This week I am listening to some tracks by The Big Drops, a New Jersey-based act who seem to have beamed here direct from a hazy, psychedelic recreation of the 1960s, which is an entirely Good Thing as far as I am concerned.
I knew about Comus back in the early 1970s. They tended to get lumped in with people like the Third Ear Band, because of their general weirdness, and also with the Incredible String Band.
Anyway, I knew about them and my cousin liked them a lot, but he was weird. He liked the Holy Modal Rounders as well.
I was reminded of them yesterday because I was looking up Opeth on Wikipedia and that led me on to look at the article about Storm Corrosion, the Steven Wilson/Mikael Åkerfeldt collaboration from a couple of years ago. That article mentioned Comus as an inspiration for the Storm Corrosion album. I made a mental note to check on YouTube to see if their first album was there and, lo and behold, here it is.
I think that some people here might like it, certainly I think it will strike a chord with Beth and maybe Chris too.
Not really relevant to this week’s RR topic, but personally I was euphoric to find this album in Fopp in Bristol yesterday, and it was only £7 too!
It is the 1970 first album by English folk-rock ensemble Trees and is entitled The Garden Of Jane Delawney.
I only really ever knew the band from their inclusion on the CBS sampler album Fill Your Head With Rock which had included the delicate title track of this album. I have to say that it sat pretty uneasily with the blues rock of the likes of Janis Joplin, Blood, Sweat and Tears and Johnny Winter but it was a pretty intriguing song.
Now, to the album itself.
Yes, it owes a huge debt to Fairport Convention but it is also distinctive enough to prevent it being written off as mere plagiarism.
The band comprised;
Bias Boshell – bass guitar, guitar, vocals
Celia Humphris – lead vocals
Barry Clarke – lead guitar
David Costa – acoustic guitars
Unwin Brown – drums
According to Wikipedia;
Trees was an English folk rock band that existed between 1969 and 1972. Although the group met with little commercial success in their time, the reputation of the band has grown over the years. Like other folk contemporaries, Trees music was influenced by Fairport Convention, but with a heavier and more psychedelic edge. The group’s material was divided between adaptations of traditional songs and original compositions.
Trees produced two studio albums, both in 1970, The Garden of Jane Delawney and On The Shore. The latter featured cover artwork by the Hipgnosis studio.
The original band disbanded after recording the two albums. A second Trees incarnation formed and played until 1973, this group featured Celia Humphris, Barry Clarke, David Costa, Barry Lyons (ex-Mr Fox), Alun Eden (also ex-Mr Fox) and Chuck Fleming (ex-JSD Band). Recordings by this line-up can be found on bootleg releases.
Both studio albums have been released on CD. In addition, a deluxe two disc edition of On the Shore was released in 2007, containing previously unreleased material. A new edition of the debut album followed in 2008, also containing previously unreleased material as well as some new recordings.
The version of the album I bought is the 2008 reissue and the track listing is;
1. Nothing Special
2. The Great Silkie
3. The Garden Of Jane Delawney
4. Lady Margaret
6. She Moved Thro’ The Fair
9. Snail’s Lament
10. She Moved Thro’ The Fair
11. Pretty Polly
12. Black Widow
13. Little Black Cloud (Suite)
Tracks 9-13 are bonus ones, 12 and 13 being recorded in 2008 apparently.
I think that this album is actually pretty special, it has a real charm and some of the psychedelic guitar passages seem, to my mind, to be precursors of the kind of things that Mazzy Star were doing in the 1990s.