San-Sax

Sandalwood (UK): Changeling (SRT 71136, 1971?)
Singer/Songwriter/Folk
Viv, Phil
This female duo offer lovely self-penned acoustic hippie-folk on their privately pressed album, perfectly capturing the underground early seventies ambience. Side two’s haunting opener ‘Once There Was A Time’ is especially haunting, though this is lovely throughout, with excellent harmonies and well-judged backing from acoustic guitars, bass and mandolin. Despite the short running time (seven songs and an instrumental in around 25 minutes), this is among the most expensive UK private pressings, selling for well into four figures. GRADE: C+.

Hope Sandoval & The Warm Inventions (USA/Ireland): Bavarian Fruit Bread (Sanctuary 06076-83201-2, with digipak and booklet,

UK, 2001)
Folk/Rock/Psychedelic
Hope Sandoval (lead vocals, guitar, keyboards, glockenspiel, harmonica)
The Mazzy Star vocalist’s breakaway band essentially comprises herself plus My Bloody Valentine drummer Colm Ó Ciosóig playing most of the instruments, with a variety of guests (including Bert Jansch) helping out. The album doesn’t resemble My Bloody Valentine at all, but it is exactly like a compilation of all the folkier numbers from Mazzy Star, with the fuzz-pop removed. As such, it’s beautiful, haunting and quite mesmerising, but somewhat lacking in variety. GRADE: B–.

Hope Sandoval & The Warm Inventions (USA): Through The Devil Softly (Nettwerk 0 6700 30848 2 6, CD, with digipak, 2009)
Folk/Rock/Psychedelic
Hope Sandoval, Suki Ewers
This was released eight years after the first Warm Inventions album, but it doesn’t represent any kind of an artistic step forward. Nonetheless, Sandoval is very gifted at what she does, and this is another album of exceptional beauty and fragility. GRADE: B–.

Hope Sandoval & The Warm Inventions (USA/Ireland): Until The Hunter (Tendril Tales TT 03, CD, with digipak, USA, 2016)
Folk/Rock/Psychedelic
Hope Sandoval (principal vocals, keyboards, vibraphone)
Dreamy, blessed-out, melodic, melancholic… any review of an album involving Hope Sandoval almost writes itself. But this album is surprisingly varied too, though just about every song deserves most (if not all) of the adjectives above. GRADE: B–.
See also Mazzy Star

Sandrose (France): Sandrose (Polydor 2393 030, 1972)
Progressive
Rose Laurens (lead vocals)
This classic French progressive album mostly has a soft, dreamy sound with stately tempos and lots of organ and Mellotron. However, they can be dramatic too (the opening ‘Vision’, which strongly resembles early Ruphus without the bluesy and jazzy edges). They also add a long instrumental jam ‘Underground Session (Chorea)’ that works very well. The best cut is probably the haunting and slightly eerie ballad ‘Old Dom Is Dead’, which demonstrates Rose Laurens’s vocals to excellent effect. Laurens (credited here as ‘Rose Podwojny’) later went on to a successful solo career. GRADE: B–.
See also Rose Laurens

Sands Of Time (USA): The Sands Of Time (Sands Of Time 2000, 1975?)
Folk/Country/Rock
Nancy Thrasher (joint lead vocals, piano)
The opening ‘It Ain’t Real’ is an excellent uptempo pop/rock number built around a catchy electric piano riff, but it’s not typical of the album. The remainder is delicate folk/rock and country/rock with singer/songwriter edges and a rather middle-of-the-road feel. Nonetheless the songwriting is impressive throughout and the album is beautifully arranged and very well recorded, so it’s well worth hearing. The penultimate Bob Dylan cover is inevitably a minor lowpoint (although as versions of ‘You Ain’t Goin’ Nowhere’ go, this is more than serviceable) but the album probably peaks with the final track: the stunningly beautiful and melancholy ‘And Life Goes On’. GRADE: C+.

Sandstone (USA): Can You Mend A Silver Thread? (No label SA 2911, 1971)
Folk
Laurie Braunstein (joint lead vocals, guitar)
Recorded by a trio of teenagers plus a number of guests, this is one of the rarest American private pressings, and has sold for four figures in the past. With a gentle, haunting, classically-tinged sound, complete with occasional harpsichord and strings, it sounds more British than American and sometimes recalls outfits like Shide & Acorn. With rock elements appearing only sparingly, it’s perhaps a little overly sweet, but it’s beautifully done, with excellent original songs, superb arrangements and fine harmonies. GRADE: B–.

Véronique Sanson (France): Véronique Sanson (Elektra 42106, with insert, 1972)
Singer/Songwriter
Véronique Sanson (lead vocals, piano)
Sanson’s sixties releases (two EPs with her band Les Roches Martins plus one solo 45) barely hinted at her potential; her first album (generally known as Amoureuse but originally untitled) made it abundantly clear. The pre-eminent female singer/songwriter in the francophone world, she was every bit as talented as Joni Mitchell but with a completely different style: more refined, more sensual and less folky. The LP is dominated by her beautiful singing and sensitive piano playing, with well-judged rock arrangements and a typically dramatic French seventies production (similar to Catherine Lara’s contemporary work, though only ‘Vert Vert Vert’ really resembles her). The opening ‘Amoureuse’ remains her best-known song and one of her finest, but this is an accomplished set throughout and a strong artistic statement. GRADE: B–.
Véronique Sanson (France): De L’Autre Côté De Mon Rêve (Elektra F52 003, with insert, 1972)
Singer/Songwriter
Véronique Sanson (lead vocals, piano)
Even shorter than her first album (which ran for 28 minutes), Sanson’s second totals just 26, though it includes a full ten songs (one of which lasts a whole 20 seconds). However, every moment is made to count and this is as good a singer/songwriter set as anyone could ask for, peaking on the haunting and beautiful ‘Une Nuit Sur Son Épaule’. As with her first, this was recorded with top French sessionmen (most of whom also worked with Catherine Lara) and it has the indefinable atmosphere of early seventies French music in spades. GRADE: B–.
Véronique Sanson (France): Le Maudit (Elektra 52008, with booklet, 1974)
Singer/Songwriter
Véronique Sanson (lead vocals, guitar, piano)
Sanson’s first album to be recorded in the States, with top American musicians (including husband Stephen Stills on one song) is her first with a normal running time. It’s also by far her best. Opening with the bossa nova-flavoured ‘Alia Souza’ and closing with the surprisingly effective rocker ‘On M’Attend Là-Bas’, it covers a broad range of territory and takes in two of her most beautiful songs, ‘Christopher’ and ‘Un Peu Plus De Noir’. More than forty years on, Le Maudit stands as proof positive that Sanson could hold her own with any singer/songwriter the USA or UK ever produced. GRADE: B.
Véronique Sanson (France): Vancouver (Elektra 52031, 1976)
Singer/Songwriter
Véronique Sanson (lead vocals, piano)
Despite the title, this was recorded in London with mostly British musicians; and despite running for little more than half an hour, it’s only a tiny notch below its illustrious predecessor. The best numbers are probably the richly mellifluous title track and the beautiful, folky ‘Une Maison Après La Mienne’, written by her sister Violaine. GRADE: B.

