Tra-Tre

 

Trader Horne (UK): Morning Way (Dawn DNLS 3004, with insert, 1970)
Folk/Pop/Psychedelic
Judy Dyble (joint lead vocals, piano, autoharp)
The grinning, spaced-out plasticine cat on the back cover is a perfect reflection of the music within: the songs on side one even end with a brief tuned percussion and flute piece that sounds like the theme from a slightly surreal children’s TV show. Warm, gentle and subtly stoned, these gorgeously melodic songs define the term ‘hippie folk/pop’, with ethereal psychedelic atmospheres counterpointing Dyble’s English rose vocals and the elegant baroque arrangements. Quite simply, this is a unique counterculture classic. GRADE: B.
See also Judy Dyble, Fairport Convention

Traffle (Australia): Traffle (EMI Custom Pressing YPRX-1521, 1978)
Folk/Pop
Kathy Wilson (joint lead vocals)
This Aussie lounge trio offered pleasant folky soft rock on their privately released album. With all-original material and excellent recording quality, it’s well above average for the genre, but there’s nothing here that’s likely to make much of an impression. GRADE: C.

Trama (Italy): Prodromi Di Finzioni Sovrapposte (Mellow MMP 338, CD, 1999)
Progressive
Annalisa Accorsi (lead vocals)
This is identikit Italian neoprogressive, with a range of styles from soft symphonic ballads to hard rock-tinged numbers. There are some good riffs and melodies here, but it’s all pretty predictable and unadventurous and some of the tempo changes are not handled at all well. They were clearly never going to be brilliant, but there are a few hints they could have made a solid album; for the most part, this isn’t it. GRADE: C.

Trama (Italy): Oscura Movenze (Locanda Del Vento/Lizard LDV 014, CD, 2018)
Progressive
Annalisa Accorsi (lead vocals)
Nineteen years after their underwhelming debut, Trama surprisingly return with exactly the same line-up – and a far superior second album. This is well-crafted, stately Rock Progressivo Italiano, with lovely symphonic textures and a relaxed mood, and whilst it’s not what you’d call groundbreaking it demonstrates that they’ve learned plenty of new tricks in the last two decades. GRADE: C+.

Tran Thuyen (Vietnam): Les Tran Thuyen (Trinité TRN 10016, with insert and poster, France, 1976?)
Folk
Thi Maï Tran
Cut by three Vietnamese teenagers based in France, this Christian folk album is one of the rarest French LPs. The first couple of cuts are straightforward enough acoustic folk, but the album quickly asserts its individuality with a succession of unusual songs featuring spooky, almost ghostlike harmony vocals that create eerie, sepulchral moods. In particular, ‘Il N’y A Guère De Paix, Mais Elle Éxiste’ is downright psychedelic, drenched in echo effects and with weird use of treated cymbals and bongos in the middle. Whilst this album certainly won’t appeal to everyone, it’s a classic of its kind, with a truly distinctive sound. Rather strangely, the lyric sheet lists several songs not on the disc, suggesting that the tracklisting was changed at the eleventh hour. GRADE: B–.

Transition (USA): 2nd Time Around (MC3 MC 7115, 1971?)
Garage
Emily Oetkens (occasional vocals, guitar), Julie Tkach (occasional vocals), Diana Ney (occasional vocals)
This rare and expensive private pressing, which has a hand-stencilled front cover and paste-on rear, was produced by music students at a community college. With its raw garage feel, strange and fractured original songs, and frequently off-key lead singing and hesitant playing, it’s often uncannily similar to Collective Tools. The music ranges from uptempo rock to slightly eerie folk, whilst the non-originals comprise an amateurish, stumbling version of Buddy Holly’s ‘That’ll Be The Day’ plus the traditional ‘Loch Lomond’. The end result is an odd, unpredictable, winsome and rather disconcerting record that fully deserves its status as a major rarity. GRADE: B–.

Traumwolf (West Germany): Aussen (TBS B 789 1077, 1982)
Progressive/Folk/Rock
Elke Händly (joint lead vocals, handclaps), Gabriele Müller (joint lead vocals)
This obscure album consists of rather lovely symphonic rock and light prog, somewhat similar to Carol Of Harvest with much heavier guitar work. Certain tracks are quite outstanding, with ‘Ponski Stirbt’ being especially impressive, but it’s a patchy LP with a few overly sweet songs using a children’s choir, plus one real misstep (the dreadful rock ’n’ roll pastiche ‘Junkie’s Rock’). GRADE: B–.

