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ThanatoSchizO (Portugal): Schizo Level (Misdeed MR 667, with digipak and booklet, CD, 2001)
Patrícia Rodrigues (occasional vocals)
Schizo indeed: this experimental metal album ranges from doomdeath to gothic styles via psychedelia, sound effects, funky bass lines, symphonic keyboards, spoken word passages, electronics, jazzy horns and more. The result is a record that’s intermittently brilliant but also patchy and frustrating, with too much thrashy riffing and some quite irritating shrieking death vocals. GRADE: C+.
ThanatoSchizO (Portugal): Insomnious Night Lift (Rage Of Achilles ILIAD032, CD, UK, 2002)
Patrícia Rodrigues (joint lead vocals)
Whilst not as creative as its predecessor, this is a much more mature and consistent album that’s listenable all through. Though there is some high-power riffing and some death vocals (much more restrained this time), this is a far more atmospheric LP, concentrating on haunting mid-paced material featuring some good use of acoustic guitar. Had they fused the best attributes of both albums, they could have come up with a classic; but this is still pretty good stuff. GRADE: B–.
ThanatoSchizO (Portugal): Turbulence (Misdeed MR013, CD, with digipak and booklet, 2004)
Patrícia Rodrigues (joint lead vocals)
This has a powerful sound, with a nice balance of melody and edge on mostly mid-paced material. But the riffs are not matched by comparably memorable songs, and apart from a few mildly experimental touches towards the end they’re not pushing any boundaries – or even pushing themselves. GRADE: C+.
ThanatoSchizO (Portugal): Zoom Code (My Kingdom Music echo0333, CD, Italy, 2008)
Patrícia Rodrigues (joint lead vocals)
Much more dynamic than its predecessor, this is something of a return to form. With well-integrated classical and ethnic elements, this is powerful and carefully judged music that consistently impresses. GRADE: B–.
ThanatoSchizO (Portugal): Origami (Major Label Industries MLI1019, CD, 2010)
Patrícia Rodrigues (principal vocals)
Abandoning metal altogether on their final album, the band offer sophisticated modern progressive with a very understated feel. Incorporating quite a few influences from Portuguese musical traditions, this is a subtle but inventive record that eschews ostentiaton for melody and atmosphere. It’s a pity that they chose to disband after releasing this LP, as they were clearly continuing to evolve in interesting directions; however, given that each of their albums was released on a different label, their career had clearly been far from smooth. GRADE: B–.

Thanx To You (USA): Believe It Or Not (No label 409021, 1984)
G D’Agnolo (joint lead vocals, synthesiser)
From the front cover, this looks like a ‘real people’ monstrosity of the highest order: Rusty D’Agnolo has a spectacular ginger Afro whilst wife (I assume) G has a synthesiser slung around her neck like a guitar in fine eighties style. The actual music is quite professional, being slick AOR: most cuts have a hard rock base but they also have a foot in the synth-pop camp. I can’t imagine this being among anyone’s favourite albums, but it’s certainly one of the quirkier and more enjoyable eighties private pressings. GRADE: C+.

Theatre Of Tragedy (Norway): Theatre Of Tragedy (Massacre MASS CD 063, CD, Germany, 1995)
Liv Kristine Espenaes (joint lead vocals)
It’s obvious from the packaging that this band are fairly pretentious: the musicians are listed under ‘dramatis personae’, lyrics are credited as ‘plays’ or ‘soliloquys’, and song titles include ‘A Hamlet For A Slothful Vassal’ and ‘To These Words I Beheld No Tongue’. However, there’s no denying their musical talent or their huge influence on a generation of gothic metal bands. Taking a doom metal base, they add lots of classical piano and violin and top it off with male death vocals and female soprano singing, managing to avoid sounding kitsch for the most part. In particular, ‘…A Distance There Is…’, which abandons all the metal elements, is quite sublime. GRADE: B–.
Theatre Of Tragedy (Norway): Velvet Darkness They Fear (Massacre MAS CD0107, CD, Germany, 1996)
Liv Kristine Espenaes (joint lead vocals)
Album number two also has ‘dramatis personae’, ‘plays’, ‘soliloquys’ and a musical style very similar to their debut. Once again the music is beautifully crafted, but I don’t find this as inspiring as its predecessor, and of course there is little or no artistic progression. GRADE: C+.

Theatre Of Tragedy (Norway): Aégis (Swan Lake MAS CD0159, CD, Germany, 1998)
Liv Kristine Espenaes (joint lead vocals)
Unlike Velvet Darkness They Fear, this is a significant step forward, dropping the death vocals and some of the more epic arrangements for a slightly more atmospheric sound. It’s still richly melodic, with some gorgeous melody lines and the same classical-influenced piano, and offers a set of extremely well-crafted original songs. GRADE: B–.
Theatre Of Tragedy (Norway): Musique (Nuclear Blast 37361 65682, CD, with digipak, booklet and sticker, 2000)
Liv Kristine Espenaes
Completely different from their earlier work, this is a blend of metal and techno, with lots of synthesisers and electronically treated vocals. That’s not to say it’s dance music: though featuring strong pop tinges, the songs are very heavy, with plenty of crunchy riffing. They’re also extremely catchy and melodic, with the energetic ‘Commute’ probably being the best thing on offer. Overall, this is a remarkably bold and creative album given the very different records that had gone before. GRADE: B–.
Theatre Of Tragedy (Norway): Closure:Live (Massacre MAS DP0293, CD, with digipak, Germany, 2001)
Liv Kristine Espenaes
Recorded before Musique, this sees the band focusing on its original epic gothic metal style. It’s a fine live album, with a good cross-section of early material. GRADE: B–.
Theatre Of Tragedy (Norway): Assembly (Nuclear Blast 27361 67112, CD, with digipak and booklet, 2002)
Liv Kristine Espenaes
This is in the same metal/techno/pop vein as its predecessor, so it lacks the same element of surprise. Musically it’s thoroughly enjoyable, but an album like this really hangs on the songwriting and this time around I find the material good rather than great. GRADE: C+.

Theatre Of Tragedy (Norway): Storm (AFM 117-2, CD, Germany, 2006)
Nell Sigland
The band’s first album with new vocalist Nell Sigland (ex-the Crest) marks a return to a gothic metal style, though a few hints of Musique and Assembly can be heard (mainly in the rather robotic male vocals). As usual, the material is beautifully crafted and taken individually the songs are quite impressive, but there’s not much in the way of variety or adventure here. GRADE: C+.
Theatre Of Tragedy (Norway): Forever Is The World (AFM 212-9, black CD, with gatefold minisleeve and booklet, 2009)
Nell Sigland
Forever Is The World ‘combines the spirit of the Aégis and Storm albums’ according to the hype sticker, as though a band regurgitating its own back catalogue is a good thing. It’s probably a fair summation of the album, which is enjoyable and accomplished without breaking any new ground; the only real difference from their earlier work is that nearly all the vocals are female. The album was reissued the following year with a bonus disc Addenda EP, mixing new songs with remixes of material from the album. GRADE: C+.