Véronique Sanson (France): Live At The Olympia (Elektra 62 018, double, 1976)
Singer/Songwriter
Véronique Sanson (lead vocals, guitar, piano)
Music as carefully arranged as Sanson’s was never likely to work as well on stage as on record, and the rocked-up versions of her songs on her first live album aren’t a patch on the studio originals. Nonetheless, despite a slightly perfunctory feel (not helped by the obvious editing, which runs the songs together and removes any between-songs announcements) this is a good overview of the first part of her career, with an impressive track listing. GRADE: B–.
Véronique Sanson (France): Hollywood (Elektra 52 063, 1977)
Singer/Songwriter
Véronique Sanson (lead vocals, piano)
Sanson’s fifth studio album was recorded in Los Angeles, and unfortunately sounds like it – at least half the tracks feature some combination of funky rhythms, staccato horns, disco-ish strings and lush backing vocals. Indeed, opener ‘Bernard’s Song (Il N’est De Nulle Part)’ is full-blown funky disco, and must have been the inspiration behind Catherine Lara’s similar ‘Coup D’Feel’. Also, the quality of her songwriting seems to have nosedived, though it’s frequently hard to tell. GRADE: C+.
Véronique Sanson (France): 7ème (Elektra 52 180, with inner, 1979)
Singer/Songwriter
Véronique Sanson (lead vocals, piano)
Like its predecessor, this was recorded in Hollywood, but thankfully the over-the-top production style is mostly gone (though the funky, slick big studio trappings remain). ‘Mi-Maître, Mi-Esclave’ is among Sanson’s better songs, whilst the six-minute instrumental ‘Lerida (Dans La Ville De)’ is an interesting diversion, but the rest is merely good rather than great. GRADE: C+.
Véronique Sanson (France): Laisse-La Vivre (Elektra 52288, with inner, 1981)
Singer/Songwriter
Véronique Sanson (lead vocals, guitar, keyboards, percussion)
This has the polished rock swagger that she failed to achieve on the two previous albums, somewhat resembling Eric Clapton’s eighties work (though Sanson has much better songs and a much better voice). It certainly helps that she wrote some of her best material in years: ‘Monsieur Dupont’, ‘Je Serai Là’ and the title track are sublime, whilst ‘L’Amour Qui Bat’ is a highly effective epic orchestrated ballad. GRADE: B.
Véronique Sanson (France): Au Palais Des Sports (Elektra 62036, double, with inners, 1981)
Singer/Songwriter
Véronique Sanson (lead vocals, guitar, piano)
Sanson’s second live double album suffers from the same problem as her first, with nearly everything being rocked up and covered with prominent horns. However, her new material works better in this guise, and the selection of songs is hard to fault, so this is an impressive live document. GRADE: B.
Véronique Sanson (France): Véronique Sanson (WEA 2292-40658-2, CD, 1985)
Singer/Songwriter
Véronique Sanson (lead vocals, keyboards, percussion)
The opener ‘C’est Long, C’est Court’ is a rather unappealing brassy rocker, but most of the rest varies between Sanson’s trademark ballads and slightly jazzy pop/rock numbers. Synthesisers are used much more heavily than on her previous work, and the whole thing sounds quintessentially eighties. One of my close friends rates this among his all-time favourite albums, but for me it rarely rises above the competent. GRADE: C+.
Véronique Sanson (France): L’Olympia 1985 (WEA 2292-40915-2, CD, 1986)
Singer/Songwriter
Véronique Sanson (lead vocals, piano)
Sanson’s third live album is a fairly basic affair, comprising just 12 songs (with half being taken from the last LP). It’s solid enough, with some decent performances, but it’s certainly not among her more essential releases. GRADE: C+.
Véronique Sanson (France): Moi Le Venin (WEA 2292-44627-2, CD, 1989)
Singer/Songwriter
Véronique Sanson (lead vocals, piano)
The opening ‘Allah’ (whose lyrics attacking radical Islam caused considerable controversy at the time) has the same eighties sound as her last album, but most of the rest is rather more timeless. The songs are better this time round as well, although there’s only one stone cold classic in the irresistibly catchy ‘Paranoïa’. GRADE: C+.