Travellers (Poland): A Journey Into The Sun Within (Metal Mind Productions MMP CD 0687 DG, CD, with digipak and booklet, 2011)
Progressive/Pop/Rock
Marta Kniewska (lead vocals)
This is basically Strawberry Fields under another name and in a slightly more progressive mood, with two of the six songs being over ten minutes. Like their other incarnation, the music here is strongly rooted in pop, with a modernistic feel and some trip-hop elements, complete with catchy choruses. The material is well-composed and performed, but once again one wishes they focused more on the rock and prog end of their repertoire, since the heavier and more exploratory moments are by far the best. GRADE: C+.

See also Strawberry Fields

Travelling People (UK): The Travelling People (Meridian AJ 7454S, 1970?)
Folk
Lin Marriott
This live folk album isn’t exceptional in any way, but it’s very winsome and pleasant, with a good mixture of contemporary and traditional material. The cuts fronted by Lin Marriott are particularly good, as she has a beautiful and sensitive voice that’s very well suited to the delicate material. GRADE: C.

Virginia Tree (UK): Fresh Out (Minstrel 0001, 1971)
Folk/Singer/Songwriter
Shirley Kent
This is in fact the ex-Ghost vocalist Shirley Kent, and various other band members guest on this obscure LP. However, most of it is acoustic folk and singer/songwriter fare, so (whilst it’s a pleasant album) it’s not in the league of her former band. GRADE: C+.
See also Ghost, Shirley Kent

Treeborn (USA): Inner Flight (Dharma D-809, 1977)
Jazz/Rock/Progressive
Cheri Coffman (principal vocals, guitar, percussion)
This jazz/rock album covers quite a range of territory, from side one’s opener ‘Blue Ice River’, on which they sound uncannily like a more insipid Affinity, to that side’s funky, intricate instrumental closer ‘Waterfall’. Much of the rest is rather average jazz-fusion, but they do create some nice funky grooves, and the rather psychedelic cover is a stunner. GRADE: C+.

Trees (UK): The Garden Of Jane Delawney (CBS 63837, 1970)
Folk/Rock/Progressive
Celia Humphris (principal vocals)
As a hybrid of Liege And Lief-era Fairport and mid-period Jefferson Airplane, with strong elements of early progressive rock, Trees should in theory be one of my favourite bands of all time. The theory isn’t wrong. Both their albums are masterpieces, marrying English traditional song with West Coast structures and jamming and a maverick sense of adventure. Yet, astounding as their interpretations of the traditional pieces are, the original compositions ‘Road’ and ‘Snail’s Lament’ are if anything even better. GRADE: A.
Trees (UK): On The Shore (CBS 64168, 1971)
Folk/Rock/Progressive
Celia Humphris (principal vocals)
Most people profess a preference for this second and final Trees album; The Garden Of Jane Delawney has the edge for me, but both LPs are so far ahead of the competition that it’s almost academic. The extended version of ‘Sally Free And Easy’ is quite definitive, and apparently annoyed its writer Cyril Tawney enormously (which in turn inspired Flying Saucer Attack to create a version in which the song’s melody was completely drowned in layers of krautrock-style feedback). Once again, the best song of all is an original by bassist Bias Boshell, ‘Murdoch’. When ‘Geordie’ was sampled by Gnarls Barkley three-and-a-half decades later, Trees finally gained some posthumous recognition and remixed much of On The Shore – a peculiar exercise in which, for example, ‘Murdoch’ acquired a long, pompous acoustic guitar and keyboard instrumental section that seems to have nothing to do with the rest of the song. GRADE: A.

