Wilcox Sullivan Wilcox (USA): An Album Of Original Music (Goldust LPS-163, 1973)
Judy Wilcox (occasional vocals, guitar)
I’ve seen this rare private pressing described as psychedelia, but for the most part it’s rooted in singer/songwriter music, with excellent harmony vocals and sparse backing from acoustic, electric and steel guitars, bass and occasionally piano and violin. Drawing on both folk and country music, it has a quintessentially seventies rural sound and should please fans of mid-period Loudest Whisper and bands like Riverson. There’s also plenty for folk/psych fans to enjoy, with a haunting, sepulchral atmosphere and occasional acid leads, notably on the sublime eight-minute closer ‘It’s All The Same’. GRADE: C+.
Wild Angels, Sassy Ones & Renaissance (USA): The Wild Angels (Frog DR 1029, 1999, recorded 1966-1967)
Vivian Pema (joint lead vocals), Lydia Noboa (joint lead vocals), Sandra Morales (drums, tambourine, backing vocals), Pat Mulhall (backing vocals)
This unusual and interesting release charts the development of garage girl group the Wild Angels through their transformation into the Sassy Ones and finally the acid-rock band Renaissance. With recordings taken from fairly scratchy acetates of unreleased sessions, it features ten short songs, including four versions of ‘About You’, three of ‘Don’t Ever Say No’ and two of ‘Sweetness’; ‘Lonely Evening Blues’ is the only song to appear just once. As that commentary suggests – and the 24-minute running time confirms – their oeuvre wasn’t particularly substantial, but this is a fine and historically important LP nonetheless: the garage stuff is charming and evocative and the two psychedelic numbers at the end are trippier than a lot of stuff that actually gained release at the time. GRADE: C+.
Wild Blue Yonder (USA): Blue Print (Totallyoutofcontrol Record Company K-2504, 1978)
Judy Bixler (joint lead vocals, piano)
So laid-back it’s almost supine, this is a breezy mixture of West Coast rock and fusion, hinting at how a band like the Grateful Dead could have sounded had they formed ten years later. The record never gets even moderately heavy and it’s a million miles from the cutting edge, but they’re excellent songwriters and musicians, and the disc creates a lovely, organic flow. GRADE: C+.
Wild Honey (USA): Wild Honey (Illusion CM-2011, 1977)
Carol Moore (joint lead vocals)
Issued on a notorious tax scam label, this is a mixture of pop, rock, Manhattan Transfer-style nostalgia and jazz/funk grooves, with the near-instrumental at the end of side one probably being the best thing on offer. Whilst it’s an uneven LP, the musicianship is excellent throughout and there are some good cuts here. Bassist David Robert Robbins had previously been a member of Fantasy; according to the liner notes, Carol Moore had also joined the band at some point (possibly replacing Lydia Miller late in their career?). GRADE: C.
Wild Oats (UK): Wild Oats (Westwood WSR032, 1973)
Viva Smith (lead vocals, guitar)
With its contemporary US-influenced style, this is somewhat similar to Folkal Point, but whereas Folkal Point focused on the more ethereal end of the spectrum Wild Oats are earthier, and include a number of hoedowns. Nonetheless, there are still a few lovely introspective moments, and anyone who loves Folkal Point should like this (at least in part). GRADE: C+.
Wild Oats (UK): Agincourt (Sweet Folk & Country SFA 015, 1975)
It seems unfair to describe one band’s music almost entirely via comparison to another’s, but again this strongly reminds me of Folkal Point. Viva Smith’s clear diction is a huge plus, and the intricate acoustic backing is highly effective, but whereas all the stars seemed to align for Folkal Point in terms of song selection and arrangement, Wild Oats are consistently good rather than consistently great. GRADE: C+.
Wildcat (UK): Unofficial Action (Wildcat WC1, with insert, 1981)
Terry Neason (joint lead vocals), Angie Rew (occasional vocals, keyboards)
No prizes for guessing from the band name and album title that this is left-wing musical theatre; the big surprise is that Bread, Love & Dreams’ David McNiven and Angie Rew were members of the band. This is decidedly above-average for the genre, notwithstanding a ‘humorous’ nod towards opera that must have seemed funny at the time, offering a mixture of vaguely progressive-edged blues/rockers and mildly symphonic ballads. The presence of a superb female singer, in the shape of Terry Neason, helps, as do the lyrics, which avoid lecturing and preaching in the manner of the otherwise similar Belt & Braces Roadshow Band; however, Angie Rew is strangely underused. GRADE: C+.
See also Bread, Love & Dreams
Wildebeest (South Africa): Bushrock 1 (RAP SRLP C010, 1981)
Karlien van Niekerk (principal vocals)
This is one of the rarest and most sought-after South African LPs, allegedly pressed in a run of 300 copies. Unlike most psychedelic folk/rock bands, Wildebeest often sound like a psychedelic outfit experimenting with folky material rather than folkies turned electric, and their music unsurprisingly contains quite a few tribal influences. The disc is notable for its powerful electric guitar and electric violin work, and for Karlien van Niekerk’s distinctive vocals, which occasionally resemble Renate Knaup-Krötenschwanz in her upper register; it is surprisingly well recorded for a low-budget live set. Three of the band’s male members went on to record a further 12" EP; this featured four songs and was issued in 1983. GRADE: B.
Wildebeest (USA): Reckless Dreams (Gnu Productions, 10", with insert, 1981)
Mecca Burns (principal vocals, organ, harmonica)
This Californian band offer rootsy rock with soulful and bluesy edges on their five-track mini-album; their music is mildly interesting, but it’s also highly derivative and a touch amateurish. As a footnote, Jerry Garcia alumnus John Kahn produced and played some synthesiser. As a second footnote, the band was obviously unconnected with the South African Wildebeest, though this didn’t stop one record dealer from claiming that this was their second release, hilariously noting that they must have moved to America, changed their musical style and replaced all their members. GRADE: C.
Wildeve (Germany): Touch And Go (WMMS 111, CD, 1996)
Lili Plieninger (lead vocals, guitar, keyboards)
Although Wildeve was a band and WMMS was associated with releasing progressive rock, this is basically a singer/songwriter set showcasing the talents of one Lili Plieninger. She is an excellent composer, hinting towards Tori Amos in her style, and the band provides strong and occasionally quite heavy rock backing, with the slightly amateurish feel giving this a rather different mood from most albums in the genre. GRADE: C+.
Wildflower (UK): Make The Trees Grow, Make The Wind Blow (Wildwood WW-101, 12", with insert, 1992?)
Azhaar Elsaffar (principal vocals, violin), Tamlyn Winchester (bass)
So far as I’m aware, this four-track 12" EP was this Brighton band’s only release, although they had songs on a couple of local compilations. The music is very much of its era, being danceable pop-edged ethnic-tinged psychedelia with lots of trendy references, including cod-reggae rhythms and even some rapping. GRADE: C+.