Theatre Of Tragedy (Norway): Last Curtain Call (AFM AFM 344-7, DVD plus CD, with digipak and booklet, Germany, 2011)
Nell Sigland (joint lead vocals)
Commemorating the band’s final show, this set features an 18-song concert, backstage footage, interviews and a rehearsal, plus a bonus CD with ten of the songs. The extras are as uninteresting as you’d expect, but the actual gig is excellent. GRADE: B–.

Theatre Of Tragedy (Norway): Last Curtain Call (AFM AFM 344-3, double CD, with digipak and booklet, Germany, 2011)
Nell Sigland (joint lead vocals)
The CD version of the show (which oddly omits two songs) confirms that the band bowed out with an excellent performance, demonstrating all facets of their sound. GRADE: B–.
See also Atrocity, Cradle Of Filth, Crest, Genius, Leaves’ Eyes, Liv Kristine, Various ‘The Lotus Eaters – Tribute To Dead Can Dance’

Theatre West Four (UK): Songs From Wherefore West Four? (No label, 1969)
With its simple piano and drums backing, jaunty songs and amateurish vocals, this sounds like a school project LP, but Theatre West Four was (and still is) a drama and music group for adults. The stage show feel of the music here may put off some listeners, but it’s a pleasant enough period piece, with some nice female vocal songs. GRADE: C.
Theatre West Four (UK): Songs From Thirty-Three And A Third Revolutions (No label, 1970)
Cathy Willis (joint lead vocals), Janet Miller (backing vocals), Lesley Pritchard (backing vocals), Frances Smith (backing vocals), Vivienne Sedgley (backing vocals), Christine Silver (backing vocals), Margaret Taylor (backing vocals), Vanda Stevens (backing vocals), Jenny Langridge (backing vocals), Patsy Pepe (backing vocals), Doreen Kelly (backing vocals), Jennifer Thornton (backing vocals), Deborah Andrews (backing vocals), Jani Clements (backing vocals)
Their second album is not dissimilar from their first, though often more minimalist, with a number of tracks featuring backing only from piano. However, it also includes a couple of rock tracks with fuzz guitar, which should give it appeal to both ‘real people’ and basement psychedelia collectors, and again there are some lovely female vocal numbers. Both their albums are exceptionally rare. GRADE: C.

Théorie Des Cordes (France): Premières Vibrations (Muséa Parallèle MP 3211, CD, 2011)
Stéphanie Artaud (piano)
No prizes for guessing from the line-up (a guitarist, a pianist and a drummer, plus a guest on bass and saxophone) that this is jazz-fusion. With good musicianship, a few fairly intense moments and quite a bit of variety, it’s a solid album, but like a lot of music in the genre this isn’t particularly engaging or exciting. GRADE: C+.

Théorie Des Cordes (France): Singes Éléctriques (Vocation voc3921, double CD, 2013)
Stéphanie Artaud (piano)
This is a significant step up from their tepid first: the music here is powerful, dynamic and energetic, with squalling saxophone and assertive (and sometimes quite psychedelic) guitar. The eight long tracks are superbly structured, with very virtuosic musicianship, making it all the more surprising that this, like their first, was recorded live. Yet, impressive as this is, it’s also slightly detached and academic, similarly to Pierre Moerlen’s Gong (whom they occasionally resemble) and whilst there’s plenty of variety within tracks there’s less variety between them, meaning that many of the same tricks are repeatedly deployed over the 100-minute running time. That said, if you like lively jazz/rock, you’re bound to love this. GRADE: B–.

Therapy (UK): Almanac (CBS 69017, 1971)
Fiona Simpson
This concept album, with each song relating to a different sign of the Zodiac, is broadly in the same baroque folk/pop vein as Tudor Lodge or to a lesser extent Prelude. However, the material here is much more intricate and cleverly arranged, drawing significantly from progressive music and also from American baroque pop of the late sixties. Whilst a highly intelligent and exceptionally well-crafted set, it’s signally lacking in anything sufficiently catchy to be a single, and as a consequence did not sell well. GRADE: C+.
Therapy (UK): One Night Stand (Indigo IRS 5124, 1973)
Fiona Simpson
It’s all change for their second album, released on a tiny private label. With no original compositions at all this time around, side one consists of covers of singer/songwriter material (‘Carey’, ‘Brand New Key’, ‘Someday Soon’, ‘Big Yellow Taxi’) with a mid-Atlantic feel, whilst side two is all traditional. I much prefer the second side, which includes some truly beautiful and haunting folk/rock; it’s a shame the whole LP isn’t in this vein or it would have been a minor classic. GRADE: C+.
Therapy (UK): Bringing The House Down (Magnum Production MAG 0009, 1975)
Fiona Simpson (principal vocals, guitar)
Unlike their first two, this is straightforward acoustic folk, with accompaniment from acoustic guitars and keyboards. Material as eclectic as ‘Black And White Rag’, ‘Killing Me Softly’, ‘Eleanor Rigby’ and even ‘I Wish I Could Shimmy Like My Sister Kate’ (not to mention several original and traditional songs) might lead you to expect a poor and unfocused album, but side one is consistently enjoyable; however, side two, mostly recorded live, is pretty disposable. GRADE: C.

Therapy (UK): Super Troupers (Therapy THERAPY 4, 1980)
Fiona Simpson (joint lead vocals, guitar)
This isn’t an Abba covers album, as the title might imply; in fact, they don’t cover Abba at all. Like its predecessor, this is all-acoustic, consisting of studio recordings on the first side and live numbers on the second. The studio side is lovely, comprising covers of everyone from Gallagher & Lyle to Fleetwood Mac, Chicago and Janis Ian. The live side (all originals, aside from a version of ‘Day Trip To Bangor’) is whimsical, humorous folk: the crowd appear to love it, but I don’t. GRADE: C.
Therapy (UK): Schizophrenia (Therapy THERAPY 5, double, 1981)
Fiona Simpson (principal vocals, guitar)
Their final album and magnum opus is aptly titled: side one is all covers, mainly recorded by the core duo; side two is musical comedy, recorded live; and sides three and four are mainly original compositions with electric band backing, with a style closer to symphonic pop than folk. As usual, the live side is the weak link, though it has to be noted that Dave Shannon is a genuinely witty and amusing raconteur. However, overall this is streets ahead of their other work, making it a pity that they stopped recording. GRADE: C+.

