Ti-To

 

Tickawinda (UK): Rosemary Lane (Pennine PSS 153, 1979)
Folk
Kath Richmond (joint lead vocals), Alison Tulloch (joint lead vocals)
A beautiful LP, with rich harmony vocals and delicate, mainly acoustic arrangements. The overall effect is often reminiscent of a stripped-down, more traditional Steeleye Span circa Hark! The Village Wait. The album consists largely of sensitive interpretations of traditional material, but the highpoints are covers of Anne Briggs’s ‘Go Your Way’ and (especially) Bert Jansch’s ‘Rosemary Lane’, the latter a shimmering piece of acid-folk. Band associate Clive Gregson later went on to a prolific career as a folk and rock musician. GRADE: C+.

Timber (USA): Part Of What You Hear (Kapp KS 3633, with inner and booklet, 1970)
Country/Rock
Judy Elliott (joint lead vocals)
This is an enjoyable album of rural rock, with a spacious and rather folky sound and some long-ish, well-developed tracks. The opening ‘Tip Top’ is especially good, although an overtly country-flavoured song in the middle of side one slightly spoils the mood. As a bonus, the LP is very attractively packaged, with a minimalist cover in shades of brown, a matching lyric booklet and a complementary buff-coloured inner sleeve. GRADE: C+.
Timber (USA): Bring America Home (Elektra EKS 74095, with poster, 1971)
Country/Rock
Judy Elliott (joint lead vocals)
Released just six months after their debut, their second and final LP is competent enough, with songs ranging from moderately heavy barroom rockers to lighter country and folk numbers, but the lack of really outstanding material means I can’t imagine it ranking as anyone’s favourite rural album. That said, I do have rather a liking for the gentle hippie folk number ‘The Spirit Song’, driven by bongos and recorder. GRADE: C.

Time Wasters (UK): Time Wasters (Sticky 1, 1978)
Singer/Songwriter/Folk/Rock
Pauline Taylor (percussion, backing vocals)
Acting as the vehicle for talented singer/songwriters Tim Pye and Chris Stevens, this mellow folk/rock LP somewhat recalls a number of Holyground projects, complete with a slight underground edge. To these ears, the best number is the uncharacteristically spacy instrumental ‘Seventh Wave’, but this is an enjoyable album throughout. Tuneful, unassuming and modest, this has become a sought-after rarity with a price tag to match. GRADE: C+.

Inez Timmer (Holland): Join The Ducks (Philips 6423 131, 1979)
Folk/Rock
Inez Timmer (lead vocals)
The Irolt vocalist’s solo album is very different from the parent band, being contemporary singer/songwriter folk/rock with mostly self-penned material and polished electric band backing. Highpoints of a consistently good LP include the gentle, haunting ‘Nigel’ (the only song Timmer wrote alone), ‘The Mastersinger’s Finger’ with its dramatic orchestral finale, and a pleasant version of Fairport Convention’s classic ‘Crazy Man Michael’. However, I could have done without the whimsical supperclub jazz of ‘Someone’s Rocking My Dreamboat’, although it’s very nicely done. GRADE: C+.
See also Irolt

Timothy & Ms Pickens With Natural Act (USA): Yeah! (Half Moon Bay LPS HMB 01, 1976)
Country/Folk/Blues/Rock
Patricia Pickens (joint lead vocals)
Timothy is actually singer/songwriter Tim Dawe, whilst Natural Act include a couple of It’s A Beautiful Day alumni (guitarist Hal Wagenet and bassist Mitchell Holman). It’s not entirely surprising that they cover It’s A Beautiful Day’s ‘Bitter Wine’, which Dawe actually co-wrote, and make a pretty good fist of it; elsewhere they offer decent rural rock with a mixture of country, blues and folk influences, with Pickens’s powerful voice and Wagenet’s excellent guitar leads adding some welcome heft. GRADE: C+.

John Timpany & Audrey Smith (UK): Come All You Tender-Hearted Christians (Westwood WRS 031, 1973)
Folk
Audrey Smith (joint lead vocals, guitar, percussion, concertina, ocarina)
Despite the title, this is not Christian folk; instead it’s straightforward traditional folk with backing from acoustic guitar, percussion, concertina, violin, ocarina and whistle. Well played, sung and recorded, it’s very pleasant but it’s certainly not very distinctive. GRADE: C+.
John Timpany & Audrey Smith (UK): The Turtle Dove (Real RR 2005, 1975)
Folk
Audrey Smith (joint lead vocals, guitar, percussion, concertina, ocarina, whistle)
Their second and final album is in the same vein as their first, but perhaps not quite as good. It’s hard to define what’s changed, but this time round they sound a touch listless; even a mite unenthusiastic in parts. GRADE: C+.