Colin Wilkie & Shirley Hart (UK): Morning (Pläne S 88 107, West Germany, 1972)
Shirley Hart (principal vocals)
This veteran folk duo apparently cut more than two dozen albums from the mid-sixties onwards; several, like this, were recorded and released only in Germany, where they were extremely popular. With partly electric backing, the material tends to be simultaneously too jolly and earnest, reflecting their roots in the sixties folk boom tradition; the problem is best indicated by ‘Icy Acres’, which sounds inconsequential here, but was revealed as a song of chilling brilliance when covered by Gallery the following year. More irritatingly, they’re clearly capable of brilliance as performers as well as writers, as demonstrated by the superb ‘Willow And Rue’ and ‘Portland Town’.
Colin Wilkie & Shirley Hart (UK): I Know Where I’m Going (Da Camera Song SM 95039, West Germany, 1973)
Shirley Hart (lead vocals)
Unlike its predecessor, this has simple acoustic arrangements, with Wilkie playing all the instruments. Overall, it’s a pleasant and competent traditional folk album, lacking both the high and low points of the previous LP. Hart should not, however, have attempted to sing a couple of numbers in a mock-Cockney accent – she’s about as convincing as Dick Van Dyke. GRADE: C.
Dave Willey & Friends (USA): Immeasurable Currents (Altrock ALT-021, CD, Italy, 2011)
Deborah Perry (principal vocals, percussion), Elaine Di Falco (occasional vocals, piano)
This offshoot venture by Thinking Plague bassist Dave Willey is very much a showcase for his songwriting and multi-instrumental talents, offering twelve intriguing short vignettes. His Thinking Plague colleague Deborah Perry joins him on most songs, sounding far more palatable here as the material doesn’t require her to sing off-key; other collaborators include Elaine Di Falco (with whom he worked in 3 Mice, Ligeia Mare and Iridule), Hugh Hopper, Mike Johnson and Dave Kerman. With songs rather from Art Bears-like RIO to haunting ballads, it’s a varied and enjoyable set, but never very substantial or significant. GRADE: C+.
See also 3 Mice, Caveman Shoestore, Combat Astronomy, Empty Days, Dave Kerman & 5uus, Ligeia Mare, Luciano Margorani & Elaine Di Falco, Thinking Plague
William Saint James (USA): A Song For Every Mood (ABC/Dunhill DSX 50148, 1973)
Annie Willcocks (joint lead vocals)
Whilst the name suggests a soloist, this was a trio of two men and a woman, with the men writing the songs and playing the guitars. Musically it’s singer/songwriter folk/rock, with mainly acoustic arrangements, spacious harmonies and an overall feel that sometimes recalls Riverson (though the songwriting is nowhere near as good). Backing musicians include Arnie Lawrence, Rick Marotta and Eric Weissberg, and the album was produced by Terry Cashman and Tommy West. GRADE: C+.
Jill Williams (USA): Jill Williams (RCA LSP 4314, 1970)
This obscure singer/songwriter soft rock effort is pleasant enough, but it’s not hard to see why the album didn’t break through to commercial success – there isn’t a ‘Brand New Key’, let alone a ‘Both Sides Now’, on offer here. Williams apparently went on to become the first woman to write and compose a Broadway musical, Rainbow Jones, in 1974. GRADE: C.
Harry Williamson & Friends (UK): Life In The World Unseen (Voiceprint VP232CD, CD, 2000)
Bee Williamson (occasional vocals), Polly Christie (occasional vocals), Gilli Smyth (occasional vocals), Liz Van Dort (occasional vocals), Louisa Kroll (occasional vocals)
Showcasing his talents as a multi-instrumentalist (principally on the ‘angel guitar’, a sort of electric guitar/harp hybrid) Harry Williamson’s solo album offers mainly instrumental progressive rock with strong folky edges and lots of new age and world music references. Mike Oldfield fans will adore it, as he creates some lovely mellow moods; the only downside is that it occasionally feels a little scrappy as he throws in old material from as early as 1979, including an excerpt of Mother Gong from 1988. GRADE: B–.
See also Acid Mothers Gong, Orlando Allen, Glo, Goddess Trance, Gong, Gong Matrices, Invisible Opera Company Of Tibet, Mother Gong, Gilli Smyth
Willow Child (Germany): Trip Down Memory Lane EP (Red Audio, CD, with digipak, 2017)
Eva Kohl (lead vocals, guitar)
According to the group’s Bandcamp page, they ‘firstly covered old classics from Led Zeppelin [and] Deep Purple’ – and it shows. This is early seventies-style hard rock, with a great period atmosphere; the actual songs are good rather than great, but they’re decent enough for this to represent a promising and satisfying debut. GRADE: C+.
Willow Child (Germany): Paradise And Nadir (Stonefree, CD, with digipak, 2018)
Eva Kohl (lead vocals, guitar)
Their album proper is simultaneously a strong step forward from the EP whilst not fully realising the potential at which it hinted. They’re certainly very good at what they do – this is first-rate seventies-influenced hard work, with excellent vocals and Hammond organ and an outstanding recording; there’s no doubt that they soar and jam in all the right places. The problem is that they still feel faintly generic, which could be down to either their sound or their songs. GRADE: C+.
Willow Pattern (UK): Willow Pattern (Decca Nova SDN 18, unreleased test pressing, 1970)
I have heard seven of the 12 tracks from this unreleased album, which has resurfaced on the collectors’ market a couple of times as a sleeveless test pressing with pink and blue levels. It’s mellow and pleasant folk, seemingly with partly original material, and bears a strong resemblance to a less orchestrated Tudor Lodge (though the singing style is more formal). As such, it’s a pleasant period piece, though nobody has yet identified who cut it or why it remained unreleased. GRADE: C+.
Mick Wills (UK): Fern Hill (Woronzow WOO 9, 1988)
Jenny Brown (lead vocals)
Showcasing the talents of gifted acoustic guitarist Mick Wills, this ranges from solo pieces through jazzy jams and mildly psychedelic numbers to three actual songs fronted by Jenny Brown. The best is the long, tripped-out closer ‘She Looked Down’, but the whole LP is surprisingly cohesive given its unusual mix of influences. GRADE: C+.
Ann Wilson (USA): Hope And Glory (Zoë 01143 1085-2, CD, 2007)
Ann Wilson (lead vocals)
An Ann Wilson solo album almost exclusively comprising cover versions and featuring guests like Elton John, KD Lang, Wynonna Judd, Alison Krauss, Rufus Wainwright and Shawn Colvin sounds like a recipe for disaster. It isn’t: the arrangements are mostly lush and atmospheric, and the opening take on Pink Floyd’s ‘Goodbye Blue Sky’ beats the original hands down. The same can’t be said for ‘Immigrant Song’, but her version is at least interesting and radical (unlike, say, Lana Lane’s note-for-note reworking of ‘Kashmir’). GRADE: C+.
Ann Wilson (USA): The Ann Wilson Thing! #1 (Rounder 1161-38212-02, CD, with gatefold minisleeve, 2015)
Ann Wilson (lead vocals)
This 17-minute, four-track EP is a marginal case for inclusion, but it’s also one of the best things Ann Wilson has done for years. She sounds revitalised here in a way she hasn’t managed in the studio for decades, and all the songs – covers of ‘For What It’s Worth’, ‘Ain’t No Way’ and ‘Danger Zone’ plus a token original – are excellent, with a bluesier and more alternative feel than her work with Heart. GRADE: C+.