Therion (Sweden): Theli (Nuclear Blast 27361 61792, CD, Germany, 1996)
Anja Krenz (occasional vocals), Bettina Stumm (occasional vocals), Raphaela Mayhaus (occasional vocals)
Originally a common-or-garden death metal band, Therion had attracted no more than a cult following, so they decided to call it a day. Leader Christofer Johnsson chose to bow out with an epic album in a completely different vein: a massive conceptual work unifying classical, progressive and metal music, complete with choral vocals and orchestrations. Committing the last of his money to Theli, he expected it to be the last anyone would hear of Therion. In fact, the disc was rightly heralded as a progressive metal masterpiece and brought the sales breakthrough they had long awaited. As a result, Therion’s real career began here. GRADE: B+.
Therion (Sweden): A’ Arab Zaraq Lucid Dreaming (Nuclear Blast NB-27361 62492, CD, Germany, 1997)
Bettina Stumm (occasional vocals), Raphaela Mayhaus (occasional vocals), Marie-Thérèse Kübel (occasional vocals)
Originally intended as a CD single featuring outtakes from Theli, this grew into an odds-and-sods collection celebrating the first ten years of the band’s existence. It comprises several new songs and cover versions (all with male vocals, all fairly straight metal and all good without being great), Christofer Johnsson’s soundtrack to the art-house film ‘The Golden Embrace’ (very good stuff with choral vocals and orchestral backing) and some re-recorded versions of the soundtrack score with Therion providing the backing (almost sounding like demos for Vovin). Overall this is interesting without being essential. GRADE: B–.
Therion (Sweden): Vovin (Nuclear Blast 27371 63172, CD, Germany, 1998)
Martina Hornbacher (joint lead vocals), Sarah Jezebel Deva (joint lead vocals), Eileen Küpper (occasional vocals)
Therion takes Theli’s epic classical sound a step forward, with vast choirs and sweeping strings, and marries it to some truly inspired songwriting. The result is a progressive classic and one of the best albums made since prog’s seventies heyday. Picking individual cuts is difficult as everything works so well, but the ‘Draconian Trilogy’ is a particular highpoint, with some wonderful singing, riffs and orchestration. GRADE: A.
Therion (Sweden): Crowning Of Atlantis (Nuclear Blast 27361 6398-2, CD, with digipak, 1999)
Sarah Jezebel Deva (joint lead vocals), Martina Hornbacher (joint lead vocals), Cinthia Acosta Vera (occasional vocals), Eileen Küpper (occasional vocals), Angelika März (occasional vocals)
Another stopgap album, this features three new songs, three cover versions, three live cuts from the Vovin tour and a remix of ‘Clavicula Nox’. Inevitably, it all feels a little scrappy, especially in comparison to its magnificent predecessor, but the music is mostly excellent.

Therion (Sweden/Finland): Deggial (Nuclear Blast 27361 64422, CD, Germany, 2000)
Eileen Küpper (joint lead vocals)
This new concept work is a lot more cohesive than Crowning Of Atlantis but doesn’t really move the band forward from Vovin. Certainly, their sound is impressive, with its epic choirs, lavish orchestration and powerful, understated rock backing, but there’s nothing that really challenges or startles here. That said, the two closing cuts (‘Via Nocturna’ and their interpretation of ‘O Fortuna’) are quite outstanding. GRADE: B–.
Therion (Sweden/Norway): Secret Of The Runes (Nuclear Blast 27361 66252, CD, with digipak, booklet and insert, Germany, 2001)
Marika Schönberg (joint lead vocals), Erika Andersson (joint lead vocals)
In parts, this is slightly heavier than their last few albums, but mostly it’s business as usual – beautifully assembled, epic symphonic metal that never threatens to break any new ground. GRADE: B–.
Therion (Sweden/Norway): Live In Midgård (Nuclear Blast 27361 10332, double CD, Germany, 2002)
Sarah Jezebel Deva (joint lead vocals)
This powerful live set doesn’t equal the subtlety of their studio albums, but it’s every bit as epic. There’s also a fine cross-section of material, from their early death metal era through to the recent concept albums via the best of Vovin and their impressive Abba and Accept covers. GRADE: B–.
Therion (Sweden): Sirius B/Lemuria (Nuclear Blast 27361 12950, double CD, with digipak, booklets and slipcase, Germany, 2004)
Anna-Maria Krawe (joint lead vocals), Jana Bínová-Koucká (joint lead vocals)
Easily the band’s best work since Vovin, this lengthy double album continues in their usual epic style, but with a more direct, energetic and riff-driven approach. The result is a revelation, showing Therion revitalised – for once, they don’t sound like they’re simply repeating themselves. The double CD was a limited edition, after which the albums were sold separately. (To these ears, Sirius B has the edge over Lemuria, but both are fine pieces of work.) GRADE: B.
Therion (Sweden): Celebrators Of Becoming (Nuclear Blast NB 27361 16770, quadruple DVD and double CD, with digipak, booklet and slipcase, Germany, 2006, recorded 1992 to 2005)
Karin Fjellander (joint lead vocals), Cyntia Acosta Vera (occasional vocals), Sarah Jezebel Deva (occasional vocals), Martina Hornbacher (occasional vocals), Johanna Mårlöv (occasional vocals), Camilla (occasional vocals), Ann-Sofie (occasional vocals), Kimberly Goss (keyboards, backing vocals)
This gargantuan set is an amazing live retrospective, comprising a 23-song set from Mexico in 2004 (both as a DVD and double CD), an eight-song set from 2001, a 34-song historical compilation dating back to their beginnings in the late eighties, a lengthy documentary including segments from 30 songs (and featuring the band onstage with Trail Of Tears and Tristania), seven video clips, the art house film ‘The Golden Embrace’ and a ‘making-of’ report on the Sirius B/Lemuria album. In fact, the whole thing runs to some twelve hours: ten hours of video and an additional two hours of audio. Not all of the music is brilliant (whilst the later stuff is outstanding, Therion began life as a thoroughly unremarkable all-male black metal band) and the video quality varies too, but this has to be among the best and most comprehensive DVD packages ever released by any band. GRADE: A.
Therion (Sweden): Gothic Kabbalah (Nuclear Blast 27361 17800, double CD, with digipak and booklet, Germany, 2007)
Katarina Lilja (joint lead vocals), Hannah Holgersson (joint lead vocals), Anna Nyhlin (occasional vocals), Karin Fjellander (backing vocals)
Whilst this is as epic as any of Therion’s albums, the orchestral arrangements are a little more buried than usual in order to focus on the metal guitars. Varied, richly powerful and beautifully crafted, this is another outstanding album – and excellently packaged too, with its striking gold digipak. GRADE: B.
Therion (Sweden): Live Gothic (Nuclear Blast 27361 21180, DVD plus double CD, with book sleeve and slipcase, 2008)
Lori Lewis (joint lead vocals), Katarina Lilja (joint lead vocals)
Like the studio set that preceded it, this has a slightly more stripped-down and direct sound than much of the band’s earlier work. With an excellent cross-section, it’s a fine live set, and possibly more visually impressive than any of the concerts featured in the Celebrators Of Becoming package. GRADE: B.
Therion (Sweden/USA): The Miskolc Experience (Nuclear Blast 2353-2, DVD plus double CD, with booklet, Germany, 2009)
Lori Lewis (joint lead vocals), Judit V Molnar (joint lead vocals)
Slightly different from their previous live albums, this features two separate sets: one with the band reinterpreting classical pieces and the other offering an overview of their most popular songs. With a full orchestra and choir participating, it’s impressively epic stuff, but these sorts of classical/rock crossovers can tend to come across as kitsch and it’s definitely the band’s own material that really shines. GRADE: B.
Therion (Sweden/USA): Sitra Ahra (Nuclear Blast 27361 23130, CD, with digipak and booklet, 2010)
Lori Lewis (joint lead vocals)
Like its predecessor Gothic Kabbalah, this has comparatively stripped-down, guitar-based arrangements, although the choral singing is as epic as ever. This doesn’t take them into any new ground, but as with almost everything the band has done it’s superbly crafted and almost breathtaking in its execution. GRADE: B.
Therion (Sweden/USA): Les Fleurs Du Mal (End Of The Light EOL022, CD, with digipak, Canada, 2012)
Lori Lewis (joint lead vocals), Johanna Naila (occasional vocals), Mari Paul (occasional vocals)
Therion’s oddest album to date, this sees them reinterpreting a selection of French chansons in their usual gothic classical-cum-operatic metal style. The opening ‘Poupée De Cire, Poupée De Son’, with its helium-pitched singing and galloping tempo, is dreadful, but the rest is beautifully done, even if I find the underlying concept baffling. GRADE: B–.

