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Saturday, 18 April 2020

Tea and Symphony - Jo Sago (Rare 2nd Album UK 1970)


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Formed in Birmingham, England, this adventurous ensemble was part of the city’s Big Bear management stable. Although Tea And Symphony originally comprised James Langston (vocals, guitar), Jeff Daw (guitar) and Nigel Phillips (drums, ‘exotic’ instruments), they were often augmented by musicians from the agency including Bob Lamb and Mick Hincks from the group Locomotive. Tea And Symphony’s debut An Asylum For The Musically Insane, was an enchanting, if self-indulgent collection, but its period-piece madness was sadly jettisoned for the more formal follow-up, Jo Sago. Guitarists Bob Wilson and Dave Carroll were now part of the group’s fluid line-up, but the ensemble broke up in 1971 when both of these artists, and drummer Bob Lamb, joined the Idle Race. The three individuals remained with their new-found outlet when it became known as the Steve Gibbons Band.

Tea and Symphony was a British musical group of the late 1960s and early 1970s whose style may be described as "progressive folk". From Birmingham, they recorded two albums for Harvest Records, had one track, "Maybe My Mind (With Egg)", included on the Harvest sampler Picnic - A Breath of Fresh Air, toured Britain with Bakerloo (Blues Line) and were guests on John Peel's BBC radio programme.


The group was generally a trio, though sometimes supplemented by extra musicians. Members included Jeff Daw (lead guitar, backing vocals, flute), James Langston (lead vocals, rhythm guitar), Nigel Phillips (drums, backing vocals, keyboards, recorder, left 1969), Jonathan Benyon (mime, joined 1968 left 1969), Dave Carroll (guitar, backing vocals, bass, violin, joined 1970, left 1971), Bob Wilson (guitar, keyboards, joined 1969, left 1971), Peter 'Chatters' Chatfield (drums, joined 1970, left 1972), Tom Bennison (bass, French horn, joined & left 1970), Mick Barker (drums, joined 1971), and Stewart Johnson (guitars, vocal, joined 1971). Steve Eaves is another former alumnus. They were one of the earliest bands to have their own dedicated light show, one of which was Ephemera Lights (Steve Hayes)


Tea & Symphony formed in Birmingham (UK) in 1968 and were originally heavily influenced by folk music, their repertoire consisting largely of their own arrangements of other people’s songs, with a strong proclivity for those of Bob Dylan.

Their instrumentation at the time was an amalgam of electric instruments (bass and guitar) and acoustic ones (guitars, cello, harmonica, hand drums, flute, recorder, etc).

Their first Harvest single was a version of Procul Harum‘s Salty Dog and they augmented their line-up to include Hammond Organ, drums, piano and mandolin.

They became part of Jim Simpson’s Birmingham-based Big Bear Management stable of artists who also included Black Sabbath.

Debut album An Asylum For The Musically Insane was an enchanting if self-indulgent collection. By the time of the Jo Sago album, the group were joined by Bob Wilson on Keyboards, Guitar and Bass and had moved further into the area of Prog Rock.

Produced by Tony Cox at Sound Techniques studios, Jo Sago was a conceptual work that touched on subjects such as race relations in 1970s Britain and more.

The album is now regarded as a classic of the era, with original Harvest vinyl copies changing hands for significant sums.

The band broke up in 1971.

James Langston - lead vocals, acoustic & 12-string guitars, percussion
 Jef Daw - acoustic, electric & 12-string guitars, bass guitar, percussion, flute, backing vocals
 Bob Wilson - piano, organ, harpsichord, acoustic, electric & 12-string guitars, bass guitar, percussion, backing vocals
 Nigel Phillips - drums
 Mick Hincks - guitar.

01 Jo Sago - A Play On Music (Jeff Daw) including;
a. "Miniature" - 2:01
b. "Nyada" - 4:06
c. "Journey" - 1:19
d. "Brother" - 3:51
e. "Africa Paprika" - 3:29
f. "Fairground Suite" - 2:25
g. "Desperate Oil" - 5:53
h. "Umbilical Bill" - 0:51
i. "Goodnight" - 3:33
02 "Try Your Luck" (Nigel Phillips) - 3:18
03 "Yourself" (James Langston) - 3:28
04 "Green Fingered" - Redhanded (Jeff Daw) - 0:54
05 "Seasons Turn To One" (Jeff Daw) - 3:04
06 "View To The Sky" (James Langston) - 2:41
07 "The Nortihorticulturalist" (Nigel Phillips) - 3:26
08 "Dangling" (Bob Wilson) - 0:59

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