Véronique Sanson (France): À L’Olympia 89 (WEA 2292-46107-2, CD, 1989)
Singer/Songwriter
Véronique Sanson (lead vocals, piano)
Concentrating mainly on recent material, this has the same funky eighties style as her contemporary studio albums. It’s a solid enough set, but like her previous live albums excises all between-songs dialogue so is pretty light on atmosphere. GRADE: C+.
Véronique Sanson (France): Symphonique Sanson (WEA 9031-72139-2, CD, 1990)
Singer/Songwriter
Véronique Sanson (lead vocals, piano)
As the title suggests, this live album sees Sanson accompanied solely by her own piano and a symphony orchestra. It’s an interesting idea and the material is sensibly chosen, making for an accomplished and unusual set. GRADE: B.
Véronique Sanson (France): Symphonique Sanson (Warner Music Vision 9031-72270-3, VHS, 1990)
Singer/Songwriter
Véronique Sanson (lead vocals, piano)
The video version of the set drops a couple of songs but preserves additional between-songs dialogue and adds some backstage and rehearsal footage. It’s not visually spectacular, with Sanson seated at her piano throughout and the orchestra equally static, but the music is still hugely impressive. GRADE: B.

Véronique Sanson (France): Sans Regrets (WEA 9031-77629-2, CD, 1992)
Singer/Songwriter
Véronique Sanson (lead vocals, piano)
Sanson’s best studio album in more than a decade consistently impresses with its well-crafted ballads and soft rockers. Only the funky, rocking ‘Rien Que De L’eau’ has dated badly, whilst the title track, with its rich, gradually swelling orchestrations, is quite sublime. GRADE: B–.

Véronique Sanson (France): Zénith 93 (WEA 4509-94088-2, CD, 1993)
Singer/Songwriter
Véronique Sanson (lead vocals, piano)
The cheesy, funky opening version of ‘Y A Pas De Doute, Il Faut Que Je M’En Aille’ isn’t a good omen; thankfully most of the rest (apart from a techno-tinged version of ‘Bahia’) is better, but due to mediocre performances and less than optimal song choice this isn’t among Sanson’s more interesting live albums. GRADE: C+.
Véronique Sanson (France): Comme Ils L’Imaginent (WEA 0630 10065-2, CD, with book sleeve, 1995)
Singer/Songwriter
Véronique Sanson (joint lead vocals, guitar, piano)
Another day, another live album from Sanson – the wrinkle with this one is that most songs feature her duetting with French male pop stars. The track listing is more attractive than that on Zénith 93 (though this is by no means a ‘greatest hits’ set) and the LP is consistently enjoyable, but none of the versions here is as good as the original. GRADE: C+.
Véronique Sanson (France): Comme Ils L’Imaginent (Warner Music France, VHS, 1995)
Singer/Songwriter
Véronique Sanson (joint lead vocals, guitar, piano)
The video version of the concert has the full show, including five extra songs and all the between-songs announcements. It’s also beautifully filmed, making for an excellent concert document. I still find the basic premise questionable, but this is clearly the version to own, easily outclassing the underwhelming (though very well packaged) CD. GRADE: B–.
Véronique Sanson (France): Indestructible (WEA 3984 22217 2, CD, 1998)
Singer/Songwriter
Véronique Sanson (lead vocals, piano)
Indestructible suggested that all was not well with Sanson: for her first studio album in six years, she managed precisely six new songs, with the remainder being provided by her collaborator Bernard Swell. Musically, it’s a solid album, though her habit of jumping on contemporary musical bandwagons (in this case, cheesy hard rock and RnB stylings) means this has dated worse than most late nineties albums. The best number is probably Swell’s title track, which has a catchy chorus and an infectious swagger. GRADE: C+.
Véronique Sanson (France): D’Un Papillon À Une Étoile (WEA 3984 29167 2, CD, 1999)
Singer/Songwriter
Véronique Sanson (lead vocals, piano)
This is Sanson’s most mainstream singer/songwriter record since the mid-seventies, dropping the hard rock, pop and dance music elements that had characterised her albums for more than two decades. It’s excellent, too, with beautifully judged arrangements and orchestrations – in particular, the powerful guitar solo at the end of ‘Diego, Libre Dans Sa Tête’ immediately seizes the attention. However, there’s a twist: this is a covers album, with everything being penned by the late Michel Berger. The irony is that this is not only a much better album than Indestructible, but also one that sounds much more like classic Sanson. Initial copies purchased through the French chain store FNAC included a bonus track: a version of Françoise Hardy’s ‘Message Personnel’. GRADE: B–.

Véronique Sanson (France): Avec Vous (WEA 8573-84519-2, CD, 2000)
Singer/Songwriter
Véronique Sanson (lead vocals, piano)
Sanson’s umpteenth live album consists entirely of Michel Berger covers and is effectively a companion piece to its studio predecessor. It’s pleasant enough, but lacking the beautifully judged arrangements of the studio set is far from essential listening. GRADE: C+.
Véronique Sanson (France): Longue Distance (WEA 5050467518957, CD plus DVD, 2004)
Singer/Songwriter
Véronique Sanson (lead vocals, piano)
As with her last album of original material, Longue Distance suggests that Sanson was having difficulty writing: it’s not until the eighth song that we find anything she wrote alone. Like her previous covers album, this marks a return to her original seventies singer/songwriter style, and the LP is consistently enjoyable and not at all dated. The bonus DVD mixes promotional videos, interviews and studio footage, running for half an hour. GRADE: C+.
Véronique Sanson (France): Olympia 2005 (Warner Vision France, DVD, with digipak and slipcase, 2005)
Singer/Songwriter
Véronique Sanson (lead vocals, piano)
This beautifully filmed DVD features a lengthy 23-song set spanning Sanson’s entire career. She and her backing band are on top form, with the interpretations being sensitive, dynamic or powerful as required and stage lighting being used to good effect. Extras include a ‘making of’ documentary, biography and discography. GRADE: B.

