Various Artists Compilations
Various (USA): 5th Annual Pipe Dream (San Francisco Sound S7 11680, 1968)
Including ‘Indian Puddin’ & Pipe’ [Lydia Moreno (backing vocals)], It’s A Beautiful Day [Pattie Santos, Linda LaFlamme]
This excellent compilation of psychedelic and early progressive rock features contributions from four bands: It’s A Beatiful Day (a different version of ‘Bulgaria’ from their first album, plus ‘Aquarian Dream’, which was in fact recorded by a completely different set of musicians, including a female member), Tripsichord Music Box, Indian Puddin’ & Pipe (in reality West Coast Natural Gas) and Black Swan. All turn in fine performances, with Tripsichord’s lengthy ‘Family Song’ being the highpoint. GRADE: B–.
See also It’s A Beautiful Day, Stoneground
Various Artists (USA): 808 Ridge ’71 (CH 00195, 1971)
Including Company [Harriet Gutmacher, Margie Jula, Maureen Toomey], Betty Morrison, Vue [Denise Pearson]
This collection of folk acts from Allegheny County Community College was the second and final instalment; I haven’t heard the first 808 Ridge LP and this instalment doesn’t make me too keen to seek it out. It’s by no means bad, and is often quite atmospheric, but much of the music is pretty basic acoustic folk. On the plus side, Vue’s electric cover of Neil Young’s ‘Down By The River’ adds garage and psychedelic edges and is the clear standout and Skin & Bones’ version of ‘John Barleycorn’ has a rustic English flavour with its delicate flute, whilst their other cut – the original ‘OD’ – is electric and mildly psychedelic. GRADE: C.
Various (Canada): A Tribute To Pink Floyd – Ladies Only (Zone 3/Exclaim 8345115602, CD, France, 2006)
Including Julie C, Lulu Hughes, Pascal Picard, Samina, Ali Slaight, Sarah Slean
An album of Pink Floyd covers by female musicians (none of whom I’d heard of before) seemed an interesting idea. However, the track notes (‘sensuality soars through this soul/R&B reinterpretation’, ‘an intentionally cold, somewhat robotic sound’ and ‘a jazzy trip hop revival’, to give just three examples) explain what’s actually on offer. Sarah Slean’s soft, melodic ‘Us And Them’ and Samina’s acid-jazz reworking of ‘Money’ are rather good, but the remainder is grotesque. Ever wanted to hear a Björk impersonator deconstructing ‘Another Brick In The Wall (part two)’, a relaxed, melodic ‘The Great Gig In The Sky’ that completely misses the point of the original, or ‘Time’ performed in the manner of Eurythmics-gone-industrial? This is best considered as a spiritual successor to Rosebud’s Discoballs; its interpretations are equally ridiculous, though sadly nowhere near as funny. GRADE: C–.
Various Artists (France): Allopop (La Souterraine STRN-273, CD, 2020)
Including Agav, Asinine237, BouKi, Ëlle & Hayko, LL, Level, Loup Blaster, Minimal, Nafé, Nygel Panasco
This odd little collection of French electropop was apparently sourced from pieces posted on Instagram. If that makes you expect ‘real people’ weirdness, you’ll be disappointed, as this is all very professionally performed and recorded. However, if you like Stereolab you could love this, as it’s mostly very breathy and surreal, with a mildly trippy edge. Even then, you’ll probably want to play this in small chunks, as despite the label’s claim that it’s quite diverse, it’s all resolutely sweet and inoffensive until the last few tracks – which unfortunately move towards techno and rap. GRADE: C+.
Various (West Germany): AVC Rock Session ’79 (AVC K 793202 ST, 1979)
Including McOil [Doris Tischmann (keyboards, backing vocals)], Passage
This obscure sampler features ten tracks from six different bands, including two apiece from McOil and Passage (the only outfits with female members). The two McOil tracks are majestic hard progressive rock, in a style similar to bands like Birth Control, Eloy or Jane, whilst the otherwise unknown Passage offers mellow folky and jazzy rock, with very high-pitched female vocals on ‘Forgotten Woman’. Other bands cover various strands of late seventies rock and light prog, making for an enjoyable set. As a footnote, McOil had previously issued a single with Doris Tischmann (‘Mask Of Life’/‘A Better Day’) on the same label; they went on to cut the private LP All Our Hopes without her. GRADE: C+.
Various (UK): Ayrshire Folk (Deroy 1052, 1974)
Pete & Heather Heywood, Tanninzie
This above-average folk club set, packaged in a handsome silkscreened flipback sleeve, features contributions from five acts, two of whom include female members. With a nice mixture of traditional, contemporary and rural sounds, and a complete absence of rabble-rousing singalongs, this is a fine document of an excellent folk club. GRADE: C+.
Various (Ireland): Báidín Fheidlimí (Gael-Linne CEFCD 204, CD, 2013, recorded 1968-1980)
Deirdre Downes & The Broadsiders, Clannad [Máire Brennan], Golden Dawn, Johnstons [Adrienne Johnston], Mac Murrough [Josephine O’ Neill, Mary O’ Neill], Tríona, Maighread & Micheál Ó Domhnaill, We [Suzanne Murphy]
This compilation largely supplants From Lagan To Lee, the mid-seventies album issued (rather oddly) as a promotional item by the Wavin building products company. It compiles 20 cuts from non-LP singles issued by Gael-Linn between 1968 and 1980, and includes all four of the standout cuts from From Lagan: ‘Faoileán’ (credited on that album and here to Ceathrar, but on the original single to Tríona Ní Dhomnaill, Mairéad Ní Mhaonaigh & Mícheál Ó Domhnaill with Donal Lunny), its flpside ‘An Bealach Seo ‘Tá Romham’ by Clannad, ‘Cuan Bhaile Na Cuirte’ by Mac Murrough and its flipside ‘Ar Bruach Loch’ Lein’ by the otherwise completely unknown Golden Dawn. The other 16 cuts offer a mixture of Celtic folk sounds, some quite MOR, and include performances by a few other acts with female involvement. It all sounds like it was transferred from the master tapes, with the exception of ‘Faoileán’, which was clearly dubbed from vinyl – sod’s law, as it’s the standout track and one of the best pieces of acid-folk to emerge from Ireland. The other pity is the loud and unsympathetic mastering that has been applied to everything, slightly marring an otherwise worthwhile compilation. GRADE: C+.
See also Clannad, Mac Murrough
Various (UK): Beyond An Empty Dream (Charisma CAS 1101, 1975)
Including Anawim [Joan Evans (principal vocals)] and John McLaughlin [Eve McLaughlin (lead vocals)]
This interesting compilation of Christian-themed material features exclusive contributions from Clifford T Ward (both pleasant), John McLaughlin (two beautiful, mystical pieces superbly sung by his wife Eve), Friends Of St Francis (one rather haunting number) and the Charterhouse Choral Society (an unreleased Genesis composition, no less). But it’s chiefly notable for five tracks by Anawim, who later became Mystery Maker: four are lovely, delicate acoustic folk pieces and the fifth an excellent soft progressive number with electric band backing. GRADE: C+.
