga Rozhova (lead vocals)
Old-school metal and hard rock with a few slight symphonic and progressive edges, given distinction by its unusual origin. Its other noteworthy feature is the wonderfully ‘Spinal Tap’-esque cover, which should succeed in raising a few smiles. GRADE: C+.

Ruan Folk (UK): Get It Together (Odyssey ODY 102, 1978?)

Joanna Coudrill (joint lead vocals, percussion)
This Cornish band’s privately pressed album offers pleasant traditional and contemporary folk and features a wide range of material (everything from ‘Early One Morning’ and ‘Portsmouth’ to ‘Sailing’). The performances vary too, with a couple of numbers not working particularly well, but overall it’s a pleasant set. GRADE: C+.

Rub (USA): Three Wishes (No label, CD, 2002)
Leslye Barrett (joint lead vocals)
The Rub’s style can pretty much be summed up in two words: Steely Dan. Admirers of that band will instantly recognise (and love) the jazzy chord changes, the rich harmony vocals, the spindly saxophone filigrees, the minor progressive diversions and the über-smooth mood. I am not an admirer of Steely Dan, but this is undeniably superbly done and perfectly enjoyable – and the lack of the Dan’s smug, knowing, postmodern edge is a huge bonus. GRADE: C+.

Rubber Riff (UK): Rubber Riff (Music De Wolfe DWS/LP 3331, 1976)
Carol Barratt (keyboards)
This library music album was actually composed by Karl Jenkins and performed by a unique Soft Machine line-up featuring his wife Carol Barratt on keyboards. Unsurprisingly very different from the rest of Soft Machine’s oeuvre, it consists of fourteen short instrumentals ranging from uptempo funky rock to dreamy flute-led numbers with a jazzy edge. GRADE: C+.

Rubber Universe (USA): Parliament Of Fooles (No label, CD, 2008)
Gina Ronat (joint lead vocals), Li’anne Drysdale (occasional vocals, keyboards, percussion, Vocoder), Sara Motley (flute)
With a dreamy mood, some folky edges and some contrasting passages of stately rock, this American band’s sole album offers some lovely instrumental textures. It’s not particularly groundbreaking, but then it’s never ostentatious and rarely borrows from neoprogressive tropes, creating a pleasant listening experience. GRADE: C+.

Ruby Jones (USA): Ruby Jones (Curtom CRS 8011, 1971)
Ruby Starr
Tough and lively R&B, with the hard rock elements balanced by extensive use of horns. At various times it resembles Babe Ruth or latter-day Janis Joplin, with occasional welcome experimentation (the wild treated vocals on ‘Looking Out At Tomorrow’). Following the album’s release, singer Ruby Starr went solo and also worked with Black Oak Arkansas. GRADE: C+.
See also Grey-Star, Ruby Starr

Rue Nouveau (USA): Painting It Red (No label, with insert, 1986)
Leslie Ball (lead vocals, guitar)
This odd little guitar rock mini-album is essentially AOR, but draws on everything from new wave to dark psychedelic textures. Along the way, it even manages to take in funk bass (‘Empty Life’) and an acapella number (‘Acapella’, unsurprisingly enough) with everything topped off by Leslie Ball’s unusual, rather throaty vocal style (which would be much better suited to either country or heavy rock music). Finally, it appears to be some sort of concept piece, with the sometimes quite vitriolic lyrics concerning the break-up of a relationship. For all that, I don’t particularly like it and there’s nothing very impressive in the way of songwriting. GRADE: C.