Therion (Sweden/USA): Beloved Antichrist (Nuclear Blast 27361 39330, triple CD, with book sleeve, Germany, 2018)
Chiara Malvestiti (joint lead vocals), Lori Lewis (joint lead vocals), Melissa Ferlaak (occasional vocals), Ulrika Skarby (occasional vocals), Lydia Kjellberg (occasional vocals), Matilda Wahlund (occasional vocals), Karin Fjellander (occasional vocals), Linnéa Vikström (occasional vocals)
Nobody does excess quite like Therion, and this three hour progressive metal opera is their most ambitious studio album yet. In parts it’s breathtaking – not just in its scope and scale, but in the quality of the riffs, melodies and singing. But like most operas, the storyline predominates and the music lacks the room to breathe, making me hope they’ll scale back the bombast next time (or at least include some lengthier instrumental sections). GRADE: B–.

Therion (Sweden): Leviathan (Nuclear Blast 27361 50600, CD, with digipak and booklet, Germany, 2021)
Roasalia Sairem (joint lead vocals), Chiara Malvestiti (joint lead vocals), Taida Nazraić (joint lead vocals), Lori Lewis (occasional vocals)
Therion’s last couple of albums showed them starting to become too bombastic and overblown for their own good – and accusing Therion of being too bombastic or overblown is like accusing Abba or Blondie of being too catchy. Thankfully, they dial it down a touch here, and at times sound like they’re taking inspiration from parallel project the Luciferian Light Orchestra. Nonetheless, it’s all relative and this still features orchestration, choirs and classically-influenced vocals throughout, so you’ll still need a taste for the bombastic to enjoy it. Nonetheless, it’s a very good set indeed – no Vovin, but certainly more digestible than their last two. As a footnote, the limited digipak version of the CD features five alternate versions (four of them of the same song) as bonuses. GRADE: B–.

Therion (Sweden): Leviathan II (Nuclear Blast 61240, CD, with digipak and booklet, 2022)
Taida Nazraić (joint lead vocals), Rosalia Sairem (joint lead vocals), Noa Gruman (occasional vocals)
The title says it all – this is more of the same, specifically regarding Leviathan rather than Therion as a whole, although a cynic might also assert the latter. But whilst the band will never again demonstrate the sheer audacity of its nineties incarnation, this is a good-to-great symphonic metal album, with their most overblown tendencies (just about) kept in check. GRADE: B–.

See also Aesma Daeva, Alas, Ancient, Angtoria, Covenant, Cradle Of Filth, Sarah Jezebel Deva, Dreams Of Sanity, Korova, Sinergy, Various ‘A Tribute To Abba’, Various ‘The Lotus Eaters – Tribute To Dead Can Dance’, Beto Vazquez Infinity

These Trails (USA): These Trails (Synergia 4059, with inner, 1973)
Margaret Morgan (principal vocals, guitar, dulcimer)
This is generally considered one of the best American psychedelic folk albums, but I find the first three tracks (all under two minutes, all somewhat fragmentary) rather underwhelming. Things quickly improve, and at its best this is a remarkable LP, blending strong influences from the band’s native Hawaii with all kinds of avant-garde touches including plenty of synthesiser. At times, it reminds me a less freaky and sinister Tony, Caro & John, whilst other critics have compared it to Linda Perhacs; this makes less sense to me, as These Trails are far weirder and much less rooted in mainstream singer/songwriter music. GRADE: B–.

Laurent Thibault (France): Mais On Ne Peut Pas Rêver Tout Le Temps (Ballon Noir BAL 13009, 1978)
Amanda Parsons (joint lead vocals), Lisa Bois (joint lead vocals), Jacqueline Thibault (keyboards)
Laurent Thibault was Magma’s producer (and a founding band member, leaving before they recorded their first album) and the husband of Jacqueline Thibault (aka Laurence Vanay). His solo album (to which he contributes guitars and bass) is an interesting set, with four long tracks ranging from dreamlike soft progressive with ethnic touches to heavier, jazzier and more avant-garde moments. GRADE: B–.
See also Gilgamesh, Hatfield & The North, National Health, Laurence Vanay

Thieves (USA/UK): Yucatan (Arista AB 4232, USA, 1979)
Sue Richman (joint lead vocals), Linda Lawley (joint lead vocals), Andrea Robinson (joint lead vocals)
This is something of a minor-league supergroup, combining well-travelled vocalists Sue Richman and Linda Lawley with Fairport Convention alumnus Jerry Donahue and his former Fotheringay colleague Gerry Conway. Don’t expect folk/rock, though – this is polished hard-ish AOR on the first side and ballads on the second: all very well done, as one might expect from the musicians involved (and with Mike Chapman in the producer’s chair). As a nice addendum, the disc closes with a remake of Donahue and Sandy Denny’s ‘Dawn’ from Rising From The Moon. GRADE: C+.
See also Cookin’ Mama, Eternity’s Children, Genesis, Indigo, Knickers, Linda Lawley, Oasis, RJ Fox, Starcrossed

Thieves’ Kitchen (UK/Germany): Shibboleth (No label TKCD003, CD, UK, 2003)
Amy Darby (lead vocals)
Mixing influences from seventies Canterbury bands and modern prog, Thieves’ Kitchen offer five complex, virtuosic tracks of up to 24 minutes. On paper it sounds wonderful, but their songwriting abilities don’t quite match their instrumental chops, the music sometimes plods and an unwelcome neoprogressive edge creeps in here and there, making for an interesting but patchy album. GRADE: C+.
Thieves’ Kitchen (UK/Sweden): The Water Road (No label TKCD004, CD, UK, 2008)
Amy Darby (lead vocals, percussion, clarinet, recorder, Theremin, clarsach), Anna Holmgren (flute)
With a new line-up including Änglagård keyboardist Thomas Johnson (plus bandmate Anna Holmgren guesting on most tracks), Thieves’ Kitchen unsurprisingly return with a decidedly superior album. Losing most of the Canterbury influences and slightly toning down the modernistic edges, this is classic progressive, most closely resembling Änglagård on the short, wordless ‘Returglas’, which is the best cut by some margin. GRADE: B–.
Thieves’ Kitchen (UK/Sweden): One For Sorrow, Two For Joy (No label TKCD 005, CD, UK, 2013)
Amy Darby (lead vocals), Anna Holmgren (flute)
This is another step up, leaving the faint neoprogressive elements in their sound (more the instrumental tones than the style of composition) behind in the dirt. Though nowhere near the cutting edge, this is as good an album of modern symphonic progressive as you’re likely to hear. From the credits, it’s not clear whether the band has shrunk to a trio or expanded to include Anna Holmgren in the line-up, though I suspect the former as she doesn’t appear to do much here. GRADE: B–.
Thieves’ Kitchen (UK/Sweden): The Clockwork Universe (No label TKCD006, CD, with gatefold minisleeve, booklet and slipcase, UK, 2016)
Amy Darby (lead vocals,), Anna Holmgren (flute)
This is their jazziest album since Shibboleth and probably their weakest too, which isn’t to say that it’s poor in any way. The pastoral prog here is beautifully crafted, elegant and carefully paced; it just doesn’t break any new ground (either for them or for the broader genre). However, the two classical-styled, almost ambient, instrumentals are certainly quite impressive. GRADE: B–.