See also Mystery Maker
Various (USA): Beyond The Valley Of The Dolls (20th Century Fox 4211, 1970)
Including Carrie Nations [Ami Rushes], Strawberry Alarm Clock [Sandi Robison]
Half the album is pleasant but unremarkable soul-rock from the Carrie Nations. Of the remainder, two cuts (one vastly better than the other) are credited to the Strawberry Alarm Clock, who were basically Peanut Butter Conspiracy in disguise, three are different versions of the title track (bland soft pop) and there is a pretty good instrumental called ‘Ampersand’. Although not tremendously exciting, the album does have its moments, with ‘Ampersand’ and the Carrie Nations’ punchy ‘Sweet Talking Candy Man’ and ‘Find It’ standing out. As a footnote, Lynn Carey (CK Strong, Ivar Avenue Reunion, Mama Lion, Merryweather & Carey) sang the Carrie Nations material in the film, but was replaced on the album by Ami Rushes due to contractual problems. GRADE: C+.
See also Peanut Butter Conspiracy
Various (USA): Beyond Rock (For Art Sake FAS192CD, CD, 1992)
Including Astoria [Nancy Kaye (lead vocals), Brita Rae Borough (guitar, backing vocals)], Keturah (lead vocals, keyboards, percussion, programming, sequencer) and Ministry Of Love [Stephanie Wicker (occasional vocals, keyboards)]
This interesting overview of the Seattle progressive rock scene includes three numbers by female artists or bands including female members. Multi-instrumentalist Keturah’s ‘De-sensitivity’ is an intriguing and slightly mystical piece that’s completely dissimilar from Kate Bush, whilst suggesting the kind of direction Bush could have chosen after The Dreaming. Meanwhile, Ministry Of Love offer an interesting progressive metal number in ‘The Color Blue’ and Astoria, who would quickly transform into Talamasca, offer the spacy, haunting ‘Ancient Ones’. The male-fronted cuts are pretty impressive too, making for an accomplished sampler. GRADE: B–.
See also Rae Borough, Box Of Crayons, Harlequin Mass, Lal Meri, Talamasca, Truth In Advertisement
Various (Switzerland): Blackout Airport Zürich (Blackout BAR 7301, with postcard, 1973)
Including Date Of Birth [Trice Kohler (joint lead vocals), Marian Kohler (joint lead vocals)], Skorpyons Of Jamaica, Voices Of Eden
This compilation of acts associated with a Zürich club offers performances from six different outfits, including three with female members. Of the female-fronted bands, Date Of Birth offer an enjoyable funky version of Cream’s ‘I Feel Free’ with rich harmony vocals plus the catchy self-penned ‘Merry Go Round’, whilst the oddly-named Skorpyons Of Jamaica mix rock, soul and reggae on ‘Think About It’. However, the best cut is probably Voices Of Eden’s ‘Lily Of The West’, which is beautiful acoustic folk fronted by a superb female vocalist; strangely, their other cut is male vocal rock. Most of the rest is mainstream melodic rock, adding up to an enjoyable LP, although Saints are the odd act out, offering trad jazz. GRADE: C+.
Various (Canada): Blow Up Sur Los Vedettes (Neptune NEP 6002, 1969)
This features four otherwise unknown beat groups: Sinners, Intrigantes, Gants Blancs and Mousses – all get three tracks apiece apart from Mousses, who get two. All offer period pop with psychedelic touches and a heavy Beatles influence (including French language covers of ‘Hello, Goodbye’ and ‘Penny Lane’). The all-female Intrigantes are probably the most interesting of the acts, owing a heavy debt to the mid-sixties yé-yé sound. Neptune issued four other volumes of Blow Up Sur Los Vedettes: two dedicated to male soloists, one to female singers and one to singer/songwriters. All appear to have been designed to introduce unknown new acts to the market. GRADE: C+.
See also Miladys, Various ‘Les Miladys/Les Bises/Les Intrigantes’
Various (UK): Both Sides Of The Downs (Eron 002, with insert, 1974)
Including Gwyllam Wake [Kate Fincham (joint lead vocals, harmonium, concertina, percussion) and Vic & Christine Smith
This disc featurues only three acts, who consequently get a fair few tracks each. Pick of the bunch is Gwyllam Wake, who offer dark, eerie folk with a strong mediaeval edge, often resembling a traditional, unplugged Stone Angel. Vic & Christine Smith are a rather mournful folk duo, whilst Crayfolk is a competent but fairly unexciting band of the kind ubiquitous in folk clubs the length and breadth of Britain in the seventies. GRADE: C+.
Various (USA): Brown Bags To Stardom (Kiki S-8219, 1981)
Louise Amasol, Black Rose, Connie & Sheryl DeGroot, Bobbie Dymon & Doyle Dawson, Kiwili Makai, Liuaki Maka, Nameless Faces, Pania & The Xeons, Criss Remmers & Friends, Roj & San & Friends, Sherry Samson, Mary Beth Sua & Lorri Pacheco
Celebrating musical talent in Hawaii’s high schools, this set covers a wide range of ground and includes several female-fronted acts. In chronological order, Roj & San & Friends offer a delicate ballad with a bit of a showtune feel; Black Rose deliver an excellent stripped-down hard rocker with plenty of fuzz guitar; Nameless Faces provide an eerie, rather psychedelic ballad with some spacy synthesiser; Bobbie Dymon & Doyle Dawson, Liuaki Maka, Louise Amasol and Mary Beth Sua & Lorri Pacheco all deliver more showtune-styled balladry; Pania & The Xeons, despite the spacy name, offer another ballad, albeit a decent one hinting towards Olivia Newton-John or maybe the Stargazer album; Sherry ‘Coco’ Samson offers a nice Hawaiian-flavoured number with ukulele; Kiwili Makai offer some lively coffeehouse folk fronted by an androgynous singer, whom I presume on balance to be female; Connie & Sheryl DeGroot sound even closer to Stargazer with a bouncy pop number backed by lush synthesisers; and Criss Remmers & Friends close proceedings with versions of ‘Through The Eyes Of Love’ and ‘What I Did For Love’. Along the way, there are quite a few male vocal songs: the best is Brain Damage’s garagy take on AC/DC’s ‘Highway To Hell’ and the worst is Peter Espirito’s amateurish stab at ‘New York, New York’. As this lengthy description makes clear, this isn’t really oriented towards rock and is mostly pretty mediocre; but it’s a cheap album that’s worth buying for the excellent Black Rose and Nameless Faces numbers, and most of the rest has a naïve charm typical of school project albums, with only Peter Espirito’s contribution being truly worthless. GRADE: C.
Various (UK): Classroom Projects (Trunk JBH049CD, CD, 2013, recorded 1959-1981)
Rhoda Ashfield, Chelmsford High School Folk Group, Heslington Primary School, Hutton School Choir, Lyttle Folk, Nick Nack Kids, Shirley Salzedo, Small Choir of St Brandon’s School, Jill Whitehead
This collection of school project recordings draws as much on modern classical as folk music, with a fair portion of its contents being taken from late sixties albums entitled The Searching Years and Sounds And Silence. The best of these extracts is a spectacularly weird and gothic version of ‘Lyke Wake Dirge’, which sounds like an extract from an experimental horror film soundtrack. Elsewhere, there are a number of school choir pieces, folk songs and more classical excursions, adding to an intriguingly odd (if quite disjointed) compilation. Those, like me, who hear a definite ‘Wicker Man’ vibe here will be amused to note an early composition by Peter Brewis, who went on to become one of the driving forces behind its music. GRADE: C+.