Tin Hat Trio (USA): Memory Is An Elephant (Angel 7243 5 56786 2 1V, CD, 1999)
Jazz/Folk
Carla Kihlstedt (violin, viola)
One of many projects of the prolific Carla Kihlstedt, this is as far removed from Sleepytime Gorilla Museum as one could get. The sleevenotes describe it as ‘exotic chamber jazz’, which is as good a description as any; there’s also a lot of folk and world music in here, with a particular lineage from gypsy sounds. Most cuts are based around acoustic guitar, accordion and violin, creating gentle but intricate moods on wholly instrumental short pieces. Although there are some slight avant-garde touches, I’m less convinced about the notes’ other claim that they’re ‘quietly subversive’. GRADE: C+.
Tin Hat Trio (USA): Helium (Angel 7243 5 56935 2 5, HDCD, 2000)
Jazz/Folk
Carla Kihlstedt (violin, viola)
Essentially, more of the same, and another pleasant album. Tom Waits lends his unusual voice to one cut; otherwise this is all-instrumental as before. GRADE: C+.
Tin Hat Trio (USA): The Rodeo Eroded (Ropeadope/Ryokdisc RCD 16016, CD, with slipcase, 2002)
Jazz/Folk
Carla Kihlstedt (occasional vocals, trumpet, violin, viola)
This is perhaps slightly more experimental than their earlier work, but otherwise very similar, and is once again an intricate and enjoyable album. The format of their previous LP is reprised, with one actual song (this time fronted by Willie Nelson). GRADE: C+.
Tin Hat Trio (USA): Book Of Silk (Ropeadope/Rykodisc RCD16051, CD, with slipcase, UK, 2004)
Jazz/Folk
Carla Kihlstedt (occasional vocals, trumpet, violin, viola, marxophone)
In their typical chamber music style, this reminds me more strongly than ever than Julverne. In particular, the lovely closely ballad (and the album’s only actual song) ‘Empire Of Light’ could pass for an outtake from Emballade. GRADE: C+.
Tin Hat (USA): The Sad Machinery Of Spring (Hannibal HNCD 1524, CD, 2007)
Jazz/Folk
Carla Kihlstedt (occasional vocals, keyboards, vibes, trumpet, violin, viola, harmonica, ukelin, tarang), Zeena Parkins (harp)
Although expanding to a quartet with the addition of well-known avant-gardist and RIO stalwart Zeena Parkins, the band didn’t change direction significantly. Once again, there’s a single song amid numerous instrumentals; once again the music blends jazz with a touch of folk and a few experimental elements; and once again it’s very listenable and virtuosic without being particularly gripping. GRADE: C+.
Tin Hat (USA): Foreign Legion (BAG Production BAG002, CD, with digipak, 2008)
Carla Kihlstedt (trumpet, violin)
Recorded live, the band’s sixth album is fully instrumental, and again uses a variety of acoustic instruments to great effect. It’s another interesting and intricate record, peaking on the richly symphonic ‘Ana Ivanovic’. GRADE: C+.

Tin Penny (USA): Cycles (Silver Crest Custom WS112771, 1971)
Rock/Jazz/Folk/Psychedelic
This ‘rock oratorio’, issued on a very collectable private label, is all over the place musically. Most of it is jazzy rock with a theatrical edge, but there are also acid guitars, electronic effects, outbursts of psychedelic rock, choral moments and hints of avant-gardism. The end result is more a curio than anything, but it’s interesting nonetheless. As a footnote, almost all the vocals are male, though there is one short female passage. GRADE: C+.

Tingling Mother’s Circus (USA): A Circus Of The Mind (Musicor MS 3167, 1968)
Pop/Psychedelic
Andrea (joint lead vocals)
No prizes for guessing that this is popsike, in this case at the trippier and more baroque end of the spectrum. All kinds of electronic treatments and avant-garde elements are thrown into the mix, deftly arranged by guitarist Elliott Randall (later a ubiquitous session player), but at its heart this pure pop, offering plenty of goofball fun. GRADE: C+.

Tinkers (UK): Til The Wild Birds… (Fontana 6438 020, 1970)
Folk/Pop
Joanna Wheatley
A quintessential turn-of-the-seventies baroque folk/pop album, this obscure trio’s sole LP avoids most of the pitfalls of the genre, with few commercial leanings and no overbearing orchestrations. An obscure selection of tracks is also a plus, with ‘Leaving On A Jet Plane’ (here strangely retitled ‘Another Time, Another Place’) being the only usual suspect on display. GRADE: C.

Tiny Alice (USA): Tiny Alice (Kama Sutra KSBS 2046, 1972)
Country/Jazz/Rock
Peggy Cella (joint lead vocals, tambourine)
I expected this to be harmony pop or soft rock but it’s actually a mixture of country/rock and old-time jazz, blending elements of Shiva’s Headband and the Insect Trust. There are also sound effects and spoken word segments, with the whole thing having a satirical and conceptual feel (as confirmed by the cover): the results are rather arch, quite overblown and sometimes quite irritating. That’s a shame, as when they’re playing it straight (side one’s closer ‘Rainbow Song’ and side two’s ‘Oranges And Blues’) they’re capable of making genuinely lovely and well-crafted music. There’s also a pretty good bluesy rocker in ‘Guarantees’, before the album ends with a poem read against avant-garde piano backing. The disc comes packaged in a sleeve replicating a matchbook, very similar to that on the first Earth & Fire LP. GRADE: C.

Tip Of The Iceberg (USA): Tip Of The Iceberg (Project 3 PR 5091 SD, 1975)
Jazz/Pop/Lounge
Hilda Harris (joint lead vocals), Jane Meryll (joint lead vocals), Maretha Stewart (joint lead vocals)
Basically lounge legends Enoch Light & His Light Brigade under an alias, this crew made a throwaway but likeable LP fusing soul, pop, funk and jazz, with lots and lots of prominent brass. GRADE: C.

Tirill (Norway): A Dance With The Shadows (The Wild Places WILD013, USA, 2003)
Folk/Progressive
Tirill Mohn (principal vocals, guitar, keyboards, percussion, violin, flute)
The former White Willow musician’s solo debut, recorded between 1996 and 2001, offers similarly wintry dark folk sounds to her previous band. The heavy outbursts of progressive rock are missing, however, with a few more ambient edges substituted; the end result is a bit lacking in variety, and may be too precious for some ears, but it’s all wonderfully atmospheric. For some reason, the disc was reissued on the artist’s own Fairy Music label (FAM 001) with bonus tracks as Tales From Tranquil August Gardens. Why the title change, I have no idea; I’m also baffled by the actual title, since there is nothing remotely summery about Mohn’s music. GRADE: B–.
Tirill (Norway): Nine And Fifty Swans (Fairy Music FAM 002, CD, with digipak and booklet, 2011)
Folk
Tirill Mohn (principal vocals, guitar, Mellotron, percussion, violin)
Mohn’s second solo album is every bit as beautiful, haunting and delicate as her first. However, with even fewer hints of rock, one is left crying out for an occasional change of mood and some dynamics. GRADE: C+.

Tirill (Norway): Un Himinjodur (Fairy Music FAM 005, CD, with digibook, 2013)
Folk/Progressive
Tirill Mohn (principal vocals, keyboards, percussion, violin, ocarina)
Album number three is also very delicate and minimalist, with an eerie, ghost-like feel. It may be a little too uniform in mood for some listeners – the progressive rock elements in ‘In Their Eyes’ certainly deliver a huge boost – but there’s no denying its chilly beauty. 