Kari Rueslåtten (Norway): Demo Recordings (No label KR PR CD1, CD, 1995)
Kari Rueslåtten (lead vocals, keyboards)
Very different from her previous bands Storm and Third & The Mortal, this collection of home demos comprises folky singer/songwriter material. With rather thin backing, mainly from synthesisers and drum machines, the songs could at a push be compared to artists like Kate Bush or Enya, without really sounding like either of them. There are also some ethnic touches and a few progressive tinges, but like most demo albums it all sounds a bit unfinished. When the minuscule original pressing sold out, the disc was reissued two years later. GRADE: C+.
Kari Rueslåtten (Norway): Spindelsinn (Columbia COL 487304 2, CD, 1997)
Kari Rueslåtten (lead vocals, piano)
The orchestrated ballad ‘Agatha’ is nothing short of stunning, but mostly this is in a similar (decidedly folky, vaguely ethnic, somewhat poppy, partly electronic) vein to its predecessor. Another highpoint is the dark, atmospheric ‘Trollferd’, but this is a pleasant album throughout. GRADE: C+.
Kari Rueslåtten (Norway): Mesmerized (Columbia COL 492596 2, CD, 1998)
Kari Rueslåtten (lead vocals, guitar, keyboards, programming)
Rueslåtten’s third solo album ups the pop quotient considerably, adding strong trip-hop elements into the mix. Although unashamedly commercial, this contains some really outstanding songs with poignantly beautiful melodies. For some reason, this is a rare record and difficult to obtain, although all her other solo LPs turn up easily enough. GRADE: C+.
Kari Rueslåtten (Norway): Pilot (Peach Music PEACHCD001, CD, Sweden, 2002)
Kari Rueslåtten (lead vocals, keyboards, programming)
Marking a partial change of direction, this is far more oriented towards trip-hop, electronic and ambient music. Much of it isn’t terribly exciting, although in fairness it’s quite atmospheric, but it does improve as it progresses, with ‘Smile In Your Sleep’ and the folky title track being especially good. GRADE: C+.
Kari Rueslåtten (Norway): Other People’s Stories (Peach Music PEACHCD006, CD, Sweden, 2004)
Kari Rueslåtten (lead vocals)
Like its predecessor, this borrows heavily from trip-hop and electronica, although there are strong rock elements as well. With an atmospheric and catchy set of songs, it’s a definite step up and a consistently solid record. GRADE: C+.

Kari Rueslåtten (Norway): Time To Tell (Despota DZCD0040, CD, with gatefold minisleeve and booklet, Sweden, 2014)
Kari Rueslåtten (lead vocals, piano)
Rueslåtten’s first album in ten years is an enjoyable set of delicate songs, with ambient, folky and subtly jazzy edges. At times she resembles Kate Bush (though without any of the experimental elements), with some cuts featuring genuinely beautiful melody lines. A remake of Third & The Mortal’s ‘Why So Lonely?’ features Nightwish’s Tuomas Holopainen on keyboards. GRADE: C+.

Kari Rueslåtten (Norway): Silence Is The Only Sound (Øra Fonogram OF19, CD, 2017)
Kari Rueslåtten (lead vocals)
Like her earlier solo ventures, this is melodic, richly arranged, well recorded and beautifully crafted. But whilst it soars in all the right places and clearly demonstrates her high level of talent, it doesn’t really demonstrate any individual vision. GRADE: C+.

See also Storm, Third & The Mortal

Ruffwood Arts (UK): Knights And Villeins (Liverpool Sound LS 1529 LP, with insert, 1972)
Bessie Long (joint lead vocals), Sandy Balmer (joint lead vocals, autoharp), Dy Swindlehurst (occasional vocals), Sandra Pickersgill (occasional vocals)
This is basically Swindlefolk under another name, though musically it’s rather different from their earlier work. Offering delicate, haunting acoustic versions of material like Steeleye Span’s ‘A Calling-On Song’, Fairport Convention’s ‘Who Knows Where The Time Goes?’ and Pentangle’s ‘Let No Man Steal Your Thyme’, this often reminds me of an unplugged Beggars’ Hill, though it’s more consistent. Only a couple of copies have resurfaced thus far, only one of which has its original oversized sleeve (with a hand-pasted photograph on the front) and insert. GRADE: B–.
See also Swindlefolk

Rum Culls (Australia): Rum Culls (EMI Custom Records YPRX-2052, with insert, 1983)
Kathy Bluff (violin, backing vocals)
This rare private pressing offers superb electric folk with some progressive edges, influenced by Full House-era Fairport Convention. With barely any weak moments, this easily equals the best folk/rock produced anywhere in the world during the eighties. GRADE: B.

