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Stijene (Yugoslavia): Cementna Prasina (RTB 2120550, 1981)
New Wave/Rock/Progressive
Zorica Kondza (lead vocals)
An unusual album, this blends elements of new wave, prog and symphonic rock on seven songs and an instrumental. The latter is by far the best thing on offer; elsewhere the different influences don’t always blend well, although this does have its moments. GRADE: C.
Stijene (Yugoslavia): Jedanaest I Petnaest (Jugoton LSY 63137, 1982)
Zorica Kondza (lead vocals)
Like their debut, this comes in a fantasy-style sleeve that makes it appear a classic progressive rock LP. In fact, like their first, it’s an odd mixture of pop/rock, hard rock and prog influences, with side one ranging from a fusion of Lene Lovich and disco (the very catchy ‘Manipulator’, which works in the hook from ‘Lucky Number’) to reggae (‘Luda Rijeka’). Side two in contrast is more symphonic, although still quite mainstream. Enjoyable throughout, the disc peaks on the strong progressive rock of the instrumental title track, making you wish they’d toned down the pop elements elsewhere. GRADE: C+.
Stijene (Yugoslavia): Balkanska Korida (Jugoton LSY-63202, with inner, 1984)
Zorica Kondza (lead vocals)
Their third and final album is straight rock, ranging from fairly good hard rock to rather tepid ballads and irritating pop/reggae. It’s all very polished and commercial, with definite new wave edges, and whilst perfectly listenable isn’t very exciting or original. GRADE: C.

Stinger (USA): Fur-Real (No label ERK-5205, 1977)
Reenie Hodges (principal vocals, bass synthesiser, keyboards)
The opening ‘Stingin’ (Tommy’s Tune)’ and ‘Fur-Real’ are basement progressive rock with a garage edge and amateurish recording quality, suggesting that this will be a ‘real people’ artefact par excellence. Sadly, the remainder is straighter lounge stuff, although still with a garage feeling and a rather quirky edge. GRADE: C+.

Stinking Lizaveta (USA): …Hopelessness And Shame (No label, CD, 1996)
Cheshire Agusta (drums)
This unusual band is basically a power trio, playing instrumental metal with a jazzy edge. Not a progressive or jam band as one might expect from the format, nor demonstrating any grunge or hardcore leanings despite Steve Albini producing, they offer a succession of deft and nimble pieces. Of course, there’s a limit to the variety that can be achieved with just three instruments, and this isn’t the world’s most significant album, but it’s certainly very enjoyable. GRADE: C+.
Stinking Lizaveta (USA): Slaughterhouse (No label, CD, 1997)
Cheshire Agusta (drums)
Somewhat different from their first, this drops the power chords for more of a jamming approach: most of the material here is spare, jazzy and mildly experimental, highlighted by a beautifully clear production. The result is an interesting and creative record, even if it sometimes sounds like excerpts from a live set with the actual songs removed. GRADE: B–.
Stinking Lizaveta (USA): III (Tolotta TOL 08, CD, 2001)
Cheshire Agusta (keyboards, drums)
Their third marks a return to more straightforward instrumental metal, though with a few progressive and experimental edges. Whilst not as good as Slaughterhouse, this is still a strong album, including some fine powerhouse riffs and dexterous drumming. GRADE: B–.
Stinking Lizaveta (USA): Caught Between Worlds (At A Loss Recordings AAL 016, CD, 2004)
Cheshire Agusta (drums)
Album number has a grungy, psychedelic edge that makes it slightly different from their earlier work, but otherwise this is no great step forward from III. Whilst their music is punchy and powerful, its minimalistic nature can also make it plodding and uninvolving, and unfortunately that’s often the case here. GRADE: C+.
Stinking Lizaveta (USA): Scream Of The Iron Iconoclast (At A Loss Recordings AAL02, CD, 2007)
Cheshire Agusta
This is slightly better and more interesting than its predecessor, but much as I like it the fact remains that it sounds like a band having a knock-around during rehearsals rather than a collection of properly composed or improvised material. GRADE: C+.
Stinking Lizaveta (USA): Sacrifice And Bliss (Monotreme MONO-38, CD, with digipak, 2008)
Cheshire Agusta (drums)
Album number six is remarkably slight, consisting of basic riffing and jamming, although there are a couple of superior numbers. But the overall impression is of a band making a very little material, and an increasingly formulaic approach, go a very long way. GRADE: C+.
Stinking Lizaveta (USA): 7th Direction (Exile On Mainstream EOM060, CD, with gatefold minisleeve, 2012)
Cheshire Agusta
This isn’t really any more exciting than Sacrifice And Bliss, with a series of minimalist metal instrumentals slipping by without creating much impression. As a footnote, the first 300 copies purchased directly from the label also featured a custom wooden box. GRADE: C+.
Stinking Lizaveta (USA): Journey To The Underworld (Translation Loss TL105-2, CD, with digipak, 2017)
Cheshire Agusta (drums)
Maybe it’s because I haven’t heard any Stinking Lizaveta in years or perhaps it's because this has a superb, punchy recording, but this sounds like a (just about) B– to me: despite running for only 36 minutes and despite offering no obvious artistic advance over their earlier work. You either like their brand of spare, jazzy stripped-down instrumental metal or you don’t, and I do. GRADE: B–.

Stinking Lizaveta (USA): Anthems And Phantoms (SRA SRA055, clear or grey vinyl, 2023)
Cheshire Agusta (drums)
Once again, this sounds better than most Stinking Lizaveta to me – though that could be down to confirmation bias, my mood or whatever, since this doesn’t do anything other Stinking Lizaveta albums don’t. It simply arrives, offers nine punchy, vaguely jazzy instrumentals over 35 minutes and then disappears, so it’s pretty inconsequential for a B–. But then it’s also pretty good. GRADE: B–.

See also Black Lodge Ensemble

Billy & Sandra Stinson (USA): The Merchant’s Ship (Nashville Record NR 2924, 1973?)
Sandra Stinson (joint lead vocals, melodica)
This gentle, reflective Christian folk album isn’t really exceptional, but it does have some unusual and interesting arrangements (including classical guitar, synthesiser, dulcimer, zither, finger cymbals and quite a lot of Mellotron). The Mellotron in particular gives the LP an atmospheric and mournful feel that sets it apart from many other similar releases, making it worth a listen (despite a few weak tracks such as the country-ish ‘Hungry’). GRADE: C+.