Véronique Sanson (France): Olympia 2005 (Warner 0825646265350, double CD, with digipak, booklet and insert, 2005)
Singer/Songwriter

Véronique Sanson (lead vocals, piano)
The CD version of the Olympia set loses the between-songs announcements (and obviously the impressive visuals) but the music remains consistently outstanding. Oddly, the double CD version with all 23 tracks was a limited edition, with the standard version being a single CD with 19 songs and a jewel case (Warner 0825646265529). GRADE: B.
Véronique Sanson (France): Plusieurs Lunes (Warner 2564678504, CD, with digipak and booklets, 2010)
Singer/Songwriter
Véronique Sanson (principal vocals, piano)
With Sanson once again contributing the lion’s share of the material, Plusieurs Lunes sees her pushing her musical boundaries: there’s everything from bossa nova to Dixieland jazz to an Arabic-flavoured piece and even an acapella number. However, it sometimes gets too whimsical for its own good, and the constant variety cannot disguise that much of the material is rather uninspired (and, unusually, she’s not in great voice). That said, the bluesy rocker ‘Je Me Fous De Tout’ is rather good and it’s a pity that the closing instrumental ‘Aah… Enfin!’ is less than 90 seconds long. At least it’s beautifully packaged, with a gatefold minisleeve and two separate booklets. GRADE: C+.
Véronique Sanson (France): Le Cirque Royal De Véronique Sanson (Warner 2564658779, DVD, with gatefold minisleeve, 2012)
Singer/Songwriter
Véronique Sanson (lead vocals, piano)
This is a marginal case for inclusion as it was never given a standalone release, being an extra in the deluxe ‘40th anniversary edition’ of Sanson’s first album, now retitled Amoureuse. The set also featured the original album on both CD (horribly remastered, though with 21 bonus tracks) and LP, a double CD of this concert, a booklet and a lithograph, with everything housed in a novelty box that could be folded into a shape of a piano; this in turn was contained in a printed outer carton. The live set has a high level of energy and an attractive track listing, but it’s obvious from the plethora of backing singers and musicians (including a horn section, a violinist and even an accordion player), Sanson’s shameless playing to the crowd and (appropriately enough) circus-like versions of ‘Chanson Sur Ma Drôle De Vie’ and ‘Si Toutes Les Saisons’ that her stage show is getting far too slick for its own good. Oddly, the DVD was packaged in a gatefold minisleeve with the studio CD. GRADE: B–.
Véronique Sanson (France): Le Cirque Royal De Véronique Sanson (Warner 2564658779, double black CD, with oversized gatefold minisleeve, 2012)
Singer/Songwriter
Véronique Sanson (lead vocals, piano)
Attractively packaged as two black vinyl replica CDs in a 7" gatefold sleeve, the CD version of the show (again only available in the Amoureuse boxed set) is more appealing than its DVD counterpart. However, even without the visuals it’s obvious that the material is over-arranged and overly polished, so this could have been a far better set with a little more restraint. GRADE: B–.

Véronique Sanson (France): Dignes, Dingues, Donc… (Piano Blanc 88985377362, CD, with gatefold minisleeve, 2016)
Singer/Songwriter
Véronique Sanson (principal vocals, keyboards)
Half this album is Sanson’s best studio set since 1992’s San Regrets and merits a B–. The other half is whimsical nonsense (old-time jazz, bossa nova, that sort of thing) and doesn’t merit a second listen. Had the limited edition variant with a book sleeve and a 10-minute bonus interview on DVD not been so expensive, I might have bought it to see whether she offered an explanation for including so much fluff. GRADE: C+.

Véronique Sanson (France): Les Années Américaines – Le Film (Piano Blanc 88985323772, Blu-ray plus double CD, with booklet, 2016)
Singer/Songwriter
Véronique Sanson (lead vocals, guitar, piano)
As with her last live video, this is very slick stuff, with Sanson backed by an 11-piece band including a horn section. However, she’s on great form here, performing a greatest hits show spanning her entire career and lasting for nearly two-and-a-half hours. In particular, she rocks out in no uncertain terms on ‘Paranoïa’ and ‘On M’Attends Là-Bas’. If this set confirms anything, it’s just how many truly great songs she has written over the years. GRADE: B.

Véronique Sanson (France): Olympia 1975 (Warner Music France 0825646025848, double, 2017, recorded 1975)
Singer/Songwriter
This was the first standalone release for a February 1975 concert (recorded a few days apart from Live At The Olympia, and featuring a similar, though by no means identical, setlist): the show had previously appeared as a bonus disc to the studio/live compilation Les Années Americaines (Warner Music France 0825646028832, triple CD, with digipak and booklet, 2015). Musically, my opinion to similar to that of Live At The Olympia: great track listing, good performances, zero live ambience (with all the between-songs chatter again removed). GRADE: B–.
Véronique Sanson (France): Duos Volatils (Columbia 19075888272, CD plus DVD, with gatefold minisleeve and booklet, 2018)
Singer/Songwriter
Véronique Sanson (joint lead vocals, piano)
What do you do when you’re a singer/songwriter who’s running out of songs? Start co-writing? Begin including songs written by colleagues on your albums? Issue a set of covers? Finally, settle for re-recording your old material as a series of duos? Here Véronique Sanson reaches the end of that trajectory. Credit where due, the song selection here isn’t too predictable (though the usual suspects are present and correct), and the whole thing confirms her status as one of the all-time great songwriters. What’s more, this is beautifully performed, arranged and produced. The problem is that she didn’t arrange or produce, and barely played her trademark piano. The second problem is that I’d never choose to play these versions in preference to the originals. The third issue is that whilst this reminds me how good she was, I’d love an album that reminds me how good she is. The first pressing included a bonus DVD featuring video versions of three of the songs, whilst a ‘deluxe edition’ was also available with a tote bag, notebook and lithograph. GRADE: B–.

Santa (Argentina): Templario (Chapa ZL-662, with inner, 1986)
Rock/Metal
Leonor Marchesi (lead vocals)
Fronted by the former vocalist of Purpura, Santa offers a slicker and more mainstream brand of rock (despite their very metallic logo). Some of this is AOR rather than hard rock, but there are some solid heavier tracks, though it’s overall a bit too polished for my tastes. GRADE: C+.
See also Purpura

Santa Lucia (Finland): Arktista Hysteriaa (Poko PÄLP 113, with inner, 1990)
Metal/Progressive
Eija Morottaja (lead vocals), Kati Pyykkö (guitar), Outi-Maria Kultalahti (bass), Marianne Mäki (keyboards), Virpi Mattila (drums)
From the front cover photograph, this could be some kind of light classical choral record, but on the inner sleeve the all-female band look more like punks. In fact, this is symphonic metal, wedding a power metal base to lots of ostentatious keyboards, with occasional new wave edges. Whilst not especially original, this is a consistently good album, and I can’t offhand think of another all-female metal band from Finland. GRADE: C+.

