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Scanner (Germany): Scantropolis (Massacre MAS CD0321, CD, 2002)
Lisa Croft (lead vocals)
This is a solid power metal effort, focusing on mid-paced material and avoiding the overly catchy, anthemic choruses often associated with the genre. Whilst many female singers with bands of this type favoured a soaring soprano, Lisa Croft has a more mainstream vocal style, and her excellent contributions lift the album significantly. As a footnote, the band had previously cut no fewer than four albums with male vocalists. GRADE: C+.

Scapa Flow (Finland): Uuteen Aikaan (Kompass KOLP 22, with insert, 1980)
Pia-Maria Noponen (joint lead vocals, keyboards)
Whilst neither particularly original nor complex, this is a lovely album of soft keyboard-led progressive rock. With judicious use of both flute and saxophone and a little added dynamism towards the end, the disc creates some enjoyable melancholy moods. GRADE: B–.

See also Theshold

Scarlet & Lace (UK): Scarlet And Lace (No label, acetate, 1976?)
Jacky Kingshott
This one-off acetate features 12 extremely pleasant contemporary folk songs, which appear to be self-penned, with (unusually good) male and female vocals backed by acoustic guitars, bass, percussion and occasional keyboards and harmonica. The results are certainly above average for the genre and very much worthy of a reissue. GRADE: C+.
Scarlet & Lace (UK): Scarlet And Lace (Top Hat THE-1, 7", 1977
Jacky Kingshott
Unlike their acetate, this six-track, 16-minute EP is in stereo and evenly mixes covers (including a nice, unusual reading of ‘California Dreaming’) and originals. Like their acetate, there’s nothing exactly life-changing here, but they were certainly a pleasing, mellow and unassuming outfit. GRADE: C+.

Scarlet Hollow (USA): What If Never Was (Melodic Revolution MRR CD 18002, CD, with digipak, 2012)
Allison vonBuelow (lead vocals)
Mixing melodic heavy rock with progressive keyboards and song structures, this is a pleasant and accomplished set. In particular, Allison vonBuelow has an excellent voice with a warm timbre, tending neither towards soprano classicisim or Janis Joplin-style histrionics.


Scarlet Thread (Finland): Psykedeelisiä Joutsenlauluja (Mellow MMP 448, CD, Italy, 2004)
Eini Pesälä (violin), Anni Pesälä (flute)
Whilst the title translates as ‘Psychedelic Swan Songs’, this isn’t really psychedelic and doesn’t contain any songs. Instead it’s instrumental progressive rock, with folk and post-psychedelic influences and occasional moments of experimentation (notably during closer ‘…Ajasta Ikuisuuteen’, when the music grinds to a halt before restarting) with the whole thing having an appealing lyrical feel without any ostentation. GRADE: B–.
Scarlet Thread (Finland): Valheista Kaunein (Muséa FGBG 4670.AR, CD, France, 2006)
Erja Lahtinen (violin)
Their second is in a similar vein to the first, although a bit more dynamic in parts, occasionally hinting towards hard rock and acid-rock. It’s another excellent set, though it would have benefited from some longer and more involved suites, rather than short discrete tracks of around four to five minutes. GRADE: B–.
Scarlet Thread (Finland): Never Since (Running Moose Productions FIJCD001, CD, with digipak, 2013)
Mari Vuoritie (lead vocals), Erja Pätsi (violin)
Album number three is very different, due to the addition of a vocalist (who reminds me a little of Kate Bush in her lower register) and a move towards songs. Mari Vuoritie is a decent singer, and the backing has most of the band’s usual hallmarks, but the inclusion of songs moves them much closer to mainstream rock and neoprog; tellingly, aside from the majestic climax to the closing ‘Tomb’ the sole instrumental ‘Instrumental Agony’ is the best thing on offer. GRADE: C+.