Trees (USA): The Christ Tree (Pomegranate TC001, with booklet, 1975)
Folk/Psychedelic/World Music/Avant-Garde
Marguerite Blythe (joint lead vocals, percussion, recorder, oboe), Patricia Gambill (joint lead vocals, percussion, recorder), Mary McCutcheon (joint lead vocals, percussion, recorder), Kathryn Ruetenik (joint lead vocals, harmonium, percussion, accordion, harp, tamboura, koto)
An astonishing listening experience, The Christ Tree blends desolate Catholic-style worship material with Children Of One-style Eastern exoticism (with the Ligeti-like modern classical references very much in evidence). Throw in world music elements stretching far beyond the Indian subcontinent and a few moments of Amon Düül-like percussion frenzy and the result is a genuinely eerie, genuinely unique album that’s deeply spiritual in a way that ‘Songs Of Praise’ could never be, even if you dosed the audience with acid. GRADE: B.
Trees Community (USA): The Christ Tree (Hand/Eye H/E025, quadruple CD, with digipak and booklet, 2007, recorded 1973-1975)
Folk/Psychedelic/World Music/Avant-Garde
Marguerite Blythe, Patricia Gambill, Mary McCutcheon, Kathryn Ruetenik, Linda Perlman, Stephanie Arje
Cleverly packaged in a digipak that folds out to resemble a cross, this set repackages all of the commune’s available music. The first disc features the original album followed by most of its tracks performed live; the second (‘A Portrait Of Jesus Christ In Music’) is a collection of much rawer demos, which are mostly straighter folk; and the third and fourth compile a live performance from April 1973. This is also comparatively lo-fi and comparatively straight, but this extra material bolsters the original album nicely, completing an impressive body of work. GRADE: B–.

Amanda Trees (USA): Amanda Trees (Poppy PP LA003-F, 1972)
Folk/Psychedelic
The opening ‘Prehistoric Animals’ has electronic effects, strange and naïve lyrics, and Trees singing falsetto like a 10-year-old, but things never get quite that weird again. Nonetheless, this is an unusual loner folk excursion: on the sole cover version, ‘Sunny’, she translates a nightclub crooner standard into a tortured piece of existentialism. On several other cuts, her vocals are shrill and strained, but she can also sing in a normal register, creating music that is eerie and haunting rather than discordant and jarring. With acoustic guitar the only backing instrument on most songs, this isn’t an easy listen, and nor is it very consistent. Nonetheless, it is bold, creative and engaging. GRADE: C+.

Treiber & De Mattio (Austria): The Bridge (Atlanta AER 8104, with insert, 1980?)
Folk
Erna Treiber (occasional vocals)
This rare album offers pleasant but not really exceptional hippie folk with all-original songs and mixed acoustic and electric backing. The band was actually a trio (two Treibers and one De Mattio), plus a friend on bass, keyboards and saxophone. GRADE: C+.
Treiber & De Mattio (Austria): Waiting For The Train (Centrocord 6013, 1982?)
Folk/Rock
Erna Treiber (backing vocals)
Much more electric and rocking than its predecessor, Waiting For The Train sees the trio performing with a five-piece backing band. The result is a solid and enjoyable album featuring some decent original songs. GRADE: C+.

Trembling Bells (UK): Carbeth (Honest Jons HJRCD43, CD, with gatefold minisleeve, inner and booklet, 2009)
Folk/Rock/Psychedelic
Lavinia Blackwall (principal vocals, guitar, organ)
Evolving out of the more avant-garde Directing Hand, Trembling Bells offer an odd mixture of late sixties or early seventies-style folk/rock and psychedelia, with lots of organ, some Christmassy Salvation Army-style brass and a few experimental elements. A few cuts are more conventional electric folk in the Fairport Convention or Mr Fox style, with Lavinia Blackwall’s vocals somewhat resembling a cross between Carole Pegg and a higher-pitched Sandy Denny. GRADE: B–.
Trembling Bells (UK): Abandoned Love (Honest Jons HJRCD47, with gatefold minisleeve and inner, 2009)
Folk/Rock/Psychedelic
Lavinia Blackwall (principal vocals, guitar, keyboards, glockenspiel, harp)
The band repeats the trick of penning original material that sounds like it's traditional, and once again creates an effective late sixties folk/rock mood. Once again, the slightly liturgical brass is much in evidence, though several tracks have a stronger pop sensibility this time around. As a footnote, the album has an interesting guest list, including Will Summers of Circulus and Laurie Anderson. GRADE: B–.
Trembling Bells (UK): The Constant Pageant (Honest Jons HJRCD55, CD, with gatefold minisleeve and inner, 2011)
Folk/Rock/Psychedelic
Lavinia Blackwall (principal vocals, guitar, keyboards, glockenspiel)
Their third album follows their familiar style: folky vocals, lively folk/rock backing somewhere between Liege And Lief-era Fairport Convention and Rise Up Like The Sun­-era Albion Band, Salvation Army-style brass and a few psychedelic embellishments. However, there’s no sense of diminishing returns, and this is another fine set of songs. GRADE: B–.