Sapphire Thinkers (USA): From Within (Hobbit HB 5003, 1970)
Psychedelic/Folk/Rock
Peggy Richmond (joint lead vocals, flute)
Richly melodic and relaxed, this blends elements of psychedelia and folk/rock on some catchy but rather lightweight songs. Fans of bands such as Art Of Lovin’ and Growing Concern will find much to adore here. GRADE: C+.

Saraband (UK): Close To It All (Folk Heritage FHR 050, 1973)
Folk/Rock/Psychedelic
Barbara Yates (joint lead vocals, percussion, recorder)
Unlike some other Folk Heritage albums, which comfortably command hundreds of pounds, this is relatively cheap and easy to find due to the large pressing of 2000 copies. It is also one of the better releases on the label, being folk/rock rather than traditional folk and containing some fine cuts, with the dreamy eight-minute ‘River’ being especially good. On the downside, a couple of numbers are rather whimsical and throwaway, but mostly this is a very good LP. As a footnote, the band had previously been known as Honeydew and issued an LP on Argo. GRADE: C+.
See also Honeydew, Various ‘The Best From McTavish’s Kitchens’

Sarcasme (France): Mirage (Muséa Parallèle MP 3059 AR, CD, 2006)
Progressive
Marlène Bouchisse (flute, backing vocals)
The numbers bookending the album are heavy rock, but most of the rest is dreamy song-based progressive, with some fine Dave Gilmour-esque guitar work and plenty of flute adding a hazy, almost psychedelic edge. Their style is bluesy (without being blues/rock) and mildly jazzy (without being jazz/rock), with the whole thing having a rather impressionistic feel, adding up to a satisfying yet decidedly inconsequential set. GRADE: C+.
Sarcasme (France): Instinct (Muséa Parallèle MP3252, CD, 2012)
Rock/Metal/Progressive
Marlène Bouchisse (flute, backing vocals)
Album number two comfortably eclipses their tentative debut, concentrating on the heavier end of their repertoire, with an atmospheric early seventies rustic hard rock sound. The flute inevitably invites comparisons with Jethro Tull, and the album as a whole is a highly effective tribute to their favourite era, featuring some great jamming, but I do have a couple of reservations. First, the spoken vocal style adopted on several numbers is simply strange, and secondly the drumming is rather sluggish; in fact, the whole band sounds mildly comatose here and there, though there are also frequent moments of brilliance. GRADE: B–.

Sarah & Melody (USA/Japan): Sound Of Pacific (King SKK(R) 635, multicoloured splatter vinyl, with poster sleeve, insert and printed hard plastic cover, 1970)
Pop/Lounge
Sue Melody Figueira (joint lead vocals), Sahara Fumiko (joint lead vocals)
Cut by a Hawaiian/Japanese duo plus their backing band, this consists of traditional Japanese songs rearranged into a light lounge pop style. Pacific mood, sounding several years earlier than its release date. This is a very rare and expensive record, but it’s more sought-after by exotica than rock collectors, and for its amazing packaging (splatter vinyl and beautiful multicoloured poster sleeve). GRADE: C+.

Sarofeen & Smoke (USA): Do It (GWP ST 2029, 1971)
Psychedelic
Anne Sarofeen (lead vocals)
With quite a bit of fuzz guitar but also some horns, this rather good lightweight acid-rock album bears a resemblance to Spirits & Worm (but at maybe a fiftieth of the price). As a bonus, Anne Sarofeen has a very powerful voice, with a dramatic delivery; it took me a while to figure out whom she reminded me of – curiously, it’s Anna Meek from Catapilla, although the big difference is that Sarofeen can sing in tune. GRADE: C+.
Anne Sarofeen (USA): Love In A Woman’s Heart (GWP ST 2039, 1971)
Blues/Folk/Rock
Very different to her album with Smoke, Sarofeen’s solo set is more stripped-down and haunting, with strong blues and folk influences. Overall it’s more confident and distinctive than its predecessor, and (aside from a cover of George Harrison’s ‘Sour Milk Sea’), all the songs are originals, penned either by Sarofeen or one Larry Stack. GRADE: C+.

Sarry (Japan): φ (Gyuune Cassette CD95–41, CD, with obi, 2008)
Psychedelic
Fuji-Yuki (lead vocals)
According to the liner notes, this was solely recorded using voice and bass, in which case the range of sounds the band managed to achieve is truly remarkable. However, also according to the notes, this is a ‘mini’ album, yet it runs for the best part of an hour. Either way, this is a wonderfully spacy cauldron of sepulchral vocals and echoing effects, and enough happens to place it well above the general run of minimal modern psychedelia. It’s just a little too long, given how formless some of it is, and less would definitely have been more. GRADE: C+.

Sarry (Japan): Ψ (Gyuune Cassette CD95–42, CD, with obi, 2008)
Psychedelic
Fuji-Yuki (lead vocals)
Like its predecessor, this is alternately sepulchral, haunting, neoclassical, percussive and mildly industrial (with perhaps a little more of the latter). It's also sufficiently different from their first to be worth hearing in its own right, though they're very much the yin and yang of one another. Once again, this is billed as a 'mini-album', but it's even longer, running for over an hour, which is not necessarily to its advantage. GRADE: C+.

Sarry (Japan): Roshara (Reverb Worship RW 143, CDR, with minisleeve and bookmark, UK, 2011)
Psychedelic
Fuji-Yuki (lead vocals)
Identifying Sarry’s best album is difficult: with a band this impressionistic, artistic development isn’t a relevant concept. Nonetheless, this puts up a strong argument, with its huge walls of echoing sound and Ligeti-like vocals, creating a genuinely transformative experience. GRADE: C+.