Ann Wilson (USA): Live At The Belly Up (Belly Up, download, 2016)
Wilson’s live album consists entirely of covers and offers a broad range of moods and textures. Overall she sounds relaxed and comfortable away from her former band, and this is an enjoyable live document with decent sound quality (despite only being released as 320k MP3s). GRADE: C+.
Ann Wilson (USA): Immortal (BMG 538415442, CD, with digipak, 2018)
Ann Wilson (lead vocals)
Like her first, Wilson’s second solo album consists entirely of cover versions. It reunites her with original Heart producer Mike Flicker and with various musicians who played in later line-ups of the band, resulting in a classy and varied set. She tackles numbers by everyone from Cream to George Michael to Amy Winehouse, mostly with aplomb. Unfortunately, she also closes the disc with a bizarre high-tech version of Gerry Rafferty’s ‘Baker Street’ that completely drops the song’s trademark saxophone riff – what the hell was she thinking? GRADE: C+.
See also Heart, Lovemongers, Nancy & Ann Wilson
Nancy Wilson (USA): Live At McCabes Guitar Shop (Epic EK 69837, CD, 1999)
Nancy Wilson (lead vocals, guitar)
Nancy Wilson’s solo debut was compiled from two live acoustic gigs, with the only accompaniment being her own guitar (plus occasional contributions from two backing singers, including Astrid Young of Sacred Child). The set mostly comprises exclusive originals, plus a few covers and Heart classics, and the results are mellow and enjoyable, if inevitably not very varied. GRADE: C+.
Nancy Wilson (USA): Score From The Motion Picture ‘Vanilla Sky’ (GKS Entertainment, CDR, 2001)
Wilson’s soundtrack for husband Cameron Crowe’s film opens with a song followed by a series of instrumental vignettes: mostly played on guitar (some with the addition of drums and sound effects) but occasionally on piano; one number even sounds like it has a little Mellotron. Overall, it’s more varied than you might expect, and very well recorded, adding up to a charming (if brief) set. The soundtrack was never officially released, and was only produced as a limited run CDR to support the film’s Oscar nomination; whist the Discogs listing shows a front cover, neither of the copies openly sold have featured this.
Nancy Wilson (USA): Elizabethtown (RCA Victor 82876 73692-2, CD, with digipak, 2005)
This film soundtrack is entirely instrumental, largely consisting of short pieces scored for acoustic guitars, keyboards and occasional percussion and harmonica. Gentle, relaxed and melodic, it provides a nice counterpoint to Wilson’s ‘day job’ in Heart. GRADE: C+.
Nancy Wilson (USA): Baby Guitars (No label, CD, 2009)
Nancy Wilson (guitar)
The rather odd title is explained by the legend on the front cover: this is a collection of ‘acoustic instrumentals for babies to fall asleep to’. Although credited as a Wilson solo album, everything was co-composed with Heart colleague Craig Bartock and played as a duet between them, with Heart keyboardist Debbie Shair contributing occasional harp. The best cut by far is the closing ‘How Many Stars?’, which has uncredited contributions on tuned percussion and flute. Whether babies would enjoy this, I have no idea, but to my adult ears Baby Guitars is a pleasant enough collection of gentle, folky pieces. GRADE: C+.
See also Heart, Lovemongers, Roadcase Royale, Nancy & Ann Wilson
Nancy & Ann Wilson (USA): Live In Idaho, Boise State University 1993 (Klondike KLCD5066, CD, 2017, recorded 1993)
This grey-market CD features a 1993 radio broadcast by Nancy & Ann Wilson, performing in semi-acoustic mode around the time of Heart’s Desire Walks On. Backed by unknown musicians, they offer a short set mixing material from that album, older Heart numbers and a cover of ‘The Battle Of Evermore’. The result is an enjoyable performance with a far higher level of sensitivity than the Heart of the era; this acoustic approach may have led to Heart’s The Road Home album. GRADE: B–.
See also Heart, Lovemongers, Roadcase Royale, Ann Wilson, Nancy Wilson
Winchester (West Germany): Looking Back At Marburg County (Blitz Music W13630, 1977)
Two years previously, the band had contributed a dreadful country hoedown to the multi-artist compilation Rock Offers (under the guise of ‘Winchester’ 75’), which didn’t fill me with confidence for their album. But whilst a few tracks are in the same vein, the better numbers are mellow, atmospheric rural rock recalling Wooden Horse’s second album. On a couple of songs, they even add swirling synthesisers to lend a faint Krautrock vibe, and overall there’s enough decent stuff here to make this an enjoyable LP. GRADE: C+.
See also Various ‘Rock Offers'
Wind In The Willows (USA): The Wind In The Willows (Capitol SKAO 2956, 1968)
Debbie Harry (occasional vocals, percussion, tamboura), Ida Andrews (occasional vocals, chimes, flute, bassoon, piccolo)
This obscure outfit is best remembered for including a very young Debbie Harry (back in the days when she was a brunette, not a blondie). The style is folk/pop, ranging from the trippy and psychedelic (‘There Is But One Truth, Daddy’ and ‘Wheel Of Changes’) to jaunty upbeat stuff. It’s all fairly inconsequential, and several tracks are rather weak, but there’s enough good stuff to make it appeal to period pop fans as well as Blondie completists. GRADE: C.
See also Jazz Passengers
Windhand (USA): Windhand (Forcefield FFR029, CD, 2012)
Dorthia Cottrell (lead vocals)
Whilst this doom metal album isn’t very varied in either its approach or instrumentation (voice, dual electric guitars, bass and drums) it’s hard to beat for its grandeur and bone-crushing heaviness. The twelve-minute closer ‘Winter Sun’ is the real classic, but this is a superb example of its genre throughout, moving beyond Black Sabbath into some of the most majestic yet bleak realms imaginable. GRADE: B.
Windhand (USA): Soma (Relapse RR7236, CD, with digipak and obi, 2013)
Dorthia Cottrell (lead vocals)
Proving they’re not one-trick ponies with the beautiful, almost psychedelic, ballad ‘Evergreen’, Windhand return with an even better album. Given their rather minimalist approach, it’s hard to see where they could go from here, but it’s also pretty difficult to see how this album could be improved. GRADE: B.
Cough & Windhand (USA): Reflection Of The Negative (Relapse RR7129, CD, with digipak, 2013)
Dorthia Cottrell (lead vocals)
This is a split release with the interconnected Cough, with Cough contributing a single song (‘Athame’) lasting 18½ minutes and Windhand the 7½-minute ‘Amaranth’ and the eleven-minute ‘Shepherd’s Crook’. Both bands offer some wonderfully heavy and sludgy doom metal; the Cough song slightly outstays its welcome but otherwise this is wonderful stuff. GRADE: B–.
Windhand (USA): Live At Roadburn 2014 (Roadburn RBR037, red vinyl, 2014)
Dorthia Cottrell (lead vocals)
There’s no ‘Evergreen’ on their live album, and indeed no variety of any kind, but I love the minimalism, sense of purpose and sheer heaviness of their distinctive sound. GRADE: B–.