Inga Rumpf (West Germany): Second-Hand Mädchen (Philips 6305 279, 1975)
Inga Rumpf (lead vocals)
This is very similar to Frumpy’s Get On Board, released the same year, except that Rumpf writes all the songs, it has lots of horns (adding a bit of an Ike & Tina Turner R&B vibe) and, unusually for her, it’s all in German. The six-and-a-half minute ‘Mallorca’ is a bit different, having a dreamy, almost psychedelic feel and some electronically treated vocals. Whilst not brilliant, this is probably the best of her solo albums. GRADE: C+.
Inga Rumpf (West Germany): My Life Is A Boogie (RCA PL 28321, 1977)
Inga Rumpf (lead vocals, guitar)
Rumpf’s second solo LP is a much more stripped-down, guitar-based affair, with the lady herself handling the arrangements and production as well as writing all the songs. There are hints of a new wave sound here, perhaps because it was recorded in London, but this is very much in the classic rock mould (‘Hideaway’ sounds uncannily similar to contemporaneous Eric Clapton). With music this unambitious, it would have taken truly great songs to lift the record above the ordinary, and Rumpf didn’t manage a single one – but at least the guitar work is first-rate. GRADE: C.
Inga Rumpf (West Germany): I Know Who I Am (RCA PL 28401, with insert, 1979)
Inga Rumpf (lead vocals, guitar)
Rumpf writes only half the songs here, but this is a solid mainstream rock album with some catchy hooklines and good musicianship and production. Even her cover of the Police’s ‘Roxanne’ (a frankly bizarre choice) works well. GRADE: C+.
Inga Rumpf (West Germany): Reality (RCA PL 28465, with inner, 1981)
Inga Rumpf (lead vocals, guitar)
Rumpf’s fourth solo album offered a mixture of hard rock and new wave influences, with stripped-down arrangements featuring dual electric guitars, bass and drums. This approach could have worked if she’d written some interesting songs, but the material here is resolutely pedestrian. However, Tina Turner clearly disagreed, as she covered ‘I Wrote A Letter’ as a B-side, which must have brought Rumpf a tidy sum of cash. GRADE: C.
Inga Rumpf & Der Bund (West Germany): Lieben. Leiden. Leben. (Pläne 88349, with inner, 1984)
Inga Rumpf (lead vocals)
Reflecting the era, this has a very dated eighties sound, with lots of synthesisers and prominent drumming. Despite some reasonable songs, it’s rather a waste of the talent involved, especially since Manfred Rürup of the excellent Tomorrow’s Gift co-produces and plays keyboards. This was Rumpf’s first album since Second Hand Mädchen to feature German lyrics. GRADE: C.
Inga Rumpf (West Germany): II=I (Pläne 88467, with inner, 1985)
Inga Rumpf (lead vocals)
As quintessentially eighties as its predecessor, this is exactly the kind of soulful pop that similar throaty-voiced artists (Tina Turner, Rod Stewart) were cutting at the time. Oddly, the funky ‘I Love You So’ bears more than a passing resemblance to contemporaneous Talking Heads. Rumpf has enough class as a songwriter that the album is far from unlistenable, but it’s also far from interesting or creative.