Sarry (Japan): Sou En (Reverb Worship RW 202, CDR, with minisleeve, UK, 2012)
Psychedelic
Fuji-Yuki (lead vocals)
Consisting of two live 17-minute improvisations, this doesn’t have the epic dimensions of the duo’s studio work. Nonetheless, they remain ahead of the game when it comes to psychedelic improvisation, and the music here is always interesting and frequently fascinating. GRADE: C+.

Sarry (Japan): Sarry (Reverb Worship RW 235, CDR, with minisleeve and insert, UK, 2013)
Psychedelic
Fuji-Yuki (lead vocals)
The band’s fifth album consists of reworked versions of numbers from their first two Japanese-only releases. I haven’t done a back-to-back comparison to see how different these versions are, but this is certainly lovely spacy stuff, with a floating and ethereal atmosphere. GRADE: C+.
Sarry (Japan): Shiva (Heartless Robot HRP 024, red vinyl LP plus CDR, with download card and obi, Australia, 2013)
Psychedelic
Fuji-Yuki (lead vocals)
Featuring two side-long tracks on the vinyl, accompanied by two shorter bonus cuts on the CDR, this is probably their best release. At its best, the music here is stunning, creating huge walls of hypnotic, percussive psychedelic noise, contrasted with more eerie and minimalist passages. At times, I’m reminded of Nico circa The Marble Index – not a connection I’d made before – and even at its most uneventful this never becomes uninteresting, placing it in the top tier of improvised music. GRADE: B–.

Sarry (Japan): Oppidum Desertum (Reverb Worship RW 393, CDR, with minisleeve. Insert and stickers, UK, 2018)
Psychedelic
Fuji-Yuki (principal vocals)
Recorded live, this consists of nine shorter vignettes focusing on the vocal end of the duo’s repertoire. With the minimalistic music hinting at both Limpe Fuchs and Yoko Ono, it’s an intriguing album, but it doesn’t summon up the majesty of the band’s most ambitious work. GRADE: C+.

Sarry (Japan): Exspiravit Planeta (Jigen 018, CD, with obi, 2018)
Psychedelic
Fuji-Yuki (principal vocals)
Like their earlier live recordings, this focuses on shorter pieces and the acapella end of their repertoire. With its cavernous, cathedral-like sound, it achieves an eerie, Ligeti-like mood, and if it’s not as memorable as some of their more ambitious cosmic excursions, it’s still lovely atmospheric stuff. GRADE: C+.

See also Fuji-Yuki

Saturn (USA): Saturn (No label, with booklet, 1978)
Soul/Rock
Flavia Williams (lead vocals)
From the cover, I expected this mini-album (six songs in just over twenty minutes) to be metal. In fact, it’s a mixture of funky pop/rock with proggy and space-rock undertones (reflecting some members’ classical music backgrounds) and soulful ballads with a stage musical feel. With Flavia Williams’s dramatic vocals mixed a little too high, the effect is quite odd, and it’s not hard to see why they didn’t land a record deal. This has not stopped the disc from attracting considerable attention from collectors, leading to a reissue. GRADE: C.

Saturnalia (UK): Magical Love (Matrix TRIX 1, picture disc, with booklet and ticket, 1969)
Psychedelic/Progressive
Aletta Lohmeyer (joint lead vocals)
Sumptuously issued as a picture disc with 3D labels, a large booklet (two for promo copies) and a concert ticket, Magical Love is better remembered for its format (and inevitably, its lousy sound quality) than its music. However, it’s a good album of late psychedelic and early progressive rock, with astrologically influenced lyrics and hard rock and folk edges. GRADE: C+.

Lee Saunders (UK): A Promise Of Peace (No label CMI.1, CD, 1995)
Rock/Progressive
Sharon Woolf (occasional vocals)
This concept album about the Second World War clearly takes most of its cues from Pink Floyd’s The Wall, right down to Saunders’s sardonic Roger Waters-meets-Dave Gilmour singing (occasionally counterpointed by a more soulful female vocalist). Like The Wall, it’s full of linking sound effects, a bit lacking in musical ambition and a touch less profound than its creator intended, but it’s still a pleasant enough set offering some mellow mid-paced rock. GRADE: C+.

Savage Rose (Denmark): The Savage Rose (Polydor 184144, with insert, West Germany, 1968)
Pop/Rock/Psychedelic
Annisette Hansen (lead vocals), Ilse Maria Koppel (harpsichord)
Characterised by Annisette Hansen’s slightly disturbing high-pitched, little-girl vocals and an odd line-up with three keyboardists, this prolific Danish band had an unusual and hard-to-define sound. Here they mostly offer slightly tripped-out baroque late sixties pop and lush ballads, but the keynote cut ‘Open Air Shop’ is a lengthy piece of heavy psychedelia with a dark and eerie atmosphere. GRADE: B–.
Savage Rose (Denmark): In The Plain (Polydor SLPHM 46292, 1968)
Rock/Psychedelic
Annisette Hansen (principal vocals), Ilse Maria Koppel (harpsichord)
Much weirder, heavier and more psychedelic than their first, this is the quintessential Savage Rose album, and by far their finest rock-based work – especially the closing seven-minute blowout ‘A Trial In Our Native Town’. GRADE: B.
Savage Rose (Denmark): Travelin’ (Polydor 184 316, 1969)
Rock/Soul/Psychedelic
Annisette Hansen (principal vocals), Ilse Maria Koppel (harpsichord)
This is recognisable as the work of the same band that cut In The Plain (notably in the very high level of melodrama), but many of the psychedelic influences are dropped in favour of soul and R&B elements. Nonetheless, there are still some excellent moments, particularly the lengthy ‘Your Lifetime’s A Fairytale’. GRADE: C+.
Savage Rose (Denmark): Your Daily Gift (Polydor 2380 004, 1970)
Rock/Soul/Progressive
Annisette Hansen (lead vocals)
Album number four is a varied set indeed, taking its influences from everything from R&B and soul to baroque pop, folk, country, psychedelia and the avant-garde (on the eight-minute instrumental ‘Tapiola’). Inevitably, it doesn’t really hang together, but it’s an interesting and adventurous record containing some fine music. GRADE: C+.
Savage Rose (Denmark): Refugee (Polydor 2380 014, 1971)
Rock/Soul
Annisette Hansen (lead vocals)
Shedding their psychedelic and garage roots altogether, the band offer a slick organ-driven synthesis of rock, soul, gospel and R&B. It’s ponderous in parts, especially on the second side, but intermittently brilliant (particularly the anthemic, catchy opener ‘Revival Day’).