Windhand (USA): Grief’s Infernal Flower (Relapse RR 7309, CD, with digipak and obi, 2015)
Dorthia Cottrell (lead vocals, guitar)
The quotes on the obi describe this as ‘a doomsayer’s dream… full of epic opuses and extra heavy riffs’ and ‘mountainous, fuzzed-the-fuck-out Sabbath-y psych-doom’, and for once there’s not much to argue with. However, it’s also unarguable that this isn’t the huge step forward that Reflection Of The Negative represented, and taken on its own terms this isn’t that album’s equal either. GRADE: B–.
Windhand (USA): Live Elsewhere (Creep Purple CPR-013, double, some on purple vinyl, Lithuania, 2019)
Dorthia Cottrell (lead vocals)
Whilst I’m fond of Windhand’s distinctive brand of sludgy doom – all fuzzed bass, gruff chords and Dorthia Cottrell’s odd, androgynous singing – this lengthy live album makes the lack of variety in their catalogue obvious. Indeed, it’s hard to tell where one song ends and another begins, which could be an issue for many listeners – even those who like their music as much as I do. GRADE: B–.
Windopane (USA): See? (OR 003, CD, 1994)
Beki Brindle-DeMyer (lead vocals, guitar)
Quite different from Beki Brindle-DeMyer’s previous band Grace Pool, this offers six high-octane psychedelic jams plus one lovely acoustic song. Dynamic, energetic and powerful, it’s excellent stuff that could also appeal to fans of instrumental metal (and in particular bands like Kong). GRADE: B–.
Windopane (USA): Lucky Catatonia (Open 111, CD, 1995)
Beki Brindle-DeMyer (lead vocals, guitar, bass)
Their quite different second and final album is even better: this has the same incendiary guitar work as See?but deployed on eight songs and one long instrumental. They’re mostly great songs too – powerful, dynamic and melodic, and the whole thing makes one wonder why Brindle-DeMyer didn’t continue her career in music. GRADE: B–.
See also Grace Pool
Winged Stallion (USA): Journey’s Long (No label, with insert, 1984)
Lena Hallidae (joint lead vocals), Cheryl Davidson (joint lead vocals), Bernadetta Dalbesio (flute), Barbara M Graham (French horn)
I’ve seen this described as progressive rock and compared to Jefferson Airplane, but with its tandem male and female vocals, relaxed hippie-rock backing and occasional country tinges it’s more similar to It’s A Beautiful Day (blending elements of Marrying Maiden and Choice Quality Stuff/Anytime). Whilst none of the material is brilliant, this has a pleasing organic flow – and it’s remarkable in itself that anyone was releasing music like this at all in the mid-eighties. GRADE: C+.
Wings (USA): Wings (Dunhill DS 50046, 1968)
Pam Robbins (joint lead vocals)
The sleeve credits only the three lead vocalists (merely using their first names), but the album was produced by Steve Barri and orchestrated by the ubiquitous Jimmie Haskell. It therefore comes as no surprise that this is quality period pop with harmony vocals and an occasional psychedelic tinge to the guitar work. All the songs are self-penned, which was uncommon for the genre in this era. Band leader Oz Bach had earlier been in Spanky & Our Gang, and went on to form Tarantula; he is said to have made some money by selling the name ‘Wings’ to Paul McCartney a few years later. Jefferson Airplane’s original drummer Jerry Peloquin was also a member. GRADE: C.
Norma Winstone (UK): Edge Of Time (Argo ZDA 148, 1972)
Norma Winstone (lead vocals)
It may be credited as a solo album, but this fine modern jazz set is very much an ensemble work, with plenty of space given to the musicians (and the horn players in particular). In fact, much of the LP is instrumental, although Winstone contributes lead vocals to every cut and co-writes most songs. GRADE: B–.
See also Azimuth, Michael Garrick Sextet With Norma Winstone, Mike Westbrook's Metropolis
Warren Winters’ Band (USA): As I Was (Shovster 84-116458, 1984)
Josephine Rossomando (occasional vocals)
The front cover made me expect Southern rock, or maybe something like Obelisk’s Conspiracy To Commit Music – at least until I noticed that Winters was holding an acoustic rather than an electric guitar. In fact, this is folkish rock and light rock: loungy, low-budget and slightly weird, with a very distinctive atmosphere. It even ends with an atmospheric, mildly psychedelic number, ‘When You Were Mine’, sung by Josephine Rossomando. Short and somewhat inconsequential, this is nonetheless an unusual piece of work that doesn’t really sound like anything else. GRADE: C+.
Winterspring (USA): Winterspring (Damon D-12903, 1970)
Packaged in a hand-stamped and silk-screened cover giving no information whatever about the band, this is one of the rarer and more expensive American private pressings. Musically, it’s an odd beast: essentially lounge music but with a trippy edge (notably on the closing cover of ‘Suzanne’), slightly jazzy tinges, a manic drummer and lots and lots of cheesy organ. The end results aren’t brilliant, but they’re quirky enough to be interesting. GRADE: C+.
Wir (East Germany): Wir (Amiga 8 55 551, 1977)
Doris Martin (joint lead vocals, percussion)
Blending seventies pop (sometimes tending towards bubblegum), hard rock guitar work and influences from prog and psych, this East German band had a rather odd style. The best cut here is the heavier ‘Trinklied’, with some excellent lead guitar and lots of studio effects, but at least half the LP is quite listenable. A variant version was issued in Czechoslovakia the following year (Supraphon 1 13 2264 H); this dropped two tracks, added four cuts from singles and substituted a new sleeve. GRADE: C+.
Wir (East Germany): Zeit (Amiga 8 55 596, 1978)
Doris Martin (percussion, backing vocals)
Their second album is both better and worse than their first: side one has softer ballads and light rockers, but side two features the fifteen-minute title track. Whilst this is partly a lengthy drum solo, it’s also quite an interesting and minimalist piece, and very different from anything else the band ever did. The closing eight-and-a-half minute ‘Nach Dem Konzert’ also features some powerful lead guitar work, so whilst not brilliant this does have its moments. GRADE: C+.
Wishing Tree (UK): Carnival Of Souls (Dorian Music DM WT 001, CD, 1996)
Hannah Stobart (lead vocals)
This band was formed by Steve Rothery and Pete Trewavas of Marillion, but for better or worse it sounds nothing like the parent group. Instead it’s a mixture of acoustic folk and melodic rock – nicely crafted and less twee than the artwork suggests (despite Hannah Stobart’s girlish vocals) but lacking in the great songwriting needed to make it memorable. I’ve seen it compared to All About Eve and it’s definitely operating in the same area, though without All Above Eve’s psychedelic and mystical edges. GRADE: C+.
Wishing Tree (UK): Ostara (E•A•R Music 0198062ERE, CD, with digipak and booklet, Germany, 2009)
Hannah Stobart (lead vocals)
Their belated second album is in the same vein as their first, whilst being a touch bluesier and decidedly closer to All About Eve. Stobart’s singing style is much less precious this time around and the arrangements are beautifully judged, resulting in a lovely and unassuming record. GRADE: C+.
