Ve-Vu

Martha Veléz (USA): Fiends And Angels (London SH-K 8395, 1969)
Blues/Rock
Martha Veléz (lead vocals)
Eric Clapton, Jack Bruce, Brian Auger, Christine Perfect, Jim Capaldi, Mitch Mitchell, Stan Webb, Chris Wood, Johnny Almond, Duster Bennett, Paul Kossoff, Rick Hayward, Blue Weaver – the list of musicians on this visiting American’s debut reads like a Who’s Who of late sixties blues/rock greats. So it’s no surprise to find that it’s a superb heavy blues/rock set, with Veléz’s powerful voice backed by outstanding arrangements. GRADE: B.

Vellamo (Finland): Vellamo (No label SOICD01, CD, with digibook, 2013)
Folk/Rock
Pia Leinonen (lead vocals)
This duo of a female singer and a male multi-instrumentalist, helped out by another multi-instrumentalist, managed a lovely folk/rock album mixing original and traditional songs. Sweet, gentle and uplifting, this isn’t the most significant LP in the world, but it’s certainly very accomplished and enjoyable. GRADE: C+.

Velvet Mist (UK): First Time Round (CRS COUN 243, 7", 1971?)
Folk
This sleeveless folk EP – featuring versions of the Bee Gees’ ‘In The Morning’, Tim Hardin’s ‘If I Were A Carpenter’, Ralph McTell’s ‘Bright And Beautiful Things’ and Fairport Convention’s ‘Meet On The Ledge’ – was issued on a later iteration of the private County label, which also released the Levee Camp Moan LPs. Given the Mecolico stamp on the label, it must have been a tiny pressing, presumably of 99 or fewer copies. Whilst the simple acoustic guitar backing is not unusual for a private release, the sophisticated vocal arrangements add a definite pop edge to proceedings and the whole thing sounds more like Tudor Lodge (though better, to my ears) than anything you’d encounter in a folk club. GRADE: C+.

Velvet Night (USA): Velvet Night (Metromedia MD 1026, 1970)
Rock
Lynn Boccumini (joint lead vocals)
Fans of crude early hard rock might like some tracks on this LP, but it's an odd effort through and through, meandering aimlessly across the early seventies musical landscape. Half the numbers are cover versions, mostly of a mediocre standard, although I quite like the languid opening version of ‘Season Of The Witch’, with its incongruous lengthy solo sections of recorder and piano. Equally, a couple of the original songs (only one of which was penned by a band member) are fairly lively and punchy, but the actual writing is pretty rudimentary and the Cream medley is both pointless and inept. Nor do I like the male singer, who appears to have based his vocal style on Elvis Presley, and who would be more appropriate in a nightclub setting than on a rock LP. GRADE: C.

Velvet Underground (USA/UK/West Germany): The Velvet Underground And Nico (Verve V / V6 5008, USA, 1967)
Rock/Garage/Avant-Garde
Nico (joint lead vocals), Maureen Tucker (drums, percussion)
This has so often been rated as one of the ten greatest albums of all time, so long been considered the most influential rock record ever made, that it’s extremely difficult to reappraise. Nonetheless, the lofty claims made on its behalf are justifiable: even today, much of it sounds fresh and contemporary, and when it was cut in 1966 it was truly without precedent. Further, it’s the only album I can think of that can claim responsibility for influencing both progressive rock (the more minimalist, avant-garde end, needless to say) and punk. It’s a varied record indeed, from lo-fi, off-kilter ballads (‘Sunday Morning’, ‘Femme Fatale’, ‘I’ll Be Your Mirror’) to louche garage rockers (‘I’m Waiting For The Man’, ‘Run, Run, Run’) to feedback-laden experimental rock (the closing double whammy of ‘The Black Angel’s Death Song’ and ‘European Son’). But the two most remarkable performances are ‘Venus In Furs’ and ‘All Tomorrow’s Parties’ – dark, foreboding and minimalist, with John Cale providing the neoclassical elements and Lou Reed supplying the eerie, disturbing lyrics. As a footnote, despite her star billing in the title, Nico doesn’t do much on the album, and despite his prominent credit on the cover, Andy Warhol didn’t produce it. GRADE: B.
Velvet Underground (USA/UK): White Light/White Heat (Verve V / V6 5046, USA, 1968)
Rock/Garage/Avant-Garde
Maureen Tucker (drums, percussion)
As remarkable as its predecessor, this focuses on the more experimental side of the band’s repertoire. The 17-minute jam ‘Sister Ray’, which takes up the bulk of the second side, is its best-remembered track – and directly inspired Siouxsie & The Banshees (my favourite band of the late seventies and early eighties) to become musicians. But its finest moment is perhaps ‘The Gift’, which features a powerful rock jam in one stereo channel and a deadpan John Cale recitation of a macabre Lou Reed short story (owing a heavy debt to Edgar Allan Poe) in the other. GRADE: B.
Velvet Underground (USA): The Velvet Underground (MGM SE 4617, 1969)
Folk/Rock
Maureen Tucker (occasional vocals, drums, percussion)
Self-consciously abandoning the howling feedback of their first two albums, the band concentrated on melodic, accessible songs for their third. The result is another classic, and another extremely influential LP: this time, every kind of eighties indie-pop group can claim lineage. The standard of writing and performance is outstanding throughout, but I particularly love the warm, rich ‘What Goes On’ (one of the catchiest songs I’ve ever heard), the lengthy ‘The Murder Mystery’ (the album’s sole experimental cut, with all the band contributing multi-layered vocals to concoct a strange tale) and the delightfully naïve ‘After Hours’, perfectly sung by Maureen Tucker. As a footnote, the album was released in two alternate mixes, although they’re not as different as some reports would have you believe. GRADE: B.
Velvet Underground (USA): 1969: The Velvet Underground Live With Lou Reed (Mercury SRM 27504, double, 1974, recorded 1969)
Rock/Garage
Maureen Tucker (drums, percussion)
Offering a good cross-section of material from their first three albums (plus some new songs that would later appear on Loaded and Lou Reed’s solo debut), this is both a fine live LP and an important historical document. Two things stand out: the band’s surprisingly engaging and cheerful onstage demeanour, utterly at odds with their dark and mysterious reputation, and how much cleaner and more mannered songs like ‘Heroin’ and ‘White Light/White Heat’ sound when played by this line-up. GRADE: B.
Velvet Underground (USA/UK): VU (Verve 823 721-1 Y-1, with inner, USA, 1984, recorded 1968 & 1969)
Rock
Maureen Tucker (occasional vocals, drums, percussion)
Featuring eight songs intended for the band’s second album on MGM (abandoned when the label dropped them) and two earlier recordings with John Cale, this is a lovely collection of outtakes. Highpoints include the very ‘Sunday Morning’-like ‘Stephanie Says’ and the charmingly naïve ‘I’m Stcking With You’, sung by Maureen Tucker. Perhaps unsurprisingly, this is mostly very much in their style of their of their third album, although not quite as good. GRADE: B–.
Velvet Underground (USA/UK): Another View (Verve 829 405-2, CD, USA, 1986, recorded 1967-1969)
Rock
Maureen Tucker (drums, percussion, backing vocals)
Featuring the final nine recordings from the same sessions that spawned VU, this could easily have been a turgid barrel-scraping exercise. In some ways, it does feel like they’re scrabbling for material: there are two different takes of ‘Hey Mr Rain’ and three instrumentals. Nonetheless, the instrumentals are the best thing on offer, whilst the songs are mostly pretty good as well. GRADE: B–.
Velvet Underground (USA): Bootleg Series Volume 1 – The Quine Tapes (Polydor 314 589 067-2, triple CD, with minisleeves, booklet and box, 2001, recorded 1969)
Rock
Maureen Tucker (occasional vocals, drums)
Despite the title, and the fact that these shows were taped on a primitive cassette recorder, the sound quality is surprisingly good throughout. Musically, this reflects the more laid-back nature of the Velvets in 1969; it’s particularly odd to hear ‘Sister Ray’ (which appears no fewer than three times) performed in a relaxed and reflective mood. Overall, this is a fine set and a useful complement to the earlier 1969 set. GRADE: B.