GRADE: C+.
Savage Rose (Denmark): Dødens Triumf (Polydor 2380 016, 1972)
Progressive
Annisette Hansen (lead vocals)
Totally different to their other albums, this was Thomas Koppel’s score for a modern ballet. It’s mostly sparse and folky instrumental music (aside from a reworking of ‘Dear Little Mother’ from Refugee, sounding extremely sinister in its new context), with arrangements centred around organ and accordion. The album could so easily have become fragmented and inconsequential mood music, but the melodies are gorgeous and the performances stunningly atmospheric, creating a classic album that they would never equal. The set was reissued in 1979 as a double LP containing the entire score from the ballet (Polydor 2675 193); this was very quickly deleted and is now extremely rare and expensive. GRADE: A.
Savage Rose (Denmark): Babylon (Polydor 2380 019, 1972)
Gospel/Soul/Jazz
Annisette Hansen (lead vocals)

Nothing whatever to do with rock, this is Savage Rose’s foray into traditional black music, complete with guest trombonist and huge gospel choir. It’s superbly done if you like that kind of thing – but chances are that you, like me, don’t. GRADE: C.
Savage Rose (Denmark): Wild Child (Polydor 2380 021, 1973)
Rock
Annisette Hansen (lead vocals)
This curious album offers an odd mix of influences – quite a bit of soul and gospel, lots of rock, some accordion-led folk edges, notable touches of prog (especially on the short instrumental ‘A Las Cinco De La Tarde’) and, most unpredictably, some Western (as in cowboy films) tinges. Even by the band’s usual standards, it’s very intense, with the lyrics full of dark and vivid imagery and Annisette bellowing at the top of her lungs. With all these different influences going on, this could have been a very bad album, but in fact it’s one of their best.

GRADE: B–.
Savage Rose (Denmark): Solen Var Også Din (Sonet SLP 1556, with inner, 1978)
Folk/Psychedelic
Annisette Hansen (lead vocals)
After a lengthy absence, Savage Rose returned as a rather different band. Although the high level of melodrama remains, their style this time round is rather sparse psychedelic folk, with political subject matter and lyrics mainly in Danish. At its best, the new style works brilliantly – ‘De Vilde Blomster Gror’ is poignantly beautiful, and there are no more than a couple of average cuts. At times, this reminds me of Paul Kantner & Jefferson Starship’s Blows Against The Empire, with the same kind of hazy trippiness. Apparently the album was withdrawn almost immediately after release, being reissued in Spain the following year (Herriak H21.100) and in Norway the year after (Mai 8003, with inner). GRADE: B–.
Savage Rose (Denmark): En Vugge Af Stål (Nexø 1, 1982)
Folk
Annisette Hansen (lead vocals)
Even more stripped-down than its predecessor, this features accompaniment from only piano, accordion and percussion, plus an occasional choir. Alongside the original numbers, there are interpretations of historic Italian resistance and Spanish Civil War songs: all powerful, dramatic and atmospheric, but not quite as eerie or involving as the previous album. GRADE: C+.
Savage Rose (Denmark): Vi Kaemper For At Serje (Nexø LP 6, 1984)
Folk
Annisette Hansen (lead vocals)
Basically, part two of its predecessor – more impassioned lyrics about the struggle for liberation and lots more accordion. It’s another fine and enjoyable LP, if occasionally just a little austere and po-faced. GRADE: C+.
Savage Rose (Denmark): Kejserens Nye Klaeder (Rosen ROLP 39, 1986)
Folk
Annisette Hansen (lead vocals)
In some ways, this concept album (a fairytale adapted from Hans Christian Andersen) sounds like a logical follow-up to Døden’s Triumf from fourteen years earlier. In parts rather brilliant, in others merely pleasant, this is another solid album (once again only featuring voices, piano, accordion and drums). GRADE: C+.
Savage Rose (Denmark): Sangen For Livet (Nexø CD 10, CD, 1988)
Folk
Annisette Hansen (lead vocals)
This is another lovely album, and slightly more varied as it features guests on guitar, kantele and additional vocals. However, the downside of their distinctive style, impressive as it is, is that their eighties albums are essentially interchangeable. GRADE: C+.
Savage Rose (Denmark): Ild Og Frihed (Nexø CD 11/12-1989, double CD, 1989)
Folk
Annisette Hansen (lead vocals)
With 19 songs, this double album is among Savage Rose’s most expansive releases. Musically, however, it just retreads the same style as their last few records with diminishing results, although as always there are some lovely tracks. GRADE: C+.
Savage Rose (Denmark): Gadens Dronning (RCA PL 74769, with inner, 1990)
Folk
Annisette Hansen (principal vocals), Billie Koppel (occasional vocals), Yvonne Ruberg (backing vocals)
Adding Hansen’s daughter Billie Koppel (who had guested as a backing singer on the last few albums) and Yvonne Ruberg to the line-up, the band returned with another enjoyable album in their usual soulful folk style. Koppel co-writes and sings the fine ‘Dagene Og Naetterne’, proving herself to have an excellent voice (with a softer style than her mother). The best cut is probably the impassioned ‘Heysel Stadion’, however. GRADE: C+.
Savage Rose (Denmark): Månebarn (EMI 79 88 222, CD, 1992)
Folk/Rock/Psychedelic
Annisette Hansen (lead vocals), Birgit Løkke Larsen (percussion), Billie Koppel (backing vocals), Pernille Rosendahl (backing vocals)
The variety missing from their last few LPs is present here: adding a guitarist and bassist, Savage Rose reintroduce elements of rock and psychedelia into their sound. Whilst the basis remains their usual soulful folk, this has everything from heavy rock riffs to acid leads to a percussion interlude that recalls similar ventures by the Grateful Dead. The end result is an interesting record that is exceptionally intense and melodramatic even by the band’s usual standards. GRADE: C+.
Savage Rose (Denmark): Black Angel (Mega MRCD 3294, CD, 1995)
Pop/Rock/Soul
Annisette Hansen (principal vocals)
Reduced to a duo of Annisette and Thomas Koppel (plus a lengthy cast of guests), Savage Rose changed direction completely with this LP. This is soulful commercial pop/rock with English lyrics, almost like a modernised twist on the band’s early seventies sound, and presumably was an attempt to move into the mainstream. Pleasant as this is, it’s hardly a very daring or creative record. GRADE: C+.
Savage Rose (Denmark/USA): Tameless (Mega MRCD 3377, CD, with slipcase, 1998)
Pop/Soul
Annisette Hansen (lead vocals)
Moving the band even further from rock and folk, this is basically a polished album of modern RnB with a few minor trip-hop leanings. It’s slick, tuneful and well-assembled, but also inconsequential, vapid and unoriginal. GRADE: C.
Savage Rose (Denmark): For Your Love (Mega 0133872 MEG, CD, with digipak and booklet, 2001)
Pop/Soul
Annisette Hansen (lead vocals)
Very similar to its predecessor, this is perhaps a touch better but still very short on atmosphere or excitement. GRADE: C.
Savage Rose (Denmark): Are You Ready – The Savage Rose Live (CMC Entertainment CMC C 00014-2, CD, 2004)
Rock/Soul
Annisette Hansen (lead vocals), Sara Indrio (percussion, backing vocals)
The band’s only live album covers all aspects of their career, with the exclusion of any of their more psychedelic material from the sixties. Whilst it’s a solid set, it’s a bit low on excitement: only ‘Wild Child’ really impresses, whilst their cover of Edwin Starr’s ‘War’ is pretty dreadful. GRADE: C.
Savage Rose (Denmark): Universal Daughter (Columbia 88697 18999 2, CD, with book sleeve, 2007)
Folk/Rock
Annisette Hansen (lead vocals)
Savage Rose’s first album without founder member and composer Thomas Koppel (who had unexpectedly died the previous year) is also their best for ages. Abandoning the commercial soul/pop sound of the last few records, this returns to the impassioned folk style of the late seventies and eighties, but with full rock band arrangements and some powerful, psychedelic guitar work recalling their early days. Not everything is brilliant, but at its best this is a record of considerable intensity and impeccable quality. GRADE: C+.
Savage Rose (Denmark): Love And Freedom (Nordic Music Society NORDIC 119, CD, with digipak and booklet, 2012)
Soul/Blues/Rock
Annisette Hansen (lead vocals), Amina Carsce Nissen (backing vocals), Naja Koppel (backing vocals)
Even better than its predecessor, this is a superb album of soulful and bluesy rock with impassioned singing from Annisette (who often resembles Tina Turner here) and great instrumental performances. In fact, this is the sort of album Turner should be making, instead of her run of polished, dull solo LPs from the late seventies onwards. GRADE: B–.