Joja Wendt Trio Featuring Inga Rumpf (West Germany): Cookin’ (Glamour 933, CD, Austria, 1992)
Inga Rumpf (lead vocals)
Why Inga Rumpf gets star billing here is beyond me, as she sings only two of the twelve tracks (‘Fever’ and ‘Unchain My Heart’), with the rest being instrumental piano-led jazz. Mixing covers with a few originals by Joja Wendt, it’s a very pleasant and relaxing set. GRADE: C+.
Inga Rumpf & NDR Big Band (Germany): It’s A Man’s Man’s World (Extra 800 600, CD, 1993)
Inga Rumpf (lead vocals)
Recorded both live and in the studio in 1988 and 1993, this enjoyable set evenly mixes Rumpf originals and covers. Despite the presence of the NDR Big Band, it’s not really jazzy, offering Rumpf’s usual bluesy rock with lots more horns. This is easily her best solo album since her debut eighteen years previously. GRADE: C+.
Inga Rumpf & Joja Wendt (Germany): Fifty Fifty (Merkton MERKTONCD876 680, CD, 1994)
Inga Rumpf (lead vocals)
An album of trad jazz and borderline rock and roll covers isn’t normally my kind of thing, but this is done amazingly well, with Rumpf in fantastic voice throughout. GRADE: C+.
NDR Bigband Featuring Inga Rumpf (Germany): The Spirit Of Jimi Hendrix (NDR 11542, CD, 1995)
Inga Rumpf (lead vocals)
If you ever wanted to hear languid, big-band jazz versions of numerous Hendrix classics, here’s your chance. In fairness, it’s a mildly interesting venture, but Rumpf and her colleagues don’t really bring much to the material, and I can’t see anybody preferring their takes over the originals. GRADE: C+.
Inga Rumpf (Germany): In The 25th Hour (Nullviemull HH 9602-2, CD, with digipak, 1996)
Inga Rumpf (lead vocals, guitar)
The opening cover of ‘Undercover Agent For The Blues’ is excellent blues/rock, but most of the rest is self-penned jazz with lots of horns. It’s all very tastefully done, with well-judged backing from the Joja Wendt Quartet, but despite the disc’s evident quality it’s pretty low on excitement. GRADE: C.