See also Various ‘Kalevala – A Finnish Progressive Rock Epic’

Daniel Schell & Karo (Belgium): If Windows They Have (Made To Measure MTM 13 CD, CD, 1988)
Claudine Steenackers (cello)
Daniel Schell had previously been the leader of Cos, and he writes everything here (with wife and former bandmate Pascale Son co-authoring the title track), but this doesn’t sound anything like Cos. Nor does it sound much like Claudine Steenackers’s other band Julverne, despite some strong neoclassical touches. Serving mainly as a vehicle for Schell’s nimble Chapman stick work, the music is understated and rhythmic, with lots of synthesisers providing a lush, almost commercial sheen. Repetitive, hypnotic and strangely inconsequential, the tracks are simultaneously quite weird and very catchy and melodic, making for an unusual and relaxing album. GRADE: C+.

See also Julverne

Theo Scherman (Canada): Champagne In The Starlight (Retreat RTL6003, UK, 1975)
Theo Scherman’s warbling, yelping vocals uncannily presage new wave stylists like Lene Lovich, and her quirky, funky, off-kilter songs could have easily come out in the late seventies too. This is inevitably a fairly lightweight album, but – with superb musicianship throughout and occasional hints of psychedelic and progressive rock – never less than an enjoyable listen. GRADE: C+.

Scheytholtz (West Germany): Die Mühle Von Avalu (Songbird 1C 066-31 155, 1978)
Sigrid Haselmann
Unknown to most collectors, this excellent album offers inventive and unusual electric folk, with radical reworkings of traditional material and some strong progressive and psychedelic touches. GRADE: B–.

Schlachtvieh (West Germany): Ein Rock-Oratorium Gegen Der Krieg (Kanon K 01 130, with insert, 1980)
Eva Anselm (joint lead vocals)
As the title suggests, this concept album has a Christian theme, but musically it is far removed from the melodic, parochial folk/rock one might expect. Most of the LP consists of edgy electronic rock recalling early seventies pioneers like Cluster and Organisation, mixed with spacy ballads and occasional passages of psychedelic rock, adding up to a fascinatingly odd album. GRADE: B–.

Schlappmaul (West Germany): Schlappmaul (Brutkasten 850008, 1979)
Helga Fickenscher (joint lead vocals, flute)
This rare album offers accomplished folk with strong mediaeval edges and all-acoustic instrumentation. Far from the whimsy offered by British equivalents like City Waites, the feel of the music is darker and more sombre, reflecting the black-and-white cover. GRADE: C+.
Schlappmaul (West Germany): Komm Tu Dein Schlappmaul Auf (Brutkasten 85 F 022, 1981)
Susi Lang (occasional vocals, guitar, flute), Susi Richter (occasional vocals, glockenspiel, violin)
Their even scarcer second and final album, recorded by a significantly different line-up, is decidedly the better of their two releases. Slightly less dour and mediaeval than its predecessor, this is a lovely, intricate acoustic folk LP, with strong baroque edges, excellent instrumental interplay and some gorgeous harmony vocals. GRADE: C+.