Ştiu Nu Ştiu (Sweden): Ultra Silvam (Edils, UK, download, 2014)
Psychedelic/New Wave/Metal
Billie Lindahl (principal vocals, guitar)
In music, context is sometimes everything: I played this immediately after Siouxsie & The Banshees’ Tinderbox and instantly noticed the similarity in the guitar work (not a connection I would have made otherwise). That’s not to say this is pure post-punk: it also has its flag planted prominently in psychedelic and shoegaze territory, with tracks of up to 14 minutes. At its best, this is impressively intense, almost bordering progressive metal in places, but with little in the way of conventional song structures it often sounds like the mid-eighties Banshees jamming aimlessly. GRADE: C+.
Ştiu Nu Ştiu (Sweden): Fake End (Widsith/Deadwood/Open Mind WID001/DW005/OM005, double, 2016)
Billie Lindahl (lead vocals, guitar)
This is considerably heavier and more intense than their debut, with the band’s shoegaze and jamming psychedelia given distinction by Billie Lindahl’s airy vocals. However, there’s a limit to how exciting – not to mention how varied – this sort of stuff can be, and I found it more interesting when I accidentally started playing it at 33rpm and thought it was sludgy doom metal. GRADE: C+.

Ştiu Nu Ştiu (Sweden): Sick Sad Love (Widsith/Huvet/Open Mind WID010/HVT005/OM018, 2019)
Jessica Mengarelli (principal vocals)
This isn’t as heavy as their last, but it’s probably their trippiest to date. That said, this reinforces the limits of their style – like the occasionally similar Crystalized Movements et al, there’s only so much you can do with guitar-led jamming and loosely structured songs. GRADE: C+.
Ştiu Nu Ştiu (Sweden): New Sun (Heavy Psych Sounds HPS233, black, white and pink vinyl, 2022)
Jessica Mengarelli (lead vocals)
It finally comes together for Ştiu Nu Ştiu here: whilst this is the same sryle as their first three, the melodies and riffs are more memorable, the drumming is more assertive and the energy level is noticeably higher. So perhaps there’s more than I thought that you can do with guitar-led jamming and loosely structured songs. GRADE: B–.

See also Me & My Kites, Promise & The Monster, Vårt Solsystem

Stoka (Slovakia): Stoka (Zoon, CD, 1993)
Inge Hrubaničova (joint lead vocals), Zuzana Piussi (occasionalvocals), Lucia Piussi (occasional vocals, flute), Veronika Turanová (cymbals, violin)
The forbidding black cover gives a fair indication of the music contained within: this is eerie, minimalist chamber music with a strongly theatrical edge, clearly recalling Chêne Noir. However, that band’s free-jazz leanings are entirely absent: instead, this is influenced by classical music, chansons and ethnic folk, though it is sometimes equally experimental. At times, this hints towards Pierrot Lunaire or even Opus Avantra, and the constantly changing musical tapestry never really settles anywhere: not exactly progressive in the conventional sense, not quite RIO though very close indeed, but always fascinating, surprising and unsettling. GRADE: B–.

Stolen Babies (USA): There Be Squabbles Ahead (The End TE078, CD, with digipak and booklet, 2006)
Dominique Lenore Persi (lead vocals, accordion, glockenspiel, jew’s harp)
This interesting and creative album covers all kinds of hard rock and metal, incorporating quite a few avant-garde influences, particularly from cabaret and Russian music. In addition to delivering varied vocals, from melodic crooning to death screams, Dominique Persi is heavily featured on accordion, with the disc constantly remaining surprising and unpredictable. Inevitably, not everything works perfectly, but this is overall a very impressive set. GRADE: B.
Stolen Babies (USA): Naught (No Comment, CD, with digipak and booklet, 2012)
Dominique Lenore Persi (lead vocals, keyboards, accordion, percussion)
Like its predecessor, this is varied, creative, melodic and experimental. Although not taking them in any new directions, it’s a consistently fine LP, with the excellent music being matched by some beautiful and rather sinister artwork. GRADE: B.

Stolen Earth (UK): A Far Cry From Home (No label SE12CD001, CD, 2012)
Heidi Widdop (principal vocals, guitar, whistle)
Broadly typical of modern female-fronted British prog, this is similar to the more mellifluous end of Mostly Autumn’s repertoire, with a dreamy Pink Floyd-like feel to the arrangements. At heart the material has strong singer/songwriter roots, but there are a few clever production touches and the overall effect is quite pleasing if never exactly challenging. As a footnote, Heidi Widdop was Mostly Autumn’s original female vocalist, preceding Heather Findlay; she later replaced Olivia Sparnenn in offshoot project Breathing Space, which mutated into this band. GRADE: C+.

Jade Stone & Luv (USA): Mosaics, Pieces Of Stone (Jade 4351, some with poster, 1977)
Debbie Luv (backing vocals)
Whilst this obscure duo’s album is usually described as lounge or classified as ‘incredibly strange music’, it’s not really anything of the kind. Instead, the disc offers a procession of well-written melodic pop/rock songs with fine musicianship including strong lead guitar, funky percussion, sweeping strings and multitracked backing vocals, all highlighted by excellent production. With a slight nightclub vibe, the music falls somewhere between Elvis Presley and City To City-era Gerry Rafferty in style; coupled with Stone’s quirky appearance on the front cover, this led to the album acquiring a ‘real people’ tag. Restricted to backing vocals, Debbie Luv is not prominently featured on the LP, although she does co-write more than half its cuts. As a footnote, many original copies feature a sticker announcing the presence of a poster but only a handful have been discovered that actually contain it; meanwhile the CD reissue (Subliminal Sounds SUBCD 21, Sweden, 2008) adds no fewer than ten bonus tracks, including some live numbers with more of a garage feel. GRADE: C+.

Rose Stone (USA): Rose (Motown M6-845S1, 1976)
This was actually released under Stone’s married name of Rose Banks, but for the sake of simplicity I’ve allocated it to her more commonly used stage name. Musically, it offers a cross-section of mid-seventies black music styles, from Family Stone-like funk to ballads and soul; all done very well, but without the spark of originality that could have made her a solo star. There are no musician credits, but she was apparently backed by Cynthia Robinson and other Family Stone alumni. GRADE: C+.
Rose Stone (USA): Already Motivated (ESOR 61358, CD, 2008)
Rose Stone (principal vocals, bass, keyboards, drum programmes)
Unlike her first, this one is self-penned, and she handled the arrangements and production too. Unfortunately it’s musically very dull, crossing a few Family Stone-style funk touches with elements of modern black music (RnB, hip-hop and soul) to distinctly underwhelming effect. GRADE: D+.
See also Sly & The Family Stone