GRADE: B–.
See also White Willow

Tittivulus (New Zealand): Tittivulus (Pebble Studios PS0001, with insert, 1975)
Folk/Rock
Imogen Coxhead (occasional vocals), Raewynne Smith (occasional vocals), Debbie James (occasional vocals), Carole Pagonis (occasional vocals)
This school project folk/rock opera is typical of the genre, with religiously-tinged lyrics and arrangements based around piano, drums and woodwind (plus occasional fuzz guitar). For the most part, it’s a solid rather than an exceptional example of the genre, but ‘Tittivulus’ Song’ is among the most beautiful pieces of schoolgirl folk ever committed to vinyl, rivalling the best material on the British Reality From Dream album. Only a handful of copies are known of the LP, one of which was clearly sold at a restaging of the show in 1977 since it comes with an explanatory booklet as well as the original lyric sheet. GRADE: C.

To The Children Of The King (USA): To The Children Of The King (Sheep Shed Music NC: 783/00, with insert, 1976)
Folk/Rock
Claudia Bausman (occasional vocals, guitar), Jill Perrey (occasional vocals, guitar), Robin Platt (occasional vocals, guitar, flute)
The church singalongs that open each side are fairly unimpressive, but the remainder is lovely rural folk/rock with excellent harmony vocals and well-judged electric band backing. With every member of the eight-piece band singing and writing, there’s quite a bit of variety too, adding up to a charming and heartfelt period piece. GRADE: C+.

Toccata (Mexico): Circe (Mylodon MyloCD033, CD, 2005)
Progressive/Metal
Andrea Medina (lead vocals)
The closing track title ‘Danza Cósmica’ made me briefly suspect this was space-rock, but it’s actually of that style typical of modern Latin America prog in general and the Mylodon label in particular: heavy (often fringing metal) yet symphonic, dramatic yet contained, and full of chunky riffing. At a push, I suppose this could be compared to an updated Sol Y Media Noche or the heaviest moments of Estructura or Equilibrio Vital. This is not one of my favourite prog styles, and the album frequently gets too bombastic for its own good, but it’s by no means bad. GRADE: C+.

Today’s People (USA): Hello World, Meet Today’s People (Evolution 2004, 1968)
Pop
The band name, album title and wonderful period sleeve (a delightfully gaudy illustration of a grinning sun surrounded by thronging crowds) leave little doubt that this is cash-in flower-power pop. It’s fairly good for the style, with gentle versions of songs like ‘(Sittin’ On) The Dock Of The Bay’, ‘Fool On The Hill’ and ‘California Dreamin’’, all with MOR musical backing and lilting choral vocals. The only real exception is the comparatively rocking ‘Summer In The City’, which is one of the best tracks on offer. GRADE: C.

Together (USA): Together (Ransom Recording, some with insert, 1969)
Folk/Blues
Leslie Robinson
Described on the labels as ‘a limited edition subscription recording’, this enjoyable private pressing offers a mixture of folk and blues with sparse acoustic and sometimes electric backing and a raw, basement ambience. Highpoints including the slow, spare opening take on ‘All Along The Watchtower’, the lengthy ‘Spoonful’ with its meandering electric guitar leads, and the beautiful, eerie folk of ‘Isle of Islay’. Copies are known with both silkscreened and handstamped plain white sleeves, and some feature an insert. GRADE: C+.

Megumi Tokuhisa (Japan): Inverno (Symphonia SYCD-2, CD, with obi, 1991)
Progressive/Folk
Megumi Tokuhisa (lead vocals, keyboards)
The sole solo release by the Teru’s Symphonia singer has a folkier edge than the parent band, with some singer/songwriter touches too. It’s a nice enough mini-album, making one wish that she had recorded a full LP. GRADE: C+.
See also Teru’s Symphonia

Tole Puddle (Australia): A Breath Of Fresh Air (Billingsgate L 35796, 1976)
Folk/Country/Rock
Diane Halsey (joint lead vocals, guitar, clavinet)
The opening double whammy of ‘in Search Of A Breath Of Fresh Air’ and ‘Gerry’s Jig’ – an acapella number followed by a superb heavy electric folk instrumental – suggests that this is going to be a classic album in the Steeleye Span mould. It’s a false dawn. The rest mixes country/rock and folk/pop that’s mostly pleasant but never very substantial or memorable; the only exception is the excellent ‘The Minstrel’, which could pass for an outtake from Now We Are Six. It’s a real pity, as they clearly had the talent to make a vastly better record than this. GRADE: C+.

Tollgate (UK): Songs To Sing (Meridian AJS 8051, with insert, 1978?)
Folk
Christine George (joint lead vocals, guitar), Francis Young (joint lead vocals)
This is a pleasant traditional folk album, only slightly marred by the rather formal singing of one of the female members. Overall it’s comparable to a number of acts from the Folk Heritage stable, although I suspect this may be a few years later. In any case, this is a very rare LP. GRADE: C+.

Tom & Theresa (USA): In The Meantime (Orygun CFS-3432, 1974)
Folk
Theresa Demarest (joint lead vocals, guitar)
Accompanying themselves on acoustic guitars, this couple offer a cross-section of their own material plus songs by Judy Collins, Gordon Lightfoot, Johnny Cash and others. An excellent recording means this never sounds thin or unfinished, and with a high standard of singing and writing the results are an understated delight. GRADE: C+.