Velvet Underground (USA): The Complete Matrix Tapes (Universal Music Enterprises 00602547549013, quadruple CD, with minisleeves, booklet and box, 2015, recorded 1969)
Rock/Garage
Maureen Tucker (occasional vocals, drums)
Compiling four sets over two nights, this fascinating archive document captures the Velvets at their late sixties peak. As with earlier live releases, it indicates how much more relaxed they were on stage than in the studio, with the fearsomely intense ‘Sister Ray’ reinterpreted as a lazy, trippy 37-minute jam. That amazing piece is the highpoint of a consistently superb release, including one or more versions of most of my favourite numbers. GRADE: B.
Velvet Underground (USA): Final VU 1971-1973 (Captain Trip CTCD-350-353, quadruple CD, with booklet and box, 2001, recorded 1971-1973)
Rock
Maureen Tucker (occasional vocals, drums)
Compiling two late period shows with Tucker and two even later performances without her, this is an interesting boxed set. The sound quality is fairly mediocre, as is some of the new material, but it’s certainly a historical document of some import. GRADE: C+.
See also Kropotkins, Nico, Maureen Tucker

Velvet Voyage (Switzerland): Moonstone (No label ap 77704, CD, 1993)
Progressive/Folk/Metal
Baba O’ Riley (joint lead vocals, guitar, keyboards, flute)
This interesting progressive album by a duo of multi-instrumentalists is decidedly low-budget, with programmed drums and rather average sound quality, but the music is virtuosic and creative. Ranging from gentle folk through symphonic rock to metal, the disc covers a broad spectrum of music but always remains coherent and enjoyable. The two musicians involved then went on to form the folk/rock-oriented Liars Dance. GRADE: C+.
See also Liars Dance

Venetian Power (Italy): The Arid Land (CBS 64796, 1971)
Folk/Rock/Progressive
Daniela Ambrosini (occasional vocals), Eva Ferro (occasional vocals), Gloria Ferro (occasional vocals), Rosanna Mavian (occasional vocals)
Housed in a beautiful gatefold sleeve, this very rare album has a strong environmental theme. Venetian Power was a seven-piece vocal group, led by one Claudio Ambrosini, and they offer lovely dreamy folk/rock with strong progressive edges and some quite heavy and psychedelic lead guitar work. GRADE: B–.

Joanne Vent (USA): The Black And White Of It Is Blues (A&M SP 4615, 1969)
Soul/Jazz/Blues
Despite the title, this has more jazz and soul than blues, with rock band backing but also prominent horns and occasionally strings. Largely consisting of well-known cover versions (including ‘God Bless The Child’, ‘It’s A Man’s World’, ‘Stormy Monday’ and ‘Gloomy Sunday’) it’s a pleasant if not particularly distinctive set that could appeal to people enjoying Cold Blood or some of Elkie Brooks’s solo work. Vent later went on to the country/rock band White Cloud. GRADE: C.
See also White Cloud

Venus (Argentina): Venus (DBN CD 51.649, CD, 1999)
Garage/Psychedelic
Marina Olmi (backing vocals)
Unusually for an Argentine release, this is a mixture of garage psychedelia and indie rock – modern, spiky and playful. Bolstered by an excellent production, it’s not the most substantial album in the world, but it’s lively and fun and ultimately sounds like its cover looks (an electric blue ferris wheel, complemented by a sparkly blue CD tray). GRADE: C+.

Mariska Veres & Shocking Jazz Quintet (Holland): Shocking You! (Red Bullet RB 66.62, CD, 1993)
Jazz
Mariska Veres (lead vocals)
This isn’t shocking jazz, but it’s completely traditional jazz, featuring tinkly, supper club reinterpretations of several Shocking Blue tunes plus ‘Radar Love’, ‘Somebody To Love’ and others. It’s all well played and sung, but my reaction can be summed up in a single word: why?

GRADE: C.
Mariska Veres & Ensemble Andrei Serban (Holland): Gipsy Heart (Red Bullet RB 66.229, CD, 2003)
Folk/Jazz
Mariska Veres (lead vocals)
The good news is that Mariska Veres’s second and final solo album isn’t trad jazz. The bad news is that it’s gypsy music. GRADE: C.