Stone Angel (UK): Stone Angel (Seashell SSLP 04, 1975)
Joan Bartle (joint lead vocals, flute, recorder, crumhorn, psaltery)
Stone Angel was essentially a continuation of the early seventies Norfolk acid-folk band Midwinter with a different female vocalist. The band’s eponymous 1975 album remains one of the crowning glories of British acid-folk, featuring a strong mediaeval influence, with recorders and crumhorns well to the fore, but overlaid with some savage distorted electric guitar lines to create a very dense and disturbing atmosphere. The traditional ‘The Gay Gosshawk’ sounds like some imaginary fusion of Ougenweide and Steeleye Span, but elsewhere the album cannot really be compared to anyone else. It all peaks on the final track ‘The Black Dog’, an eerie paean to local supernatural folklore. GRADE: A.
Stone Angel (UK): Stone Angel II – The Holy Rood Of Bromholm (Kissing Spell/Erewhon KSCD 9490-F, CD, 1994, recorded 1975)
Joan Bartle
This interesting archive release sees the band performing live as an acoustic three-piece, including some acapella moments. It’s all fairly lo-fi but certainly worth hearing, especially for interpretations of ‘The Skater’ and ‘Black-Sailed Trader’ from their studio album. GRADE: C+.
Stone Angel (UK): East Of The Sun (Kissing Spell KSCD 922, CD, 2001)
Joan Bartle (joint lead vocals, flute, recorder, crumhorn, psaltery)
Surprisingly, this comeback album is extremely good, if nowhere near as striking or unsettling as their first. With mostly new material (plus a reworking of ‘Black-Sailed Traders’) the music ranges from Pentangle-like acoustic numbers to electric folk/rockers, with the mediaeval and psychedelic edges being used quite sparingly. GRADE: B–.
Stone Angel (UK): Lonely Waters (Kissing Spell KSCD 951, CD, 2004)
Joan Bartle (joint lead vocals, keyboards, accordion, flute, recorder, crumhorn, singing bowl), Jane Denny (percussion, backing vocals)
Even better than its predecdessor, this is a superb electric folk album, covering a wide range of moods and styles. In fact, it may be the best LP of its kind from the new millennium. GRADE: B.
Stone Angel (UK): Circle Of Leaves (Kissing Spell KSCD959, CD, 2007)
Joan Bartle (joint lead vocals, percussion, accordion, flute, recorder, crumhorn, psaltery, shawm, singing bowl), Jane Denny (percussion, backing vocals)
Somewhat different from its predecessor, this is a concept album containing the soundtrack to a stage play, complete with spoken voices. Musically it marries the eerie psychedelic folk of their debut with a more modern industrial or apocalyptic folk style, including lots of synthesisers and programmed drums. Several cuts are acapella and there is a fair bit of variety in the arrangements, making for another fine LP. GRADE: B–.
Stone Angel (UK): Between The Water And The Sky (Stone Angel SSCD0010, CD, with digipak and booklet, 2013)
Joan Bartle (joint lead vocals, accordion, percussion, flute, recorder, crumhorn)
Perhaps a shade more traditional than usual, this is another lovely album full of excellent traditional and original songs. In particular, Joan Bartle’s ballad ‘Ordinary Man’ is a beautiful, eerie and haunting piece of music. GRADE: B–.

Stone Angel (UK): Wake (Stone Angel SSCD0011, CD, with gatefold minisleeve and booklet, 2021)
Joan Bartle (joint lead vocals, piano, percussion, accordion, recorder, psaltery, crumhorn, rauschpfeife, langspil, jew’s harp)
Of all the reformations of one-off obscure seventies bands, Stone Angel’s must be the best – six studio albums in and they still haven’t made a bad one. That said, none of their later efforts recapture the atmosphere of their 1975 set, but lightning doesn’t strike twice and the decision to try something different and somewhat more modern was almost certainly the right one. In any case, this is lovely progressive folk with an ethereal, psychedelic atmosphere and plenty of ambition – not quite the equal of Lonely Waters, which remains one of the finest folk/rock LPs of the new millennium, but easily as good as anything else they’ve done since regrouping and miles ahead of most of the competition. GRADE: B–.

Stone Jug (South Africa): Stone Jug (Epidemic RASH 6001, 1972)
Jenny Bush (backing vocals)
Apart from the funny label name and catalogue number, this soft pop album’s most striking feature is probably its minimalist textured gatefold sleeve (which inevitably suffers from ringwear and all kinds of other problems). Musically it’s well written and arranged, with a folkish edge and a gentle, breezy feel recalling acts like the New Seekers: nice enough, but utterly insubstantial. Hawk’s Julian Laxton engineered and played lead guitar on the album, which oddly also gained a release in Italy. GRADE: C+.

Stone Poneys (USA): The Stone Poneys Featuring Linda Ronstadt (Capitol T / ST 2666, 1967)
Linda Ronstadt (lead vocals, finger cymbals)
Mainly remembered as a footnote in Linda Ronstadt’s lengthy career, this is a rather lovely folk/pop album in its own right. That said, nothing really leaves an impression, which I suppose is par for the course for the style. GRADE: C.
Stone Poneys (USA): Evergreen (Capitol T / ST 2763, 1967)
Linda Ronstadt (lead vocals, finger cymbals)
Their second album has more cover versions (including their sole hit single, ‘Different Drum’), but it’s also more varied and ambitious than their debut. The title track, in two parts, is an eerie and mournful sitar-led number, and elsewhere they throw harpsichord and orchestrations into the mix to create a more baroque hippie sound. Side two drags noticeably, with several rather forgettable cuts, but this is mostly an impressive step forward from their debut. The band went on to cut a third and final album that was mostly a vehicle for Ronstadt; based on the few tracks I’ve heard, this was a pretty undistinguished country affair. GRADE: C+.

Stone The Crows (UK): Stone The Crows (Polydor 2425 017, 1970)
Maggie Bell (joint lead vocals)
Unlike later albums, Stone The Crows’ debut saw the brilliant Maggie Bell sharing lead vocals with bassist Jim Dewar. The first side featured four shorter soul and blues/rock tracks, while the second was taken up with the seventeen-minute progressive blowout ‘I Saw America’, charting the band’s reaction to American culture, and in particular the Vietnam War. Overall, the album is uneven, with the elements failing to hang together, and the band definitely overreached itself on the side-long cut. Nevertheless, there is much to enjoy on the disc.