Witch Ritual (Germany): Death Beyond (No label, CDR, with digipak, 2019)
Whilst they don’t bring much innovation to the doom metal genre, this is a fine album by any means, with a nice, spacy sound and lots of seventies references. The band had previously issued an EP, Rising Doom. GRADE: B–.
Witchdance Project (Germany): What Happens Now? (Bauer Studios CACD 8013-3, CD, 1992)
Momo Indihar (occasional vocals), Karin Neth (occasional vocals)
Despite the band name (this isn’t dance music, nor is it witchy in any way) and the marketing (this isn’t particularly progressive, notwithstanding a few extended numbers), this is actually polished melodic mainstream rock. It’s rather good polished melodic rock, too, with strong playing, singing, songwriting and production. In fact, it’s surprising that the band remained so obscure, as they were easily the equal of many major bands playing similar music around the same time. GRADE: C+.
Witchrot (Canada): Hollow (Fuzzed & Buzzed/Dark Hedonistic Union DHU/063 / FNB/011, some on coloured vinyl, with insert, poster and download card, 2021)
‘Fuzzed & Buzzed’ indeed: these Canadian doom rockers have an impressive sound, with plenty of distortion and a few minor glam references. However, they don’t have very impressive material or a particularly impressive vocalist, so fellow Toronto denizens Blood Ceremony won’t be looking over their shoulders. GRADE: C+.
Wizards Of Firetop Mountain (Ireland): Wizards Of Firetop Mountain (Spliffen, with insert, 2015)
Karen Browett (bass)
No prizes for guessing from the band name that this is seventies-styled metal, though it’s hard rock rather than the expected Sabbathy doom. It’s enjoyable stuff, but with only five fairly short songs this is a somewhat tentative debut. It’s certainly luxuriously packaged, with a stunning spot-varnished black-on-black sleeve featuring an original illustration by the celebrated Celtic artist Jim Fitzpatrick. GRADE: C+.
Wobble Jaggle Jiggle (UK): Fresh Today (Music & Elsewhere 112, cassette, 1991)
If you can get past the mediocre (and variable) sound quality, there’s some find music on this Brighton band’s debut. Side one offers six discrete songs running the gamut of garage and psychedelic styles (I can hear echoes of everyone from Arktis to Big Brother & The Holding Company) whilst side two is a series of segments snipped together into a long free-form jam that goes in all kinds of interesting directions. GRADE: C+.
Wobble Jaggle Jiggle (UK): Kingdom Of The Big White Rabbit (No label, cassette, 1991)
Caroline Davey (joint lead vocals)
Album number two has decidedly improved sound quality, but also appears to be a concept set, with the songs and jams linked by dialogue and stoned humour. This aspect of the proceedings doesn’t really work for me, but the music is still very solid. GRADE: C+.
Wobble Jaggle Jiggle (UK): What? (Music & Elsewhere, cassette, 1992)
Caroline Davey (joint lead vocals, percussion)
This compilation gathers remixed versions of cuts from their earlier tapes, plus several outtakes and one new live number, all in excellent sound quality. At its best – when offering full-throttle psychedelic jamming with Caroline Davey in Grace Slick mode – this is great stuff, but as with their earlier work their fondness for whimsy slightly undercuts their power. GRADE: C+.
Wobble Jaggle Jiggle (UK): Overflowing Bowls Of Green Jelly (No label, cassette, 1992)
Caroline Davey (joint lead vocals, harmonica)
This is their best to date – bluesier, more single-minded and mostly avoiding whimsy. At its finest, as on ‘Flame Of Life’ and ‘Dark Stroll’, it’s genuinely impressive, and with more songs of this calibre and improved sound quality, this could have been considered a modern-day successor to Big Brother & The Holding Company’s Cheap Thrills. A remixed version of the set, with slightly improved sound quality but minus two tracks, was issued on vinyl two years later (Magic Gnome MG 4299324, autographed, with inserts and sticker). 500 copies were pressed of the stock issues, whilst 13 numbered test pressings exist with black-and-white paste-on artwork, two inserts and a promo letter.
Wobble Jaggle Jiggle (UK): Rockadelic Reefer (No label, cassette, 1993)
Caroline Davey (joint lead vocals, keyboards, recorder)
This is another step up – a consistently strong album that’s full of powerful tripped-out bluesy jams and largely devoid of half-arsed stabs at stoned humour. It’s just a pity they didn’t have the funds to record it in a real studio. The tape was repackaged, along with Overflowing Bowls Of Green Jelly as the boxed set The Myths Of The Ghandarva (Crohinga Well 001) in a VHS case with a booklet, sticker and badge. GRADE: C+.
Wobble Jaggle Jiggle (UK): Sockitome (No label, cassette, 1993)
Caroline Davey (principal vocals, harmonica)
This odds-and-sods compilation features a few cuts from previous albums, re-recordings of old songs and a few new numbers. Concentrating almost entirely on heavy bluesy jams fronted by Caroline Davey, it’s an excellent introduction to their work. GRADE: C+.
Wobble Jaggle Jiggle (UK): Spiralize Surprise (No label, cassette, 1994)
Caroline Davey (principal vocals, keyboards)
Choosing a favourite among Wobble Jaggle Jiggle’s albums to date is difficult – they’re all of a piece and all enjoyable without being hugely substantial. But this is certainly their best to date, for one simple reason: whereas previous outings offered really good psychedelic jams, these are great psychedelic jams. GRADE: B–.
Wobble Jaggle Jiggle (UK): Strange Tales From The Electric Beyond (No label, double cassette, 1996)
Caroline Davey (principal vocals, keyboards)
Compiling material recorded between 1993 and 1996, this gargantuan set offers well over three hours of psychedelic jamming. Taken individually, most of the pieces merit a C+, but there’s real synergy here: keeping one’s attention for that long is an achievement in itself. GRADE: B–.
Wobble Jaggle Jiggle (UK): It Came From Nowhere (September Gurls SGCD 22, CD, Germany, 1999)
Caroline Davey (joint lead vocals, keyboards, tambourine)
Marking a return to their original garage psych style, this is a fitting end to Wobble Jaggle Jiggle’s career. It’s a revelation to hear their music with true studio sound quality, and they offer a great cross-section of material here – wild, trippy and sheer good fun. GRADE: B–.
Wolfscote Featuring Cathy Lesurf (UK): Turn The Glass (Plains PLR15002, CD, with gatefold minisleeve and booklet, 2015)
The big surprise here is in the artist credit, marking Cathy Lesurf’s return to recording after decades away. She’s in fine voice, and the sparse but rich acoustic backing suits her well, especially on the intense closing medley of ‘Sula Lula’, ‘The Great Silkie Of Sule Skerry’, ‘Boatman’ and ‘Flint’s Maggot’. A few more moments like this might have lifted the album further, as might more of the occasional rock interjections, but this is nonetheless a fine piece of work. GRADE: B–.