Thieves’ Kitchen (UK/Sweden): Genius Loci (No label TKCD007, CD, with digipak and booklet, UK, 2019)


Amy Darby (lead vocals, Theremin), Anna Holmgren (flute)

Their line-up may be 50% Änglagård, but don’t expect any Änglagård-style dynamics here: the music – understated, mildly jazzy, subtly folky – focuses more on atmosphere than instrumental fireworks. There’s also not much variety, with the vocal lines and underlying keyboard riffs on several songs being remarkably similar, so if you’re not in the mood this could strike you as slightly dreary. But if you are, the sheer beauty of some of the passages, the authentically seventies vibe and above all the album’s commendable restraint and good taste are likely to impress. They even managed some interesting lyrics on unusual topics that far exceed the verbiage produced by most modern prog bands. GRADE: B–.

Thinking Plague (USA): A Thinking Plague (Endemic Music, with insert, 1984)
Sharon Bradford (joint lead vocals, synthesiser)
This American avant-prog band takes many of its influences from Art Bears and to a lesser extent parent group Henry Cow; unlike many RIO outfits, their music owes little to jazz, with new wave elements being more prominent. It’s certainly very varied and adventurous, but whereas Henry Cow fused their experimentation to some great melodies and riffs, this often sounds like a disjointed collection of weirdnesses rather than a coherent album. GRADE: C+.
Thinking Plague (USA): Moonsongs (Endemic Music, cassette, 1986)
Susanne Lewis (principal vocals)
This is in the same musical vein as their first and follows exactly the same format: a few short-to-medium-length songs followed by a 15-minute piece. However, where A Thinking Plague was tentative and uneven, Moonsongs is confident and assured, with powerful musicianship, well-judged shifts of mood and tempo, and plenty of surprises. GRADE: B–.

Thinking Plague (USA): In This Life (RéR TPCD1, CD, UK, 1989)
Susanne Lewis (principal vocals, guitar, accordion, violin), Maria Moran (guitar, bass)
Jazzier than their first two, In This Life also has a much more seventies sound, once again bringing to mind Art Bears and late Henry Cow. Dynamic, well recorded and very varied, it’s full of surprises and impresses from start to finish. Oddly, a remix of the title track from Moonsongs and a remastered version of ‘Possessed’ from A Thinking Plague are included as bonus tracks. GRADE: B–.
Thinking Plague (USA): In Extremis (Cuneiform RUNE 113, CD, 1998)
Deborah Perry (principal vocals)
In Extremis is always creative, frequently startling and sometimes stunning (especially the second half of the 14-minute instrumental ‘Les Études d’Organism’), but the reservations I had with the band’s debut frequently resurface. All too often, the music is self-consciously weird and overly disjointed, whereas the masters of the genre made it sound effortless. In addition, whilst off-key vocals are central to RIO, it sometimes sounds as though new vocalist Deborah Perry is actually singing flat. GRADE: B–.

Thinking Plague (USA): A History Of Madness (Cuneiform RUNE 180, CD, with obi, 2003)
Deborah Perry (lead vocals)
This is probably their best album overall, packed with interesting ideas and moments of everything from heavy rock to solo piano and saxophone. However, whilst consistently interesting and frequently fascinating, the disjointed nature of their music once again prevents this from being a classic: had they had half the number of ideas and explored them for twice as long, this could have been far more compelling. GRADE: B–.

Thinking Plague (USA): Upon Both Your Houses (NEARfest NFR004, CD, 2004)
Deborah Perry (lead vocals)
In many ways, this live album is superb, featuring all facets of the band’s sound, from driving King Crimson-esque rock through to a lengthy passage of solo piano. Unfortunately it also features a lot of Deborah Perry, whose contributions once again make me wish that the band had stuck with Susanne Lewis. As usual, some of the weirdnesses sound rather forced and sometimes this resembles RIO-by-numbers, but it’s actually more cohesive and consistent than their studio albums. With a different singer or vocal style, it would comfortably have made Grade B. GRADE: B–.
Thinking Plague (USA): Decline And Fall (Cuneiform Rune 320, CD, 2011)
Elaine Di Falco (lead vocals)
This comeback album almost makes me revise my opinion of Deborah Perry: she’s replaced by Elaine Di Falco, who most certainly can sing, but I’m still not impressed by the meandering, tuneless vocal lines, suggesting it’s an issue with the composer rather than the singer. That quibble aside, this is another solid and inventive album, though it doesn’t maintain the intensity of its live predecessor. GRADE: B–.

Thinking Plague (USA): Hoping Against Hope (Cuneiform Rune 421, CD, 2017)
Elaine Di Falco (lead vocals)
They’re still underusing Elaine Di Falco by requiring her to sing off-key, but this is a strong album by any measure: taut, rocking, discordant and diverse, whilst being far less scrappy and diffuse than much of their other work. GRADE: B–.
See also 3 Mice, Caveman Hughscore, Caveman Shoestore, Combat Astronomy, Corpses As Bedmates, Empty Days, Hail, Kissyfur, Susanne Lewis, Ligeia Mare, Luciano Margorani & Elaine Di Falco, Dave Willey & Friends, Yugen