Schmetterlinge (Austria): Schmetterlinge (Atom 500.004, 1973)
Pippa Armstrong-Tinsobin (joint lead vocals, percussion)
This long-running band’s debut is lovely, dreamy folk/rock with some excellent original material featuring gorgeous melodies. A couple of tracks are irritating, with a countryish, good-time feel and as usual a Bob Dylan cover (in this case, ‘When The Ship Comes In’) rather lowers the tone, but overall this is a charming set. The album was reissued in the late eighties as Poptakes, with a different cover and several bonus cuts on the CD version. GRADE: C+.
Schmetterlinge (Austria): Lieders Fürs Leben (Antagon LP 3205, with insert, West Germany, 1975)
Pippa Armstrong-Tinsobin (occasional vocals, percussion)
This is a truly odd album, blending singer/songwriter influences (sometimes tending towards pop/rock and sometimes folk/rock) with all kinds of strange progressive touches in the arrangements. In particular, some of the backing vocals are quite complex and owe a heavy debt to classical music, although other cuts are straightforward and almost throwaway. The result is an interesting, occasionally excellent, though often incoherent piece of work. GRADE: C+.
Schmetterlinge (Austria): Beschwichtigungs Show (Antagon ALP 3208, West Germany, 1977)
Beatrix Neundlinger (joint lead vocals)
In a bizarre decision, Schmetterlinge were chosen to represent Austria in the 1977 Eurovision Song Contest (most likely because new singer Beatrix Neundlinger had done well in the contest with her previous band Milestones, five years earlier). This decision coincided with the band’s move away from their folk/rock roots towards satirical left-wing, avant-garde and progressive rock, and they responded by offering ‘Boom Boom Boomerang’, a vicious satire on Eurovision music, complete with lyrics about their hatred of their capitalist system. Just to make sure they offended the judges, they performed much of the song with their backs turned to the audience, with grotesque masks on their backs of their heads. As a follow-up, they created an entire concept album (‘Appeasement Show’ in English) detailing their loathing of the competition, and including pastiches of various kinds of music showcased during the contest. Complete with spoken-word passages, dubbed-in applause and sound effects, this is a bizarre trawl through cheesy European pop styles, with almost everything having a tongue-in-cheek feel. Along the way, they take in covers of such inane material as ‘Honey Honey’, ‘Please Mr Postman’ and ‘Save Your Kisses For Me’. The resulting album is quite heavy going for non-German speakers, and much of the music is (deliberately) irritating, but this is certainly an adventurous and bold record. GRADE: C+.
Schmetterlinge (Austria): Proletenpassion (Ariola 303 175, triple, with booklet, West Germany, 1977)
Beatrix Neundlinger (joint lead vocals, flute)
Drawing heavily on different folk traditions, this is a varied song-suite concerning historical revolutions around the world. With occasional spoken word passages and some satirical elements, it’s fairly hard going over three albums, but it’s also quite an impressive achievement and clearly the band’s magnum opus. GRADE: C+.
Schmetterlinge (Austria): Herbstreisse (Antagon ALP 3230, with inner and insert, 1979)
Beatrix Neundlinger (joint lead vocals, flute)
Marking a return to the band’s original singer/songwriter folk/rock style, though within the framework of a conceptual set with political concerns and progressive overtones, this is probably their most consistent album. Both the eight shorter songs on the first side and the four longer ones on the flip work very well, though as usual for Schmetterlinge it’s very lyrical, with extended instrumental passages being conspicuous by their absence. GRADE: C+.
Schmetterlinge (Austria): Jura Soyfer Verdrängte Jahre (Eigelstein ES 2012, with booklet, West Germany, 1981)
Beatrix Neundlinger (joint lead vocals, cello, flute)
This is decidedly more progressive than its predecessor, though still with a very melodic song-based style. Flute is used much more prominently than on their other albums, giving a rather Jethro Tull-like feel to much of the material, and making this one of their best releases. GRADE: C+.
Schmetterlinge (Austria): Die Letzte Welt (Eigelstein 6.28 612-1, double, with booklet, 1982)
Beatrix Neundlinger (joint lead vocals, flute)
This varied double album sometimes reminds me of Amon Düül II’s Made In Germany without the psychedelic tinges, running the gamut from keyboard-based soft progressive to hard rock, ballads, pastiches, pop and more. Like all their work, it’s a little patchy, but as usual there are some good songs on offer. GRADE: C+.
Schmetterlinge (Austria): Mit Dem Kopf Durch Die Wende (Extraplatte 56, with inner, 1986)
Beatrix Neundlinger (joint lead vocals, saxophone, flute)
Whilst I would never have expected Schmetterlinge to make a quintessentially eighties rock album – this has chunky power chords, funky basslines, crashing stadium-rock drums, the works – this is surprisingly good. The material is catchy throughout and the band is on excellent form; the more atmospheric progressive number ‘Ich Wollt’ is decidedly the best thing on offer. As a footnote, Neundlinger sounds uncannily like Amon Düül II’s Renate Knaup-Krötenschwanz on ‘Computer-Willi’. GRADE: C+.
See also 9dlinger & Die Gerinfügig Beschäfigten, Milestones