Tombstone Valentine (USA): Hidden World (Aether AELP-003, with insert, 1997)
Psychedelic
Richelle Toombs (lead vocals, keyboards), Diane Hancock (keyboards, percussion, backing vocals)
This is rather a good album of modern psychedelia, featuring two structured compositions and two improvisations. However, whilst the liner notes describe it as ‘the next generation’s After Bathing At Baxter’s’ and compare it to the Grateful Dead’s ‘Dark Star’, the music isn’t hugely original, drawing on both late sixties acid-rock and eighties neo-psychedelia. The CD version from the following year (Aether AECD-003) has a quite different track listing, dropping ‘Triple O Shuffle’, substituting a different (and much superior) version of ‘Green Night Sky’, adding three new numbers (all of them over ten minutes) and reshuffling the running order. GRADE: C+.
See also In The Summer Of The Mushroom Honey, Many Bright Things

Tomorrow Come Someday (UK): Tomorrow Come Someday (Sound News Productions SNP 97, 1970)
Folk/Pop
Emma Stacey
Recognisably in the same vein as Peter Howell and John Ferdinando’s later projects Agincourt and Ithaca, this was apparently the soundtrack to a low budget, long-forgotten local film. Musically it offers gentle, whimsical hippie folk with hints of sunshine pop, and is winsome if rather twee. GRADE: C+.

Tomorrow’s Gift (West Germany): Tomorrow’s Gift (+Plus+ 1+2, double, 1970)
Blues/Rock/Progressive
Ellen Meier (lead vocals)
This short double album (about an hour) often resembles Frumpy, although Ellen Meier’s voice is nowhere near as rich or distinctive as Inga Rumpf’s. Musically, it’s a bit of a mixed bag – always good, frequently brilliant (the jazzy eight-minute instrumental ‘Sandy Concert’), sometimes self-indulgent (the lengthy drum solo in the thirteen-minute ‘The First Seasons After The Destruction’). It’s also notable that the second disc is generally rather better than the first. Overall, however, this is definitely worth hearing, even if one gets the impression that they could have made a better album given more time and care. GRADE: B–.
See also Alto, Pago Pago, Various ‘Love And Peace’

Rhiannon Tomos & Band (UK): Dwed Y Gwir (Sain 1232M, 1981)
Rock/Metal
Rhiannon Tomos (lead vocals)
Rhiannon Tomos was an important figure in the Welsh NWOBHM scene, but her sole album is comparatively restrained, sometimes resembling a heavier sidestep from Stevie Nicks. It’s decent enough, but to understand why she is spoken of in hushed tones you’ll need to invest in her non-LP single ‘Dormod I’w Golli’ (for its astonishing Heather Jones cover ‘Cwm Hiraeth’, which offers an orgy of fuzz guitar leads) and her 45 with Diawled. You’ll also need deep pockets, as they’re probably the most sought-after singles to emerge from Wales. GRADE: C+.

Tongue & Groove (USA): Tongue And Groove (Fontana SRF-67593, 1969)
Rock
Lynne Hughes (joint lead vocals)
This rootsy hippie-rock album is a decent and well-assembled period piece, mainly distinguished by Lynne Hughes’s powerful singing and some energetic playing. There are some solid original songs, but no truly outstanding compositions. GRADE: C+.
Tongue & Groove Presents Lynne Hughes (USA): Freeway Gypsy (Fontana SRF-67611, 1970)
Rock
Lynne Hughes (lead vocals)
The rather odd artist credit can’t seem to make its mind up whether this is the second Tongue & Groove album or Hughes’s solo debut (the Tongue & Groove credit appears only on the sleeve and not on the label). In any case, the other two members of Tongue & Groove are conspicuous by their absence, and strangely Hughes writes nothing here, although she penned nearly half the previous LP. Musically, this album is rather more soulful, with plenty of horns, and once again Hughes is in fine voice. After this she went on to join the not dissimilar but more laid-back and expansive Stoneground. GRADE: C+.
See also Stoneground

Tony, Caro & John (UK): All On The First Day (No label, with booklet, 1972)
Folk/Psychedelic
Caroline Doré (occasional vocals, percussion, kazoo)
This rather interesting lo-fi folk album was mainly the project of singer/songwriter, guitarist and multi-instrumentalist Tony Doré, assisted by his wife Caroline and bassist John Clark. Its dark, murky sound is frequently similar to Holyground albums of the same era, though at various times it recalls everyone from the Incredible String Band to Oberon and Stone Angel. Tony Doré’s rather fractured voice and the minimalist arrangements, sometimes interspersed with weird sound effects, lend a wonky and slightly eerie feel to much of the material; Caroline Doré has a more conventionally pretty voice but sings lead on only ‘Waltz For A Spaniel’ and the brief closer ‘Homecoming’. The CD reissue adds several rather good bonus cuts, including the title track, as well as another Caroline Doré lead vocal on the beautiful, haunting ‘Swirling Sphere’. GRADE: C+.
Tony, Caro & John (UK): Blue Clouds (Galactic Zoo Disk/Gaarden DC527/GZD#003/GAARD005, USA, 2012, recorded 1971-1977)
Folk/Rock/Psychedelic
Caroline Doré
‘Have we got a doozy for you: incredible, unreleased recordings by the ultra-obscure Tony, Caro & John’ proclaims the hype sticker, but four of these eleven cuts had previously appeared as bonus tracks on the All On The First Day CD. Confirming the impression given by the previously released songs, the later recordings are both more professional and slightly more conventional than those on their first LP. Overall, this is perhaps the slightly better of their two releases, with several cuts having a surprisingly contemporary sound. GRADE: C+.

Tonyan Family (USA): Who Will Buy? (Lariam Associates LAS-124, 1974?)
Lounge/‘Incredibly Strange Music’
‘Mom’ Tonyan (occasional vocals, saxophone)
‘You’ll melt when you see the six Tonyan kids’ announce the sleevenotes, concluding that ‘it’s all clean-cut kids, dimples and delight’. From this, it’s not hard to deduce that this is a family band, with the six kids (all boys, from what I can tell) providing the vocals and some of the instrumentation, plus Dad helping out on organ and Mum on saxophone. The backing is professional-level, bolstered (unusually for this sort of thing) by an excellent recording, whilst the vocals (delivered by boys aged between eight and 18) vary enormously. This isn’t weird enough to be a top score for ‘real people’ collectors, but it’s certainly an appealing and quirky set. They also released a self-titled LP, which I have not encountered. GRADE: C+.