Inga Rumpf & Joja Wendt Quartet (Germany): At Lloyd’s (Lloyd CD 9706, CD, with digipak, 1997)
Inga Rumpf (lead vocals, guitar, piano)
This live set of jazz and blues (mostly covers, but including a few Rumpf originals) finds her in excellent voice. There’s nothing to fault in the backing either, with excellent performances from every member of the quartet, but I’d still prefer to hear her singing rock, or better still prog. GRADE: C+.
Inga Rumpf & Lovetrain At Lloyds Germany): The Power Of Gospel (Lloyd CD 9807, CD, with digipak, 1998)
Inga Rumpf (principal vocals), Konstanze Arens (occasional vocals), Cina Sustrate (occasional vocals), Petra Schlechter (occasional vocals)
The title says it all, really: this is Rumpf’s stab at gospel, following immediately from her unexpected venture into metal with Rockship. With just piano backing the vocal group, this has nothing whatsoever to do with rock of any kind, but it’s beautifully done and excellently showcases Rumpf’s soulful singing. GRADE: C+.
Inga Rumpf (Germany): Walking In The Light (BMG 74321 70044 2, CD, 1999)
Inga Rumpf (lead vocals)
The album opens with a dreadful remake of ‘How The Gipsy Was Born’, but everything else is new and pretty decent, as mainstream gospel rock goes. Unfortunately, the same can’t be said for the production, which draws from hip-hop and everything else that was trendy at the time, making the disc sound terribly dated today. GRADE: C–.
Inga Rumpf (Germany): Live Im Michel (25th Hour Music 012004TFH, CD, 2004)
Inga Rumpf (principal vocals), Nermin Gönenc (occasional vocals), Lisa Cash (occasional vocals), Linda Fields (occasional vocals)
This live set, which concentrates exclusively on soulful and gospel material, confirms my impression that Walking In The Light contained some fine songs. Here they’re executed with more traditional rock instrumentation to great effect, though the handful of songs by other writers (including some solo showcases for the backing singers, one of whom was the Rattles’ Linda Fields) aren’t quite as good. Nonetheless, this is a solid set, and for once doesn’t include yet another version of ‘How The Gipsy Was Born’. GRADE: C+.
Inga Rumpf (Germany): Easy In My Soul (25th Hour Music 012005TFH, CD, 2005)
Inga Rumpf (lead vocals, guitar)
Radically different from its high-tech studio predecessor, this is stripped-down bluesy and jazzy rock with an authentic, traditional feel. It’s nice stuff throughout, demonstrating Rumpf’s vocal and songwriting chops to good effect. GRADE: C+.
Inga Rumpf & Friends (Germany): Get Rolling Stoned (25th Hour Music 40058, CDR, 2007, recorded 2005)
Inga Rumpf (joint lead vocals, guitar)
As the title of this ‘official bootleg’ makes clear, it consists entirely of performances of Rolling Stones numbers. They’re a natural fit for Rumpf, and the result is a thoroughly enjoyable mainstream guitar rock LP. GRADE: C+.
Inga Rumpf & Friends (Germany): Worpswede Music Hall 24.03.2007 (25th Hour Music 40049, CDR, 2007)
Inga Rumpf (lead vocals, guitar)
Also from Rumpf’s ‘official bootleg’ series, this has excellent sound quality and a fine mix of Frumpy, Atlantis and solo numbers. In most cases, the performances don’t match the studio originals, with a lighter and more playful feel, but this is a solid set throughout. GRADE: C+.
Inga Rumpf (Germany): Theaterhaus, Stuttgart 13.04.2007 (25th Hour Music, double CDR, 2007)
Inga Rumpf (lead vocals, guitar)
Another ‘live bootleg’ instalment, this offers a good cross-section of material, with bluesier numbers during the first set and favourites from her back catalogue during the second. Enjoyable as it is, it does underline that her best songs were now at least thirty years in the past. GRADE: C+.
Inga Rumpf & Friends (Germany): At Rockpalast (Inakustik INAK 6304-1 DVD, DVD, with booklet, 2007)
Inga Rumpf (lead vocals, guitar, piano, tambourine)
Given Rumpf’s patchy solo career, it’s amazing how good this is: mixing Frumpy, Atlantis and solo numbers, Rumpf turns in a superb set of high-energy blues/rock. As usual, the highpoint is ‘How The Gipsy Was Born’, in this case with a virtuoso organ performance from her old Frumpy and Atlantis colleague Jean-Jacques Kravetz. Bonuses include a backstage interview (in German), a photo gallery and a few songs from a more intimate and jazzy show aboard a ship, completing a very accomplished package. GRADE: B–.
Inga Rumpf & Friends (Germany): At Rockpalast (Inakustik INAK 9078 CD, CD, 2007)
Inga Rumpf (lead vocals, guitar, piano, tambourine)
The CD version of the Rockpalast show captures nearly the entire set and preserves the magic as well as its DVD equivalent. With Rumpf delivering such a fine performance on stage, it’s a great pity that none of her studio work since the mid-seventies reached the same heights. GRADE: B–.
Inga Rumpf & Friends (Germany): Rohrmeisterei, Schwerte 15.11.2007 (25th Hour Music 40059-1/2, double CDR, 2007)
Inga Rumpf (lead vocals, guitar)
With an identical set list and running order to the Theaterhaus, Stuttgart show, this is another fine live retrospective, with excellent sound quality. GRADE: C+.
Inga Rumpf & NDR Big Band/NDR Radiophilharmonie (Germany): Radio Love (Edel 0208395CTT, triple CD, with gatefold minisleeve, 2012, recorded 1989-1995)
Inga Rumpf (lead vocals)
Not a new album, this is a repackage of It’s A Man’s Man’s World and The Spirit Of Jimi Hendrix, along with Radio Love itself – a ten-track disc of orchestrated covers of standards recorded by Rumpf and the NDR Philharmonie in 1989 and 1990. I can’t say I particularly wanted to hear her cover material like ‘Body And Soul’, ‘The Man I Love’ and ‘Stormy Weather’, but she’s in great voice and does it beautifully. GRADE: C+.
Inga Rumpf (Germany): White Horses (Edel: Content 0208574CTT, double, 2013)
Inga Rumpf (lead vocals, guitar)
Only released as an expensive audiophile double LP (with admittedly excellent sound quality), this intimate show sees Rumpf backed by a bassist and keyboardist. Concentrating on recent material and a few covers, it’s an enjoyable set that showcases her world-weary voice to the full. GRADE: C+.