Schnauser (UK): The Sound Of Meat (Smile 40, CD, with digipak, 2010)
Holly McIntosh (bass, backing vocals)
Those who couldn’t get enough of Gorky’s Zygotic Mynci should get this immediately as the resemblance is striking on most songs. That said, Schnauser have a more pronounced sixties influence, though once again offer Syd Barrett elements channelled through an indie-pop prism, and are less self-consciously eclectic (though every bit as eccentric). Also like Gorky’s, Schnauser use catchy hooklines and trippy arrangements to paper over slightly thin material, but this is never less than thoroughly enjoyable. GRADE: C+.

Schnauser (UK): Where Business Meets Fashion (Bitter Buttons USR 01, CD, with digipak, 2013)
Holly McIntosh (occasional vocals, bass)
Whereas their last album was psychedelic pop, this one is probably best described as progressive pop, hinting towards the most conventional and commercial end of Hatfield & The North. Like its predecessor, it’s whimsical, richly melodic, pretty inconsequential – and great fun. GRADE: C+.
Schnauser (UK): Protein For Everyone (Esoteric Antenna EANTCD 1036, CD, with digipak and booklet, 2014)
Holly McIntosh (occasional vocals, bass, glockenspiel, melodica)
This time round, they up the complexity considerably, especially on the closing 17-minute suite, and produce a work that stands alongside the classic Canterbury music of the seventies. With some lovely hooks and a charmingly naïve mood, it’s both as cheerful and as weird as its cover artwork – a great album in a great package. They even manage to equal some of the Hatfields’ funniest song titles (‘Giant Daddy vs Big Haystacks’, ‘Fractional Reserve Banking For Beginners’, ‘Spleen Damage’, ‘Eating Eric’s Pickles’ and ‘Providing Future Proofed, Customer Focused Marketing Solutions For The Retail Sector (in 10/8)’. GRADE: B–.

Schnauser (UK): Irritant (Bad Elephant Music BEM045, CD, with digipak and booklet, 2017)
Holly McIntosh (occasional vocals, guitar, bass, percussion)
Very much in the vein of its predecessor, this is another fine collection of quirky, jazzy songs, with the lyrics ranging from political proclamations to advertising slogans. It’s all effectively quirky, occasional knotty, infectiously catchy – and above all, damn good fun. GRADE: B–.

Schooltree (USA): Rise (No label, CD, with digipak, 2012)
Lainey Schooltree (lead vocals, piano)
Lainey Schooltree clearly models herself on Kate Bush and Tori Amos, and their influences hangs heavy over her singing and writing style. The musical backing is much more rock-oriented, however – sometimes touching on hard rock and sometimes mildly progressive, but never really pushing any boundaries. GRADE: C+.
Schooltree (USA): Heterotopia (No label, double CD, with digipak, 2017)
Lainey Schooltree (lead vocals, keyboards)
A huge step forward from their debut, this is full-blown progressive (apparently a rock opera, though without the multiple vocalists and overblown pretensions that term usually suggests). Accomplished as it is, it’s still rooted in mainstream rock, with possible reference points including Magenta (though this isn’t as self-consciously overblown). GRADE: C+.

Nerissa Schwarz (Germany): Playgrounds Lost (No label, CD, with digipak, 2016)
New Age/Folk/Progressive/Avant-Garde
Nerissa Schwarz (Mellotron, harp)
Recorded solely with electric harp and Mellotron, the Frequency Drift member’s solo album is a spacy, minimalist, slightly eerie set whose style falls somewhere between new age, folk and progressive. Some listeners may find it too minimalist, but it’s certainly quite beautiful and supremely relaxing in the same way as Enya, whilst sounding entirely different. GRADE: B–.
See also Coronal Rain, Frequency Drift