Toomorrow (UK): Toomorrow (RCA LSA3008, with insert, 1970)
Pop/Psychedelic
Olivia Newton-John (joint lead vocals)
Toomorrow was a manufactured pop group put together by Monkees supremo Don Kirshner and James Bond producer Harry Saltzman for an abortive sci-fi comedy film of the same name. This soundtrack is a fine piece of Swingin’ London pop, housed in a wonderful period cover and chiefly pursued by collectors as it was the first LP to feature Olivia Newton-John. GRADE: C+.

Top Ten Tunes (UK): Top Ten Tunes (Jabot JBT 161/2, 10", 1965)
Beat
June Lesley (joint lead vocals)
This 10" album (which has resurfaced just once on the collectors’ market) is a real enigma. The hand-pasted royalty stamp on the label suggests a tiny vanity pressing, yet it has a laminated factory-finished sleeve and superb recording quality, suggesting a considerable budget. The line-up is equally curious: I’ve never heard of vocalists Tony Stevens and June Lesley, but the backing musicians include Jim Sullivan, Jud Proctor, Arthur Greenslade and Andy White. What’s more, the sleeve suggests that this was part of a series: ‘Don’t forget, we’re coming out approximately every month with a new set of numbers.’ Musically, it’s an excellent set of beat cover versions, including fine interpretations of ‘I Don’t Know What To Do’, ‘A Hard Day’s Night’ and ‘House Of The Rising Sun’. GRADE: C+.

Jannick Top (France): Infernal Machinal (Le Chant Du Monde 274 1710, CD, with digipak, 2009)
Progressive
Natalia Ermilova (joint lead vocals), Veronika Boulytcheva (joint lead vocals)
Perhaps surprisingly in view of Top’s many mainstream rock and pop projects as a session musician, this is a powerful suite of zeuhl music in the style of his former band Magma. Beginning slowly but building in intensity to a series of majestic peaks and plateaux, this lacks only the brilliant riffs and melodies of Magma’s best work (and perhaps a clearer, more sympathetic production) to stand as an all-time classic of the genre. Several Magma alumni help out (Klaus Blasquiz on joint lead vocals, James Mac Gaw on guitar, Christian Vander on drums and Stella Vander on backing vocals, among others). GRADE: B–.

Torn Curtain (USA): Torn Curtain (Ventricle #4, CD, 1994)
Ambient
Sheila (lead vocals)
Song titles like ‘Daymare’ and ‘Creatures’, plus an eerie back cover illustration featuring skeletons, might lead you to expect something discordant, but despite a few moments of loud musique concrete this is one of Ventricle’s most ambient projects. Mainman Dusty Lee delivers hazy washes of Mellotron, over which vocalist Sheila adds ethereal vocals, creating music of exceptional fragility and beauty. In fact, this is possibly the best release to date from the label. Finally, the silver foil artwork is stunning, so it’s a pity this was never released on LP. GRADE: C+.

Tornaod (France): An Douar Hagus An Spéir (Vocation VOC229, HDCD, 2005)
Folk/Rock
Cécile Korbel (harp)
Tornaod was very much the brainchild of singer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Tomaz Boucherifi-Kadiou, with the other members playing second fiddle (Cécile Korbel appears on just two songs). Musically this is Breton folk/rock: a little low-budget but wonderfully rich and melodic, with the intricate stringed instrumentation underpinned by growling electric guitars and dynamic percussion at just the right moments. GRADE: B–.
Tornaod (France): Orìn (Little Blue Men LBM 108, CD, 2005)
Folk/Rock/Progressive
Beth Patterson (occasional vocals, bass, percussion, bouzouki, oboe)
This is both more ambitious (culminating in a 19-minute piece) and more professional than their debut. Whilst it misses the quirkiness of their first, it’s a fine album throughout, with the long closing cut being particularly impressive. In a reversal of the pattern from its predecessor, Beth Patterson is credited only as a guest, despite co-writing and duetting on ‘The Two Of Cups’ and playing a range of instruments. GRADE: B–.
Tornaod (France): YS 2013 (Ethnéa ET8815, double CD, 2010)
Folk/Rock/Metal/Progressive
Clara Schmidt (occasional vocals)
The last thing I expected Tornaod to do was go folk metal, but here it is – as bombastic and noisy and compressed as one would expect. It’s also as amateurish as their first, and despite tracks of up to 21 minutes doesn’t offer much in the way of complexity either. GRADE: C+.

Monica Törnell (Sweden): Ingica (Philips 6316 017, with insert, 1972)
Pop/Folk/Rock
Monica Törnell (lead vocals)
Backed by the cream of Swedish musicians (Janne Schaffer on guitar, Björn Jason Lindh on keyboards and Jan Bandel and Ola Brunkert on drums, among others) this prolific Swedish vocalist offers classy adult pop on her debut album. Although she co-writes only one song, this is a cohesive and consistent LP, effectively running the gamut of traditional Swedish folk, introspective ballads and light rockers. She even throws in an effective hard rocker, complete with assertive lead guitar, to close the LP. GRADE: C+.
Monica Törnell (Sweden): Alrik (Philips 6316 033, 1973)
Folk/Rock
Monica Törnell (lead vocals)
The opening ‘Öje Brudmarsch’ is five minutes of stunning heavy psychedelic rock and ‘Magical Fountain’ is an impressive piece of hard rock with Janne Schaffer cutting loose on the leads. The rest of the album couldn’t live up to a start like that, and it doesn’t, mainly offering more traditional folk and gentle ballads (all of a good standard). Törnell writes more this time round, though the two cuts she penned alone are simply short acapella pieces that close the two sides. GRADE: C+.
Monica Törnell (Sweden): Don’t Give A Damn (Philips 6316 052, 1975)
Jazz/Rock
Monica Törnell (lead vocals)
This time round, the opener is glam-rock but most of the remainder is jazzy, funky and occasionally bluesy grooves, representing something of a sidestep from her earlier work. An even odder diversion is the short self-penned closer, with its tripped-out modern jazz ambience and electronically treated vocals. GRADE: C+.
Monica Törnell (Sweden): Bush Lady (Mercury 6363 011, 1977)
Jazz/Rock
Monica Törnell (principal vocals)
As with its predecessor, this is frequently jazzy, sometimes funky and occasionally bluesy; and it’s consistently good without ever achieving greatness. Here and there, Törnell adopts a more dramatic, Janis Joplin-like vocal approach, though she has none of Joplin’s genuine wildness and sense of abandon.