Inga Rumpf Featuring KKNF (Germany): Fabrik, Hamburg 21.11.2014 (25th Hour Music 012015FTH, double CDR, 2015)
Inga Rumpf (principal vocals, guitar)
This live double album graphically illustrates the dichotomy behind Inga Rumpf. She’s in great voice, the band are on fine form, and you start thinking that you couldn’t wish for a better album of good-natured blues/rock. Then they play ‘How The Gipsy Was Born’, then you remember how wonderful Frumpy and early Atlantis were, and then you recognise how far she’s fallen. GRADE: C+.

Inga Rumpf (Germany): Universe Of Dreams (Ear Music 0216920EMU, double CD, with digipak and booklet, 2021)
Inga Rumpf (lead vocals, guitar, keyboards, tambourine, programming)
Universe Of Dreams is Rumpf’s best solo album – and probably the best thing she has done since the mid-seventies full stop – with a procession of wistful, tuneful songs that are beautifully arranged and steeped in atmosphere. The bonus disc Hidden Tracks appears to comprise re-recordings of old numbers and is also pretty good, if not quite the equal of the main event. GRADE: C+.

See also Atlantis, City Preachers, Frumpy, ID Company, Rockship, SOUL 50 Voices' Groove

Runaway Totem (Italy): Trimegisto (Black Widow BWR CD 004-2, CD, 1993)
Ana Tores Fraile (occasional vocals)
The most complimentary way to describe this zeuhl album – harder rocking, more electronic and less jazzy than the Magma template – would be to say that it delivers constant surprises. More cynically, one could describe it as a collection of weird vignettes that don’t add up to a cohesive LP. The truth is somewhere in the middle: there’s plenty of interesting music here, but it all adds up to slightly less than the sum of its parts. GRADE: C+.

Runaway Totem (Italy): Zed (Black Widow BWRCD 013-2, CD, 1996)
Susanna Villanova (occasional vocals)
Following their interesting but inconsistent debut, Runaway Totem finally come roaring out of the traps with Zed, an ambitious set comprising just two pieces of 22½ and 26½ minutes. Emphasising the metal elements inherent in Magma’s stentorian sound, guitarist Roberto Gottardi delivers some aggressive power chords and wild fuzz soloing, especially on ‘Mnar’. If the album has a failing, it’s that their lack of budget means the sometimes thin sound doesn’t reflect the majesty of the music, but this becomes less of a problem as the album progresses – pun very definitely intended. GRADE: B–.
Runaway Totem (Italy): Manu Menes (Runaway Totem GMG 01002, CD, 2009)
Moira Dusatti (joint lead vocals)
After several albums with an all-male line-up, Runaway Totem return with this much more mature effort. The three long pieces, totalling more than 72 minutes, run the full gamut of zeuhl styles, from the darkness and minimalism of Shub-Niggurath to the full-on bombast of early Eskaton or Magma in live MDK mode. It’s impressive stuff, but it’s also a touch ponderous in parts and they’re still less than the sum of their influences – this is never as good as Shub-Niggurath or early Eskaton, let alone peak Magma. GRADE: B–.
Runaway Totem (Italy): Ai Cancell Dell’ Ombra (Runaway Totem GMG 01003, CD, 2010, recorded 1994)
Ana Torres Fraile (principal vocals)
Although released in 2010, this was recorded in 1994, so it reflects Runaway Totem’s earlier metal-tinged style. On the one hand, the music here is relentlessly intense and powerful, driven by slashing fuzz guitar and Ana Torres Fraile’s operatic vocals. On the other, it’s just too relentless and eventually becomes wearing, not helped by the rather thin drum sound. GRADE: C+.
Runaway Totem (Italy): Le Roi Du Monde (Runaway Totem GMG 01004, CD, with poster booklet, 2011)
Moira Dusatti (principal vocals)
This is where Runaway Totem’s bombast met the Loudness Wars, but mastering choices notwithstanding, this is probably their best – epic, experimental, bold and varied. For sure, it’s a bit ponderous in parts and some of the diversions – everything from Ligeti-style vocals to jazz-fusion vibraphone – work better than others, but I’ll always take an album with too many ideas in preference to one with too few. 

