Friday, 4 September 2015

Various Artist - Dust on The Nettles - British Underground Folk Scene 1967-72


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It’s one of the most significant musical rediscoveries of recent years and, on its own, makes Dust on the Nettles indispensible. “The Seagulls Scream” by Christine Quayle is track 10 on the first disc of this box set of psychedelically inclined British folk or folk-inspired music. Quayle intones desolately of “a human in bed [who] is singing his prayers in his head, his mind is dead.” 


Eleswhere in the disconsolate lyric, a child asks his mother for love but “beneath his skin, his body is fighting to win but hope is thin”. Her only accompaniments are a distant, echoey, barely strummed acoustic guitar, the sounds of waves on a beach and seagulls crying.

As an intense musical evocation of despair, “The Seagulls Scream” is on the same level as the most desiccated moments of Ed Askew’s debut album from 1968, Sibylle Baier’s early Seventies recordings, Big Star’s “Holocaust” and Joy Division’s “Decades”.

Until now, “The Seagulls Scream” was deeply obscure. Surprisingly, the track has barely any internet presence. Quayle, 17 when she recorded it, had been brought to a studio to tape a contribution for the 1970 compilation album Sounds Like West Cornwall. Though the song became her only solo recording, she was busy and precocious.

Living with her family in Zennor, Cornwall, Quayle ran the local Mermaid Folk Club – described in its flyers as a “Way Out Club” – in 1968. For some of her solo live shows, she played as Chrissie, though Sounds Like West Cornwall credited her as Christine Quayle. 


Comus
She turned up as Chrissy Quayle in the Cornish, but London-based, folk rock band Daylight, who made one album, issued in 1971. Earlier, she was briefly in the unrecorded Temple Creatures alongside former Incredible String Band co-founder Clive Palmer. She also contributed vocals to the Spirit of Love album by another of Palmer's bands, C.O.B. After Daylight folded, she returned to Cornwall, worked in theatre and with a rock ‘n’ roll revival band, but later attracted some attention in the late Seventies/early Eighties with Metro Glider. Nowadays, she lives in Andalucía and plays with Celtic-Latin duo Masque. The picture of her here (left) is the only one known from the period of recording “The Seagulls Scream”.


Folkrock Concert 1969

Although everything collected on Dust on the Nettles is top drawer, Quayle’s existential masterpiece is the standout. The three-disc clamshell box set is a companion piece to last year’s Love, Poetry and Revolution, which billed itself as “A Journey Through the British Psychedelic and Underground Scenes”. Dust on the Nettles, billed as “A Journey Through the British Underground Folk Scene 1967–72”, is similarly no frills, with each disc in a card sleeve. There is a very tightly designed CD-sized booklet, with pithy track-by-track annotation in tiny print. In close to four hours, 63 tracks are heard.


Paul Williams Album w. Jimmy Page UK 1968

The stated mission is to demonstrate and soundtrack folk taking on psychedelia and, in turn, show how musical voyagers drew from folk. In essence, this new release goes further into what was introduced on discs three and four of the pioneering 2005 box set Anthems in Eden (there are track duplications). A few tracks sit uncomfortably with the whole (baroque singer-songwriter Duncan Browne, the blues-based Kevin Coyne and the rocky Gerald Moore), but this diligently represents the many, disparate facets of folk in its turned-on state, what passed for folk or drew from folk, and is a more even listen overall than Love, Poetry and Revolution.

Naturally, The Incredible String Band feature, as do Fairport Convention (both with alternate versions of familiar songs that were issued in the Sixties). Some Fairport offshoots like Steeleye Span and the fantastic Trader Horne (pictured above right, with ex-Fairport Convention singer Judy Dyble on the left) are also collected. The set opens with The Pentangle. Among the better known names are Joan Armatrading (with the spine-tingling “Visionary Mountains”), Anne Briggs, Vashti Bunyan, Shelagh McDonald, Bill Fay, Principal Edwards Magic Theatre, Bridget St. John, Mick Softly, Trees and Tyrannosaurus Rex
Of the lesser-knowns, cults and barely knowns, Comus, with the rare single-only track “Winter is a Coloured Bird”, are reliably and terrifyingly pagan. 