Vermilion Sands (Japan): Water Blue (Made In Japan MIJ-1016, with insert, 1987)
Progressive
Yoko Royama (lead vocals)
This Japanese band take most of their cues from A Song For All Seasons-era Renaissance (right down to a remarkably faithful pastiche of ‘Northern Lights’ on ‘Living In The Shiny Days’). As such, this isn’t what you’d call an original or challenging LP, but it’s charming, mellifluous and very well put together. Oddly, the 1989 CD (Made In Japan MCD-2913) substitutes re-recordings of ‘My Lagan Love’ and ‘Ashes Of The Time’, whilst the later French version (Musea FGBG 4293.AR, 1999) adds four bonus tracks but not the original takes of the two cuts from the LP. GRADE: C+.
Vermilion Sands (Japan): Spirits Of The Sun (Muséa FGBG 4917, CD, France, 2013, recorded 1996?-2013?)
Progressive
Yoko Royama (principal vocals, flute), Miku (occasional vocals), VY1v3 (occasional vocals)
Released nine years after Yoko Royama’s untimely death, this retrospective set features three live cuts apparently taped in 1996 plus seven undated studio demos: three fronted by Royama, two instrumentals, and one apiece with different singers (rather oddly credited as ‘Miku’ and ‘VY1v3’). With keyboardist Masahiro Yamada playing all the instruments on the demos, and with the live numbers having adequate (but no better) sound quality, this isn’t an essential album, but it’s enjoyable throughout. In particular, the lovely, folky ‘Innisfree’ and an incendiary live version of ‘Streets Of Derry’ (clearly influenced by Trees’ interpretation) are excellent. GRADE: C+.
See also Yoko Royama, Theta

Vermonster (USA): Spirit Of Yma (Twisted Village TW-1004, 1990)
Garage/Psychedelic/Avant-Garde
Kate Biggar (guitar)
This offshoot project by Wayne Rogers and Kate Biggar of Crystalized Movements is both similar to, and different from, their earlier band. Like their other group, this offers heavy guitar rock, but whereas Crystalized Movements concentrated on short songs, this offers long, freeform jams drenched in slashing fuzz guitar and interspersed with weird sound effects. The effect is comparable to a cross between Amon Düül (though without the mantric edges) and the Velvet Underground at their wildest, though with tinges of seventies punk and heavy metal thrown in. In short, it’s uncompromising stuff, and may be too relentless and formless for many ears. The band demonstrate their sense of humour (and their knowledge as renowned record collectors) via the title’s dedication to Yma Sumac, the spoken introduction about Wendy & Bonnie’s Genesis album, and the back cover notes, which hilariously parody American rare record lists of the time; the band name was also apparently a play on the nickname given to a notoriously ornery dealer. GRADE: C+.
Vermonster (USA): Instinctively Inhuman (Twisted Village TW-1009, 1991)
Garage/Psychedelic
Kate Biggar (guitar)
This is even more tripped-out and minimalist than Spirit Of Yma: dropping the sound effects, it consists of just two freeform side-long jams, ‘Black Sally’ and the appropriately named ‘Stoned Guitar’. With nothing approaching a melody or structure, and with some sections being complete chaos, this isn’t the most significant or accessible album, but it’s certainly possessed of single-minded intent and power.

GRADE: C+.
Vermonster (USA): The Holy Sound Of American Pipe (Twisted Village TW-1024, double, 1993)
Garage/Psychedelic
Kate Biggar (guitar)
The final Vermonster album is a double, giving the band plenty of scope to indulge its predilection for jamming. Rogers and Biggar subsequently teamed up with Damon Krukowski and Naomi Yang of Galaxie 500 to form the slightly more varied Magic Hour. As a footnote, Kate Biggar is credited with vocals on ‘Ecstatic State Of Human Elevation’, but I couldn’t discern any. GRADE: C+.
See also BORB, Crystalized Movements, Heathen Shame, Magic Hour, Major Stars, Various ‘Deep Funnels Of Entry – A Twisted Village Compilation’, Various ‘Marvelous Sound Forms’, Kate Village & Wayne Rogers, Wormdoom

Vertú (USA): Vertú (Epic ESCA 7780, CD, with obi, Japan, 1999)
Jazz/Rock/Progressive
Rachel Nicolazzo (keyboards), Karen Briggs (violin)
Led by famous funk bassist Stanley Clarke, this excellent jazz-fusion album strikes just the right balance between complexity, atmosphere and all-out rocking energy. Whilst it doesn’t really break any new ground, it’s easily as good as anything in the genre, and it’s a great shame that Vertú was a one-off project whose album was only released in Japan. GRADE: B–.

Veslefrikk (Norway): Veslefrikk (Mai 7808, with booklet, 1978)
Rock
Anne Grete Preus (principal vocals, guitar, piano)
This political rock album covers a variety of styles, from folk/rock to boogie-ish hard rock and borderline prog. All these variants are performed competently, but there’s nothing really original or exciting on offer here. GRADE: C.

Vestenvinden (Denmark): Gummimasker (Polydor 2380 011, with booklet, 1971)
Folk/Progressive
Britt Rasmussen (joint lead vocals)
Mixing acoustic and electric instrumentation, this is an excellent album of progressive hippie folk with occasional jazz edges. Whilst there are similarities at times with Pentangle, the feel of the music is completely different: raw, spontaneous and joyous, with rich arrangements, psychedelic touches and lots of shifts of mood and tempo. The thirteen-minute ‘Det’ is especially impressive, but there are no really weak moments. Savage Rose’s Nils Tuxen helps out on guitars, bass and piano. GRADE: B.

Vhol (USA): Vhol (Profound Lore PFL.113, CD, with digipak, 2013)
Metal
Sigrid Sheie (bass)
This band has an impressive pedigree, including members from Hammers Of Misfortune and Ludicra among others, but I don’t favour the wall-of-noise production style they’ve chosen here. Aside from making it impossible to play the album at a respectable volume, it makes the whole thing sound like a pummelling drone without nuance – whilst careful listening suggests there’s some relatively interesting music here. GRADE: C.
Vhol (USA): Deeper Than Sky (Profound Lore PFL-158, CD, with digipak, 2015)
Metal
Sigrid Sheie (bass, piano, flute)
They must have been listening to me: the production here is dynamic and crystal-clear, revealing Vhol to be a powerful and accomplished traditional metal band with thrash leanings and a few slight jazzy and progressive diversions. For sure, I prefer my metal more experimental or symphonic, but this is nonetheless a very solid set. GRADE: C+.
See also Amber Asylum, Hammers Of Misfortune, Menstrual Tramps

Victoria (USA): Victoria (Dirty Martha TP 61471, no sleeve, 1971)
Psychedelic/Progressive
Maureen Deidelbaum, Cheryl Simpson, Sharon Barton
This mostly female band produced one of the more unusual mega-rarities of the psychedelic era. Side one consists of six short songs, mostly in a dreamy pop vein with gentle vocals, organ and horns, though ‘Gevaro’ is hard-edged psychedelia with acid leads. In contrast, side two is given over to two lengthy experimental pieces: the 12½-minute ‘Village Of Etaf’ and the eight-minute ‘Core Of The Apple’. The former is slightly amateurish jazzy prog, whilst the latter has a heavier psychedelic mood crossed with a slight school project feel. Overall, it’s an odd and uneven LP, but mostly a very winsome and effective one. The lavishly packaged CD reissue on Seven Little Indians (which comes with a red velvet and gold foil digipak and photo booklet) adds seven bonus tracks taken from a 10" acetate and an unreleased master tape. These abandon the psychedelic and progressive stylings of the LP and are in more of a singer/songwriter, soft pop or folk/rock vein. A variant original pressing exists as Kings, Queens And Jokers (No label), which has a hand-stamped cover and a number of inserts (photos and press cuttings). For some reason, this version omits one track. GRADE: B–.