See also Albion Band, Fairport Convention, Fiddler's Dram, Ashley Hutchings, Cathy Lesurf, Oyster Band
Womb (USA): Womb (Dot DLP 25933, with inner, 1969)
Karyl Boddy (joint lead vocals, guitar, piano)
Like many early progressive rock albums, this is all over the place. Opening with a long, delicate acoustic number, it offers a brief acid-rock link to a slightly twisted blues/rocker, then a jazzy instrumental, then finally an uptempo track that slightly recalls Jefferson Airplane. And that’s just side one. Side two has a melodic hippie folk/pop song before launching into the LP’s centrepiece: the seventeen-and-a-half minute ‘Happy Egotist’. This is basically a long jam, blending elements of acid-rock and jazz, topped with strange, choppy lyrics that recall the aftermath of a fatal car crash. It’s an interesting piece, though rambling and diffuse, and quite unlike the carefully structured style generally favoured by British prog bands. Overall, the LP is patchy and occasionally frustrating, but certainly packed with ideas. GRADE: C+.
Womb (USA): Overdub (Dot DLP 25959, 1969)
Their second and final album is a big step forward from their rather schizophrenic debut, though released only four months later. It sees them refining their jazzy progressive sound, with four shorter songs on the first side and two longer ones on the flip. Whilst the LP is no match for the progressive music emerging from Europe at the time (though the ten-minute closer ‘Evil People’ is outstanding), it is interesting and enjoyable, and definitely one of the better examples of American prog from the era. GRADE: C+.
Wondeur Brass (Canada): Ravir (Ambiances Magnetiques WB 21385, 1985)
Judith Gruber-Stitzer (joint lead vocals, guitar, bass, violin), Diane Labrosse (joint lead vocals, synthesiser), Danielle Roger (joint lead vocals, drums, percussion, drum programmes). Joane Hétu (joint lead vocals, saxophone), Ginette Bergeron (saxophone), Hélène Bédard (trombone)
For the most part, this rather good all-female RIO outfit sound similar to French contemporaries like Étron Fou Leloublan or Les I, although they use a lot more horns. However, the Dagmar Krause-like vocals frequently recall Henry Cow or Art Bears, whilst the best cut ‘It’s Insane’ is an aptly crazy concoction of treated guitars, metronomic drum machine and new wave-ish Lene Lovich or Toyah Willcox-like singing.
Wondeur Brass (Canada): Wondeur Brass Volume 2 – Simoneda, Reine Des Esclaves (Recommended RR C29, with booklet, UK, 1987)
Joane Hétu (joint lead vocals, synthesiser, saxophone), Danielle Roger (joint lead vocals, drums), Diane Labrosse (occasional vocals, keyboards), Marie Trudeau (occasional vocals, bass)
Recorded with a smaller line-up, their second album is in the same vein as its predecessor, but with more stripped-down arrangements and an even clearer influence from the new wave. Despite some fine tracks and plenty of experimentation, this is overall a little less memorable than their first. GRADE: C+.
See also Joane Hétu & Jean Derome, Justine, Diane Labrosse, Poules
Jon Wood (UK): One To Five (Orange Sky ORA CD104, CD, 2004)
Hanna Burchell (occasional vocals, flute), Lenna Santamaria (occasional vocals)
The Fold leader’s solo album serves as a vehicle for his deft acoustic guitar playing, offering a mixture of songs (featuring a number of guest vocalists) and instrumentals. Drawing on folk, blues and jazz, it’s tasteful, sophisticated, late night stuff, but I do find myself missing the rock energy that made the Fold so special. GRADE: C+.
See also Fold, Pan
Lauren Wood Featuring Novi & Ernie (USA): Lauren Wood (Warner Brothers BSK 3278, with inner, 1979)
Lauren Wood (principal vocals, keyboards), Ilene Novog (synthesiser, viola)
Quite why Ilene Novog and Ernie Eremita get co-billing here is a mystery to me: they don’t do much on the album and this doesn’t bear much resemblance to Chunky, Novi & Ernie, let alone Rebecca & The Sunny Brook Farmers (whose Ki-Ki Koury contributes some backing vocals). In fact, she attempts to reinvent herself as a female Michael McDonald (with the real thing contributing one song and some prominent backing vocals). It’s all well done, with competent songwriting and the cream of America’s session musicians, but the spacy, proggy ‘Time Zone’ aside, this excites me about as much as watching paint dry. GRADE: C–.
Lauren Wood (USA): Cat Trick (Warner Brothers BSK 3517, with inner, 1981)
Lauren Wood (lead vocals, piano)
The problem with her second album – which makes her first sound like a masterpiece – isn’t that the songs are vapid, lightweight fluff drowning in soul and soft rock clichés. The problem is that it’s literally pointless: why would anybody, even if they like this kind of music, choose to listen to Wood’s impersonation of Michael McDonald when they could hear the real thing? GRADE: E.
Lauren Wood (USA): Lauren Wood (Bad Art 1188-14200-2, HDCD, 1999)
Lauren Wood (lead vocals, keyboards, drums, percussion)
The name of Wood’s own label isn’t a commentary on the quality of the music here: this is a good album and light years away from its excruciating predecessor. I still find her vocal style a little affected, but that’s a minor quibble, and I can’t imagine the real Michael McDonald writing (and arranging and producing) a set of songs as solid as these. GRADE: C+.
Lauren Wood (USA): Love, Death And Customer Service (Bad Art 1188-14300-2, HDCD, 2006)
Lauren Wood (lead vocals, keyboards, drums, percussion, loops)
Compared to its predecessor, this is more soulful and more digital; hence I like it less, though it’s perfectly component for the most part. In particular, the closing ‘Walk Toward The Light’ demonstrates that she can make good music when she wants to, but I’d be delighted never to hear her take on the rock stalwart ‘Time Of The Season’ again. GRADE: C.
Wood Family (UK): Quiet Folk (Chris Newman Recording, 1968)
Jacky Wood (joint lead vocals, banjo), Pat Wood (joint lead vocal, harmonica)
One of the earlier folk private pressings, this extremely obscure LP features a three-piece family band from Manchester. Had they formed a few years later, they would have been prime candidates, both musically and geographically, for the Folk Heritage label, but this is better than most Folk Heritage releases and indeed most traditional folk private pressings. GRADE: C+.
Woods (UK): Early Morning Rain (Tradition TSR 001, 1969)
Jacky Wood (joint lead vocals, banjo), Pat Wood (joint lead vocals, harmonica)
I’d always assumed that their second and final album, under a slightly different name, was much more common, but given the ‘Mecolico’ stamp on the rear and the fact that no copies have openly been offered in years, I suspect it’s also a 99 copies pressing. Like their first, this is pleasant traditional folk with three-part harmonies and backing from acoustic guitar, banjo and harmonica plus occasional electric bass. GRADE: C+.
Wooden Horse (Australia/UK): Wooden Horse (York FYK 403, UK, 1972)
Susan Traynor (joint lead vocals)
Characterised by beautiful harmonies, this rare album offers gentle mid-Atlantic folk/rock with a rural flavour. It’s far from original or adventurous, taking its cues from innumerable West Coast bands, but the songs are of a uniformly high quality, especially the haunting ‘Northern Beaches’. The band was originally an acoustic trio from Sydney, joined here by two British players. GRADE: C+.