Various (UK): Colleges In Concert (Deroy DER-1196, 1975)
Margaret Baron, Norma Rigg, Eileen, Christine, Barbara, Jan, Dori, Jean, Kathy, Val, Val, Sue
This album and its follow-up, Colleges In Folkus, were put together by a guitar teacher to showcase the performances of a number of his students. Played live, the music is traditional folk, with rather hesitant playing and singing typical of school project albums and with a few cuts having notably off-key vocals. Whilst not exactly brilliant, and far from mould-breaking, this has a naïve charm that should appeal to anyone who likes the Spinning Jenny LP, the school project genre or the Folk Heritage/Midas/Westwood scene. The release was obviously a tiny micro-pressing, as it has plain white labels and a paste-on sleeve with a blank back and hand-taped seams; a copy has sold for £400 on eBay. GRADE: C+.
Various (UK): Colleges In Folkus (Deroy DER 1312, with booklet, 1976)
Margaret Baron, Norma Rigg, Maureen Neill, Anita Pandollo, Maureen Makinson, Barbara Hardacre, Barbara Richardson, Kathy Haig, Jane Haig, Sarah Haig, Tracy Birkett, Pauline Brierley, Christine Firth, Virginia Hardacre, Anne Stansfield
This has rather higher production values than its predecessor, coming with a very attractive laminated sleeve, handwritten labels and a thick stapled booklet of lyrics and credits. As the notes make clear, this was recorded entirely by adults, once again performing in ensembles of two or three, and once again featuring a high proportion of female vocals. Although the singing and playing is a touch more professional than on its predecessor, this is musically similar and the same comparisons apply. The best numbers are the haunting ‘Pendle’ and an unusual rendition of the MOR standard ‘Feelings’, with electronically treated vocals. 100 copies were pressed, as stated on the back cover, and one sold for a staggering £845 on eBay. GRADE: C+.
Various (UK): Country Music Shetland Style (Thule SLP 109, 1973?)
Including Thomson Sisters
For the most part, this does what it says on the tin, though some cuts are as much folk as country, and several numbers by the teenage Thomson Sisters border on loungy ‘real people’ stuff. GRADE: C.
Various (UK): Cryptadia (Eron 005, 1974)
Including Anderson Singers [Elizabeth Weaver (joint lead vocals), Celia Powell (joint lead vocals), Julie Ruck (joint lead vocals), Ann Wadey (joint lead vocals), Betty McGregor (joint lead vocals)], Jenni Jubb (lead vocals), Musica Antiqua [Sheila Hills (joint lead vocals), Julia Barrett (joint lead vocals), Dorothy Uridge (joint lead vocals), Kathleen Moody (joint lead vocals), Deborah Moody (joint lead vocals), Anne Metherell (joint lead vocals), Penny Burgess (joint lead vocals), Pat Moody (joint lead vocals),Pamela Vaughan (joint lead vocals, viol, psaltery), Margaret Taylor (keyboards, recorder, crumhorn), Muriel Vickers (percussion), Shirley Vaughan (viola da gamba)]
The most unusual of Eron’s various multi-artist compilations, Cryptadia focuses on Tudor and baroque music and features contributions from mediaeval folk band Musica Antiqua, madrigal choir the Anderson Singers, vocalist Jenni Jubb, harpsichord player Derek Hyde and composer Sigvard von Breven. As close to classical as to folk, it’s a beautiful album that should appeal strongly to lovers of Shirley & Dolly Collins’s Anthems In Eden. GRADE: C+.
Various (UK): Cwlwm Pedwar (Sain 1250M, 1982)
Bwchadanas [Siân James (principal vocals), Llio Rowlands (harp)], Mabsant [Siwsann George (lead vocals, guitar, concertina)], Penderyn [Iola Llewelyn (harp)], Seithenyn [(Eleri Richards (joint lead vocals, guitar), Falyri Jenkins (joint lead vocals, harp)]
This enjoyable folk sampler devotes half a side apiece to each of the four acts. To take each band in order of performance, Seithenyn offer delicate, haunting harmony folk with a slightly mystical, hymn-like feel; Mabsant make their recorded debut with three pleasant traditional folk numbers; Bwchadanas are slightly livelier, with Siân James’s high-pitched vocals giving them a very distinctive sound; and Penderyn somewhat resemble an unplugged Pererin. GRADE: C+.
See also Bwchadanas, Siwsann George, Siân James, Mabsant
Various (UK): Dungeon Folk (BBC REC 35S, 1969)
Including Shelagh McDonald and Dana Stirk
Despite the title, this album – which comes housed in a handsome and quaint laminated flipback sleeve – is as much country as folk, as most of the participants favour an Americanised coffeehouse style. Two exclusive tracks by a young Shelagh McDonald will be the obvious attraction for most people, but she had yet to develop her songwriting chops and her contributions follow the general style. Perhaps the best songs are by Dana Stirk, who has a lovely voice and contributes ‘Nothing But Time’ and a delicate version of ‘Suzanne’; it’s a pity she never recorded again. GRADE: C.
See also Shelagh McDonald
Various (UK): Eastern Approaches (Guildhall/Boston Sound Hunters GHS 8, 1973)
Including Galley [Lynn Bellamy] and Silver Birch [Angie Seal]
Credited to ‘The Residents of Grimsby Folk Club’, this is extremely rare and difficult to find, like everything on the label. It features performances from Galley, Silver Birch, Chris Coombs & Pete Sumner, Broadside, Alan Ferrier and Pat Neilly, a number of whom issued their own very scarce LPs. There’s absolutely nothing here for fans of electric or acid-folk, or indeed those seeking crystalline Shirley Collins-like melancholy, but for heartfelt, downbeat rustic folk the performances are first-rate. GRADE: C+.
See also Galley, Silver Birch
Various (Chile): ENAMI Canta (ENM ENLP-01, 1973)
Including Ovnis, Surveryors Band
This unusual album, which was issued as a promotional item for the Chilean national mining corporation, features a number of different bands (Los De Media Noche, the Surveryors [sic] Band, Los Ovnis, and Conjunto Los ENM) mostly playing beat, though some cuts are ethnic folk. Whether this is a compilation of sixties recordings or new material from bands associated with the mines is unclear (though the mono recording suggests the former), but in any case there are two fine female vocal numbers: one apiece from Ovnis and the Surveryors Band. GRADE: C+.
Various (UK): Fairy’s Moke (No label DER 1175, 1975)
Including Beth, Laurie, Liz
When private pressings suddenly became collectable, this used to sell for fairly big money. Maybe the stunning black-and-white sleeve explains it, or the fact that it was pressed by the celebrated Deroy label; it certainly isn’t the music, since this is nothing more than a document of a local folk club, featuring a variety of pleasant but utterly generic acts. There was also a sister volume called Mary’s Folk, which I haven’t heard (and wouldn’t go out of my way to). GRADE: C.