Stone The Crows (UK): Ode To John Law (Polydor 2425 042, 1970)
Maggie Bell (lead vocals)
My favourite album of the seventies and my second favourite of all time, though I’m not entirely sure why – this wasn’t cutting-edge even in 1970. Yet the songwriting is consistently brilliant throughout, with unforgettable hooks and instrumental diversions, Les Harvey’s guitar work is simultaneously stellar and very sensitive, and Maggie Bell is as close as Britain ever got to producing a serious rival to Janis Joplin (although she hates the comparison herself). The opening ‘Sad Mary’, with its constant shifts of mood and tempo and Bell’s keening at its most extreme, sets out the album’s stall in no uncertain fashion, and the standard is maintained throughout, with the core elements of progressive rock, psychedelia, soul and blues served up in different combinations on seven consistently wonderful tracks. GRADE: A+.
Stone The Crows (UK): Teenage Licks (Polydor 2425 071, 1971)
Maggie Bell (lead vocals)
Third time round, Stone The Crows concentrated on shorter, straighter rock tracks. The opening ‘Big Jim Salter’ maintains the same incredible standard as Ode To John Law, but most of the rest doesn’t. Only ‘146’, which slowly builds into a piece of astounding intensity, really shows them at their very best. GRADE: C+.
Stone The Crows (UK): Ontinuous Performance (Polydor 2391 043, 1972)
Maggie Bell (lead vocals)
Their best after Ode To John Law, this is a consistently outstanding set of progressive blues/rock and a worthy tribute to guitarist Les Harvey, who was electrocuted (live on stage) towards the end of the recording sessions. The opening cuts ‘On The Highway’ and the shimmeringly beautiful ‘One More Chance’ are the best things here, but the funereal instrumental ‘King Tut’ is also surprisingly effective (and rather spooky, in view of what was about to happen). GRADE: B+.
Stone The Crows (UK): The BBC Sessions, Volume 1 – 1969-1970 (Strange Fruit SFRSCD 054, CD, 1998, recorded 1969-1970)
Maggie Bell (principal vocals)
Taken from four different sessions between November 1969 and October 1970 (which means two versions of ‘Raining In Your Heart’), this mainly offers alternate takes of Stone The Crows and Ode To John Law material. However, the highpoints are the non-album cuts ‘Freedom Road’ and ‘Hollis Brown’, which total nearly 24 minutes of prime Crows. GRADE: B.
Stone The Crows (UK): The BBC Sessions, Volume 2 – 1971-1972 (Strange Fruit SFRSCD 068, CD, 1998, recorded 1971-1972)
Maggie Bell (lead vocals)
This is a little thin-sounding in parts compared to the albums, but there’s an excellent selection of material on offer from Teenage Licks and Ontinuous Performance. Interestingly, there’s also an unreleased band original ‘Let It Down’, but it’s not very exciting. Once again, a song is repeated: in this case, ‘On The Highway’. Some cuts are clearly dubbed from a record. GRADE: B.
Stone The Crows (UK): Don’t Think Twice (HF 9543, 1998?, recorded 1971)
Maggie Bell (lead vocals)
The provenance of this release is somewhat dubious; despite excellent sound quality, it’s probably at best semi-legit, and at one point sounds like it was transferred from vinyl. Nonetheless this is an important archive release, featuring a superb live set from around the time of Teenage Licks. GRADE: B.
Stone The Crows (UK): On The Highway (HF 9544, CD, 1998?, recorded 1972)
Maggie Bell (lead vocals)
A companion piece to the above, this was recorded in 1972 and features virtually the entire Ontinuous Performance album performed live. Musically it’s superb, and again benefits from excellent sound quality. This time round, it is clearly dubbed from disc, with a few audible crackles. GRADE: B.
Stone The Crows (UK): BBC Radio 1 Live In Concert (Strange Fruit SFRSCD049, CD, 1998, recorded 1971-1972)
Maggie Bell (lead vocals)
Whilst the tracklisting resembles that of the Don’t Think Twice and On The Highway albums compiled together, this appears to be taken from different shows, with the performances perhaps just a shade less energetic. Nonetheless, this is another fine archive set, and again with very good sound quality. GRADE: B.
Stone The Crows (UK): Live Crows (Akarma AK 221, CD, with gatefold minisleeve, 2002, recorded 1972)
Maggie Bell (lead vocals)
Although recorded in 1972, this mostly features material from Ode To John Law, making it an excellent companion piece to their other retrospective live albums. The centrepiece of the set, however, is a heavy, rather psychedelic, 20-minute version of Bob Dylan’s ‘Hollis Brown’. GRADE: B.
Stone The Crows (UK): In Concert, Beat Workshop, Germany, 1973 (Angel Air Waves NJPDVD 627, DVD, 2007, recorded 1973)
Maggie Bell (lead vocals, tambourine)
Essentially duplicating the tracklisting of the On The Highway album, this is possibly the best Stone The Crows live recording from a musical standpoint. Visually, it’s less impressive, with murky lighting and rather static performances; the only really memorable feature is Jimmy McCulloch’s ludicrous seventies tank top. GRADE: B.
See also Maggie Bell, British Blues Quintet, Jon Lord Blues Project, Midnight Flyer

Stoned Circus (USA): The Stoned Circus (Unreleased acetate, 1970)
Nancy Lake Wheedon (joint lead vocals, percussion), Donna Kurtz Nugent (drums, percussion)
This excellent West Coast artefact mostly offers Jefferson Airplane-inspired psychedelia (sometimes strongly resembling a heavier Spirits & Worm) with a slightly later hard rock sensibility. The latter aspect of their sound is most evident on their version of Led Zeppelin’s ‘Babe I’m Gonna Leave You’, whilst elsewhere they offer some very catchy material with an anthemic touch (peaking on the superb ‘New World’). This isn’t the most original album, sounding like an amalgam of several contemporary bands, which is probably why it didn’t get released at the time; nonetheless, it is a fine example of its style, and better than the vast bulk of major label releases from the era. As a footnote, it’s unclear whether an acetate was cut in 1970, with some sources suggesting that the true original is the mid-nineties pressing on Rockadelic (RRLP 12.5, with insert); a subsequent CD version (World In Sound WIS-1019, Germany, 2004) retitles the album Revisited. GRADE: B–.

Stoneground (USA): Stoneground (Artisan Sound Recorders, unreleased acetate, 1970)
Formed by ex-Beau Brummel Sal Valentino, Stoneground was something of a West Coast supergroup. After winning a contract with Warners on the basis of a live demo recorded in the UK (and later issued on CD as On Stage), the band cut their first album and promptly had it rejected by the label. Quite why is a mystery, as it’s as good as anything they actually released, with a more stripped-down rock feel and much more guitar-dominated arrangements. In fact, I probably prefer this to their official debut. I know of only one copy of the acetate. GRADE: C+.
Stoneground (USA): Stoneground (Warner Brothers WS 1895, 1971)
Lynne Hughes (joint lead vocals), Deirdre LaPorte (joint lead vocals), Annie Sampson (joint lead vocals), Lydia Moreno (joint lead vocals)
The band obviously took the rejection of their proposed first album to heart, since this duplicates no material whatsoever. In the interim they took a rootsier approach, with strong blues, soul and gospel influences, and it sounds as though they expanded the line-up too (including four different female singers and Jefferson Starship’s Pete Sears on bass). Unsurprisingly, the LP features some outstanding musicianship, but does not offer a particularly distinctive vision. GRADE: C+.
Stoneground (USA): Stoneground Family Album (Warner Brothers WS 1956, double, 1971)
Lynne Hughes, Deirdre LaPorte, Annie Sampson, Lydia Moreno
With three sides recorded live and one in the studio, this expansive double album is the band’s magnum opus. More laid-back than their debut, it makes clear the similarity between their sound and The Grateful Dead at their least experimental, partly because both bands share similar tastes in covers (Bob Dylan, Johnny Cash, fifties rock and roll). Like its predecessor, the album is tasteful, consistent and well-arranged, with fine singing and musicianship throughout – but there are few truly exciting moments. GRADE: C+.
Stoneground (USA): Stoneground (Warner Brothers BS 2645, with insert, 1972)
Lynne Hughes (joint lead vocals), Deirdre LaPorte (joint lead vocals), Annie Sampson (joint lead vocals), Lydia Moreno (joint lead vocals)
This is no more original or distinctive than the band’s earlier albums, but it’s probably their best. Eschewing covers altogether, they offer twelve original compositions – all short, tight and good-natured, with catchy melodies and strong guitar work. It’s also surprisingly cohesive, given that it was cut by an eleven-piece band including five lead vocalists and six songwriters, who rarely collaborated. GRADE: C+.
See also Tongue & Groove, Various ‘5th Annual Pipe Dream’