Sciflyer (USA): Sciflyer (No label, CD, 2001)
Kim Kennedy (bass)
No prizes for guessing from the band name and cosmic cover that this is space-rock, in this case ‘recorded at home on a four-track cassette deck and a 1972 four-track reel to reel’. Clearly there’s a limit to how creative rhythmically simplistic lo-fi jams with deeply buried vocals can be, but this is a strong album by any reckoning. They even manage to adapt Pink Floyd’s ‘Set The Controls For The Heart Of The Sun’ to their own idiom with aplomb. GRADE: B–.
Sciflyer (USA): Melt (No label SCI002, CD EP, with digipak, 2002)
Kim Kennedy (bass)
This short EP (or long single, if you prefer) features three tracks totalling around 15½ minutes. Musically it’s in the same vein as their debut, but lighter and less intense; overall perfectly listenable but rather anodyne and pedestrian. GRADE: C+.
Sciflyer (USA): Fair Weather Karma (Clairecords FERN 052, CD, 2003)
Kim Kennedy (bass)
This is better than the EP than preceded it, but not as compelling as their first – whilst I like minimalist drone psych a great deal, it becomes more obvious with each release that Sciflyer were essentially one-trick ponies. GRADE: C+.
Sciflyer (USA): The Age Of Lovely, Intimate Things (Clairecords fern_063, CD, with digipak, 2005)
Kim Kennedy (bass)
This is easily their best since their debut, peaking on the superb 14-minute closer ‘Never Come Down’. Nothing else is as good, and indeed there isn’t much else of substance – like all their releases, this is very short and quite insubstantial. GRADE: C+.

Sciflyer (USA): The Only Believe In The Moon (Clairecords fern_088, CD, with digipak, 2014)
Kim Kennedy (bass)
Recorded in 2006 and 2007 but not released for another seven years, this is easily Sciflyer’s best album since their debut. Their brand of space-rock and shoegaze isn’t varied or distinctive or original, but they’re very good at what they do and this is a consistently satisfying listen. GRADE: B–.

Scotch Measure (UK): Scotch Measure (Topic 12TS 436, with insert, 1985)

Sylvia Barnes (lead vocals, guitar, dulcimer)
This Scottish (unsurprisingly!) trio certainly don’t play folk/rock, but then they’re not exactly traditional either. Reinterpreting trad material with unusual arrangements including lots of electric keyboards, they create an unusual and spacy atmosphere that sets them apart from any of their peers. In particular, the closing ‘The Twa Magicians’, with its swirling synthesisers, is downright superb, and far more dynamic than many numbers by electric folk bands. GRADE: C+.

Scotch Plains-Fanwood High School (USA): Winter’s Too Cold For Sneakers (Century 36858, 1970)
This is one of the rarest school projects LPs, with a mintish example having sold for over $1000 on eBay (and a fairly battered copy fetching nearly $750). Musically it’s sophisticated singer/songwriter fare with heartfelt lyrics and simple backing from acoustic guitar and piano – enjoyable, effective and unusual for the genre. Also unlike most school project albums, there are no vocalist or musician credits, with the back cover instead featuring the lyrics and detailed notes about the recording. GRADE: C+.
Scotch Plains-Fanwood High School (USA): It’s About Time (HMR Productions HMR - 878, 1974)
Barbara Risher (occasional vocals), Betsy Hammer (occasional vocals), Nicki Muoio (occasional vocals), Pam Mauro (occasional vocals), Lisa Miller (occasional vocals), Stevie Brown (occasional vocals), Cindy Fiedler (occasional vocals), Janis Warner (occasional vocals), Cheryl Leahy (occasional vocals), Caryn Cramm (occasional vocals), Harriet Whitlock (occasional vocals), Lee Ann Turtletaub (occasional vocals), Holly Cheser (occasional vocals), Susan Collier (occasional vocals), Denise D’Annunzio (occasional vocals), Nancy Ferrara (occasional vocals), Emily Kaufman (occasional vocals), Linda Kret (occasional vocals), Claire Lomac (occasional vocals), Margaret McIlraith (occasional vocals), Wendy Thomas (occasional vocals), Kathy Wasilition (occasional vocals)
This later album, presumably recorded by a different set of students, has none of the precious charm of Winter’s Too Cold For Sneakers. With backing from piano, bass and drums, this is musical theatre, with a procession of mediocre songs that are rather poorly sung (though not poorly enough that this might interest ‘real people’ collectors). Only the delicate ballad ‘Jennifer’s Song’, beautifully performed by Barbara Risher to simple acoustic guitar backing, is worth a second listen. GRADE: C–.