Third & The Mortal (Norway): Tears Laid In Earth (Voices Of Wonder VOW 041, CD, 1994)
Kari Rueslåtten (lead vocals, synthesiser)
Powerful and majestic, this heavy progressive album runs the gamut from acapella folk through eerie quiet sections to dramatic passages of rock. I’ve frequently seen it classified as metal, but whilst they do draw on doom influences it’s not especially metallic and definitely falls under the progressive banner. It’s also very icy and Norwegian in feel, almost running the gamut from White Willow to Black Sabbath. Altogether, this is a striking first album with great dynamics. GRADE: B–.
Third & The Mortal (Norway): Painting On Glass (Voices Of Wonder VOW 051, CD, 1996)
Ann-Mari Edvardsen (lead vocals, keyboards)
Their second is far more experimental, partly due to new vocalist Ann-Mari Edvardsen who tries a variety of approaches. The backing is more unusual too, from heavier doom metal to elements of free jazz, quasi-ambient piano passages, linking sound effects, mediaeval touches, world music embellishments and a great deal more. The results could have been disjointed and pretentious but are in fact powerful, cohesive and brilliant. GRADE: B.
Third & The Mortal (Norway): In This Room (Voices Of Wonder VOW 059, CD, with digipak and booklet, 1997)
Ann-Mari Edvardsen (lead vocals, keyboards)
Quite different to their earlier work, this is an unusual piece of atmospheric rock, with influences from trip-hop, jazz and industrial music. In some ways it’s a bold step forward, paralleling the direction pursued by the Gathering (although they did it much better), but despite some fine passages it’s also a huge step down from Painting On Glass. GRADE: C+.
Third & The Mortal (Norway): Memoirs (Voices Of Wonder VOW 075, CD, 2002)
Kirsti Huke, Ingrid Tolstad
Virtually abandoning rock on most cuts, this is eerie electronica, bordering on trip-hop but without significant dance or chillout elements. Given their history, this was a brave move, but while creative and interesting this is their least listenable album to date. GRADE: C+.
Third & The Mortal (Norway): Project Bluebook (Voices Of Wonder VOW 085, CD, 2003)
Kirsti Huke (joint lead vocals)
As the subtitle ‘Decade Of Endeavour’ suggests, this odd release was intended to round off the band’s career. It features two new studio recordings (similar in style to Memoirs), an instrumental improvisation from 1998 and five live tracks from their 2002 European tour. One is a previously unreleased number, whilst the others stretch back to Painting On Glass. Despite the sleevenotes’ claim that ‘these tracks are recorded directly on Minidisc and should therefore be considered as a bootleg’, the sound quality is excellent, as are the performances. The closing ‘Simple Mind’ is easily the most manic and demented recording the band ever made. GRADE: C+.
See also Kari Rueslåtten, Storm, Tactile Gemma

Third Eye (South Africa): Awakening… (Polydor 277002, 1969)
Dawn Selby (keyboards)
This seminal South African band’s debut is a bit of a mixed bag: mostly covers, often pop-ish, mainly rather dreamy, and frequently afflicted with overbearing horns. Nonetheless, ‘Apricot Brandy’ is a superb instrumental on which the guitarist goes completely over-the-top (and the manic horns help rather than hinder the mood) and ‘Society’s Child’ was a bold choice of song for any band from South Africa.

Third Eye (South Africa): Searching (Polydor 277030, 1969)
Dawn Selby (keyboards)
A huge step forward from their first LP, this is great acid-rock, peaking on the fourteen-minute ‘Awakening’. The shorter cuts are no slouches either, with the only real weak moments occurring during the opening and closing tracks. GRADE: B–.
Third Eye (South Africa): Brother (Polydor 277043, 1970)
Dawn Selby (organ)
Their third and final album is slightly different yet again, being fairly standard turn-of-the-seventies pop/rock with a few progressive edges. The disc is also quite bluesy in parts, with ‘Listen To The Bells’ in particular sounding uncannily similar to Chicken Shack. Overall, this is a solid enough set, but not a patch on its far more illustrious predecessor. GRADE: C+.

Third Rail (USA): Id Music (Epic LN 24327 / BN 26327, 1967)
Kris Resnick
Big-production psychedelic pop from three professional songwriters with impressive pedigrees. Extremely well written and executed as one would expect, it ranges from the excellent (the trippy, comparatively complex ‘From A Parachute’ and the sitar-embellished ‘No Return’) to the competent but fairly forgettable. Nonetheless, anyone liking American pop of the period should thoroughly enjoy this. GRADE: C.

This Driftin’s Gotta Stop (UK): This Driftin’s Gotta Stop (No label CPCP-JDB001/2, 1975?)
Monica Ann Brown (joint lead vocals, tambourine)
On first hearing, this Christian private pressing struck me as dull, but with further listening unfolded its languid charms. Offering gentle, breezy folk/rock with mixed acoustic and electric backing and some well-written songs, it sounds more American than British, sometimes bringing to mind Touchstone’s Runes without the acid-folk edge. GRADE: C+.

Thistle (USA): Thistle (Ventricle CD 2, CD, 1993)
Danielle Sklar (lead vocals), Kelly Thistle (instruments, effects)
Like labelmates Mauve Sideshow, Thistle offer swirling electronic soundscapes topped with treated vocals: all drifting, über-cosmic and almost completely formless. Also like Mauve Sideshow, it’s listenable enough and quite distinctive, but never actually goes anywhere. GRADE: C+.

See also Angel Provocateur, Corpse You Luv, Dream Radiation, Konkrete Kantikle, Steeple Of Fyre

Thistletown (UK): Rosemarie (Big Bertha BigBert 003, CD, 2008)
Tiffany Bryant (joint lead vocals, percussion, flute), Lydia Tweddell (joint lead vocals, percussion)
This Cornish band’s one-off album is absolutely exquisite folk with a subtly psychedelic edge, almost sounding like an amalgam of Courtyard Music Group, Sproatly Smith, Trembling Bells and Circulus. The latter is no accident, as Michael Tyack co-produced and is heavily featured as a guest. Despite the disc’s gentle and melodic nature, there’s a definite ‘Wicker Man’ vibe at work here that makes it mildly eerie as well as exceptionally beautiful. GRADE: B.

Jacques Thollot (France): Cinq Hops (Free Bird FLY 03, 1979)
Elise Ross (lead vocals)
This jazz/rock album frequently displays a strong zeuhl influence, and with Elise Ross’s Pascale Son-like vocals often sounds like outtakes by early Cos or mid-seventies Magma. The problem is that, whilst virtuosic, the music isn’t very fiery – coupled with an unflatteringly thin production, this creates a rather unengaging album (although some tracks are above average). GRADE: C.
See also Philippe Boesmans & Elise Ross

Susan & Richard Thomas (USA): A Burst Of Life (Blue Hour Productions BH 3-1017, with booklet, 1974)
Susan Thomas (principal vocals)
This private pressing seems to be widely disliked by collectors, and is sometimes negatively cited by dealers in descriptions of other LPs. In fact, it’s a decent and enjoyable collection of folk/rock songs: Susan Thomas sings and composes well, and her songs are nicely arranged by husband Richard, with well-judged electric and acoustic backing. Indeed, it’s a great deal better than many more celebrated, and far more expensive, albums from the era. GRADE: C+.

Linda Thompson (UK): One Clear Moment (Warner Brothers 925 164-1, with inner, 1985)
Linda Thompson (lead vocals)
Thompson’s solo debut mixes uptempo pop/folk numbers with synthesised backing and programmed drums with more traditional, country-flavoured ballads. The two opening cuts (‘Can’t Stop The Girl’ and the title track) are firmly in the former style and bear a definite resemblance to Gay Woods’s contemporaneous project Auto Da Fé. Most of the songs were co-written with session musician Betsy Cook, who played keyboards and oversaw the arrangements. GRADE: C+.
Linda Thompson (UK): Fashionably Late (Topic TSCD821, UK, 2002)
Linda Thompson (principal vocals, guitar, tambourine)
Thompson’s second solo album (which lives up to its title by coming seventeen years after her first) was mostly co-written with son Teddy and featured a stellar cast of musicians (ex-husband Richard, Danny Thompson, Van Dyke Parks, Kate Rusby, Jerry Donahue, Dave Mattacks, Rufus Wainwright, Kathryn Tickell, Eliza Carthy, Phil Pickett, Dave Pegg, Martin Carthy, Chris Cutler et al). It’s a tasteful set, with very high quality performances as one would expect, and several cuts would easily pass for outtakes from the Richard & Linda Thompson LPs.