Vidéo-Aventures (France): Musiques Pour Garçons Et Filles (Recommended RR 8.75, 10", with printed plastic outer, UK, 1981)
Progressive/Pop
Monique Alba (keyboards)
This 20-minute mini-album offers eight instrumental vignettes, ranging from just under half a minute to a fraction under five. With synthesisers and sequencers driving most of the music, the results fringe pop on one hand and the avant-garde on the other, nod towards Kraftwerk and occasionally draw on classical music and musique concrète, with the whole thing having a playful and inconsequential feel (notably on their cover of ‘Telstar’). The excellent CD reissue (Spalax CD 14973, 1997) adds a dozen bonus cuts that more than double the running time; these are much weirder and more diverse than most of the album proper. GRADE: C+.
Vidéo-Aventures (France): Camera (In Focus) (Tago Mago TM 331, 1984)
Avant-Garde/Progressive/Jazz
Monique Alba (bass, keyboards, accordion)
With their second album, they went completely over-the-top, creating an avant-garde set that goes in all kinds of different directions from freakish RIO through to the light-hearted electronica of their first. Along the way there are all kinds of bizarre diversions and some truly peculiar vocals, all adding up to a record as odd as one would expect from the cast of musicians involved (Dominique Grimaud, Guigou Chenevier, Jac Berrocal, Sophie Jausserand and Gilbert Artman). GRADE: B–.
Vidéo-Aventures (France): Moonbeam Movies (ADN RECO2, double cassette, with booklet and VHS case, 1990)
Avant-Garde/Progressive
Monique Alba (guitar, keyboards, harmonica, pipe)
The filmic elements apparent in their name and earlier music are given full rein here: Moonbeam Movies stitches dialogue from diverse films together with equally diverse instrumental vignettes: all very odd and low-key and mostly quite pastoral. The result is an interesting piece of sonic art in an equally interesting package (and a curious one too: with a running time of around an hour they could have used a single cassette or of course a CD) but there’s nothing here of any great substance. GRADE: C+.
Vidéo-Aventures (France): Oscillations (Gazul HA8557, CD, with poster booklet, 2011, recorded 1979-1984)
Electronic
Monique Alba
This unusual collection gathers 17 instrumental demos, some of which later became finished tracks and others of which were previously unreleased. With all the music played on solo synthesiser, it’s a quirky, intriguing and hypnotic set of minimalist electronic pop. It’s unclear whether Monique Alba actually appears here, or whether the demos were performed solely by Dominique Grimaud. GRADE: C+.
See also Peach Cobbler

Viima (Finland): Ajatuksia Maailman Laidalta (Viima, CD, 2006)
Progressive
Päivi Kylmänen (lead vocals)
Modern bands playing majestic, lyrical, folk-edged symphonic progressive blending elements of Renaissance, Genesis and Camel is nothing new. But Viima do it vastly better than most, with some sumptuous instrumental textures, beautiful melodies, interesting diversions and a refreshing lack of ostentation. GRADE: B–.

Kate Village & Wayne Rogers (USA): Quits (Twisted Village TW-1052, 2001)
Garage/Psychedelic/Avant-Garde
Kate Biggar (guitar)
The subtitle ‘electric guitar duets’ sums this up perfectly: this is simply Wayne Rogers and Kate Biggars’s guitars harmonising and trading feedback, without vocals, a rhythm section or any kind of melody or structure. The results are interesting and minimalist, but this isn’t an album that invites repeated plays. GRADE: C+.
See also BORB, Crystalized Movements, Heathen Shame, Magic Hour, Major Stars, Various ‘Deep Funnels Of Entry – A Twisted Village Compilation’, Various ‘Marvelous Sound Forms’, Vermonster, Wormdoom

Ville Emard Blues Band (Canada): Minute! S’En Vient Is Coming (No label CT 39505, 1973)
Jazz/Rock/Progressive
Christiane Robichaud (joint lead vocals), Lise Cousineau (joint lead vocals)
Bringing together musicians from Contraction, Harmonium and Toubabou, Ville Emard Blues Band issued their live debut LP as an official bootleg (with home-made packaging to match) while they finalised a proper record deal. Much jazzier than any of the constituent bands, they offered some excellent prog with funky elements. ‘Yama Nekh’ was later reworked for the first Toubabou album. GRADE: C+.
Ville Emard Blues Band (Canada): Live À Montréal (Funkébec FK2-700, double, with poster, 1974)
Jazz/Rock/Progressive
Christiane Robichaud (joint lead vocals, tambourine), Lise Cousineau (joint lead vocals, tambourine)
This expansive live double album reproduces several numbers from Minute! (although from a different performance) and adds plenty of new material to deliver the band’s magnum opus. Whilst such a large collective inevitably created unfocused music, touching on just about every strand of seventies underground rock, there’s some superb material here, including the soaring ‘Ste-Melanie Blues’ and the ornate, keyboard-led progressive instrumental ‘Ode À Une Belle Inconnue’. GRADE: C+.
Ville Emard Blues Band (Canada): Ville Emard (Funkébec FK 602, with insert, 1975)
Jazz/Rock/Progressive
Christiane Robichaud (joint lead vocals), Estelle Ste-Croix (joint lead vocals, piano)
Their sole studio album is every bit as schizophrenic as the live double, ranging from bluesy, funky rock to jazzy jams to haunting singer/songwriter material. Once again, there’s some good music on here, but – like many large supergroup projects – it often sounds more like a compilation than the work of a proper band. GRADE: C+.
Ville Emard Blues Band (Canada): Live Au Festival Des Musiques Progressives De Montréal 2007 (ProgQuébec MPM30, CD, 2008)
Jazz/Rock/Progressive
Kathleen Sergerie (principal vocals), Isabelle Lemay (occasional vocals), Gabrielle Gagnon (backing vocals)
This one-off reunion saw four original band members team up with several other musicians and three female vocalists (prolific pop singer Kathleen Sergerie, Box member Isabelle Lemay, and Gabrielle Gagnon, presumably daughter of founding member Bill). This is actually stronger and more consistent than any of their seventies releases: a powerful and punchy set of jams and songs that manages to cover various aspects of their repertoire while still sounding cohesive. GRADE: B–.
See also Alexandrins, Box, Contraction, Cousineau, Franck Dervieux, Eternité, Toubabou