Various (UK/USA): Flash Fearless Vs The Zorg Women, Parts 5 & 6! (Chrysalis CHR 1072, USA, 1975)
Elkie Brooks (joint lead vocals), Maddy Prior (occasional vocals)
This science fiction-themed concept album was intended as the prelude to a full-blown stage show, although that did not happen for many years. Musically, it’s typical mid-seventies bluesy rock, with several well-known musicians and lead vocalists, including Alice Cooper, John Entwistle, Elkie Brooks, Jim Dandy, Jim Dewar (Stone The Crows), Eddie Jobson (Curved Air), Frankie Miller, Keith Moon and Justin Hayward, whilst the backing singers included Lesley Duncan and Annette Casey (Gringo). The British version (Chrysalis CHR 1081, with booklet) followed three months after the American original, and replaced ‘Supersnatch’ with the Maddy Prior-fronted ‘Georgia Syncopator’.
See also Elkie Brooks, Dada, Tim Hart & Maddy Prior, Mike Oldfield, Maddy Prior, Steeleye Span, Vinegar Joe
Various (UK/France): Folk Fest 5 (RCA International INTS 1364, UK, 1972)
Including Alice & Me [Alice Harper, Sue Rooke], Bexleyheath Scout & Guide Choir, Vivien Briggs, Crewners, Helen Dunford, Elysium [Rosemary Smith], Jeff & Joan [Joan Hazeldene], Karen Shelby, Twentythirds [Denise Hammond]
The subtitle ‘The Scouts and Guides National Folk Music Festival’ may not fill you with confidence, and nor will the cover of a few gawky-looking children. However, the music is mainly by teenagers and adults, creating a pleasant set of acoustic folk. There’s nothing really exceptional here, but fans of schoolgirl folk should thoroughly enjoy Elysium’s ‘Fairy Tale Lullaby’, Karen Shelby’s ‘All My Trials’ and Vivien Briggs’s acapella ‘When I Was In My Prime’. Meanwhile, the juxtaposition of news reports and a 120-strong choir singing ‘Silent Night’ is suitably eerie, whilst Simon Benson’s mellow ‘Life Is Just A Dream’ is probably the best thing on offer. Terry Wogan was the compère for the event, whilst Brian Brocklehurst, who performed on numerous albums from the Folk Heritage stable, played double bass throughout. For some reason, this was released as an RCA export pressing with an unusual green label. I’m not aware that Folk Fests 1-4 ever appeared on vinyl, though I could be wrong. GRADE: C+.
Various (UK/Denmark/Switzerland): Folk Fest 6 (Standfast Music Company FF 6-1, UK, 1974)
Including Beverley Barber, Lindsay Barber, Rosamund Beveridge, Birchermuesli, Helen Cain, Four Danish Beer-Bread-Bears, Moonshadows [Anne Shearing, Sally Shearing, Christine Teasdale, Sally Ann Roberts], Petronellas, Rainbow Wood [Sandra Chun], Jane Steward
The follow-up was released in diminished circumstances, on a private label and in a much more basic sleeve. The hand-stuck Mecolico stamp on the label suggests a very small pressing, but I’d imagine the parents of all the participants would have rushed to buy copies. Again, there’s some good schoolgirl folk, including the Petronellas’ ‘Whispering Winds’, Rosamund Beveridge’s ‘Jock O’ Hazeldene’, Rainbow Wood’s ‘The Briar’, Helen Cain’s ‘Morning Has Broken’, Moonshadow’s ‘On Growing Older’ and Birchermuesli’s ‘Jamin Usmol’. Overall, this is a much better LP than its predecessor. GRADE: C+.
Various (UK): Folk From Truro (Heritage FHR005M, 1969)
Including Folksters [Kathryn Vellacott (joint lead vocals), Barbara Kendall (joint lead vocals), Amanda Williams (joint lead vocals), Helen Clark (joint lead vocals), Lesley Matthews (joint lead vocals), Rosemary Sloman (joint lead vocals, guitar)], Margaret & Ian [Margaret Haile (lead vocals)] and Tamfolk [Jackie Evans (joint lead vocals), Bridget Dymond (joint lead vocals), Linda Morcom (joint lead vocals), Gill Booth (joint lead vocals, guitar), Vicky Osborne (joint lead vocals, guitar), Janet Brewer (joint lead vocals, tambourine)]
Heritage was actually the custom pressing imprint of the much-collected Folk Heritage label, and it’s fair to say that this compendium of Christian folk acts is rarer than anything on the parent label. Side one is given over to the Tamfolk, a folk choir who are quite charming on the gentler material but less palatable on the more uptempo numbers. The somewhat superior side two features three acts: the Folksters (quite similar to Tamfolk, but much better, with a sweetier and spacier sound), the Mug Band (a solid traditional folk act) and Margaret & Ian (one good number and one pretty awful contribution). GRADE: C.
Various (UK): Folk In Sandwich (Eron 001, with insert, 1973)
Including Leonie & Stephanie Clarke [Leonie Clarke (joint lead vocals, guitar), Stephanie Clarke (joint lead vocals, guitar)], Holly Gwinn-Graham (lead vocals), Tundra [Sue Hudson (joint lead vocals, drum)]
The first of six multi-artist compilations on the private Eron label (that I know of), Folk In Sandwich is by far the rarest, and one of only two to sell consistently for big money (the other being Cryptadia). With fifteen tracks from six acts, it covers a broad range of territory. To start with the less interesting performances, Holly Gwinn-Graham’s three acapella contributions are fairly unspectacular, Keith Pearson performs one really good song out of three, and Mariners have a very rustic style (although they’re far from bad). I much prefer Leonie & Stephanie Clarke’s charmingly naïve schoolgirl folk, Tundra’s excellent traditional folk/rock and the two mellow numbers by Paul Wilson. Gwinn-Graham was Davy Graham’s wife, incidentally, and collaborated with him on his Holly Kaleidoscope LP. As a footnote, the album was issued to commemorate a folk festival in Sandwich, and some copies came with a small insert noting this. GRADE: C+.
See also Clarke Sisters, Tundra, Various ‘Good Folk Of Kent’, Various ‘Travelling Folk’
Various (UK): Folk In The City (Ray TET 107 LP, 1967)
Including 3 Folk Equal [Ann] and Jennie & Judy
This document of a Birmingham folk club is considerably above average for the genre, with enjoyable performances from all the acts involved – 3 Folk Equal, Ian Highfield, Jennie & Judy and the Wayfaring Three. Only two copies appear to be known at present. GRADE: C+.
Various (UK): Folk Nottingham Style (Nottingham Festival Label FEST 001, 1973)
Including Evensong [Anna Pickering (lead vocals)], Hemlock Stone [Diane Ball (joint lead vocals), Val Wheeler (joint lead vocals)], Words & Music [Barbara Greene (joint lead vocals)]
This compilation of traditional folk acts features fourteen songs, including three from bands with female members. Evensong’s ‘Grannie Wine’ is a haunting ballad, and pleasant enough that a whole album from them would have been welcome. Hemlock Stone’s ‘Nottingham Gates’ is acapella and not particularly exciting, though perfectly competent, whilst Words & Music’s ‘Honey Money Pot’ is a nice uptempo folk song lamenting the redevelopment of Nottingham (as do several of the male vocal numbers). Overall this is a likeable enough compilation, but it’s all very parochial and unambitious stuff. GRADE: C.
Various (UK): Folk Upstairs – Folk Singers And Groups From SE Essex (Nicro K220971, 1971)
Including Free Kind [Sandy Martin (lead vocals)], Jack, Jill & Linda and Kitty Theobald
This extremely rare compilation features exclusive performances from a number of different soloists and groups: Band Of Hope, Kitty Theobald, Jack, Jill & Linda, Steve Horrey, Free Kind and Clive Hammond. All are capable performers of traditional folk, but none of the numbers are really exceptional. GRADE: C.