Trembling Bells Featuring Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy (UK/USA): The Marble Downs (Honest Jons HJRCD64, CD, with gatefold minisleeve and booklet, UK, 2012)
Folk/Rock/Psychedelic
Lavinia Blackwall (joint lead vocals, guitar, keyboards, percussion)
The presence of American singer Will Oldham aka Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy doesn’t significantly affect the band’s sound – like many outfits with a distinctive style, Trembling Bells don’t seem to evolve from one LP to the next. Nonetheless they’re very good at what they do, and this is another impressive album. In particular, the heavy, psychedelic closing double whammy of ‘Riding’ and ‘Lord Bless All’ is absolutely outstanding. GRADE: B–.

Trembling Bells Featuring Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy (UK/USA): The Bonnie Bells Of Oxford (Download, 2013)
Garage/Psychedelic
Lavinia Blackwall (joint lead vocals, guitar, keyboards)
I missed this live album for several years due to its download-only status, finally picking up a copy when it got a physical release (Tin Angel TAR066, CD, with gatefold minisleeve, UK, 2017), minus two songs for some reason. An acapella version of ‘My Husband’s Got No Courage In Him’ aside, this is garage rock rather than psychedelic folk, hinting towards the Velvet Underground (complete with the recording quality that that implies). It’s not the equal of their studio LPs, and I could definitely have done without the eight-minute country hoedown, but it’s nonetheless pretty good. GRADE: B–.​

Trembling Bells (UK): The Sovereign Self (Tin Angel TAR051, CD, with gatefold minisleeve and booklet, 2015)
Folk/Rock/Psychedelic
Lavinia Blackwall (joint lead vocals, guitar, keyboards, glockenspiel)
This is their best: heavier, trippier and more assertive than anything they’ve done before. Replete with fuzz guitar and lashings of psychedelic organ, ‘Killing Time In London Fields’, ‘Bells Of Burford’ and ‘I Is Someone Else’ are superb progressive folk creations, equalling their seventies influences with aplomb. Add in some exceptionally literate lyrics and Lavinia Blackwall’s magnificent singing, which reaches new heights both literally and figuratively, and the result is a modern masterpiece; it’s just a pity they didn’t let her front everything.

GRADE: B.

Trembling Bells (UK): Wide Majestic Aire (Tin Angel TAR057, CD, with gatefold minisleeve, 2016)
Folk/Rock/Psychedelic
Lavinia Blackwall (lead vocals, guitar, organ)
More than any of their previous releases, this short album (six songs in just under 30 minutes) emphasises their similarities to peak Fairport Convention, though the fierce fuzz guitars put me more in mind of Trees and ‘I Love Bute’ recalls Shirley & Dolly Collins. As that pot-pourri of influences suggests, this is some of their very best work. GRADE: B.

Trembling Bells (UK): Dungeness (Tin Angel, CD, with gatefold minisleeve and booklet, 2018)
Folk/Rock/Psychedelic
Lavinia Blackwall (lead vocals, guitar, keyboards, percussion)
Maintaining the high standard of the last couple of Trembling Bells albums was always going to be difficult, but they actually make it sound easy. This sounds like a mishmash of second album Mr Fox, early Steeleye Span and Trees – probably in that order of importance – all delivered with unrelenting peak intensity and swathed in garagy psychedelic ambience. If that sounds a touch overwhelming, it is – but definitely in a good way. GRADE: B.
See also Directing Hand

Tres & Kitsy (USA): Dandelions (KBK MK 27-61, 1971)
Folk/‘Incredibly Strange Music’
Tres Williams (joint lead vocals, guitar), Kitsy Christner (joint lead vocals, guitar)
This extremely rare and much-loved private pressing was cut by two very young girls (aged 10 and 11) playing their own compositions with backing from a rhythm section. The end result sounds like a cross between Guitar Ensemble, Reality From Dream and the Shaggs, with the former’s beatific charm and the latter’s sheer dislocating weirdness, although the girls are decent singers (for children), musicians and songwriters. Apparently the duo were actually called Children Of Sunshine, but despite the presence of a song of the same name, the sleeve gives no indication of this. GRADE: C+.