Runaway Totem (Italy): Viaggio Magico (Runaway Totem GMG 01006, double CD, 2014)
Antonella Bertini (joint lead vocals)
Whilst earlier Runaway Totem releases ranged from not bad to very good, they frequently suggested that the band had a truly great album in them. This live double is that album. Largely leaving zeuhl band, its lengthy songs and improvisations straddle jazz-fusion and pure avant-gardism to superb effect, and the results are constantly surprising and often inspiring. GRADE: B.

See also Universal Totem Orchestra

Ruphus (Norway): New Born Day (Polydor 2381 037, with poster, 1973)
Gudny Aspaas (joint lead vocals)
This classic riff-driven heavy progressive album takes most of its influences from British bands like Uriah Heep or Deep Purple. Ruphus prove themselves to be both great songwriters and musicians, with the brilliant opener ‘Coloured Dreams’ particularly standing out. Some versions of the CD include their absolutely superb debut single ‘Flying Dutchman Fantasy’ (which sounds like Abba gone progressive) and its instrumental B-side ‘Opening Theme’. GRADE: B.
Ruphus (Norway): Let Your Light Shine (Brain 60.031, West Germany, 1976)
Gudny Aspaas (lead vocals)
Album number three (their second Ranshart featured all-male vocals whilst Gudny Aspaas took a break) is completely unrecognisable compared to New Born Day. Surprisingly, this is slick jazz-fusion with wordless vocals and a rather cheesy seventies feel. Despite high calibre musicianship, this is a very generic-sounding record and a huge disappointment after their powerful debut. GRADE: C+.
Ruphus (Norway): Inner Voice (Brain 60.060, West Germany, 1977)
Sylvi Lillegaard (lead vocals)
They may have changed vocalist, but the style remains the same: slick, rather sterile jazz-fusion with good riffs and playing but not much in the way of substance. GRADE: C+.
Ruphus (Norway): Flying Colours (Brain 0060.108, West Germany, 1978)
Sylvi Lillegaard (lead vocals, percussion)
I like this better than their last couple of albums, as it’s a bit livelier and more rocking. There’s still nothing outstanding on offer, but ‘The Rivulet’ has some excellent violin work, whilst ‘Moody Moments’ is a nice mellow suite. Cuts from the two Sylvi Lillegaard albums were compiled as Hot Rhythms And High Notes. GRADE: C+.
Ruphus (Norway): Manmade (Brain 0060.175, West Germany, 1979)
Gudny Aspaas (lead vocals)
Their final album tones down the jazz-fusion elements, offering dreamy sympho-prog and light funky rock of a reasonable standard. In another odd line-up change, Gudny Aspaas returned for a second time; presumably this was a last-minute substitution, since all the lyrics were written by Sylvi Lillegaard. Following the band’s break-up, Aspaas released an obscure solo album Snapshots; she also represented Norway in the Eurovision Song Contest on four separate occasions. GRADE: C+.
Ruphus (Norway): Coloured Dreams And Hidden Schemes (Polydor 529 743-2, double CD, 1996, recorded 1973-1980)
Gudny Aspaas (joint lead vocals), Sylvia Lillegaard (joint lead vocals)
This retrospetive double set features previously released material on the first disc (from the band’s six albums plus the ‘Flying Dutchman Fantasy’ single) and nine unreleased recordings on the second. Sadly, none date from the band’s fantastic early period, starting from 1975 (three demos for Let Your Light Shine) and ending with one post-Manmade instrumental from 1980. The compilation itself (Coloured Dreams) is solid, even if the abrupt change of style (and radical drop in quality) after Ranshart is jarring; the unreleased material (Hidden Schemes) is as good as any of their later official product. GRADE: C+.
See also Gudny Aspaas

Larry Russell Family (USA): Heaven’s Reservation (Beatty 8106, 1975?)
Country/MOR/‘Incredibly Strange Music’
Betty Russell, Leri Lee Russell, Evangeline Russell, Hopsti Russell
Jim Reeves-style MOR country from a Asian-American family working as missionaries to Native Americans, including one member who looks borderline retarded on the cover. Musically this is too safe and proficient to be very exciting, but given the monstrous kiddie vocals on some cuts, backstory and sleeve it could certainly be of interest to ‘real people’ collectors. GRADE: D.