Vinegar (West Germany): Vinegar (Werner Purrmann WP 710101, 1971)
Progressive
Dagmar Dormagen (joint lead vocals, flute)
This obscure German album takes many of its cues from Amon Düül II, mostly resembling Yeti but occasionally Phallus Dei. Unlike Amon Düül II, they weren’t great composers, with the result that the tracks feel rather fragmented and amateurish, although they are full of fascinating if disjointed musical passages. Overall, this is a remarkably dark and gloomy album, dominated by minor-key electric guitar and violin on mostly instrumental pieces, although Dagmar Dormagen’s voice further increases the sense of foreboding on ‘Sawmill – Teil I’ (on which she bears a remarkable resemblance to Renate Knaup-Krötenschwanz). GRADE: B–.

Vinegar Joe (UK): Vinegar Joe (Island ILPS 9183, with inner, 1972)
Rock
Elkie Brooks (joint lead vocals, percussion)
More laid-back and folkish than their subsequent albums, this also lacks the fierce eclecticism of the band’s earlier LP as Dada. Accomplished and enjoyable, though sometimes a little lightweight, it’s chiefly notable for Elkie Brooks’s astonishing falsetto vocals on ‘Early Monday Morning’. GRADE: C+.
Vinegar Joe (UK): Rock ’N’ Roll Gypsies (Island ILPS 9214, 1972)
Rock
Elkie Brooks (principal vocals)
As its title suggests, this focuses on the more raucous side of the band’s repertoire, and probably gives a good indication of what they sounded like live. That’s not always a good thing (I could easily do without their interpretation of ‘Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin’ On’), but when it all comes together the level of energy is unparalleled (the astounding ‘Charley’s Horse’, on which the band in general and Elkie Brooks in particular sound on the verge of losing control completely). GRADE: C+.
Vinegar Joe (UK): Six Star Gypsies (Island ILPS 9262, with inner, 1973)
Rock
Elkie Brooks (joint lead vocals, piano)
The final and finest Vinegar Joe album is very much a game of two halves. The four tracks fronted by Elkie Brooks are quite superb, ranging from savagely intense high energy bluesy rockers (‘Proud To Be (A Honky Woman)’ and ‘Let Me Down Easy’) to the haunting balladry of ‘Lady Of The Rain’. But it’s ‘Black Smoke Rising From The Calumet’ for which the band will always be remembered, with its odd, eerie lyrics, swirling musical arrangement and mystical atmosphere. It also demonstrates Brooks’s sheer class as a singer – witness how she effortlessly switches from the clear, piercing tones of the intro to the smoky croon of the song proper. However, the remaining six tracks, mostly sung by Robert Palmer, are for the most part pure filler. GRADE: C+.
Vinegar Joe (UK): Pop Spectacular Featuring Vinegar Joe In Concert (BBC Transcription Services CN 1952/S, no sleeve, 1973)
Rock
Elkie Brooks (joint lead vocals)
This live set is arguably Vinegar Joe’s best appearance on vinyl, focusing exclusively on Six Star General and mainly on the Brooks-fronted numbers. Quite simply, they must have been astounding live. The other side of the LP is given over to Caravan. GRADE: B–.
See also Elkie Brooks, Dada, Various ‘Flash Fearless Vs The Zorg Women, Parts 5 & 6!’, Steve York’s Camelo Pardalis

Virgin Black (Australia): Sombre Romantic (No label, CD, 2000)
Metal/Progressive
Samantha Escarbe (guitar)
Virgin Black was the project of astonishingly versatile vocalist Rowan London and remarkably talented guitarist Samantha Escarbe, who conclusively demonstrate their mettle on their third release (following two EPs). Blending classical music with various strands of metal (doom, gothic, even occasionally industrial), Sombre Romantic offers a stunning tapestry of music that ranges from heavy riffing to Gregorian chant, from solo piano to death vocals and acapella singing. Its synthesis of classical and rock elements is entirely different from, say, Therion: here there is little bombast and the feel of the music is dark and mournful rather than majestic and uplifting. The result is a landmark album. GRADE: B.
Virgin Black (Australia): Elegant… And Dying (The End TE037, CD, USA, 2003)
Metal/Progressive
Samantha Escarbe (guitar, cello)
This is slightly different from their first, with the classical elements somewhat toned down (though there are still choral backing vocals, delivering an epic sound). It also lacks the element of surprise of its predecessor, ploughing a similar furrow in a more rock-oriented vein. At times stunning, at times majestic, at times ponderous, it’s decidedly less consistent, but when it works it’s quite remarkable. GRADE: B–.
Virgin Black (Australia): Requiem – Pianissimo (No label, CD, 2018, recorded 2006)
Classical/Progressive
Susan Johnson (joint lead vocals)
For their third album, Virgin Black embarked on a hugely ambitious three-part requiem, starting with a purely classical movement (Pianissimo), moving through a section blending an orchestra with the band (Mezzo Forte) and culminating in a movement slanted towards metal (Fortissimo). Oddly, they were released out of sequence, with Pianissimo not appearing until 2018. Musically, this is beautiful and majestic but also a little ponderous, which appears to be something of a hallmark of their work. GRADE: B–.
Virgin Black (Australia): Requiem – Mezzo Forte (The End TE081, CD, USA, 2007)
Metal/Progressive
Susan Johnson (joint lead vocals), Samantha Escarbe (guitar)
The second part of the trilogy is a slight step up, with the metal and classical elements blending effectively. Slow, spare and majestic, this is beautiful stuff, and certainly among the better symphonic metal releases, but once again it doesn’t have the sheer daring of their first album. GRADE: B–.
Virgin Black (Australia): Requiem – Fortissimo (The End TE097, CD, USA, 2008)
Metal/Progressive
Susan Johnson (joint lead vocals), Samantha Escarbe (guitar)
The final movement of the requiem is perhaps the best: imposing doomdeath with classical music edges. Orchestration and choirs are used more sparingly here, though to great effect, and the gradual shift from classical to metal over the trilogy is extremely effective. By any standard, Virgin Black were an exceptional band, and it’s a pity they did not continue their musical career. GRADE: B–.