GRADE: C+.
Monica Törnell (Sweden): Jag Är Som Jag Är… (Philips 6316 108, with inner, 1978)
Jazz/Rock
Monica Törnell (lead vocals)
The songs that bookend the album are hauntingly beautiful folk with trippy flute, but the remainder is a far more mixed bag: rock with assertive guitar on the title track, some jazzy and Latin stuff, a bluesy excursion, even a pacy instrumental and some snatches of kids singing. Despite this rather schizophrenic list of styles, this is another consistently good LP. GRADE: C+.

Monica Törnell (Sweden): Ingica Mångrid (Philips 6316 123, with inner, 1979)
Singer/Songwriter
Monica Törnell (lead vocals)
By far Törnell’s straightest album to date, this consists of jazzy, occasionally rocky, versions of material by Paul McCartney, Bob Dylan and Leonard Cohen, plus a couple of self-penned numbers. The results are competent but not particularly exciting, though the disc gathers momentum towards the end. GRADE: C.
Monica Törnell (Sweden): Ängel (Mercury 6362 088, with inner, 1982)
Rock
Monica Törnell (lead vocals)
Törnell’s first album of the eighties unfortunately sounds like it: this is dumb and dated rock, with lots of synthesisers, robotic voices, new wave edges and even some funk and reggae rhythms. She’s writing more this time round, but her own songs are neither better nor worse than the covers. GRADE: C–.
Monica Törnell (Sweden): Mica (Air AIRLP 1013, with inner, 1984)
Rock
Monica Törnell (lead vocals)
The quintessentially eighties graphics of the cover didn’t fill me with hope, but whilst this is many ways as dated as Ängel, it’s a much better album all round. That’s partly due to the presence of a much stronger crop of songs, but also to the omission of failed experiments and goofy jokes. GRADE: C+.
Monica Törnell (Sweden): Fri (Air AIRLP 1015, with inner, 1984)
Rock
Monica Törnell (lead vocals)
Once again, this is eighties rock – dated and perhaps a bit dumb but entirely decent. Unusually, Törnell writes or co-writes just about everything. GRADE: C+.
Monica Törnell (Sweden): Big Mama (Air AIRLP 1019, with inner, 1986)
Rock
Monica Törnell (lead vocals)
This time round, Törnell manages just one co-write, confirming her continued unpredictability. Musically, this is a bit bluesier than usual, with Törnell unleashing her inner Janis Joplin on her cover of ‘I Just Want To Make Love To You’. Overall it’s a solid set, despite some even more obnoxious eighties arrangements. GRADE: C+.
Monica Törnell (Sweden): Månfred (RCA PL 71635, with inner, 1988)
Rock
Monica Törnell (lead vocals)
This is another pleasant album of eighties rock: perhaps a bit mellower and more pop-oriented than her last couple, but offering no particular diversions from her usual formula. GRADE: C+.

Monica Törnell (Sweden): Vive La Mystique (VIP VLP 5001, with inner, 1989)
Pop
Monica Törnell (lead vocals)
The French title is no accident – this album of feather-light symphonic rock reminds me of the eighties work by artists like Catherine Lara and Véronique Sanson. It’s actually rather pleasant, but there’s very little variety here and even less substance. GRADE: C.

María Toro Featuring Hermeto Pascoal (Spain): Araras (Jazz Activist JA07, CD, 2018)
Jazz
María Toro (occasional vocals, flute)
Quite different from her work with Amoeba Split, this is a mainly instrumental acoustic jazz work showcasing Toro’s talent as a composer and flautist. From a purely technical standpoint, this is an easy B–, with superb musicianship (including excellent flamenco guitars) and a fine recording. But like a lot of pure jazz, it all sounds a little academic and heartless, and is easier to admire than it is to love. She also released an earlier solo album A Contra Luz (Jazz Activist DLC-2569-2013, CD, with digipak and booklet, 2013), which I haven’t heard.

GRADE: C+.
See also Amoeba Split

Torre Dell’ Alchimista (Italy): La Torre Dell’ Alchimista (Kaliphonia KRC025-SIAE, CD, 2001)
Progressive
Silvia Ceraolo (flute)
This is an accomplished album of Italian progressive rock, bearing most of the hallmarks of the genre. Rich, lyrical and folky, it is let down only by a few minor neoprogressive touches and a comparative lack of ambition. GRADE: B–.
Torre Dell’ Alchimista (Italy): USA… You Know? (Ma.Ra.Cash MRC 004, CD, 2005)
Progressive
Silvia Ceraolo (flute, backing vocals)
This rather good (and rather oddly titled) live album reproduces much of the studio set, and features fine musicianship and performances throughout. GRADE: B–.

Torvikollektiivi (Finland/France/Japan): Torvikollektiivi (No label, CDR, Finland, 2004)

Jazz/Progressive/Avant-Garde

Mika Kato (lead vocals)

If I’d been told that Mika Kato’s sole post-Sadistic Mika Band project was a CDR with a Finnish avant-jazz big band, I wouldn’t have believed it – but here it is. I’d also have assumed that I was the victim of a wind-up if I’d been informed that she delivered her vocals in German, in a declamatory, semi-spoken style recalling Renate Knaup or Rosi Müler. GRADE: C+.