Storm (Norway): Nordavind (Moonfog Productions FOG 004, CD, 1994)
Kari Rueslåtten (joint lead vocals)
Kari Rueslåtten’s post-Third & The Mortal project is far more rooted in metal: this offers a kind of Viking doom with gothic and folk edges and some surprisingly basic song structures and musicianship. Whilst this is an enjoyable record, it offers none of the atmospherics the band name suggests and is a definite step down from the complex, creative music of her previous band. Altogether this was an odd sidestep in Rueslåtten’s career, partly because she doesn’t do much on the album and partly because her subsequent recordings took her well away from metal. GRADE: C+.
See also Kari Rueslåtten, Third & The Mortal

Storm Deva (UK): Storm Deva (Planet Twig SDCD01, CD, with digipak, booklet and postcard, 2023)
Carollyn Eden (lead vocals, bass pedals, keyboards, percussion)
Never was a band so aptly named – Storm Deva’s music is all about melodrama and atmosphere, with haunting melodies punctuated by powerful guitar solos. Whilst I can hear references to numerous other bands here – there’s more than a touch of Karnataka, for a start – Storm Deva already have their own sound and style, making for a mature and promising debut. GRADE: C+.

Stormz (USA): Take Me (CEI 0001, 1982)
Janice Duncan (joint lead vocals)
This is solid seventies hard rock with some decent guitar work and all-original material. It’s derivative stuff, for sure, and completely anonymous, but good fun at the same time. GRADE: C+.

Storylande (UK): Secret Journey (No label, CDR, 2019)
June Stevenson
The band formerly known as Black Water return with a new album that’s both much more eccentric and considerably more amateurish. On playing the opening ‘Storm Born’, you might think they’ve gone off the deep end completely – it’s staggeringly inept progressive metal, with clumsy riffing, leaden drumming (a recurring theme throughout the album) and bizarre vocals from June Stevenson, almost approaching Double Helix levels of oddness. The rest is more normal, but the occasional stabs at progressive metal do not work well at all, and it’s the gentler numbers that succeed, especially the lovely ‘Mesmerised’. GRADE: C.

See also Black Water

Storyteller (UK): Storyteller (Transatlantic TRA 220, 1970)
Caroline Attard (joint lead vocals)
Fronted by Terry Durham, who’d released a solo LP the year before, Storyteller offered gentle and rather lovely hippie folk/rock on their debut. In particular, there’s plenty of haunting and mildly psychedelic flute work, and more than a few hints of Tudor Lodge (though I like this LP more). GRADE: C+.
Storyteller (UK): More Pages (Transatlantic TRA 232, 1971)
Caroline Attard (joint lead vocals)
Though more direct and energetic than their debut, More Pages isn’t particularly exciting. It’s well put together and listenable, however, and occasionally quite brilliant (the delicate, haunting acid-folk of ‘Bosworth Field’). GRADE: C+.

David Stoughton (USA): Transformer (Elektra EKL 4034 / EKS 47034, 1968)
Devi Klate (joint lead vocals)
The opening cuts are relatively normal, though still inventive, jazzy psychedelic pop, but with the bizarre ‘The Anecdote Of Horatio And Julie’ Stoughton’s avant-garde roots really begin to show through. Blending electronics, mournful solo horn and quasi-operatic call-and-response vocals, this fascinating track slowly unfolds over eight compelling and unsettling minutes. Side two follows the same format, with two conventional length songs (including the beautiful folk piece ‘Evening Song’) followed by the ten-minute experimental cut ‘I Don’t Know If It’s You’. Altogether, this is an intriguing and impressive piece of work. GRADE: B–.

John Strang, Valentine Lewis Lloyd & Martin Farquharson (UK): The Masterpeace (No label, 1968)
Valentine Lewis Lloyd (occasional vocals, guitar)
Only two copies have resurfaced of this interesting album, pressed in a tiny run of 50. With the three members appearing separately and together on the numerous fragmentary songs, it’s largely a solo vehicle for John Strang, with the other members playing a limited role; Valentine Lewis Lloyd appears on just three songs. Musically, it’s a quiet and delicate folk LP with sparse acoustic and occasionally electric instrumentation and a subtle psychedelic edge, at various times hinting towards Vashti Bunyan, the Incredible String Band and Tony,

Caro & John. GRADE: C+.

Strangers On A Train (UK): The Key (SI Music SIMPly One, CD, Holland, 1990)
Tracy Hitchings (principal vocals)
This three-piece band (singer, keyboardist/composer and guitarist/occasional bassist) created an oddly thin-sounding album that often resembles an unfinished demo. Several cuts set Tracy Hitchings’s dramatic, breathy vocals against little more than solo piano, whilst the instrumentals (ranging from hard rock to muzak in mood) also sound incomplete due to the almost total lack of drums. The end result is a truly strange piece of work that never really hangs together and sometimes displays a definite stage musical feel (most notably on ‘From The Outside In’). Finally, it’s very noticeable here how similar Hitchings’s voice can be to Toyah Willcox’s. GRADE: C–.
Strangers On A Train (UK): The Key Part 2: The Labyrinth (SI Music SIMPly Twenty Nine, CD, Holland, 1993)
Tracy Hitchings (joint lead vocals)
Their second and final album is much more professional than their first, with a fuller sound (despite drums being used sparely once again) and a more complex compositional approach. However, despite two suites over twenty minutes, this is essentially identikit neoprog spiced up by a few folky and classical touches; the instrumental ‘Hijrah’ is probably the best thing on offer. GRADE: C.
See also Gandalf Featuring Vocals By Tracy Hitchings, Tracy Hitchings, Landmarq