Sun Also Rises - Rare UK EP 1970
Country Sun’s “The Colour is Blue”, originally issued on John Peel’s Dandelion label, is shimmeringly beautiful. “Wizard Shop”, by The Sun Also Rises, sounds exactly and uncannily like The Incredible String Band. From Plymouth, Frozen Tear’s “You Know What Has to be”, from a 99-edition 1969 single, is the otherworldly definition of psychedelic folk.

This new mini-box set, subtitled A Journey Through the British Underground Folk Scene, boasts 63 tracks and a running time of nearly four hours.  The emphasis is on the genre sometimes referred to as “acid folk,” or contemporary folk music inspired by the psychedelic experience much as “acid rock” was for the heavier rock idiom.  This countercultural style of folk particularly blossomed in the United Kingdom, incorporating both acoustic and electric sounds, traditional and newly-written tunes, and everything from religious-oriented to pagan-inspired lyrics.  The array of artists here pushed the envelope even if most weren’t rewarded with considerable commercial success.
Wight (UK) - France Single 1970

Tracks have been drawn from a wide variety of labels including CBS, RCA Victor (and its progressive-minded Neon imprint), Pye (and its Dawn subsidiary), Andrew Loog Oldham’s Immediate, and John Peel’s Dandelion Records.  A number of rare and previously unissued demos also are brought together to tell the story.  Naturally, many “heavy hitters” feature on the diverse track list, most notably Fairport Convention (a 1969 demo of “Fotheringay”), Pentangle (1968 single “Let No Man Steal Your Thyme”), The Incredible String Band (a 1967 demo of “First Girl I Loved”), Vashti Bunyan (“Winter is Blue”), Joan Armatrading (1972’s “Visionary Mountains”), Steeleye Span (1970’s “All Things are Quite Silent”), Tyrannosaurus Rex (the duo’s 1967 recording of “Highways (Misty Mist),” and the recently-rediscovered cult hero Bill Fay (an early 1969 demo of “Garden Song”).


Warm Gold - A Taste of Cornwall UK EP 1972

Steve Peregrine Took, one-half of Tyrannosaurus Rex, is also represented with “Amanda,” a 1969 track from his post-Rex group Shagrat, founded with Larry Wallis and Tim Taylor.  Incredible String Band founding member Clive Palmer gets a solo cut here with 1967’s “Stories of Jesus,” an adaptation of a 19th century hymn.  (There are actually more hymns on this collection than one might expect!)  Palmer also reappears on “Music of the Ages” from his band C.O.B., or Clive’s Original Band.  “Curious Crystals of Unusual Purity” is reprised from Bridget St. John’s time on Dandelion; her entire output for the label was recently collected on a box from Cherry Red.  Bias Boshell, who went on to later fame as the writer of “I’ve Got the Music in Me” for Kiki Dee, wrote “The Garden of Jane Delawney” which he performs with his early band Trees.

This collection, packed with surprises. Rarities and five previously unreleased tracks, includes a lavishly-illustrated 36-page booklet with an introduction by compilation producer David Wells and track-by-track liner notes for each and every track.  Simon Murphy at Another Planet Music has remastered all songs and Andy Morten has handsomely designed the set.  The three discs are housed in individual paper sleeves within the box.