Wooden Horse (Australia/UK): Wooden Horse II (York FYK 413, UK, 1973)
Susan Traynor (joint lead vocals)
The band’s even rarer second LP opens brilliantly with their two best compositions, ‘Celebration Song’ and ‘Wooden Horses’. The standard is not maintained, but it’s a very pleasant album, with more electric arrangements than their debut. Following their break-up, vocalist Susan Traynor went on to the commercially successful Fox (under the alias Noosha Fox), which issued some enjoyable baroque pop albums in the mid-seventies. It has been rumoured that this LP was withdrawn from sale almost as soon as it was released. GRADE: C+.
See also Fox
Woods Band (UK): The Woods Band (Greenwich GSLP 1004, UK, 1971)
Gay Woods (joint lead vocals, bodhrán, concertina, dulcimer, autoharp)
I’ve often wondered what a second album by the original Steeleye Span line-up would have sounded like. Playing Please To See The King followed by this has never helped answer the question, as Gay and Terry Woods and their former bandmates went in diametrically different directions. True, ‘As I Roved Out’ is decidedly Span-like, but much of the rest sees the couple and their collaborators moving into more of a contemporary folk style. The result is a solid LP, but nowhere near the standard their contributions to Hark! The Village Wait suggested they could attain. Gay is strangely underused, contributing surprisingly few lead vocals – out of eight cuts, three are instrumentals – which I can equate only to buying a Ferrari and leaving it in the garage. As a footnote, the late seventies reissue substituted a revised (and rather strange) running order, which is duplicated on all CD versions except the Japanese pressing. GRADE: C+.
See also Auto Da Fé, Steeleye Span, Gay & Terry Woods
Gay & Terry Woods (Ireland): Backwoods (Polydor 2383 322, UK, 1975)
Gay Woods (principal vocals, dulcimer, autoharp)
A logical step forward from the Woods Band, Backwoods sees the husband-and-wife duo sharpening their songwriting skills to deliver some wonderfully bittersweet material boasting rich acoustic and electric arrangements. It all climaxes with Terry’s chilling reading of the traditional ‘Dunlavin Green’, which equals almost anything produced by Steeleye Span. In fact, this compares favourably with the more celebrated Richard & Linda Thompson albums of the era, offering a much more understated vision. GRADE: C+.
Gay & Terry Woods (Ireland): The Time Is Right (Polydor 2383 375, with inner, UK, 1976)
Gay Woods (principal vocals, dulcimer, autoharp)
Broadly, this is very similar to its predecessor, right down to the formula of including one traditional number among the self-penned songs. However, the material here is generally even more downtempo, with a country influence beginning to creep in on a couple of songs. It’s hardly groundbreaking, and a little more variety would have been welcome (the only surprise comes with the slightly spacey near-instrumental ‘Redlake Piker’), but the quality of their singing and composition remains unarguable. GRADE: C+.
Gay & Terry Woods (Ireland): Renowned (Polydor 2383 406, with insert, UK, 1976)
Gay Woods (principal vocals, dulcimer, autoharp)
This is where Gay and Terry discovered their pop sensibilities, both in terms of the material and the arrangements. Some listeners may find the country-tinged songs here too mellow for their tastes, but in parts this album rocks out in a way their previous work didn’t. There’s also no denying the sheer quality of their compositions, particularly the mournful opener ‘Love Is Like A Burden’ and the bouncy yet wistful ‘Radio Man’, both of which could have become staples on Radio Two; instead their rather average cover of ‘Save The Last Dance For Me’ was issued as the single. In case anyone thinks they’ve forgotten their roots, an eerie extended rendition of ‘Van Diemen’s Land’ closes the album in the same way that ‘Dunlavin Green’ ended their first. By some margin, this is the duo’s best work and they were unlucky not to reach a wider audience. GRADE: B–.
Gay & Terry Woods (Ireland): Tender Hooks (Mulligan LUN 020, with insert, 1978)
Gay Woods (principal vocals, dulcimer, autoharp)
The couple’s last album together is a lightweight affair in two senses: its running time is little more than half an hour, and there’s a throwaway pop feel to much of the material. That said, the lyrics don’t reflect the carefree nature of the melodies, with ‘We Can Work This One Out’ and ‘I Won’t Believe It’ dealing with marital break-up in a chillingly pragmatic manner. Indeed, Gay and Terry were no longer an item, musically or personally, a mere couple of years later. The disc also includes two of their finest-ever songs: the powerful, bluesy ‘Lonesome Blue’ and remarkably beautiful ‘Full Moon’. The album was also released in the UK (Rockburgh ROC 104); that pressing comes with an insert. GRADE: C+.
Gay & Terry Woods (Ireland): In Concert (Windsong WINCD 071, CD, 1995, recorded 1976 & 1078)
Gay Woods (principal vocals, dulcimer)
This short but important archive release couples a live set from 1976 with a John Peel session from two years later. Whilst the versions here never top the studio originals, the material is well-chosen and four of the duo’s best songs (‘Love Is Like A Burden’, ‘Radio Man’, ‘Full Moon’ and ‘Lonesome Blue’) are all present and correct. GRADE: C+.
See also Auto Da Fé, Steeleye Span, Woods Band
Pat Woods & Kathy Lowe (USA): Country Show (Le Chant Du Monde LDX 74498, France, 1972?)
Kathy Lowe (joint lead vocals, guitar, dulcimer)
The title may suggest country/rock, but this is actually hippie folk with three members of fellow expatriates Mormos helping out on vocals. The sound sometimes resembles Mormos too, and the album covers a lot of ground, from offbeat progressive folk to acoustic stuff to more rural material. Like a lot of hippie commune project LPs, it’s hit-and-miss, with rather ragged singing and playing; whilst only ‘Confirmation Sunday’ really sticks in the mind, anyone who likes the style should find it an enjoyable listen. Lowe went on to issue a solo album as just Kathy, which was also released only in France. GRADE: C.
See also Kathy
Wool (USA): Wool (ABC ABCS 676, 1969)
Claudia Wool (joint lead vocals)
With six out of nine tracks being cover versions, this is hardly the most profound or important album in the world. But its differing blends of soul, acid-rock, blues, folk, funk and pop are never less than enjoyable, and though the heaviest tracks are clearly the best (‘Love, Love, Love, Love, Love’, ‘Combination Of The Two’, ‘It Was Such A Lovely Night’), there are no really weak moments. Still an affordable LP, this is considerably more listenable than many rarities ten times its price. GRADE: C+.
Woorden (Holland): Woorden (Omega 333.023, 1968)
Nona (occasional vocals, guitar)
This very rare album is usually described as ‘psychedelic’ in dealer lists; whilst that broadly makes sense, it’s much closer to performance art. As the name suggests (‘woorden’ is Dutch for ‘words’) this features three modern poets delivering rambling and sometimes fiery monologues over jazzy backing from double bass, drums and harmonica. Nona contributes a gentle folk song on the second side (almost like the melodic section in Crass’s Yes Sir, I Will, which is structurally similar to this) and some more experimental backing vocals elsewhere. This is an interesting album and very listenable for an avant-garde work, with an impressively trippy cover, but it’s not likely to appeal to more conventional psychedelic music fans. GRADE: C+.