Strawbs (UK): Strawberry Music Sampler No 1 (No label, 1969)
Sandy Denny (joint lead vocals, guitar)
This is a lovely, charming folk/rock album, as one would expect from a collaboration between the nascent Strawbs and a pre-Fairport Convention Sandy Denny. Aside from including the first version of the latter’s seminal ‘Who Knows Where The Time Goes?’, this features a number of excellent compositions by Dave Cousins. However, there are also three whimsical music hall-style numbers that have dated extremely badly. Most of the tracks (some in different mixes) finally got a commercial release in 1973 as All Our Own Work, whilst further permutations of numbers and takes later appeared on CD as Sandy Denny And The Strawbs. Of the 100 copies originally pressed as a publisher’s demo, only a couple have resurfaced on the collectors’ market, making this one of the most expensive and sought-after British folk albums. GRADE: C+.
See also Bunch, Sandy Denny, Fairport Convention, Fotheringay

Strawberry Fields (Poland): Rivers Gone Dry (Metal Mind Productions MMP CD 0652, CD, 2009)
Marta Kniewska (lead vocals)
‘A perfect album for album for the fans of Goldfrapp, Portishead or the Gathering’ says the hype sticker, and whilst this is far more rock-oriented than the first two the claim broadly makes sense. Blending classic rock with a slight psychedelic edge with a few trip-hop edges and some modernistic production touches, Strawberry Fields offer a consistently good procession of melodic, well-crafted numbers; had they stretched out a little more, the LP could have been consistently great. GRADE: C+.

Strawberry Fields (Poland): Live Strawberry Fields (Metal Mind Productions MMP DVD 0195, DVD, with booklet, 2011)
Marta Kniewska (lead vocals)
I was curious to see how Strawberry Fields’ unusual music would work live – the short answer is very well. This performance makes clear the metal influence underpinning their music (appropriately enough, given their label) and is much heavier and more intense than the studio set. It’s again intermittently rather than consistently brilliant, but it’s clear that they’re a powerful and engaging live act. Bonuses include interviews with two band members (in Polish, with English subtitles), a biography and a photo gallery. GRADE: B–.
See also Travellers

Stream Of Passion (Holland/Mexico): Embrace The Storm (InsideOut Music 82876751252, dual disc, 2005)
Marcela Bovio (lead vocals, violin), Lori Linstruth (guitar)
This Dutch-Mexican supergroup brought together musicians from Ayreon and Elfonía, but never resembles a cross between the two bands. That said, its sound is a definite step forward from Elfonía’s atmospheric prog, though now presented within a more conventional gothic metal framework – and therein lies its downfall. Whilst Elfonía’s music was ethereal and melancholy yet very understated, this is all a little too arch, both lyrically and musically. Unusually, the album was released as a ‘dual disc’ with CD and DVD sides: the latter featured a 5.1 mix of the entire album, mostly acoustic demos for every song (which I generally prefer to the LP proper), some studio footage and a promotional video. There was also a double disc set featuring both a CD and DVD (InsideOut Music IOMCD 228, with slipcase); the latter had slightly different contents, omitting the surround sound mix but adding some additional studio and behind the scenes footage.


Stream Of Passion Featuring Ayreon (Holland/Mexico/USA): Live In The Real World (SPV 7910D, DVD, with booklet, Germany, 2006)
Marcela Bovio (principal vocals, violin), Lori Linstruth (guitar)
This live set proves that Stream Of Passion have a dramatic and powerful stage show, with fine musicianship; the problem is that I simply don’t find their material very inspiring. Extras include a tour diary slideshow, promotional video and ‘making of’ feature, behind the scenes footage and a photo gallery. GRADE: C+.
Stream Of Passion Featuring Ayreon (Holland/Mexico/USA): Live In The Real World (SPV 79102, double CD, Germany, 2006)
Marcela Bovio (principal vocals, violin), Lori Linstruth (guitar)
Listening to the first few songs of the audio version made me question my review of the DVD: Stream Of Passion’s music is beautifully crafted, impeccably played and dynamic in all the right places. As the lengthy set progresses, their drawbacks become more obvious: the band’s songs aren’t very varied and, worse, are pretty generic. GRADE: C+.
Stream Of Passion (Holland/Mexico): The Flame Within (Napalm NPR 295, CD, with digipak and booklet, Austria, 2009)
Marcela Bovio (lead vocals, violin)
Confirming the impression created by the live album, The Flame Within reinforces the well-crafted nature of the band’s songs and the well-judged musicianship. But once again, it’s utterly generic and indistinguishable from the work of countless similar bands, though the Radiohead cover is a bold and interesting move. GRADE: C+.

Stream Of Passion (Holland/Mexico): Darker Days (Napalm NPR 377, CD, with digipak and booklet, Austria, 2011)
Marcela Bovio (lead vocals, violin)
The opening ‘Spark’ is the band’s heaviest song to date, and by some margin the best. The remainder isn’t so striking, but this is their most impressive album to date, even if they don’t create a truly distinctive sound. GRADE: C+.
Stream Of Passion (Holland/Mexico): A War Of Our Own (SOP Music 003, double, purple splatter vinyl, 2014)
Marcela Bovio (lead vocals, violin)
Again, this is beautifully crafted, atmospheric and dramatic; but once again, it’s all entirely generic. The vinyl version adds a whole side of bonus material, comprising one studio cut and three live acoustic numbers. GRADE: C+.

See also Ayreon, Elfonía, Gathering, Lori Linstruth, Arjen Lucassen’s Guilt Machine, Stream Of Passion, Beto Vázquez Infinity

Street (USA): Street (Verve Forecast FTS 3057, 1968)
Anya Cohen (lead vocals, tambourine)
On first listen, this sounds like typical second-division late-sixties rock, with influences from R&B, psychedelia and hard rock. Nonetheless, there are a few touches that raise it above the norm, including Anya Cohen’s powerful voice (which resembles a cross between Grace Slick and Stevie Nicks) and excellent acid guitar on several cuts. The two most interesting songs are the uncharacteristic atmospheric ballad ‘Some Thoughts Of A Young Man’s Girl’ and the lengthy ‘What A Strange Town’, which includes elements of progressive rock with its shifts of mood and tempo and lengthy middle section of sound effects. Since the bulk of the material was penned by producer Rick Shorter, with band members co-writing only two numbers, it’s possible that they were session players assembled purely to cut the LP. GRADE: C+.