Virginia Scott (UK): Volcano Diaries (Ricky Gardiner Songs RGS 9479, CDR, 2009)
Virginia Scott (piano)
The first solo album by the Beggar’s Opera vocalist and keyboardist is radically different to anything they released. Subtitled ‘experimental music for digital piano’, the disc is described in the liner notes as ‘an expressionist collage of free improvisation, tone cluster, and thematic loop pulsing indeterminately in a pantonal landscape’. The result is an interesting, minimalist modern classical album that could also appeal to some new age fans. GRADE: C+.
Virginia Scott (UK): Schumanntron (Ricky Gardiner Songs RGS 9487, CDR, 2010)
Virginia Scott (piano)
Like its predecessor, this is rather good modern classical music for solo piano, providing an interested counterpoint to Scott’s other work. GRADE: C+.
Virginia Scott (UK): Volcano Diaries Two (Ricky Gardiner Songs RGS 9492, CD, no artwork, 2011)
Virginia Scott (piano)
This is probably the most minimalist of her solo sets, with highly avant-garde music that never really goes anywhere. But she’s certainly an accomplished pianist, and it’s all pleasant enough. GRADE: C+.
Virginia Scott (UK): The Karpestra Diaries (Ricky Gardiner Songs RGS 948, CD, no artwork, 2012)
Virginia Scott (piano)
Once again featuring solo piano, this is probably her most dramatic and effective solo album, and it’s beautifully recorded to boot.

Virginia Scott (UK): Mestreamed 100 (Ricky Gardiner Songs RGS 9501, CD, no artwork, 2012)
Virginia Scott (piano, effects)
Another interesting solo album from Scott, this set was dedicated to John Cage and consists of her playing electric piano (with a harpsichord-like tone) over sound effects of nature and traffic. The results are tranquil, evocative and frequently quite eerie. GRADE: C+.
See also Beggar’s Opera, Kumara

Scratch Band (USA): The Scratch Band (Big Sound BP-1009, 1977)
Christine Ohlman (joint lead vocals)
Effectively the second album by Fancy (whose Meeting You Here is now a minor collectible), this is a remarkably short record, with a running time of just 24 minutes. Musically, this is excellent bluesy hard rock, peaking on the energetic ‘The Last Song’; overall better than its predecessor, but containing nothing of the standard of their classic ‘Black Snake’. Christine Ohlman went on to cut many more albums with Saturday Night Live Band and Rebel Montez. GRADE: C+.
See also Fancy

Scrifis (West Germany): Catch The Wind (Ananas AR 7810799, 1979)
Marina Lippmann (principal vocals)
With influences from funk, soul and occasionally reggae, this slick pop/rock album has dated rather badly. For the most part it’s pretty mediocre, although they occasionally come up with a good tune (notably ‘Pasadena’) and throw in some decent lead guitar work.

Scrifis (West Germany): Take It Or Leave It (Jupiter 6.29437, with inner, 1981?)
Marina Lippmann (principal vocals)
Cheesier than a stilton soufflé with a side order of cheddar sauce, the band’s brand of energetic, punchy, trebly funky rock and soulful balladry is quintessentially eighties. Although they’re clearly competent musicians and Marina Lippmann has a decent voice, on balance I’ll leave it. GRADE: C–.
Scrifis (West Germany): …Live (Ananas AR 8345678, 1983)
Marina Lippmann
Their live album is no real improvement on their studio sets, although the otherwise turgid thirteen-minute ‘Can’t Stand The Light’ includes a few decent passages of rock jamming. Overall, this was a perfectly serviceable but dull band, none of whose albums are really worth hearing. GRADE: C–.

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