Savage Rose (Denmark): Roots Of The Wasteland (Target TARGETCD1420, CD, with digipak and booklet, 2014)
Soul/Rock
Annisette Hansen (lead vocals), Amina Carsce Nissen (backing vocals), Naja Koppel (backing vocals)
For the most part, this lacks the brilliant songwriting of its predecessor, offering solid but unspectacular brassy soulful rock. Oddly, the best two tracks are at the end: the excellent rocker ‘The Storm’, which lifts its main riff directly from Gong’s ‘You Can’t Kill Me’, and the haunting title track, with simple piano backing. Equally oddly, several tracks are reworkings of songs from earlier in their career. GRADE: C+.

Savage Rose (Denmark): Homeless (Target TARGET1707CD, CD, with digipak and booklet, 2017)
Soul/Rock
Annisette Hansen (lead vocals), Naja Rosa Koppel (backing vocals), Amina Carsce Nissen (backing vocals)
The outstanding songwriting that characterised Love And Freedomis back, and the recording here is superb – Annisette Hansen sounds like a vulnerable Janis Joplin, with the whole thing having an epic, dreamlike air. As soulful rock would go, this is hard to better, and it’s equally impressive that Savage Rose are making such fine music so late in their career. GRADE: B–.

See also Naja Rosa

Julian Jay Savarin (Dominican Republic): Waiters On The Dance (Birth RAB 2, with insert, UK, 1973)
Progressive
Jo Meek (lead vocals)
Basically the second Julian’s Treatment album, this has a similar Hammond organ-fronted sound, but is musically more exploratory, with some lengthy, accomplished tracks, superb compositions and performances, and beautiful, haunting vocals from Jo Meek. As a footnote, Meek was the original lead singer with Catapilla, being replaced at the eleventh hour by her rather less mellifluous sister Anna, whilst drummer Roger Odell was ex-CMU and would later form Shakatak. GRADE: B.

John Saxby & Lionel Gibson With Cirkus (UK): Future Shock (Shock 1, 1977)
Rock/Progressive
Linda Garbet (occasional vocals), Pam Wendy (occasional vocals)
Who Saxby and Gibson were, I have no idea, but backing band Cirkus had previously issued a very sought-after progressive private pressing. This is slightly different, being a rock opera complete with instrumental overture and snatches of dialogue. With some excellent acid guitar, the album features some fine musical passages, but it’s also overly varied and quite disjointed, as is typical for this kind of thing. Linda Garbet sings a couple of numbers, whilst Pam Wendy provides some dialogue here and there. GRADE: C+.