Street & The Sea (USA): The Street And The Sea (Simple Productions SP 001, 1976)
Priscilla Quinby (principal vocals, guitar)
With a copy having sold for $2000, this rivals Catherine Howe’s What A Beautiful Place for the world’s most expensive singer/songwriter LP. Also like the Howe LP, its value clearly lies more in its rarity and cachet than its musical contents, though both albums are charming and winsome. The disc mainly serves as the vehicle for the singing and writing of Priscilla ‘Perky’ Quinby, who is undeniably talented in both disciplines. However, she’s also undeniably heavily influenced by early Joni Mitchell with a dash of Judy Collins, and their albums can be picked up for a fiver. GRADE: C+.

Street Christians (USA): It’s Been A Long Time Comin’ (Pickwick International Productions PIP 6810-X-RM, with insert, 1971)
This Christian album is not folk or light pop as I expected, but a lively fusion of soul, jazz and pop/rock (in varying combinations). Inevitably a couple of tracks are a little too sincere, and none of this is exactly mouldbreaking, but there’s some decent music on here – even the drum solo is well above average. GRADE: C+.

Street Noise (USA): Street Noise (Evolution 2010, 1969)
Tina Newkirk (principal vocals)
This obscurity offers an enjoyable mix of catchy bluesy rock and soulful ballads, with some excellent vocals from Tina Newkirk. The musicianship is tight and punchy throughout, but it’s all too good-natured for the band members to be the urban desperadoes they appear from the back cover. Strangely, the album was also released on Fontana in France as Six Days On The Road, with the cover photograph flipped and some different graphics. GRADE: C+.

Streetmark (West Germany): Nordland (Sky 003, 1976)
Dorothea Raukes (keyboards)
With sides entitled ‘House Of Three Windows’ and ‘Nordland’ and many of the tracks run together into suites, this excellent German album sounds more like an early English prog LP from circa 1970. The sound is driven by Dorothea Raukes’s powerful organ and some assertive guitar, and combines classical flourishes with a heavy post-psychedelic rock style recalling prog pioneers like Beggar’s Opera or Marsupilami. The final ingredient is some well-written and catchy songs, as well as an outstanding cover of ‘Eleanor Rigby’. The CD reissue adds a short but superb bonus track entitled ‘Da Capo’. GRADE: B.
Streetmark (West Germany): Eileen (Sky 011, with insert, 1977)
Dorothea Raukes (keyboards, backing vocals)
Their second album is totally different, largely because original vocalist Georg Buschmann was replaced by singer, guitarist and synthesist Wolfgang Riechmann, who co-writes everything here. With a much less rock-oriented approach, this has a thinner sound with lots of synthesisers and a rather eerie, psychedelic atmosphere, although a stronger pop sensibility creeps in. The twelve-minute instrumental ‘Dreams’ is impressive, with some powerful lead guitar work, but elsewhere the standard of songwriting is rather variable, and to my ears this is nowhere near as good as Nordland. However, I appear to be in the minority, as most critics regard this as Streetmark’s classic. The album has been reissued, with different artwork, as both Wolfgang Riechmann Und Streetmark and Dreams. GRADE: B–.
Streetmark (West Germany): Dry (Sky 023, 1979)
Dorothea Raukes (joint lead vocals, keyboards)
With Riechmann having jumped ship as quickly as Buschmann, this is different yet again, with Raukes sharing the lead vocals and contributing swathes of rich keyboards. The A-side is rather impressive and unusual – slick synthesised prog that’s simultaneously commercial yet subtly experimental, mellow yet intermittently hard rocking. Side two is a good deal patchier, with the ballad ‘Drifting’ taking the band into almost MOR realms despite a lively rock break in the middle, and ‘Disco Dry’ being a truly odd attempt to write a catchy pop song. GRADE: C+.
Streetmark (West Germany): Sky Racer (Sky 050, 1981)
Dorothea Raukes (lead vocals, keyboards)
For their fourth and final album, Raukes took almost total control, handling all the lead vocals and writing the bulk of the material. Side two is largely instrumental, but mainly this is mainstream pop/rock – catchy and competent but essentially uninteresting. Ironically, the best cut is the closing guitar instrumental ‘Streaming’ – the only track not penned by Raukes. GRADE: C.
See also Deutsche Wertarbeit

String Cheese (USA): String Cheese (Wooden Nickel WNS 1001, 1971)
Sally Smaller (principal vocals)
This band’s all-time favourite album must have been It’s A Beautiful Day’s debut, since this is frequently so similar that it almost qualifies as a pastiche. The songwriting isn’t of the same standard, but it’s still an elegant and beautiful LP, and a damn sight better than the subsequent three It’s A Beautiful Day studio albums. Amusingly, violinist Greg Bloch actually went on to replace David LaFlamme in It’s A Beautiful Day, which must have been a dream come true for him. As a footnote, this was also released in the UK (RCA SF 8222) the following year, in a simplified single sleeve. GRADE: C+.

String Driven Thing (UK): String Driven Thing (Concord CON 1001, 1970)
Pauline Adams
Their terminally obscure but lovely debut LP offers big production harmony sunshine pop, recalling the Mamas & The Papas with a mildly trippy Swingin’ London edge. Whilst the UK issue was limited to just 99 copies, the album received a full commercial release in West Germany (Vogue LDVS 17427). GRADE: C+.
String Driven Thing (UK): String Driven Thing (Charisma CAS 1062, 1972)
Pauline Adams (occasional vocals, percussion)
The band’s second album is radically different from their debut, offering a sort of folkish garage rock (although they’re usually erroneously described as prog). With rather murky backing from electric guitars, bass, percussion and violin, and without any drums (reputedly at Charisma’s insistence) their sound can only be compared to a cross between Fairport Convention on their first album and the Velvet Underground. There are also a few more relaxed acoustic numbers that work quite well and vary the mood. Overall it’s quite an interesting record, but also quite an odd one that falls between several stools, making one wonder about their intended audience. GRADE: C+.
String Driven Thing (UK): Live On The Foxtrot Tour (Ozit CD9012, CD, 2012, recorded 1973)
Pauline Adams (percussion, backing vocals)
This worthwhile archive release captures the band live in January 1973, supporting Genesis in Manchester (as the title suggests). The material is drawn from their self-titled second LP and the performances are lively and engaging whilst maintaining that album’s unusual Fairport Convention-meets-Velvet Underground vibe. The extended closing version of ‘Jack Diamond’ is particularly good, showing the band beginning to incorporate progressive rock influences into its sound. GRADE: C+.
String Driven Thing (UK): Pop Spectacular (BBC Transcription Services 133975-S, no sleeve, 1973)
Pauline Adams (percussion, backing vocals)
This was clearly recorded a few months after Live On The Foxtrot Tour, as the band had changed bassists and added a drummer to the line-up. The five numbers mix songs from String Driven Thing and new material that would later appear on The Machine That Cried; the other side of the disc is given over to Solid Gold Cadillac. GRADE: C+.
String Driven Thing (UK): The Machine That Cried (Charisma CAS 1070, 1973)
Pauline Adams (joint lead vocals, percussion)
Originally titled Heartfeeder after its remarkable opening track, which virtually defines the term ‘existential angst’, this was intended to be the band’s magnum opus. However, Charisma rejected both the title and the stunning 11-minute closer ‘River Of Sleep’, cutting the latter to a two-minute fragment and insisting the band record three new songs (‘Travelling’, ‘The House’ and ‘The Machine That Cried’) to fill the gap. The end result was a logical step forward from their second LP, but a seriously compromised piece of work. Thankfully, most CD reissues include the full ‘River Of Sleep’, and are worth buying for this and ‘Heartfeeder’ alone. The band broke up after the album’s release, with the husband-and-wife duo of Chris and Pauliine Adams issuing a few solo singles before leaving the music business, whilst violinist Grahame Smith assembled a new, all-male line-up that cut two further, radically different, albums. GRADE: C+.
String Driven Thing (UK): Di$chomoty – The Rarities 1971-1974 (World Wide SPM-WWR-CD-038, CD, Germany, 1992, recorded