Linda Thompson (UK): Versatile Heart (Decca 475 9365 DH, CD, 2007)
Linda Thompson (lead vocals)
Although in a similar vein to its predecessor, this isn’t quite as good to my ears, concentrating mainly on downbeat ballads. Nonetheless, it is certainly very elegant and atmospheric. GRADE: C+.
Linda Thompson (UK): Won’t Be Long Now (Topic TSCD822, CD, with digipak and booklet, 2013)
Linda Thompson (principal vocals), Kamila Thompson (occasional vocals)
This is probably her best solo album, with mostly simple acoustic arrangements and a feel much closer to folk than folk/rock on the majority of songs. Unusually, daughter Kamila takes the lead vocal on ‘As Fast As My Feet’. GRADE: C+.
See also Bunch, Brian Patten, Richard & Linda Thompson, Thompson Family, Tudor Lodge

Mollie Thompson (UK): From Worlds Afar (Asteroid J H 101, 1966?)
Folk/‘Incredibly Strange Music’
This early private pressing briefly gained notoriety among ‘incredibly strange music’ collectors due to its bizarre lyrics concerning alien visitations, and at one point sold for big money. Musically, it’s pleasant folk with melodic vocals and acoustic guitar backing. GRADE: C+.

Richard & Linda Thompson (UK): I Want To See The Bright Lights Tonight (Island ILPS 9266, with inner, 1974)
Linda Thompson (joint lead vocals)
The former Fairport Convention mainstay’s first album with his wife is regarded by many as a classic of dark folk/rock, including such seminal numbers as ‘Calvary Cross’, ‘Down Where The Drunkards Roll’ and ‘End Of The Rainbow’. The sound is robust and punchy, driven by the excellent rhythm section of Pat Donaldson and Timi Donald, and most of the songs are rich and atmospheric, but a little more variety would have been welcome, and the mood of studied despair occasionally becomes a touch self-conscious. GRADE: C+.
Richard & Linda Thompson (UK): Hokey Pokey (Island ILPS 9305, with inner, 1975)
Linda Thompson (joint lead vocals)
Maintaining the muscular folk/rock sound of its predecessor, Hokey Pokey also contains some excellent original compositions, though I much prefer the downbeat numbers to whimsical pieces such as ‘Smiffy’s Glass Eye’ and ‘Georgie On A Spree’. GRADE: C+.
Richard & Linda Thompson (UK): Pour Down Like Silver (Island ILPS 9348, with inner, 1975)
Linda Thompson (joint lead vocals)
The arrangements are very similar to their first two albums, but the duo’s conversion to Sufism means that the mood is darker, without any of the lighthearted pastiches – so for me, this is by far their finest LP to date. In particular, the extended ‘Night Comes In’ is a masterpiece, with some stunning and stately guitar soloing from Richard. ‘For Shame Of Doing Wrong’ is also among his best compositions, although I prefer Sandy Denny’s cover on Rendezvous. GRADE: B–.
Richard & Linda Thompson (UK): First Light (Chrysalis CHR 1177, with inner, 1978)
Linda Thompson (joint lead vocals)
Their best album overall, First Light contains some of Richard Thompson’s finest-ever songs. The very Eric Clapton-like ‘Don’t Let A Thief Steal Into Your Heart’ is easily his catchiest number and should by rights have given the duo a huge American hit, whilst ‘Died For Love’ and the title track have hauntingly beautiful melodies and exquisite massed backing vocals (including Maddy Prior and Julie Covington, among others). Not everything is perfect – ‘Restless Highway’ and ‘House Of Cards’ are the sort of heavy-handed mid-paced rockers that characterised their first couple of albums – but any weak moments are easily outweighed by the superb material on offer. It’s also interesting to hear how an American rhythm section transforms their sound, although the record can be quintessentially English too (as on the acoustic instrumental ‘The Choice Wife’). GRADE: B.
Richard & Linda Thompson (UK): Sunnyvista (Chrysalis CHR 1247, with inner, 1979)
Linda Thompson (joint lead vocals)
Whilst the best material here is not far below the standard of First Light, there’s also notable filler, including an annoying jaunty number (‘Saturday Rolling Around’) and an equally irritating theatrical piece (the title track). The sequencing is odd too, putting all the Richard-sung hard rockers at the beginning and a succession of Linda-sung ballads in the middle, and the drum sounds are very eighties (despite this being released in 1979). Nonetheless there are plenty of good songs here to be enjoyed by fans and non-fans alike. GRADE: C+.
Richard & Linda Thompson (UK): Shoot Out The Lights (Hannibal HNBL 1303, with inner, 1982)
Linda Thompson (joint lead vocals)
This is generally considered their best album and was their commercial high water mark, but I can’t say I find its mix of mid-paced rockers and slightly folkish ballads very inspired. It’s competent and consistent for sure, but they’re treading old ground, and the decline in the standard of writing and arrangement from First Light and the best material on Sunnyvista is marked. GRADE: C+.

Richard & Linda Thompson (UK): Rafferty’s Folly (Nixed NIX 001, CD, 1995, recorded 1980-1981)
Linda Thompson (joint lead vocals)
This is a marginal case for review, as it’s basically a bootleg – but an uncommonly fascinating one. The first ten songs are the Gerry Rafferty-produced versions of what would later become Shoot Out The Lights, the next two are studio demos and the last four are taken from a live TV performance. Richard Thompson apparently hated the results of the Rafferty sessions, which were as slick and polished as the First Light album, but to these ears they’re decidedly superior to Shoot Out The Lights. Linda Thompson gets a higher vocal profile, which is no bad thing, and there are a couple of fine songs that didn’t make the final cut, including a cover of Sandy Denny’s ‘I’m A Dreamer’ and a remake of the duo’s own ‘For Shame Of Doing Wrong’. The mood of studied despair that characterised Shoot Out The Lights is entirely absent – for many people this was its greatest asset, but I’ve always found it rather arch and much prefer Rafferty’s take on the material. As for the bonus numbers, the 1980 demos are uninteresting but the 1981 live material, with Fairport Convention backing them, rounds off the collection in style. GRADE: B–.
Richard & Linda Thompson (UK): In Concert, November 1975 (Island IMCD 327/984 824-3, CD, 2007, recorded 1975)
Linda Thompson (joint lead vocals)
With excellent sound quality, this is an impressive concert document; even the more whimsical material works well live. However, the real meat is to be found on the two long songs, ‘For Shame Of Doing Wrong’ and ‘Calvary Cross’, which contain some outstanding jams. I could have done without the country numbers as encores, though. GRADE: B–.
Richard Thompson Featuring Linda Thompson (UK): Live At The BBC (Universal Music 533 290-9, 3CD plus DVD, with book sleeve, 2011, recorded 1973-2004)
Linda Thompson (joint lead vocals, guitar)
Focusing on both Richard & Linda Thompson (one CD and just over half the DVD) and Richard Thompson solo (the rest, which I haven’t reviewed here as it’s not relevant) this is a very worthwhile release. The CD doesn’t do all that much for me, concentrating mainly on the good-time side of the duo’s repertoire, but the excellent DVD is worth the price alone. GRADE: C+.
See also Bunch, Fairport Convention, Brian Patten, Linda Thompson, Tudor Lodge