Ruth’s Refrigerator (UK): Suddenly A Disfigured Head Parachuted (Madagascar MADA 012, with insert, Belgium, 1990)
Ruth Miller (joint lead vocals, guitar), Blodwyn P Teabag (keyboards)
This particular incarnation of the Deep Freeze Mice/Chrysanthemums/Creams is at the straighter and poppier end of the collective’s range, though there’s a nice acid-rock freakout on side two. It’s all enjoyable stuff – sunny, naïve and playful, with a beautiful sleeve – but I definitely prefer them at their more experimental. GRADE: C+.
Ruth’s Refrigerator (UK): A Lizard Is A Submarine On Grass (Madagascar MADA 020, Belgium, 1991)
Ruth Miller (joint lead vocals, guitar, vibraphone), Blodwyn P Teabag (keyboards, sampler, stylophone, backing vocals)
Like their first, the second and final Ruth’s Refrigerator album has a strong pop/rock bias, so it was never going to figure among my favourite albums from the Alan Jenkins stable. Nonetheless, it’s pleasant enough, and quite diverse too – they even throw in a drum solo. Oddly, the CD version contains entirely different recordings and is very much longer, and is perhaps marginally more satisfying, though there isn’t really much in it. GRADE: C+.

See also Creams, Alan Jenkins & The Thurston Lava Tube

Collie Ryan (USA): The Giving Tree (Colorado River Gold Mining Company CRGMC-1, 1973)
Collie Ryan (lead vocals, guitar)
The back cover describes this as ‘new age sounds’ but it’s straightforward folky singer/songwriter fare with simple acoustic guitar backing. Her vocal and songwriting style falls somewhere between Joan Baez and early Joni Mitchell, so this isn’t exactly groundbreaking stuff, but it has a charming naïveté and she has a beautiful voice and considerable composing talent. GRADE: C+.
Collie Ryan (USA): Indian Harvest (Colorado River Gold Mining Company CRGMC-2, 1973)
Collie Ryan (lead vocals, guitar)
Since Ryan’s three albums were issued (and almost certainly recorded) simultaneously, it’s hardly surprising that there’s no difference between them. Like her debut, this offers lovely acoustic folk with some charmingly melodic material, and once again showcases her beautiful voice to great effect. GRADE: C+.
Collie Ryan (USA): Takin’ Your Turn ’Round The Corner Of Day (Colorado River Gold Mining Company CRGMC-3, 1973)
Collie Ryan (lead vocals, guitar)
Instalment three features the same strengths and weaknesses as its predecessors: beautiful singing, lovely melodies, unchanging simple instrumentation and a rather serious atmosphere that some may find too precious. Nonetheless I really enjoy her albums, which are far superior to those of many singer/songwriters who hit the big time. The three discs were reissued as a beautiful packaged triple CD set (with minisleeves, inserts, a booklet, a slipcase and an obi) called The Rainbow Records on the South Korean Bella Terra label (BTR0042, 2009).


Pete Ryder & Sian Harry (UK): On Our Way Home (Profile GMOR 166, with booklet, 1978)
Sian Harry (joint lead vocals, guitar, piano)
Pete Ryder and Sian Harry had previously been members of Cair Paravel, and before that Ryder was the prime mover behind Paradise Square. Like those two bands’ albums, this is pretty inconsistent, with some excellent tracks and a fair amount of filler. However, although this is equally rare, it does not sell for many hundreds of pounds like their earlier works. GRADE: C.

Ryesingers (UK): Ryesingers (Midland Sound Recordings MSRS 1411, 1973?)
This is a marginal case for review, essentially consisting of classical music performed by a folk choir. However, it’s often quite similar to the Farnham Singers album, which has found some favour with collectors, and in fact duplicates one song (‘Summer Is Icumen In’). For those who like the kind of thing, this is a charming LP,, with some fine singing and accompaniment. GRADE: C+.
See also Cair Paravel

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