Virgin House (Japan): Dream Way/Sun (Nash MN-3012NS, 1978)
Progressive
This extremely rare private pressing offers excellent progressive rock with a bright but mellow sound. Most tracks feature gentle massed female vocals (reminding me of the Welsh band Sidan or something from a secondary school play) and soft keyboard-led arrangements, but there is also plenty of powerful guitar work (particularly on a couple of superb long instrumentals). It does tail off slightly towards the end, though, with a classical string instrumental (lovely but a little incongruous – almost like a misplaced overture) and a male vocal soft rocker (good, but the female vocalists are superior). This is definitely one of the better Japanese progressive albums and well worth a listen. GRADE: B.

Virgin Insanity (USA): Illusions Of The Maintenance Man (Funky 72411, with insert, 1971)
Folk/Rock
Eve Long (joint lead vocals)
One of the most expensive American private pressings, this is also one of the earliest albums to channel the third Velvet Underground LP (which perversely makes it sound ahead of its time, as such music became commonplace in the eighties). That said, they also have one foot in straightforward folk, and on occasions the mock-Velvets hesitant vocals cross the line into out-of-tune (notably becoming excruciating on ‘Touch The Sky’), so whilst this is quaint and atmospheric it would have benefited from a little more polish. GRADE: C+.
Virgin Insanity (USA): Toad Frog And Fish Friends/The Odometer Suite (P-Vine PCD-23740, CD, with minisleeve, booklet and obi, Japan, 2006, recorded 1971-2005)

Folk/Rock
Eve Long (occasional vocals)
This fascinating archive release couples the band’s unreleased second album Toad Frog And Fish Friends from 1971 and Bob Long’s unreleased solo album The Odometer Suite from 1972 with two 2005 recordings from his new band Blink Of An I. The 1972 set is very similar to their first LP, the solo album is slightly folkier and significantly more polished, and the two recent cuts respectively offer a hard rocker and a religious ballad, rounding off a thoroughly enjoyable set. GRADE: C+.

Virgule 4 (France): Des Accords D’Accord (Muséa FGBG 2013, with booklet, 1988)
Jazz/Progressive/Avant-Garde
Christiane Cohade (joint lead vocals, bass), Cathy Valade (joint lead vocals, synthesiser, marimba), Isabelle Lentin (joint lead vocals, drums), Françoise Morel (joint lead vocals, cello)
This obscure all-female band, which includes two members of L’Empire Des Sons, cut a sole album of mainly instrumental jazz/rock. Fringing RIO, it’s quite weird yet relaxed and melodic at the same time, with a rather casual and inconsequential feel. Apparently the album came with a thick booklet, although both my copies lack this. GRADE: C+.
See also Christiane Maria Cohade, L’Empire Des Sons, Les I

Viriditas (UK): Red Mars (No label, CD, with digipak, 2018)
Progressive
Julie Kvaerndrup (joint lead vocals), Hannah Bridge (occasional vocals)
This is agreeable enough neoprogressive, with a base of solid riffing and some nice symphonic keyboards. They have a few hints of ambition too – the longest piece on this concept album exceeds 25 minutes – but this is not original or groundbreaking music and there’s nothing here you won’t have heard before. GRADE: C+.
Viriditas (UK): Green Mars (No label, double CD, with digipak, 2021)
Progressive
Julie Kvaerndrup (joint lead vocals, keyboards), Hannah Bridge (joint lead vocals)
The band describe this as ‘a truly gigantic album’ and ‘the result of two years of work’ and I have no difficulty believing them: this enormous set runs for more than two-and-a-half hours. However, whilst it’s inevitably more wide-ranging than their first, I’d question their claim that it offers ‘instrumental virtuosity’ and is ‘full of twists and turns, new stylistic development and throwbacks to classic prog bands’ as ultimately this is agreeable neoprog rather than anything particularly profound. GRADE: C+.

Virus (West Germany): Thoughts (Pilz 20 21102-9, 1971)
Blues/Rock/Progressive/Psychedelic
Elga Blask (joint lead vocals)
This obsure Krautrock album bears a considerable resemblance to Frumpy, but is darker, wilder, more psychedelic and more theatrical – particularly on opener ‘King Heroin’ and ‘Take Your Thoughts’ (whose lyrics concern suicide). Elga Blask’s androgynous vocals resemble a deeper-voiced Inga Rumpf, and since there are no musician credits, some sources believe that she was not in fact a member and that all the vocals are male. GRADE: B–.
See also City Preachers

Vision Of Sunshine (USA): Vision Of Sunshine (Avco Embassy AVE 33007, 1970)
Folk/Progressive
Jane Baltinhouse (joint lead vocals), Terri Osiecki (flute), Mary Till (flute)
The band name and album cover suggest sunshine pop, but this is anything but. In fact, it’s a beautiful and sometimes quite complex progressive folk LP, with lush arrangements built around hand percussion, cello and flutes. At times it’s a little precious, but the songwriting is consistently fine and the double-tracked female vocals quite heavenly. It’s hard to find comparisons among contemporaneous LPs: the nearest point of reference I can find is a mixture of It’s A Beautiful Day on their first album and the Incredible String Band in their more coherent moments. GRADE: B–.

Lito Vitale, Verónica Condomi & Liliana Vitale (Argentina): Maria Elena De Nosotros (MIA C3-010, 1976)
Lounge/Singer/Songwriter/Folk/Rock
Liliana Vitale (joint lead vocals), Verónica Condomi (joint lead vocals)
This side-project by two members of MIA and a band associate is, of all things, a children’s album – that unwelcome oddity that blights many an artist’s discography. This, however, is a reasonably good example of the breed, with Lito Vitale providing all the musical backing and the two women adding suitably gentle and delicate vocals. For sure, there’s a definite end-of-the-pier lounge vibe to it all and its hesitant, naïve quality immediately marks it out as a kids’ LP, but on the plus side they wisely resisted any temptation to include an actual kiddie choir. GRADE: C.
Lliana Vitale & Verónica Condomi (Argentina): Danzas De Adelina (Ciclo 3 CD-009, 1981)
Folk/Classical/Avant-Garde
Liliana Vitale (joint lead vocals, percussion, recorder), Verónica Condomi (joint lead vocals, percussion, recorder)
Quite different from its predecessor, this mostly features the two women acapella, with occasional percussion and recorder. Betwixt folk, choral classical, ethnic and singer/songwriter music, it’s all haunting, beautiful and very relaxing – apart from the avant-garde moment on side two consisting of wild screaming and sobbing. GRADE: C+.
Lliana Vitale & Verónica Condomi (Argentina): Camasunqui (Ciclo 3 CS-019, 1984)
Folk/Jazz/World Music/Avant-Garde
Liliana Vitale (joint lead vocals, percussion, recorder, moxeño), Verónica Condomi (joint lead vocals, percussion, recorder, moxeño)
Following the same approach as its predecessor, this is slightly more oriented towards jazz and world music, with fewer classical references and somewhat subtler experimentation. Once again, it’s an interesting and minimalist piece that uses the women’s voices to excellent effect. GRADE: C+.
Liliana Vitale (Argentina): Mama, Dejs Que Entren Por La Ventana Los Siete Mares (Diffusion C3-023, with insert, 1985)
Singer/Songwriter
Liliana Vitale (lead vocals, piano)
The tag ‘singer/songwriter’ is arguably a misnomer, as Vitale’s MIA colleague Alberto Muñoz wrote all the material, but it’s the only logical way to describe this sedate but quite emotional piano-based music. With sparse, slightly jazzy backing, this is a lovely and atmospheric LP with a quite different mood from her earlier work. GRADE: C+.