Disc 1
01. The PentangleLET NO MAN STEAL YOUR THYME  (Transatlantic TRA 162, 1968)
02. MagnetWILLOW’S SONG (FROM THE WICKER MAN)  (rec. 1972, first issued 1998)
03. WightCOME ALL YOU TRAVELLERS  (French Festival SPX 147, 1970)
04. SpirogyraLOVE IS A FUNNY THING  (B&C CAS 1042, 1971)
05. Gary FarrIMAGES OF PASSING CLOUDS  (rec. 1968, previously unreleased)
06. SynanthesiaPEEK STRANGELY AND WORRIED EVENING  (RCA Victor SF 8058, 1969)
07. Bob & Carole PeggGLASS OF WATER  (Galliard GAL 4017, 1972)
08. Vashti BunyanWINTER IS BLUE  (Instant INL 002, 1968)
09. ComusWINTER IS A COLOURED BIRD  (Dawn DNX 2506, 1971)
10. Chrissie QuayleTHE SEAGULLS SCREAM  (Sentinel SENS 1001, 1970)
11. Clive PalmerSTORIES OF JESUS  (rec. 1967, first issued 1999)
12. Steve Peregrin Took’s ShagratAMANDA  (rec. 1969, first issued 1990)
13. Bridget St. JohnCURIOUS CRYSTALS OF UNUSUAL PURITY  (Dandelion 63750, 1969)
14. Mark FryROSES FOR COLUMBUS  (Italian ZSLT 70006. 1972)
15. Dando ShaftTILL THE MORNING COMES  (RCA Neon NE 5, 1971)
16. Mary-AnneBLACK GIRL  (Joy JOYS 162, 1970)
17. TreesTHE GARDEN OF JANE DELAWNEY  (CBS 63837, 1970)
18. Principal Edwards Magic TheatreWEIRDSONG OF BREAKING THROUGH AT LAST  (Dandelion DAN 8002, 1971)
19. OberonMINAS TIRITH  (Acorn OBE LPS 1, 1971)
20. Paper BubblePRISONERS, VICTIMS, STRANGERS, FRIENDS  (rec. 1970, previously unreleased)

Disc 2
01. Gerald MoorePILGRIM  (rec. 1972, first issued 1999)
02. Melton ConstableRIVER LANE  (rec. 1972, previously unreleased)
03. Moonkyte - WAY OUT HERMIT  (Mother SMOT 1, 1071)
04. Steeleye SpanALL THINGS ARE QUITE SILENT  (RCA SF 8113, 1970)
05. HeronUPON REFLECTION  (Dawn DNLS 3010, 1970)
06. Parchment LOVE IS COME AGAIN  (Pye NSPL 18388, 1972)
07. Shelagh McDonaldSTARGAZER  (B&C CAS 1043, 1971)
08. Tony Caro & JohnTHERE ARE NO GREATER HEROES  (private label, no cat. no., 1972)
09. Joan ArmatradingVISIONARY MOUNTAINS  (Cube HIFLY 12, 1972)
10. TuesdayGLOW OF THE FIRELIGHT  (rec. 1972, previously unreleased)
11. Warm GoldSEARCHING FOR LAMBS  (Sentinel SENS 1011, 1972)
12. Benjamin Delaney LionSAMANTHA CAROL FRAGMENTS  (Hollick & Taylor, no cat. no., 1969)
13. Fairport ConventionFOTHERINGAY  (rec. 1969, first issued 2000)
14. Frozen TearYOU KNOW WHAT HAS TO BE  (RA 5001, 1969)
15. Hunt Lunt & CunninghamMEANWHILE BACK IN THE FOREST  (Pye 7N 45125, 1972)
16. The Incredible String BandFIRST GIRL I LOVED  (rec. 1967, first issued 1998)
17. The MothsHALFDAN’S DAUGHTER  (Deroy LP, no cat. no., 1970)
18. Trader HorneTHE MUTANT  (Dawn DNLS 3004, 1970)
19. Dry HeartMEETING BY THE MOONLIGHT MILL  (rec. 1970, previously unreleased)
20. Tyrannosaurus RexHIGHWAYS (MISTY MIST)  (rec. 1967, first issued 1991)
21. Duncan BrowneGABILAN  (Immediate IMS 018, 1968)
22. Kevin CoyneSAND ALL YELLOW (Dandelion 2310 228, 1972)