Various (Ireland): From Lagan To Lee (Wavin, 1975)
Including Patricia Cahill (lead vocals), Céathrar [Triona Ní Dhomnaill], Clannad [Máire Brennan] and Mac Murrough [Mary O’ Neill,
Josephine O’ Neill]
Rather strangely issued as a promotional item for the Wavin building products company, this rare album is chiefly remembered for its stunning silver foil gatefold sleeve, created by the noted Celtic artist Jim Fitzpatrick. However, it’s also an excellent compilation of Irish folk music, chiefly notable for the breathtaking ‘Faoilean’ by Céathrar (Skara Brae and Bothy Band members under a brief alias) – a stunning piece of acid-folk driven by harpsichord, Moog synthesiser and Tríona Ní Dhomnaill’s superb high-pitched vocals. The song was actually written for the Pan Celtic Song Contest in Killarney, but was beaten by Clannad’s rather lovely ‘An Bealach Seo Ta Romham’, also included here; both tracks were also issued by Gael Linn as a rare double A-sided single. What’s more, there are contributions from Mac Murrough, Patricia Cahill and several other artists, mostly of a high quality. GRADE: C+.
See also Bothy Band, Máire Brennan, Clannad, Mac Murrough, Nightnoise, Triona Ní Dhomnaill, Relativity, Shades Of Mac Murrough, Skara Brae, T With The Maggies, Touchstone
Various (UK): Good Folk Of Kent (Eron 004, with insert, 1975)
Including Jenny & Tony Dunbar [Jenny Dunbar (joint lead vocals, harmonium, concertina, drum, dulcimer)], Folkbunch [Elaine Latham (joint lead vocals)] and Mingled [Kay Burkin, Sue Hudson]
Another super-long (19 tracks) overview of the local folk scene from Eron Records. This one features Jenny & Tony Dunbar (stripped-down traditional folk at its most dolorous – positively funereal and chilling on some cuts), Skinner’s Rats (jolly morris-style instrumentals), Folkbunch (would have been right at home on Folk Heritage/Midas/Westwood, sounding like innumerable acts from that stable) and Mingled (downbeat acapella stuff). The latter outfit is interesting for combining Phil and Kay Burkin, formerly the prime movers behind Vulcan’s Hammer, with the folk duo otherwise known as Tundra. GRADE: C+.
See also Tundra, Various ‘Folk In Sandwich’, Various ‘Good Folk Of Kent’, Various ‘Travelling Folk’, Vulcan’s Hammer
Various (Iceland): Hrif 2 (ÁÁ 028, 1975)
Including Bergþora Ârnadóttir, Nunnurnar [Drífa Kristjánsdóttir, Janis Carol, Helha Steinson]
This Icelandic compilation showcases five different artists and bands, who contribute between two and four songs apiece. The overall standard isn’t particularly high, with the musical style being mid-seventies MOR pop – sometimes jazzy, sometimes country-ish, and mostly pretty whimsical. In particular, three of the four numbers from Spilverk þjóðanna are undistinguished in the extreme and give no hint they would go on to release some excellent psychedelic folk LPs with the addition of female member Sigrún Hjálmtysdóttir. I rather like Nunnurnar’s two numbers, which mix blend in elements of late sixties girl group sounds with a very mildly psychedelic edge, but overall this offers pretty slim pickings. GRADE: C.
See also Bergþora Ârnadóttir
Various (USA): I Love You Gorgo (Suemi 1090, 1969)
Including Truth [Sherry Karnes (occasional vocals, organ)]
This enjoyable compilation of local bands features contributions from three outfits: the Intruders, Lode Star and Truth. All offer a mix of late sixties underground styles, from garage pop and harmony folk/rock through to heavier acid-rock. The result is a satisfying view of a local scene, preserving the music of three bands that never got to record again. GRADE: C+.
Various (Czechoslovakia): Jazz Praha – Live (Panton 81 0660-1511, 1986)
Jana Koubková (joint lead vocals, percussion), Mirka Krivánková (joint lead vocals)
Side one of this festival sampler features three excellent modern jazz numbers from the Vitouš Trio, featuring Jana Koubková backed by a percussionist and a violinist. On side two, Mirka Krivánková delivers similar wordless vocals to the haunting guitar soundscapes of Zdenek Dvorák, completing an accomplished record that is frequently striking in its slightly eerie minimalism. GRADE: C+.
See also Ludek Hulan, Jana Koubková, Mirka Krivánková & Jiri Stivín & Co Jazz System, Urfaust, Various ‘Jazzrocková Dílna’
Various (Czechoslovakia/Ireland): Jazzrocková Dílna (Panton 11 0572 H, Czechoslovakia, 1975)
Including CHASA [Mirka Krivánková (lead vocals)], Jazzrocková Dílna [Joan Duggan (lead vocals)]
Recorded live during the Prague Jazz Days festival in March 1975, this features two tracks apiece from Impuls and Jazz Q and one each from CHASA (with Mirka Krivánoká) and a supergroup credited as Jazzrocková Dilná (with Joan Duggan, who confusingly doesn’t appear on the Jazz Q numbers). The latter’s contribution, ‘Svēdek Svēta’, is an impassioned gospel-styled number, with C&K Vocal on backing vocals, and is probably the best number, with its infectious rhythm and assertive rock guitar. Everything else tends more to the jazz end of the equation, with a slightly fragmentary feel and lots of soloing, but there’s a definite early seventies Vertigo vibe buried in these grooves. GRADE: C+.
See also Jazz Q, Mirka Krivánková & Jirí Stivín & Co Jazz System, Urfaust, Various 'Jazz Praha – Live'
Various (UK): Just A Taste Of The Processed Pea (Workhorse WHR5, 1978)
Including Linda Jones, Kestrel [Val Haworth], Raven [Christine Armstrong]
Despite the slightly surreal title, this is a straightforward document of a Northern folk club, featuring a variety of soloists and groups. Raven’s rendition of Fairport Convention’s ‘Rising For The Moon’ is probably the most interesting thing on offer, whilst Linda Jones’s ‘Albert’ isn’t a song but a would-be humorous monologue. Oddly, the album comes in a slightly oversized cover that won’t fit in standard record shelving. GRADE: C.
Various (Japan): Kings’ Boards (Made In Japan MCD-2918, CD, 1990)
Naomi Miura (keyboards)
Although this looks – and indeed sounds – like a band project, each of its five tracks showcases a different keyboardist, each creating a lengthy and complex instrumental. The music unsurprisingly hints towards the seventies sound of ELP as well as current Japanese acts like Ars Nova; that band’s keyboardist (and Rosalia member) Naomi Miura contributes the most complex and adventurous number, full of weird effects, wordless vocals, tempo changes and reedy fake Mellotron. Overall, this is an enjoyable and surprisingly cohesive set that should delight anyone who enjoys bombastic keyboard prog. GRADE: B–.