Word Of Life (Sweden): Further Ahead (Xotic Mind Productions XMLP-2, with insert, 1992)
Anna Nyström (flute)
Essentially the solo project of one Måns P Månsson, this is an excellent album of modern psychedelia, with some powerful jamming tracks. Ranging from heavy West Coast acid-rock to more European-sounding psychedelic folk, it’s a superbly trippy set containing some really wonderful moments. GRADE: B–.
Word Of Life (Sweden): Dust (Xotic Mind Productions XMLP-10, 1995)
Anna Nyström (piano, flute, vocoder, backing vocals)
Even spacier and trippier than its predecessor, this is somewhat different, with a more Krautrock-influenced style, lots of electronics, and some folky and slyly funky edges including effective use of hand percussion. The element of surprise is maintained right up to the end: after a lengthy interlude of gentle seashore noises, the album erupts into a series of starling electronic effects that extend the stereo medium to its utmost. Dust thus qualifies not only as a superb psychedelic album, but also a useful hi-fi test disc. GRADE: B–.
World Entertainment War (USA): Televisionary (Infomania, with inner, 1989)
Darby Gould (joint lead vocals), Amy Escolere (keyboards, flute, backing vocals)
Darby Gould later went on to join Paul Kantner’s reconstituted Jefferson Starship, and the fit is obvious: this is the same kind of left-field AOR, with the same kind of off-kilter political lyrics. Mostly they sound influenced by mid-eighties Kantner compositions such as ‘Connection’, ‘Mariel’ or ‘America’, resulting in a well-assembled bur rather low-key album. GRADE: C+.
World Entertainment War (USA): World Entertainment War (Popular Metaphysics/MCA MCAD-10137, CD, 1991)
Darby Gould (joint lead vocals), Amy Excolere (keyboards, flute, backing vocals)
Once again I’m reminded of Paul Kantner, and this time I don’t mean it as a compliment: like latterday Kantner, World Entertainment War have plenty to say about a whole range of political topics but treat the music as strictly secondary. Certainly, this is competent enough mildly funky rock, with catchy hooks aplenty, but it’s ultimately rather dull and rambling – and so are the lecturing and tendentious lyrics. GRADE: C.
See also Jefferson Starship
Worldbackwards (UK): Flesh (Illuminated JAMS 9, with inner, 1982)
Whilst this could in some ways be described as electropop, it’s nothing like most music fitting that description. Instead, the sound is dark, sinister and claustrophobic, with the synthesisers and drum machines overlaid with squalling saxophone and sinister guitar lines, drawing from progressive, psychedelic, jazz and industrial music. At times, the disc resembles a cross between Amon Düül II and Joy Division, bizarre though that may sound. Whilst this isn’t an album I’d wish to hear every day, it’s very creative and was certainly a bold diversion for its era. GRADE: C+.
Wormdoom (USA): Last Days Boogie (Twisted Village TW-1037, CD, 1994)
This offshoot of Crystalized Movements (though they sound more like sister band Vermonster) offers the usual Twisted Village lo-fi psychedelic freakouts. The difference with Wormdoom is that the jams seem inspired by religion, and particularly by apocalyptic concerns, going by the track titles. 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, Kate Village & Wayne Rogers
Wotzat? (UK): Wotzat? (Arny’s Shack A 5 058 LP, 1984)
Sue Hawker (lead vocals)
Issued on the same private label as the more celebrated Al Et Al, this is quintessentially eighties pop/rock, with dramatic soul-tinged vocals, funky basslines and programmed drums. There are a few glimmers of talent here, suggesting that they could have made a reasonably good album, but this isn’t it. GRADE: C–.
Wutan (Germany): Vikarma (Metalizer MERED24, some on marbled vinyl, with insert, 2014)
Francis Tobolsky (lead vocals, guitar, flute)
On the opening ‘Franis Vikarma’ they sound like a heavier Jethro Tull, but it’s not typical of the album. For the most part, this is heavy early seventies-style blues/rock, drawing on Led Zeppelin and often sounding similar to their Swedish contemporaries Blues Pills. They stretch out a bit on side two, especially on the nine-minute ‘Jungle’, which brings Frumpy, Tomorrow’s Gift and even early Heart (in live jamming mode) to mind. However, also like Blues Pills, whilst they’re unquestionably a good band, they’re definitely not in the league of the greats that inspired them. GRADE: C+.
Wyld Olde Souls (USA): Poems From The Astral Plane (Parallel World PW-CD4, CD, 1998)
Ivy Vale (joint lead vocals, guitar, percussion), Marlene Reil (joint lead vocals, guitar, piano, percussion), Kristin Pinell (occasional vocals, guitar, percussion, mandolin, flute)
Running for around 24 minutes, this mini-album offers stunning acid-folk, with crystalline acoustic instrumentation accompanying magnificent harmony vocals. It all peaks on the stunning closing cover of Gwydion’s ‘The Sun God’, which is completely different from the vaguely Jefferson Airplane-like original whilst being equally impressive. GRADE: B.
Wyld Olde Souls (USA): Poems From The Astral Plane (Parallel World PW-CD4, CD, 1998)
Ivy Vale (principal vocals, guitar, percussion), Kristin Pinell (occasional vocals, guitar, flute), Melissa Davis (occasional vocals), Marlene Reil
(occasional vocals, guitar, Mellotron)
Whether their only full-length album is stronger or weaker than its predecessor is a moot point; certainly, there’s nothing here as remarkable as ‘The Sun God’. But with 14 songs – all but one being Ivy Vale originals – it’s certainly a more substantial set, and a remarkably good one too. GRADE: B.
Arfon Wyn & Chyfeillion (UK): Pwy Wnaeth Y Sûr Uwchben? (Gwerin SWYD 235, with booklet, 1982)
Llio Hâf (keyboards, glockenspiel, flute)
Arfon Wyn was the leader of Pererin, and his ‘Friends’ comprise band members Llio Hâf and Einion Williams, so this is virtually a Pererin album by default. However, given that this is an album of Christian songs for children (with a kids’ choir participating), its focus is somewhat different. On the plus side, the children can actually sing, Wyn’s mellow voice is as lovely as ever and a few of his spacy guitar leads recall the parent band, but despite the line-up don’t buy this expecting Pererin. GRADE: C+.
See also Pererin
Wyndow (UK): Wyndow (Summer Critics SC001, CD, with minisleeve and inner, 2021)
Laura J Martin (joint lead vocals, keyboards, flute, clarinet), Lavinia Blackwall (joint lead vocals, piano, autoharp)
According to their own blurb, this is ‘a melting pot of influences with both artists at the top of their game, reflecting on the smallest human influences set against a galactic sonic canvas’. However, don’t expect anything über-tripped out or cosmic: this is a relatively straight set of songs – betwixt pop and singer/songwriter – given a psychedelic edge by the hazy flute and impressionistic production. It’s nice stuff – at its best haunting, delicate and slightly eerie – but although it’s just about a B– I’d question the claim that this is the best thing the extremely talented Lavinia Blackwall has ever done. GRADE: B–.
See also Lavinia Blackwall, Crying Lion, Trembling Bells