See also Sadistic Mika Band

Toubabou (Canada/Mali/Senegal/Togo): Le Blé Et Le Mil (Kot’ai KOT-3305, Canada, 1974)
Progressive
Lise Cousineau (joint lead vocals, güiro), Retchia Aboudemane (occasional vocals), Kpapou Bossa (occasional vocals)
This unusual project combined a number of luminaries from the Quebec underground scene, including Lise Cousineau as main vocalist, plus several African musicians. Recorded live, the album (perhaps unsurprisingly) is a rather odd blend of African traditional music and Canadian prog, with the mellow opening track being quite similar to the connected band Contraction. Many of the same musicians were simultaneously working in Ville Emard Blues Band. GRADE: C+.
Toubabou (Canada): Attente (Barclay 80222, 1975)
Jazz/Rock/Progressive
Lise Cousineau (joint lead vocals, triangle), Estelle Ste-Croix (occasional vocals)
Their studio set drops the African collaborators, and integrates the progressive and ethnic elements rather better than its predecessor. It's also a great deal jazzier, creating some fine grooves with a definite Canterbury feel. With Lise Cousineau in fine voice throughout, this is in an entirely different league to Le Blé Et Le Mil, and there is no duplication of material whatever. GRADE: B–.
See also Alexandrins, Cousineau, Ville Emard Blues Band

Touch (USA): Street Suite (Mainline 2001, 1969)
Blues/Rock/Psychedelic
Paulette Butts (joint lead vocals, tambourine)
One of the ‘holy grails’ of rare American psychedelia, along with Haymarket Square, Search Party et al, this album has a distinctive sound by being rooted in blues rather than folk, pop or experimental music. For the most part, it’s heavy garage blues/rock with powerful lead guitar work, at various times resembling bands as diverse as Aguaturbia, Arktis and Levee Camp Moan, but there are also some more whimsical jugband-style moments that don’t work so successfully. At its best, however, this is an exciting and elementally raw LP, with some excellent Grace Slick-like vocals from Paulette Butts. GRADE: C+.

Touchstone (UK): Music From Pandora’s Box (No label, some with booklet, 1972)
Folk/Rock/Progressive
Elizabeth Carson (principal vocals)
Four copies are known of this private pressing, which was the soundtrack to a musical staged at a London college. The music is in the acid-folk vein, with a dark, mournful feel, very striking high-pitched female vocals and some slight classical touches, including flute and oboe. However, most tracks also feature strong rock elements, with a rhythm section, Hammond organ and some very heavy guitar work, including plenty of piercing leads. The album opens with ‘Choose Your Path’, whose menacing, echoey, ultra-slow guitar riff recalls bands like Dark or Black Sabbath; indeed, the combination of this musical style with soprano vocals presages many modern progressive metal bands. The standard of songwriting is superb throughout, and the album stands as one of the very finest British private pressings, with equal appeal for psychedelic, progressive and acid-folk collectors. GRADE: B.

Touchstone (UK): Mad Hatters (No label, CD EP, UK, 2006)
Rock/Progressive/Metal
Liz Clayden (occasional vocals)
Crossing neoprogressive and metal on three short songs and the eight-minute title track, this is a competent but rather underwhelming debut. The 2010 reissue (Heavy Right Foot hrf008cd) adds an additional seventeen minutes of music via three live bonus cuts from 2009 (‘Original Sin’, ‘Dignity’ and a cover of Tears For Fears’ ‘Mad World’) featuring Liz Clayden’s replacement Kim Seviour. These are no more exciting than the EP proper. GRADE: C.
Touchstone (UK): Discordant Dreams (Heavy Right Foot HRF 006 CD, CD, 2007)
Rock/Progressive
Kim Seviour (joint lead vocals)
Their second tones down the metal edges considerably and ups the standard of the songwriting, although this is still unadventurous neoprog with a strong Marillion influence. Nonetheless, this is a decent enough set with a few good riffs and melodies. Bizarrely, the hidden bonus track at the end is a peculiar concoction of electronics and sound effects, suggesting they might have some avant-garde ambitions. GRADE: C+.
Touchstone (UK): Wintercoast (Heavy Right Foot HRF007CD, CD, 2009)
Rock/Progressive/Metal
Kim Seviour (principal vocals)
Reinstating heavy riffing to the heart of the band’s sound, this is another solid neoprogressive set that breaks no new ground but makes for a perfectly pleasant listening experience. GRADE: C+.
Touchstone (UK): Live In The USA (Heavy Right Foot HRF009CD, double CD, 2010
Rock/Progressive
Kim Seviour (principal vocals)
Like a lot of bands with mediocre material, Touchstone seem to operate more effectively in the studio than on stage. Further, the extra space afforded by a double album underlines the lack of variety, as well as the lack of quality, in their repertoire. GRADE: C.
Touchstone (UK): The City Sleeps (SPV 309582 CD, CD, with digipak and booklet, Germany, 2011)
Rock/Progressive/Metal
Kim Seviour (joint lead vocals)
Whilst this contains some decent material and is arguably their best album, it’s also quite clumsy and disjointed in parts. Nonetheless, it’s certainly a significant step up from the turgid live set that preceded it. GRADE: C+.
Touchstone (UK): Oceans Of Time (Hear No Evil Recordings HNEDCD027, CD, 2013)
Rock/Metal/Progressive
Kim Seviour (principal vocals)
This occasionally catches fire (notably the intense ‘Spirit Of The Age’), but it’s mostly pretty pedestrian hard rock. On the plus side, ‘Shadow’s End’ and ‘Solace 2013’ are pleasant symphonic rock, creating a enjoyable middle section to the album, but the remainder simply lays bare their songwriting shortcomings. GRADE: C.
Touchstone (UK): Live Inside Outside (TSUK, double DVD plus double CD, with gatefold minisleeve and autographed minisleeve, 2014)
Rock/Metal/Progressive
Kim Seviour (principal vocals)
This extensive live overview features DVDs of two separate shows (one indoors and the other at a festival, hence the title) plus a CD of the indoor show; the first 500 copies ordered from the band came with a bonus EP in an autographed minisleeve. The two live sets are competent enough, but it’s notable that the only time the band really comes alive is when covering Tears For Fears’ ‘Mad World’ at the brief festival gig; a ‘making-of’ featurette fleshing out this DVD is as interesting as these things usually are. The main CD simply replicates the indoor show, whilst the EP features an unreleased song, an alternate mix, two demos and a single edit. Whilst I don’t particularly like the band’s music, this is a well-assembled package and they have a pleasant and engaging onstage demeanour. GRADE: C+.