Thompson Family (UK): Thompson Family (Fantasy FAN-36555-00, CD plus DVD, with gatefold minisleeve and booklet, 2014)
Linda Thompson (joint lead vocals), Kamila Thompson (joint lead vocals, guitar)
This really is a family project, uniting the talents of Richard, Linda, Kamila, Teddy and Jack Thompson and Zak Hobbs. Unsurprisingly, the result is a solid and enjoyable album of folk and folk/rock, containing some strong original songs. The bonus DVD contains a short feature about the making of the album. GRADE: C+.
See also Bunch, Brian Patten, Linda Thompson, Richard & Linda Thompson, Tudor Lodge

Thor (Argentina): El Pacto (Umbral DX-11001, 1985)
Mabel Diaz (bass)
Whilst not especially original or distinctive, this rare metal album has a powerful, guitar-dominated sound taking influences from both early seventies Black Sabbath and the NWOBHM movement. Hardly surprisingly, the disc is very sought-after by genre collectors. GRADE: C+.

Thorin Eichenschild (West Germany): Leichts Leben (Trikont Unsere Stimme US-0047, with booklet, 1978)
Martina Knochel (joint lead vocals), Martina Fromme (cello)
This obscure progressive folk album has an unusual sound: delicate yet complex, based around intricate acoustic guitar lines, jazzy fretless bass, percussion, cello and flute. Like many political records, it’s occasionally rather throwaway, with some of the music taking second place to the lyrics, but at its best (notably the stunning ‘Onkel Tom’s Hutte Steht In Sudwest-Afrika’) it contains some spellbinding music. ]


Thork (France): Urdoxa (NIL, CD, 2000)
Audrey Casella (occasional vocals), Claire Northey (violin)
The basic style of this unusual album is gothic progressive metal, with Claire Northey’s violin adding austere, almost mediaeval, counterpoint to the powerful riffs. However, diverse influences are woven in: I can hear faint hints of both zeuhl and RIO, a few moments of Steve Hillage-style spaciness and quite a bit of Principal Edwards Magic Theatre-style theatricality. The whole thing is odd through and through, especially the almost conversational vocals, and intriguing in the extreme. GRADE: B–.
Thork (France): Weila (No label, CD, 2004)
Roselyne Berthet (occasional vocals), Claire Northey (violin)
This is slightly more conventional than their genuinely odd debut, but that’s not to say that it’s particularly conventional. Once again, they offer somewhat theatrical gothic prog with strong metal elements; the slight zeuhl element underpinning their sound is a little more prominent this time, and I can hear vague nods in the direction of bands like Antonius Rex. The singing style is rather more mainstream, but it’s still anguished, dramatic, theatrical – and consistently fascinating. GRADE: B–.

Thork (France): Nula Jedan (No label, CD, 2007)
Claire Northey (violin)
Their third and final album is quite different from its predecessors, dropping all the gothic elements and most of the metal riffing. The result is a richly melodic progressive set with an almost dreamlike feel, definite singer/songwriter edges and a mixture of electronically treated and falsetto vocals. In its own way, it’s pretty unusual, and it works extremely well too. GRADE: B–.

See also Nil

Jeff Thornley (USA): Locked Inside (Unique F/W-21960, 1983)
Betty Ann Melvin (joint lead vocals)
On the opening track – frenetic hard rock covered with fuzz leads – this sounds like a cross between Tempest, Zed and Obelisk, but it never gets that intense again. The remainder is a mixture of hard rock and AOR stylings: generally very good, with a pleasing garage ambience, but not hugely distinctive. GRADE: C+.

Three Colours Dark (UK): The Science Of Goodbye (Firefly Music FFMCD011, CD, with digipak and booklet, 2020)
Rachel Jones (lead vocals)
I was never that impressed by any of Rachel Jones or Jonathan Edwards’s previous projects (Karnataka, Luna Rossa, Panic Room, the Reasoning), so didn’t have high hopes for their new collaboration. Nonetheless, I was pleasantly surprised (though this is certainly more pleasant than surprising). The mellow, lush settings – in some cases as close to singer/songwriter music as to symphonic rock – provide the perfect backdrop for Jones’s lovely voice, often reminding me of Karnataka at their best. So perhaps I wasn’t so surprised after all. 


Three Colours Dark (UK): Love’s Lost Property (Firefly Music FFMCD012, CD, with digipak and booklet, 2021)
Rachel Jones (lead vocals)
Like their first, this offers a blend of singer/songwriter and symphonic influences, providing an effective backdrop to Rachel Jones’s gorgeous, plaintive vocals. Also like their first, it’s beautiful and haunting without being exactly memorable or adventurous. It’s well structured too, building in intensity on an excellent cover of Duran Duran’s ‘Ordinary World’ and the best original ‘Eye For An Eye’, which swells into an exciting climax where the band rocks out (comparatively speaking) for once. But then it’s all over bar a dainty reprise of the title track, making you wish the duo had been a little braver and pushed a few more boundaries. GRADE: C+.

See also Dave Bainbridge, Karnataka, ProgAID, ReasoningSee

Three Ring Circus (USA): Groovin’ On The Sunshine (RCA LSP 4021, 1968)
Diana Allen
This is strangely divided into vocal and instrumental sides. The former is standard big-production pop with a loungy, nightclub feel to the massed singing; in other words, typical of flower-pop cash-ins of the period. The latter is more interesting, mainly reprising the same material with unusual instruments (flute, sitar, harmonica) centre-stage, although ‘Fantastic Voyage’ is new and quite adventurous, with some free jazz edges. GRADE: C.

Threshold (Finland): Paradise Now (Johanna JHN 2031, 1981)
Pia Noponen (occasional vocals, piano)
Starting in an almost ambient or proto-new age vein, this electronic prog album mixes elements of Kraftwerk and symphonic progressive on a succession of short, rather impressionistic songs. Along the way, they manage brief forays into free-jazz and hard rock, though the disc never really settles into any particular mood or does anything to seize the attention. GRADE: C+.
See also Scapa Flow

Thrower, Spillane & McFarland (USA): Blue John (Ranger RLPS-412, 1973?)
Joan McFarland (joint lead vocals, guitar, piano, percussion)
This is a pleasant album of rural rock, taking most of its cues from Crosby Stills & Nash. Joan McFarland’s singing style incorporates a few irritating Joni Mitchell-isms but the writing is good throughout, with a pleasing mix of acoustic and electric instrumentation including some bongos and fuzz guitar. The LP is considerably rare and sells for good money. GRADE: C+.

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