Liliana Vitale (Argentina): Canta (Ciclo 3 CPP M032, with inner, 1987)
Jazz/World Music
Lilina Vitale (lead vocals, piano)
Different yet again from its predecessor, this still has definite singer/songwriter elements but is essentially a blend of Latin and jazz elements. It’s pleasant stuff and maybe a slight step up from her last effort, though it’s not an album anyone really needs to go out of their way to hear. GRADE: C+.

Vitamiin (Estonia): Vitamiin (Melodiya C60 20631 008, USSR, 1984)
Pop/Rock/Progressive
Mayt Maltees (joint lead vocals)
Even by the standards of Soviet releases, this Estonian outfit’s album is truly bizarre. The first cut is horrible funky pop, the second a pleasant cover of Chris Rea’s ‘Fool If You Think It’s Over’, and the third a prog-tinged hard rocker. All are characterised by terrible eighties drumming and synthesiser sounds. Then on side two, it briefly drops some of the eighties influences and offers some great sympho-prog, plus a peculiar version of ‘Ave Maria’. GRADE: C–.

Vittorio & Birgitte (Italy): Plaisir D’Amour (RCA PSL 10527, 1972)
Folk
Birgitte Lindhardt (lead vocals)
This unusual duo comprised a singer and a cellist, with a guest acoustic guitarist featured throughout. Mixing covers of Donovan and Dylan with traditional English material, they create a haunting mood with strong classical edges. Some may find this a little formal in parts and a little MOR in others (with the title track bringing to mind Nana Mouskouri), but Brigitte Lindhardt has a beautiful voice and the arrangements are perfectly judged, creating a charming and delicate album. In any case, the closing version of ‘Blowing In The Wind’ is possibly the most interesting thing on offer, with heavily fuzzed cello adding a slightly psychedelic edge not evident elsewhere. GRADE: C+.

Viuda Negra & others (Chile): Cazuela Rock (KZ, CDR, 1992)
Metal
This short (26 minutes) promo-only compilation features four Chilean hard rock and metal bands: Mungo Alex, Crepusculo, Panchorrata and the female-fronted Viuda Negra, who get two songs apiece. Apart from the opening cover of ‘Baby Come Back’, which is in more of a punk vein, they offer stripped-down metal with a nice garage sound. So far as I am aware, none of the bands recorded again. GRADE: C+.

Vizion (USA): Rock For Your Life (Future FUT 88008, with inner, 1980)
Metal
Jan Houston (lead vocals, percussion)
On hearing this again, I first thought that my previous grade (C–) was somewhat harsh and was initially won over by the band’s tough AOR hard rock (somewhere between Jefferson Starship’s Freedom At Point Zero and Grace Slick’s Welcome To The Wrecking Ball), featuring some excellent guitar work. However, the relentless banality of the lyrics (as titles like ‘Rock Star Queen’ and ‘Jo Jo High Jump’ suggest) subsequently reinforced my first impression. Nonetheless, this is fun stuff: partly for its ‘Spinal Tap’-esque qualities and partly for the huge disconnect between their musical prowess and their level of intelligence and good taste. GRADE: C.

Vly (UK/USA/Italy/Sweden): I / [Time] (The Laser’s Edge LE1074, CD, with digipak and booklet, USA, 2015)
Progressive
Elisa Montaldo (keyboards)
This multinational supergroup includes both Elisa Montaldo of Il Tempio Delle Clessidre and Mattias Olsson of Änglagård and White Willow, but doesn’t really sound like any of those bands. Far less progressive and adventurous, this is mellow, atmospheric rock with a bit of a singer/songwriter feel, dominated by elegant and mellifluous guitar work – nice, relaxing stuff but also pretty mellow and sedate.

GRADE: C+.
See also Tempio Delle Clessidre

Fanni Völgyessy Szomor (Hungary): Hajnalban (No label, CD, 1996)
Pop/Rock/Progressive
Fanni Völgyessy Szomor (lead vocals)
The You & I vocalist’s solo debut is in more of a melodic pop/rock vein, with some pleasant folky edges. A couple of instrumentals indicate her progressive roots, whilst ‘Tiszta Valódi Élet’ borrows heavily from Genesis’s ‘Follow You, Follow Me’ in its melody line. GRADE: C+.
Fanni Völgyessy Szomor (Hungary): Tündér Rósza (Bestline 068 569-2, CD, with book and slipcase, 2004)
Progressive/Folk
Fanni Völgyessy Szomor (lead vocals)
Beautifully packaged with a hardback book of poetry and a slipcase, this is very different from its predecessor. With backing from keyboards, cello, violin and occasional programmed percussion, the songs have a strongly neoclassical feel, though most of the material is traditional. The end result sometimes resembles a more esoteric, gothic Enya, and is rather interesting if eventually a touch one-dimensional. GRADE: C+.
Fanni Völgyessy Szomor (Hungary): Szerelem Emléke… (No label, CD, with tin, 2006)
Progressive/Folk
Fanni Völgyessy Szomor (principal vocals), Löte Koblicska (occasional vocals)
Once again strikingly packaged (this time in a metal case with pasted-on artwork, this was recorded live at a festival, but there is very little audience noise. Building on the sound of Tündér Rósza, if features Szomor singing haunting, folky songs and a colleague reciting poetry over minimalist backing from cello, keyboards and hand percussion. The end results could just as easily be described as classical, folk or progressive music. GRADE: C+.
Fanni Völgyessy Szomor (Hungary): Vár Rád Az Élet (System Seven, 2010)
Pop/Rock/Folk
Fanni Völgyessy Szomor (lead vocals)
Including a number of songs previously released on singles and EPs, this mixes originals and covers of material like ‘Bridge Over Troubled Water’ and ‘Everybody Hurts’. It sees Szomor returning to the light folky pop style of her first solo album, creating a very pleasant set. GRADE: C+.
See also You & I

Kira Vollman (USA): OutZeit The Geist (Zauber Klang ZK103, CD, with A5 gatefold sleeve and booklet, 2022)
Jazz/Rock/Progressive/Avant-Garde
Kira Vollman’s solo debut isn’t that far removed from Non Credo – this is firmly in RIO territory and distinctly Brechtian, but with Vollman playing all the instruments herself moves her music closer to chamber-rock territory. As such, the loss of the rougher edges from her earlier work is a moot point: this is perhaps less startling and alienating, but it’s also more mature and refined, and still extremely creative (not to mention beautifully crafted). GRADE: B–.