Pauline Adams (occasional vocals, percussion)
This compilation of singles, B-sides, alternate mixes, demos, live tracks and even a retrospective interview actually outclasses any of the band’s studio albums. Highpoints include the B-sides ‘City At Night’ and ‘Are You Really A Rock ’N’ Roller?’, an early version of ‘Let Me Down’ recorded by the original line-up, and the demo ‘Moonlight Kid’. GRADE: C+.

String Driven Thing (UK): The Steeple Claydon Tapes (Ozit-Morpheus/Dandelion OZITDANLP8021, blue vinyl, 2014, recorded 1970s)
Pauline Adams
This collection of home demos by Chris and Pauline Adams has a pleasant, low-key charm bolstered by a better-than-expected recording. There’s nothing especially memorable here, nor anything that matches the best of String Driven Thing, but this is a solid enough addition to their small discography. GRADE: C+.

Stringband (Canada): Canadian Sunset (Nick NICK-1, with insert, 1978)
Marie-Lynn Hammond (principal vocals, guitar, tambourine)
This obscure band’s private album offers a rootsy mix of acoustic folk and country, harking back to some elements of the Insect Trust’s sound. It’s a nice LP, with occasional good use of rock guitar, but you’d have to like country music a lot more than me to treasure this. On the plus side, it has a lovely sleeve with a real photograph pasted onto the front. GRADE: C.

Sally Strobelight (USA): Starships In Silhouette (No label, clear vinyl, 2006)
Avant-garde folk isn’t always my favourite genre, but this is a fine album, blending electronica, trip-hop, lo-fi and more to create some genuinely inventive and unsettling soundscapes. It also benefits from excellent recording quality, which is unusual for the style; all too many seem to think that an inept or soupy mix adds ambience. The LP was limited to 200 copies on clear vinyl, housed in a beautiful tracing-paper sleeve. GRADE: C+.

Stromboli (Czechoslovakia): Stromboli (Panton 81 0698-99, double, 1987)
Bára Basiková (principal vocals), Vendula Kaspárková (synthesiser)
Mixing studio and live tracks, this is an impressive double set of prog from the prolific Michal Pavlícek and associates. The music has a strong rock sound and slight jazz and metal tinges, with a definite eighties feel, although it has dated well (unlike much prog from the decade). There’s also a faint Magma influence at work, although this definitely isn’t zeuhl, and a few hints of new wave, creating a powerful and atmospheric, but never ostentatious, set of songs and instrumentals. GRADE: B–.
Stromboli (Czechoslovakia): Shutdown (Panton 8 0811-2, 1989)
Bára Basiková (principal vocals), Vendula Kaspárková (synthesiser)
Whilst still broadly under the progressive banner, their second LP is somewhat different, incorporating strong gothic and new wave influences. Indeed, hints of everyone from Lene Lovich to Kate Bush and Siouxsie & The Banshees can be detected in the vocal and instrumental approach. The eighties production and programmed drums irritate here and there, but overall this isn’t a bad album.

Stromboli (Czech Republic): Stromboli In Quartet (Sony Music/Bonton 503101 2, double CD with reissue of Shutdown, 2001)
Michaela Poláková (lead vocals, piano, programming)
This peculiar album isn’t a Stromboli reunion, but sees their old material rearranged for a string quartet plus plenty of trip hop-style electronics. Most of the album is instrumental, with some pieces being played purely on strings, but there are a couple of songs and some low-key guitar work from band leader Michal Pavlícek. The end result could just as easily be classified as progressive, chilled-out dance music or modern classical and is very interesting, while bearing no resemblance to anything else the band ever did. GRADE: B–.

Stromboli (Czech Republic): Fiat Lux (Warner Music 0825646187768, CD, with digipak and booklet, 2014)
Bára Basiková (principal vocals)
Given that their three previous albums were completely dissimilar, this reunion effort could have been in almost any style. In fact, it harks back to their debut, though this very definitely falls into the atmospheric rock rather than prog camp. With some powerful lead guitar and drums and slight post-punk tinges, this is a good album that could have been great had they stretched out on some extended passages. GRADE: C+.
Stromboli (Czech Republic): Koncertní Album 2014•1997 (Warner Music 0825646025510, double CD, with digipak and booklet, 2015, recorded

1997 and 2014)
Bára Basiková (principal vocals), Vendula Kašpárková (keyboards)
This excellent set features two live shows – one from 1997 (a period when I wasn’t aware the band was active) and one from 2014. Both were performed by the same line-up, with original keyboardist Vendula Kašpárková returning to the fold, and both feature their unusual blend of rock, post-punk and prog. The 2014 show is to these ears the more exciting and dynamic of the two, but the 1997 set is worth a listen too. GRADE: B–.
See also Bára Basiková & Precedens

Carol Stromme (USA): The Soft Sound Of Carol Stromme (Pete S1103, 1968)
Gentle, ornate soft rock, sometimes described as ‘psychedelic’ but not really so (although the gentle, haunting ‘Little Girls And Little Boys’ and ‘Warm’ are mildly trippy). Only two of the songs are self-penned. GRADE: C.
See also New Society

Strum The Fox (USA): Vulpeculated (No label, download, 2019)
Nicole Bouffard (lead vocals)
Given the band’s odd line-up – including a dedicated performer of ‘euphonium with effects’ – this band’s four-track, 20-minute EP could have been almost anything, with my money tending towards folk or free-jazz. In fact, it’s a mixture of math-rock and mild ethnic elements, with a melodic song-based style. The blurb for that describes it as showcasing ‘the more intense side of fun-loving band Strum The Fox’, but it’s actually pretty relaxed, and whilst not hugely memorable is certainly quirky enough to be interesting. GRADE: C+.

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