See also Ars Nova, Rosalia
Various (UK): Lampglass Folk (No label, 1974)
This is one of the rarest UK folk club LPs, issued without a sleeve and with hand-stamped white labels. Musically, however, it is basic and rather uninteresting folk club fare with male vocals, with one notable exception: the closing female vocal version of ‘Lyke Wake Dirge’ has an eerie ‘Wicker Man’-like atmosphere and could be used to lull unsuspecting purchasers into buying the album as an ‘acid-folk masterpiece’. GRADE: C.
Various (Canada): Les Miladys/Les Bises/Les Intrigantes (Idole ID 312, 1969?)
Bises, Integrantes, Miladys
Divided between three different female beat groups, this obscure album mostly offers quaint French-language covers of English and American pop hits. The highpoints are Les Intrigantes’ beautiful and naïve ‘Sans Toi’ and ‘Le Seuil Du Soleil’; the band also appeared on the compilation Blow Up Sur Los Vedettes. GRADE: C+.
See also Miladys, Various ‘Blow Up Sur Los Vedettes’
Various (West Germany): Love And Peace (Somerset 732/733, double, 1970)
Including Tomorrow’s Gift [Ellen Meier (lead vocals)]
This double album documents a blues and rock festival held at the Isle of Fehmarn in September 1970. However, none of the actual recordings are from the festival: apparently there were technical issues with the sound, which led to the featured bands re-recording their material in the studio. The set heavily features Tomorrow’s Gift, who contribute the whole of side two, plus ‘Begin [sic] Of A New Sound’ in the middle of side one. Their contributions are remarkable, with the side-long suite interpolating a cover of ‘Indian Rope Man’ with trippy Eastern-influenced jazzy jamming; the other bands are mostly more straightforward, offering high-octane blues/rock, creating a very fine set. GRADE: B–.
See also Alto, Pago Pago, Tomorrow’s Gift
Various (UK): Meadow Folk (John Hassell Recordings HAS EP 3019, 1973)
Including Krafty Ann [Christine Harris (occasional vocals)]
Only a couple of copies are known of this folk club document, which was recorded in mono and issued in a hand-sprayed sleeve with a rear paste-on. Two of the best numbers are by club founder Howard Frost, who offers an eerie, acidic ‘Tyree Love Song’, backed only by bongos, plus a breezy take on ‘Summertime’. There are also four self-penned numbers by Krafty Ann, described as an ‘electric folk band’, but who have something of a singer/songwriter vibe and a few country/rock and MOR leanings too. Finally, Dave Kilpatrick weighs in with the mournful ‘Emily’ and an untitled instrumental, whilst Glyn Dearing and Ian Chapman offer more straightforward, but perfectly pleasant, contemporary folk. GRADE: C+.
Various (UK): Merched Y Chwyldro (Sain CS116, double CD, with book, 2019, recorded 1963-1980)
Including Awr, Bando, Cwennod, Beti A’r Gwylliaid, Blodau’r Ffair, Brân, Chwyldro, Clychau, Cyffro, Doreen Davies, Jane Evans & Diliau Dyfrdwy, Glenis & Gwenan, Mari Griffith, Mary Hopkin, Iola & Nia, Heather Jones, Esme Lewis, Olwen Lewis, Meinir Lloyd, Rosalind Lloyd, Eleri LLwyd, Meillion, Nhew, Nia & Aled, Leah Owen, Caryl Owens, Eirlys Parri, Pelydrau, Perlau, Elwen Pritchard, Janet Rees, Rhian Rowe, Sidan, Talisman, Tannau Tawela, Tlysau, Rhiannan Tomos, Triban, Trydan, Iris Williams, Helen Wyn & Hebogiaid Y Nos
This double CD, chronicling Welsh female artists and groups of the sixties and seventies, spans the giants of the scene (Mary Hopkin, Heather Jones) to truly great but more obscure bands (Brân, Sidan) to artists from whom I have only the odd single or EP to even more artists I’d never encountered before. Issued alongside Gwenan Gibbard’s excellent book of the same name, which tells the story of women in Welsh music, it’s a beautiful collection of otherworldly sounds and a fine summary of a fascinating musical tradition. Operating in parallel with the British pop mainstream, much Welsh-language music drew on the country’s choral traditions and strongly showcased the vocal talents of teenage girls, usually in harmony, creating a naïve and slightly eerie atmosphere reminiscent of school project albums. The (softish) rock quotient rises towards the end of the second disc, indicating the way the scene was progressing, but otherwise the music is very much of a piece. For sure, it’s possible to quibble about some of the songs selected (why ‘Pitar Pan’, with its kiddie chorus, instead of ‘Tân Neu Haf’ from Diliau?) but overall this is a charming set. The accompanying book is pretty impressive too, complete with numerous colour photographs of record covers – I just wish they’d included an English translation for those of us not fluent in Welsh. GRADE: C+.
Various (UK): Musical Gems No 2 (ECHO ECR 334, 1972?)
Including Alethians, Cliff & Char Bergdahl, Ester Brooks, Lois Buckley, Janette Carruthers, Roger & Jan
The people behind this Christian compilation must have thought God was able to offer protection against the Trades Description Act, as the songs on offer are very definitely not gems. It starts much better than expected, with Cliff & Char Bergdahl’s plaintive acoustic folk number ‘Why Are You Crying?’, but most of the rest is light classical music, oddly including several instrumentals. That said, the Alethians’ ‘Everybody Goin’ To Pray’ is perfectly pleasant, Lois Buckley’s ‘A Man Must Die’ is listenable if overly formal, and Roger & Jan’s ‘Mountain Song’ could have been enjoyable without the overbearing strings. The remainder makes me give thanks that I don’t own volume one. GRADE: E.
See also Lois Buckley
Various (UK): Napton Folk Club (Eden LP43, 1973?)
The most striking thing about this folk club album is probably its distinctive black-and-white silkscreened cover; however, it’s definitely an above-average example of the genre. The unusually good recording, giving the vocals real presence, certainly helps, as does the quality of the singing and playing and the sensible balance between traditional and contemporary material. The only female performer is Margaret Harvey, who contributes a haunting version of ‘Queen Of Hearts’. As a footnote, this is one of the rarer examples of its genre, with only 100 copies pressed. GRADE: C+.
Various (Holland/Germany): Overlast? (Zomer Parkfest ’83 ZSF 69 69 69, Holland, 1983)
Including Frozen Tears [Mylène de Groot (joint lead vocals), Debby van Oort (joint lead vocals)], Null Null’s [Hendrikje Horn (principal vocals, keyboards, percussion, saxophone, flute)]
This compilation, presumably of bands attending a summer festival, features two studio recordings apiece from five different outfits. My interest was piqued by the presence of Hendrikje Horn, formerly of Aigues Vives, in the Null Null’s [sic], but there’s no musical resemblance as they offer prog-tinged new wave. Frozen Tears are similarly a new wave outfit, with a few slight prog edges on one of their contributions. The three all-male bands are the oddly named 12" From Heaven (vaguely gothic early eighties rock, hinting at everyone from U2 to the Cure), Apinti (offering a truly odd Dutch brand of reggae) and the more generic Square Objects. GRADE: C.