See also Non Credo

Vos Cantu Monemus (USA): Words Never Said (Canticle ST 2441, 1969)
Folk
Lynne Hulse (joint lead vocals)
This is quiet, partly Christian folk, with an obvious coffeehouse influence and simple backing from acoustic guitars plus occasional bongos. That makes it sound rather dull, but this has a haunting and somewhat eerie atmosphere that sets it apart from most other LPs in the style. Coupled with its extreme scarcity, this has deservedly made it a top-flight rarity with a huge price tag to match. GRADE: C+.

Vox Nostra (France): Anima (No label, CD, 1999)
Jazz/Rock/Progressive
Roxanne Terramorsi (joint lead vocals), Marie-Suzanne Lacroix (joint lead vocals, trombone), Sophie Le Cocq-Cochard (flute)
Former Eider Stellaire guitarist Jean-Claude Delachat is in the band, so no prizes for guessing that this is zeuhl. However, with keyboardist Pierre Minvielle handling the composition and arrangements, this sounds nothing like Eider Stellaire, instead stepping forward from the most relaxed and neoclassical end of Magma. With full electric backing, it never gets too soporific, effectively creating a spacy and slightly sacred mood. GRADE: B–.
Vox Nostra (France): Vox Nostra (No label VN02, CD, 2012)
Jazz/Rock/Progressive
Mathilde Lamy (joint lead vocals), Marie-Suzanne Lacroix (occasional vocals), Anne Kastelik (occasional vocals), Daphnée Papineau

(occasional vocals)
Their second album takes them closer to classic Magma, right down to the Christian Vander-like male vocals; the best comparison would probably be the atmospheric sound of the Köhntarkosz era with a hint of MDK in the massed vocals and the straighter, jazzier sensibility of the band’s modern-day recordings. As a result, this isn’t going to win any awards for originality (though the Latin lyrics and slight neoclassical edges add some distinction) but musically it’s even better than their first and actually surpasses much of what Magma is doing today. GRADE: B–.
Vox Nostra (France): Chansons Pour Un Autre Temps… (No label VN03, CD, 2014)
Jazz/Rock/Progressive
Caroline Méténier
The striking, minimalist white artwork credits only four musicians, but with its orchestrations, horns and tuned percussion it sounds like the work of a much larger ensemble. They’re now singing in French and there’s still a fair amount of zeuhl in their sound, but they’ve broadened their musical palette to take in everything from jazz-fusion to epic singer/songwriter balladry. Prog fans may find the results both too mellow and too slick, but when the music is this stunning I’m not complaining. GRADE: B.
Vox Nostra (France): Vox Nostra II – Remix (No label, CDR, no artwork, 2016?, recorded 2012)
Jazz/Rock/Progressive
Mathilde Lamy (joint lead vocals), Marie-Suzanne Lacroix (occasional vocals), Anne Kastelik (occasional vocals), Daphnée Papineau

(occasional vocals)
How far this should be regarded as a standalone album is debatable – it’s a remixed and resequenced version of their self-titled second album, issued as a CDR without a catalogue number or artwork. Even the year of release is a guess, taken from a website, and the album isn’t mentioned in the band’s own discography. Nonetheless, it’s quite superb, beefing up the rock elements of five of the original seven cuts to create an album that stands alongside Eskaton’s 4 Visions as possibly the best Magma LP Magma never made. GRADE: B.
Vox Nostra (France): Tout Le Monde (No label VN04, CD, with gatefold minisleeve, 2016)
Jazz/Rock/Progressive
Mathilde Lamy (occasional vocals), Caroline Méténier (backing vocals)
This is a bit of a step down from Chansons Pour Un Autre Temps… (not to mention the remix album): the band sounds a touch tired and listless on the ballads, though the occasional uptempo zeuhl stuff is pretty good. However, at its worst this is fairly drab and in parts quite disappointing. GRADE: C+.

Vulcan’s Hammer (UK): True Hearts And Sound Bottoms (Brown Label BVH 1, with insert, 1973)
Folk
Kay Burkin (occasional vocals, percussion)
This quiet and rather mournful folk album could easily have come out on Folk Heritage, though the band has strong Kent accents rather than the Northern tones that characterise that label’s output. It’s a fairly dolorous set for the most part, especially on ‘Davy Lowston’ and ‘Poverty Knock’, but none the worse for that. Rather strangely, all the best songs are towards the end of the disc: the excellent originals ‘The Greenhopper’ and ‘The Grey Havens’ (which bear more than a passing resemblance to Shide & Acorn), the lively ‘The White Hare Of Howden’, and an anthemic version of Steve Ashley’s ‘Fire And Wine’ that closes proceedings. GRADE: C+.
Vulcan’s Hammer (UK): The Two Magicians (Kissing Spell/Erewhon KSCD-9506-F, CD, 1995, recorded 197531991)
Folk
Kay Burkin (occasional vocals, percussion)
This interesting archive compilation features eight unreleased studio recordings from 1973, four live numbers from 1975, and a song taken from a 1991 cassette by Phil Burkin and the Hartley Morris Men. The music is in the same vein as True Hearts And Sound Bottoms, whilst the sound quality is inevitably rather variable. GRADE: C+.
See also Various ‘Good Folk Of Kent’

Vuur (Holland): In This Moment We Are Free – Cities (InsideOut 88985474362, CD, with digipak and booklet, Germany, 2017)
Metal
Anneke van Giersbergen (lead vocals)
This is Giersbergen’s first post-Gathering effort that recalls the classic Mandylion era, with the same great taut heavy rock sound. However, it doesn’t have the same great songs and is ultimately rather dreary. GRADE: C+.

See also Agua De Annique, Gathering, Anneke van Giersbergen