Disc 3
01. Bill Fay GARDEN SONG  (rec. 1969, first issued 1999)
02. C.O.B.MUSIC OF THE AGES  (CBS 69010, 1971)
03. Everyone InvolvedA SONG FOR THE SYSTEM  (Arcturus ARC 4, 1972)
04. Country SunTHE COLOUR IS BLUE  (Dandelion 2485 021, 1972)
05. Wild CountrySILENT VILLAGE  (Trafalgar TRAF1, 1970)
06. Marc BrierleyWELCOME TO THE CITADEL (CBS 63478, 1969)
07. The Occasional WordTHE EVIL VENUS TREE  (Dandelion DAN 63753, 1970)
08. Anne BriggsSTANDING ON THE SHORE  (CBS 64612, 1971)
09. AgincourtKIND SIR  (Merlin HF 3, 1970)
10. Mick Softly - EAGLE  (CBS 64098, 1970)
11. Fresh MaggotsROSEMARY HILL  (RCA SF 8205, 1971)
12. Music Box - THE HAPPY KING  (Westwood MRS 013, 1972)
13. FuchsiaME AND MY KITE  (Pegasus PEG 8, 1971)
14. The Sun Also RisesWIZARD SHEP  (Village Thing VTS 2, 1970)
15. Folkal PointSCARBOROUGH FAIR  (Midas MR 003, 1972)
16. Marie CelestePRISONER  (no label, no cat. no., 1971)
17. Simon FinnPATRICE  (Mushroom 100 MR 2, 1971)
18. Shide & AcornGIRL OF THE COSMOS  (Solent SM 011, 1971)
19. Chimera ELEGY TO A DEAD KING  (rec. 1968, first issued 2004)
20. BeauSILENCE RETURNS  (Dandelion DAN 8006, 1971)
21. Mother NatureORANGE DAYS AND PURPLE NIGHTS  (B&C CB166. 1971)

Disc 4 (Extra Bonus Disc)
01. Zior - I Was Fooling (1971)
02. Zakarrias - The Unknown Years (1971)
03. Wooden Horse - Celebration Song (Unreleased Album 1973)
04. Wil Malone -  At The Silver Slipper (1970)
05. Whistler - See What The Future Brings (1971)
06. Unicorn - Cosmic Kid (1971)
07. Trevor Lucas - On The Banks of The Condamine (1966)
08. Trees - Streets Of Derry (1970)
09. Tim Hart & Maddy Prior - Serving Girls Holiday (1971)
10. Thunderclap Newman - The Reason (1970)
11. The World - Things I Could Have Said (1970)
12. The Way We Live - Squares (1971)
13. Quiet World - First Light (1970)
14. The Machine Gun Co. with Mike Cooper - The Singing Tree (1972)
15. The Humblebums - Continental Song (1970)
16. Tennent & Morrison - Death In A Distant Country (1972)
17. John Williams - London Town (1968) (w. Jimmy Page)
18. John & Beverly Martyn - Parcels (1970)

Part 1: Link
Part 2: Link
Part 3: Link
Part 4: Länk
or
Part 1: Link
Part 2: Link
Part 3: Link
Part 4: Link

Wistler - UK Deram Album 1971
Tennent & Morrison - UK Album 1972
Wooden Horse - II UK Album 1973
Trevor Lucas - Overlander Album UK 1966


10 comments:

ge said...

The Best!
Not Made Like This No More

Rochacrimson said...

Amazing prog-folk compilation!
Thank you Chris!

Rochacrimson said...

Track 9 from CD3 is corrupted.Agincourt - Kind Sir many fails and no sound during the sound.Please Chris review this track.
Thank you!

Carlos Roa said...

Thank you very much!!!

Anonymous said...

Looks a very nice post! I Like to hear...BUT my Browser anti Virus blocks the download site's as ver Dangerous!!!!
can you please use zippy or we transfer??
Thanks
Ron

Narrow Dog said...

Hi Chris,

Like the others my browser (Chrome, now bars me from the mirror links). They were handy as I could download the lot in one session. Will take my time and use the secondary link. Thanks for this a lot of great memories here.

Anonymous said...

Chris, thank you for featuring this great set.

Anonymous said...

Great post, unfortunately my browser won't let me download. Ah, the internet and the mystery of it all.

Anonymous said...

Tremendous compilation, however according to Firefox your uploadmirrors link connects to malware. Not just on this post, on the Rush one too. Loadto still OK.

wkc said...

late to the show as usual but if a reup of this collection is possible it would be appreciated. thank you for all the wonderful shares you have posted.