See also Aigues Vives
Various (Switzerland): Perspectives (Cobra MR278, 1975)
Including Popcorn [Gloria Niemann (joint lead vocals)], Dandelion [Annemarie Hersig (principal vocals)]
This interesting Swiss sampler is split between two female-fronted bands and two all-male instrumental acts; each band gets two cuts apiece, except for Popcorn, which gets three (probably because they’re all fairly short). As that might suggest, Popcorn are a relatively straight rock act, though a good one, with a nicely symphonic edge to their sound that fits in with the other acts. Dandelion are the jazziest of the four, with slight Krautrock edges, whilst Kedama offer spacy, slightly tripped-out keyboard prog on one number and solo guitar on the other. Finally, Helvetia are the oddest of the lot: their two instrumentals owe more to sixties jamming than seventies prog, and have a definite fifties influence, making one wonder about their intended audience. Whilst all four bands are enjoyable, Dandelion are the one I would have liked to cut a full album. GRADE: C+.
Various (West Germany): Proton 1 (Kerston SK 65 017, double, 1974)
Including Nexus [Jutta Handrup (occasional vocals)], Zyma [Dorle Ferber (joint lead vocals, violin)]
This interesting compilation is divided between five bands, including the female-fronted Nexus and Zyma. The latter open proceedings with two strong heavy prog numbers that are far less jazzy than the music that would appear on their subsequent albums. Next up are the all-male Andorra, offering a late sixties-influenced psychedelic sound, peaking on the lengthy ‘I’ve Been Waiting’. Meanwhile, Penicillin have a nicely trippy style, with a rather dreamy male singer and some good acid guitar leads, although their rock interpretation of Beethoven’s ‘Für Elise’ is more in the Nice or Collegium Musicum vein. Side three is given over to three excellent jazz/rock numbers from Nexus, whilst the fourth side showcases Sun, who contribute two fine lengthy tracks. GRADE: B–.
See also Zyma
Various (Japan): Rock ‘N’ Roll Jam ’70 (Express EP-7744/5, double, 1970)
Including Flowers [Lemi Aso (principal vocals)]
With contributions from Mops, Happenings Four, Golden Cups and Flowers, who get roughly a side apiece, this is an enjoyable set of live numbers mixing influences from beat, garage and psychedelia. Happenings Four’s loungy numbers (including ‘Something’, ‘I Say A Little Prayer’ and ‘Blue Moon Of Kentucky’) are clearly the weakest, whilst the superb Flowers tracks (three out of four being Big Brother or Janis Joplin numbers) are vastly better than anything on their studio album. GRADE: C+.
See also Lemi Aso, Yuya Uchida & The Flowers
Various (West Germany): Rock Offers (Offers Musik Production 7601 L, 1976)
Including Cannock [Raphaela Ciblis (lead vocals, percussion)], Octopus [Jennifer Hensel (lead vocals)], Winchester ’75 [Nathalie Shelar (percussion, backing vocals)]
This obscure compilation features a selection of mid-seventies rock and prog acts, including three bands with female members. Cannock offer a dreamy progressive number ‘Martin’ that’s somewhat different from their two subsequent albums, whilst Winchester ’75’s ‘Whatever It Is’ is a dreadful country hoedown; they would go on to issue a full album two years later as plain Winchester. Finally, Octopus’s contribution is a straight lift of ‘The Delayable Rise Of Glib’ from their debut LP The Boat Of Thoughts. Elsewhere, there’s a song from Pancake, back in the days when they were an all-male outfit, and best of all a piece of synthesised space-rock from Sirius. GRADE: C+.
See also Cannock, Octopus, Winchester
Various (West Germany): Sci Fi Party – Unser Flug Durch Die Kosmische Musik (Kosmische Musik KM 58.011, 1974)
Gille Lettmann (occasional vocals)
This fascinating album mixes together snippets of albums by various acts in the Cosmic Couriers stable – from Ash Ra Tempel and Galactic Supermarket to Walter Wegmüller – with added voiceovers by Gille Lettmann, creating two lengthy suites that ebb and flow, exploring the outer reaches of the musical cosmos. Tripped out to the max, this is Krautrock at its most quintessential. GRADE: B.
See also Cosmic Jokers & Sternenmädchen, Galactic Supermarket
Various (UK): Seaside Rock (Airship AP 342, double, with booklet, 1981)
Including Bognor’s Last Resort [Rogie (occasional vocals)], This Way Up [Issy (lead vocals)] and Works [Liz Wilson (lead vocals)]
This compilation of bands within 20 miles of Bognor Regis features 16 different outfits, with all but one contributing two tracks apiece. The predominant style is hard rock, with some forays into prog (including two numbers by Protos, who issued their own very collectable LP One Day A New Horizon on the same label). This Way Up offer light rock, drawing on both hard rock and new wave, whilst Bognor’s Last Resort offer light reggae-tinged pop/rock and Works deliver a synth-based mixture of new wave and prog. The oddest of the male vocal bands is certainly Mothers [sic] Little Helper, who look like stoned rejects from Hawkwind or Motörhead, but who actually play spacy reggae on one cut and borderline rockabilly on the other. Meanwhile, Loose Talk serve up a remarkably faithful parody of the Police: why they imagined this would bring them any success, I have no idea. Overall, this is an interesting snapshot of a local scene, but there’s not a single act here with obvious star potential. GRADE: C.
Various (UK): Sêr Cymru (Wren WRL 523, 1970)
Diliau, Môn Swn
Recorded at the Majestic, Caernarfon, this is a document of an evening of Welsh light entertainment, with contributions from acts both known (pop-folk trio Diliau and actress Myfanwy Talog) and obscure (Hogia’r Wyddfa, Môn Swn, Pedwar Cabalero, Penny Farthing, Ryan & Ronnie, Derek Boote and classical tenor Bryn Williams). Side one is pretty excruciating, especially the long comedy skit at the end (which of course means nothing to non-Welsh ears) but on side two Diliau offer a pleasant folk song and Môn Swn a nice pop/rock number, both with the slightly eerie choirgirl vocals that characterise a lot of Welsh folk. GRADE: E+.
See also Diliau
Various (UK): Shepway Folk (Eron 003, 1974)
Including Danejohn [Lynne Chilton (joint lead vocals), Janie Pittman (joint lead vocals)], Handbell Hoodeners Of Folkestone District National Dance Group [Joyce Cheeseman (bell), Sheila Clark (bell), Olive Field (bell), Nancy Hale (bell), Christine Hull (bell), Trudy Matthews (bell)] and Pendulum [Barbara Hack (joint lead vocals, guitar), Sue Mitchell (joint lead vocals, guitar), Beverley Smith (joint lead vocals, guitar)]
The five acts here are a mixed bag: Hackett Targe offer sensitive traditional Scottish folk, Danejohn is a highly competent acapella outfit, and Pendulum is a trio of young girls delivering gentle, naïve folk sounds and sweet harmonies. Only Mick & Martin miss the mark for me, being a rather brash folk club act, although they’re clearly good singers and musicians. That leaves the Handbell Hoodeners, who do exactly what their name suggests, and whose contributions will doubtless delight those who fanatically collect this sort of thing. Best number by far is the disc’s only original composition, Pendulum’s rather lovely ‘Are You Dreaming?’, which could easily have been taken from the Reality From Dream album. As a footnote, Janie Pittman from Danejohn went on to the very different Green Man, unless there are two folk musicians with the same name. GRADE: C+.