See also Kim Seviour

Touchstone (USA): Runes (No label 1260, with inner, 1978)
Folk/Rock
Kathryn Cowan (occasional vocals, guitar), Mary Davis (occasional vocals)
This band was mainly the brainchild of singer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Eric Cowan, and was recorded with his wife and a couple of other members of the Bahá’I faith. Musically it’s breezy folk and folk/rock with a deft, jazzy touch and a sunny, beatific feel. Eric and Kathryn Cowan returned in 1983 with a cassette-only follow-up Long Through Time that I have never encountered. GRADE: C+.

Toupidek Limonade (France): Il Y A Des Nuits (AYAA, cassette, 1984)
Avant-Garde/Progressive
Kwettap Ieuw
Operating in parallel with Look De Bouk (with whom they shared two of their three members), Toupidek Limonade offered similarly odd fragmentary compositions combining off-kilter songs, classical and folk references, sound effects and more. Depending on one’s taste, the end results can be seen as wildly creative or insufferably pretentious. GRADE: B–.

Toupidek Limonade (France/Norway): Il Y A Des Bulles Dans La Banquaise (Gazul GA 8616.AR, CD, France, 1998)
Avant-Garde/Progressive/Folk
Kwettap Ieuw (joint lead vocals)
Their second album emphasises the folk and pop roots underpinning their sound, offering a procession of catchy, childlike, playful and deeply weird vignettes. One could dismiss this as insubstantial, but there’s real craft here, with beautifully judged arrangements and some haunting moments, and in one album Toupidek Limonade cover more ground than many bands manage in twenty years. GRADE: B–.
Toupidek Limonade (France/Norway): Le Phoque A Bu L’Air (InPolySons IPS1106, CD, France, 2006)
Avant-Garde/Progressive/Psychedelic
Kwettap Ieuw
Much more rock-oriented than its predecessor, this sees the band mixing light post-psychedelic jamming with their usual weirdnesses – snatches of French folk music, obscure classical references, strange sound effects and more. The result is a much heavier but equally playful twist on their ‘toy music’ that once again delivers plenty of surprises. GRADE: B–.

Toupidek Limonade (France/Norway): Il Y A Des Vies Qui Dévient (InPolySons IPS0112, with poster, France, 2012)
Avant-Garde/Jazz/Progressive
Kwettap Ieuw
Toupidek Limonade’s bric-à-brac music – which is here a little more electronic and jazzy than usual – walks a thin line. When they’re on form, they sound like intriguing innovators, gaily skipping from genre to genre and idea to idea. When they’re not, as on most of this album, they sound like clowns or cynics, noodling aimlessly in the studio then selling the results. Also, vinyl isn’t perhaps the best format for them – when the record started mistracking at the beginning of each side, I wondered whether the music was actually supposed to sound like that. GRADE: C+.
See also Look De Bouk

Tower (Italy): Tales From A Book Of Yestermorrow (Vinyl Magic VNMP 477764-2, CD, 1994)
Progressive
Paola Mei (lead vocals)
Led by keyboardist Beppe Crovella (of Secret Cinema and numerous other outfits), this band simply features himself, vocalist Paola Mei and drummer Elio Rivagli. Avoiding the thin, tinny sound and ELP-style bombast one might expect from such a line-up, this is a pleasant and gentle album of song-based neoprog with a very romantic and Italian feel. The haunting, melodic ‘Ann’ is the best cut, but it’s a solid set throughout, with the more ostentatious closing instrumental suite providing a nice coda. GRADE: C+.

Town Criers (USA): Live In San Francisco (Collectors’ Choice Music CCM-747, CD, 2006, recorded 1963?)
Folk
Jan Ellickson (joint lead vocals, tambourine)
If you wanted to know what Marty Balin was getting up to before forming Jefferson Airplane, here’s your answer. This is pleasant coffeehouse folk with harmony vocals, acoustic instruments and mostly original compositions (mainly by the group’s leader Larry Varga, though Balin also contributes some material). They have an engaging stage demeanour and the music is enjoyable enough, although this doesn’t have any the innovation and fire of the early Airplane. GRADE: C+.

Devin Townsend Project (Canada/Holland): Addicted (HevyDevy HDR0507-2, CD, with autographed slipcase, Canada, 2009)
Metal
Anneke van Giersbergen (joint lead vocals)
Betwixt hard rock and heavy metal, though also rather psychedelic and somewhat symphonic, this is an unusual though very unassuming album. The Devin Townsend Project also represents the only work undertaken by Anneke van Giersbergen post-the Gathering to relate to prog or metal in any way, and this outclasses the vast bulk of her solo output. GRADE: C+.
Devin Townsend Project (Canada/USA): Ghost (HevyDevy HDR-CD-5444, CD, with slipcase, Canada, 2011)
Folk/Rock/Progressive
Katrina Natale (occasional vocals), Kat Epple (flute, woodwind)
The rather surprising addition of Kat Epple (from new age pioneers Emerald Web) makes sense when you hear the music: abandoning metal altogether, Ghost sees Townsend exploring ambient, rather proggy, folk/rock. Along the way, the band create some lovely moods, but despite some excellent performances this doesn’t have the truly great songs to raise it to the top tier. GRADE: C+.
See also Agua de Annique, Emerald Web, Gathering, Anneke van Giersbergen

Toxic Pets (USA): More Of Everything (Lobe Current Music LC-11188, 7", 1988)
New Wave/Progressive
Mary Krstič (guitar, backing vocals)
If you want to know what guitar wunderkind Mary Krstič got up after releasing her excellent album Break The Chains, here’s your answer. Nine years down the line she was a member of the oddball Toxic Pets, whose sole release was this three-track EP, offering around 10 minutes of music. The two shorter songs on the A-side (‘More Of Everything’ and ‘Time’) are firmly in a punk vein, with a certain Talking Heads influence evident in the vocals and the wide-eyed lyrics, but the B-side offers the proggier, keyboard-led ‘One Life’. There are also more than a few hints of Music Emporium, particularly in the trebly organ and occasional hints of Eastern scales, adding up to an odd and intriguing little record. GRADE: C+.
See also Dark Light Spectrum, Mary Krstič