See also Green Man
Various (UK): Stoke Folk (Smoke SMK 1001, with booklet, 1968)
Jill McLean, Kay Berrington, Christine Tildesley
Folk club albums are ten-a-penny, but this is significantly above average: the performances are well-judged, the recording is excellent and there are no distracting audiences singalongs. Of course, when all is said and done, it’s just straightforward acoustic folk, with nary an experimental moment in sight, but if you like trad folk you should like this a lot. GRADE: C+.
Various (UK): Sounds Like West Cornwall (Sentinel SENS 1001, 1970)
Including Chrissie Quayle (lead vocals, guitar)
Linked by sound effects, this is a sort of musical audio documentary of the region, mostly featuring light classical music, including choirs, tenors and pipe organ. However, there is one song likely to interest readers: the beautiful self-penned ‘The Seagulls Scream’ by the then 17-year-old Chrissie Quayle, later of Daylight and the COB-related Temple Creatures. GRADE: D+.
See also Daylight
Various (USA): Taking Off (Decca DL 79181, 1971)
Including 48 Girls, Susan Chafitz, Susan Cohen, Nina Hart, Catherine Heriza, Caren Klugman, Mary Mitchell, Jinx Rubin, Carly Simon, Ike & Tina Turner Revue
'Taking Off' was a ‘generation gap’ comedy with a recurring theme of teenage girls auditioning for a record company contract. To compile the soundtrack, director Milos Forman considered performances from some 300 young girls, before whittling them down to 48 to appear in the film and accompanying LP. The majority sing their own compositions, accompanied by their own acoustic guitar, and it sounds as though the album uses their original demos rather than professional recordings, making it an unusual example of ‘real people’ music on a major label. Alongside the haunting and eerie acoustic folk numbers (of which the notorious ‘Ode To A Screw’ is the best-known) are contributions from Carly Simon, Ike & Tina Turner and the Incredible String Band, plus a couple of pieces of classical music. The disc is also notable for an appearance by a very young Kathy Bates. GRADE: C+.
Various (UK): Telyn Cymru (Sain SAIN 1023D, 1976)
Including CÔR CERDD DANT AELWYD CAERDYDD, CÔR TELYN TEILO, GAENOR & ELERI, HOGIA’R DDWYLAN, MERCHED MYRDDIN, PEDWARAWD Y WENALLT
Don’t buy this expecting a compilation of Welsh pop and rock – as the title suggests, this is harp music accompanied by male and female choirs. It’s all relaxing enough, but you’re only going to play this more than once if you’re addicted to ‘Songs Of Praise’. GRADE: C.
Various (UK): The Best From McTavish’s Kitchens (Canon VAR D 5948, double, 1976)
Including Nan Black, Jacui & Bridie, Moira Kerr, Saraband [Barbara Yeates]
This live double album, recorded during cabaret performances at a couple of Scottish restaurants, doesn’t initially appear promising (with the sleeve, depicting a castle and a kilted fisherman, confirming all one’s worst suspicions). However, musically this is quite interesting. The main attraction for most people will be two exclusive songs by Saraband: ‘Picture Book’ is driven by fuzz guitar and electric violin and is better than most of the songs on their album proper, whilst their version of ‘Black Jack Davy’ is fairly unremarkable. Meanwhile, Jacqui & Bridie and Moira Kerr offer two pleasant acoustic folk songs apiece. Among the lesser-known acts, Wesley, Park & Smith deliver three excellent harmony folk/rock cuts, Jack Hudson contributes three pleasant acoustic country/folk numbers, and the Mathews Brothers are a solid enough traditional folk duo. On the downside, Norman Castle (an individual rather than a band) is an uninteresting MOR act, surprisingly using a drum machine, the Eric Spence Set offer straightforward jigs and reels, and Nan Black delivers the kind of chintzy folk the sleeve implies. Finally, Pete Douglas’s sole contribution comes and goes inoffensively enough, and the set ends, perhaps inevitably, with bagpipes. GRADE: C+.
See also Jacqui & Bridie, Moira Kerr, Saraband
Various (UK): The Second Folk Review Record (Folksound FS 107, 1976)
Including Miriam Backhouse, Lou & Sally Killen
The main attraction for most collectors will be two exclusive songs by Miriam Backhouse, but this folk compilation has an attractive silkscreened sleeve and includes contributions by luminaries such as Archie Fisher, Martyn Wyndham-Read and Dick Gaughan. The whole thing is resolutely traditional, with several songs (including one of Backhouse’s and both of Lou & Sally Killen’s) being acapella, but none the worse for that. GRADE: C+.
See also Miriam Backhouse
Various (UK): The Soundwave Album (Airship AP 423, with insert, 1982)
Including Jodo Main [Cherry Ann Stevens (lead vocals)]
This compilation of material from bands from Horsham in West Sussex features six different outfits, including the female-fronted Jodo Main. Séance open proceedings with two mellow rock numbers, followed by Jodo Main’s two more new wave-ish contributions. Aeon Years offer progressive rock, as their name suggests, whilst Time Square (the only band to get three rather than two songs) also have strong prog leanings. Finally, Wang Ho are hard rock and closers Torque offer rather odd theatrical rock owing a debt to both prog and new wave. Overall, this is an enjoyable snapshot of a local rock scene, but it’s not difficult to discern why none of these bands were heard from again. GRADE: C.
Various (UK): This Side Of The River (Profile GMOR 169, 1979)
Including Bluebirds, Pam Burgess, Dave & Jan [Jan Bradfield], Gimli & Gloin, New Wine and Spiral
Long sought-after by collectors, this interesting compilation features contributions by seven different Christian folk acts, the vast majority of whom never recorded elsewhere. Whilst the overall standard isn’t outstanding, the disc is notable for two pleasant contributions by Aslan’s singer Pam Burgess, two slightly eerie traditional folk numbers by Gimli & Gloin, and – best of all – three excellent songs by Dave & Jan, including the heavy, fuzz guitar-driven ‘Walk In The Light’, which closes the set in fine style. GRADE: C+.
See also Aslan
Various (UK): Travelling Folk (Eron 006, with insert, 1976)
Including Stephanie Clarke (lead vocals, guitar), Merruwyn [Ann Galvin (joint lead vocals, guitar, banjo), Theresa Honeyands (joint lead vocals, guitar, recorder)], Tundra [Sue Hudson (joint lead vocals, concertina, percussion, recorder)]
Unusually for one of Eron’s multi-artist showcases, the tracks by the various artists and bands here are not interspersed: each gets a block of ten to twelve minutes, during which they play between two and four songs. However, most of the acts are familiar from earlier Eron ventures. Skinner’s Rats still have a penchant for upbeat morris tunes, and are one of the lesser outfits here. Meanwhile, Tundra (aka the non-Vulcan’s Hammer half of Mingled) offer two lovely, haunting numbers, one traditional and one self-penned, and Mariners have reinvented themselves as a competent electric folk act. Stephanie Clarke (now minus sister Leonie) offers three delightful Spinning Jenny-style songs that are my favourites on the set, whilst Keith Pearson has unfortunately formed a band called Treacle Line that plays horrible countryish jugband stuff. Finally, there’s Merruwyn (better known for their rare album At The Grosvenor), who provide three pleasant cover versions and one excellent original composition ‘Down Among The Evergreen’. GRADE: C+.
See also Clarke Sisters, Merruwyn, Tundra, Various ‘Folk In Sandwich’, Various ‘Good Folk Of Kent’