Monday, 28 August 2017

"Skid/34 Hours + Bonus Tracks" by (Ireland's) SKID ROW (July 2017 Beat Goes On 2CD 'Expanded Edition' Remasters + Bonus Tracks) - A Review by Mark Barry...

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THERE'S SOMETHING ABOUT 1970... - Exceptional CD Remasters  
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"...Explosive Sound..."

Featuring the October 1970 album "Skid"

When Ireland's SKID ROW released their October 1970 "Skid" debut LP on CBS Records in the UK (December 1970 in the USA on Epic) - I had just turned 11 and was living in Dublin – hungry to trash my poor middle-class parents nice living room with some hairy-arsed Rock and fire-breathing fretful rebellion (you go young Baz).

As you can imagine - young Irish delinquents like Moi had few names to turn to – Rory Gallagher and his band Taste were an obvious choice of course – and what a stunning unit they were. But when the 17-year guitar-flash GARY MOORE from Belfast in Northern Ireland hit the Republic’s North/South gigging scene (helped by Dublin songwriter and Bassist BRUSH SHIELS and his drumming pal NOEL 'Nollaig' BRIDGEMAN) – Moore's incendiary playing and Skid Row’s tight three-piece live shows became a very big deal indeed.

As a solid touring support band Skid Row even impressed Peter Green of Fleetwood Mac who had their manager Clifford Davis take over the touring/recording reins. Greeny was apparently pencilled in to be the Producer for the debut LP - but it never happened with Davis stepping up to the console instead. Impressively – when the album did arrive - it charted at No. 30 in the UK on vinyl LP release - quite a feat given the decidedly speeded-up Blues-Prog-Rock nature of the music (it wouldn't have been everybody's cup of Darjeeling even then) and the vivid creature-creepy Nigel Watson mythical pencil-drawing artwork. Big things were indeed expected of this band...

But as much as my unbridled affection for them and all things remotely Thin Lizzy-related (Moore later joined the ranks) - this rather brill 2017 twofer from England's Beat Goes On has only shown up the dreadfully dated nature of the debut. The good news however is that LP No. 2 - "34 Hours" from June 1971 – shows a huge jump in songwriting craft and the six Extras on Disc 2 actually do warrant the word 'Bonus' – putting this reissue right up there for fans and a tasty temptation for those who like their early Seventies Rock a bit mad and wild.

There is a lot to get through - so once more unto the zippy licks and teenage kicks...

UK released Friday, 14 July 2017 (21 July 2017 in the USA) - "Skid/34 Hours + Bonus Tracks" by SKID ROW on Beat Goes On BGOCD 1302 (Barcode 5017261213020) is a 2CD Reissue and Remaster of their first two albums from 1970 and 1971 bolstered up with six 'Bonus Tracks' from the period - three non-album single-sides and three outtakes from the original LP sessions that were initially withdrawn (finally issued on vinyl in 1983 by CBS). Here are the details...

Disc 1 (38:29 minutes):
1. Mad Dog Woman [Side 1]
2. Virgo's Daughter
3. Heading Home Again
4. An Awful Lot of Woman
5. Unco-Up Showband Blues
6. For Those Who Do [Side 2]
7. After I Am Gone
8. The Man Who Never Was
9. Felicity
Tracks 1 to 9 are their debut LP "Skid" - released October 1970 in the UK on CBS Records S 63965 and December 1970 in the USA on Epic E 30404. Produced by CLIFFORD DAVIS (Fleetwood Mac's manager) - it peaked at No. 30 on the UK LP charts (didn't chart USA).

Disc 2 (57:33 minutes):
1. Night Of The Warm Witch (Including The Following Morning) [Side 1]
2. First Thing In The Morning (Including Last Thing At Night)
3. Mar
4. Go, I'm Never Gonna Let You, Part 1 (Including Go, I'm Never Gonna Leave You, Part 2) [Side 2]
5. Lonesome Still
6. The Love Story, Part 1 (Including The Love Story, Parts 2-4)
Tracks 1 to 6 are their second studio album "34 Hours" - released June 1971 in the UK on CBS Records S 64411 and August 1971 in the USA on Epic E 30913. Produced by CLIFFORD DAVIS and named after the amount of time it took to record - it didn't chart in either country.

7. New Faces Old Places
8. Sandy's Gone (Part 1)
9. Sandy's Gone (Part 2)
10. Morning Star Avenue
11. Oi'll Tell You Later
12. Mr. De-Luxe
Tracks 7 to 11 were part of the original sessions in 1969 but abandoned for newer material on the 1970 released LP (Tracks 1, 4, 6 and 7 on Disc 1 to be exact – all the other tracks were re-recorded too).
Tracks 8 and 9 (from the original sessions) were salvaged as an A&B-side and issued as a non-album debut UK 45 - released 26 March 1970 on CBS Records 4893
Track 12 is the non-album B-side of their 2nd UK 7” single – an edit of "Night Of The Warm Witch" released 30 April 1971 on CBS Records 7181

BRUSH SHIELS - Bass Guitar and Lead Vocals
GARY MOORE - Lead Guitar and Lead/Second Vocals
NOEL 'Nollaig' BRIDGEMAN - Drums

NOTES ON THE DEBUT LP "Skid" – 1969 Original vs. 1970 Re-Record:
Nine tracks were initially recorded in 1969 by the band with Producer MIKE SMITH at the helm - but that version (to be called "Skid Row") was scrapped with only a two-part single of "Sandy's Gone" emerging from the sessions. That rather mellow (and musically unrepresentative) two-parter was issued 26 March 1970 as a stand-alone British 45 on CBS Records 4893 - but sold little (both sides are included here as Bonus Tracks on Disc 2).

The whole album was then re-recorded (in eleven hours) with a rejiggered track list and new material in April 1970 and became the released LP known simply as "Skid" (all of CD Disc 1). However in 1983 - CBS Records UK decided to re-issue the initial recordings as a vinyl LP again in different artwork (to show it was different material) but confusingly using the same catalogue as the original release - S 63965. This was in turn re-issued in 1992 as a 'Rewind' issue on CBS 450623 1 (LP) and 450623 2 (CD).

That original 1969 version ran as follows...
Side 1:
1. Sandie's Gone
2. The Man Who Never Was
3. Heading Home Again
4. Felicity
Side 2.
1. Unco-up Showband Blues
2. Morning Star Avenue
3. Oi'll Tell You Later
4. Virgo's Daughter
5. New Faces Old Places

This 2CD reissue will allow at least some of that to be sequenced. It is of course a damn shame this BGO reissue didn’t think to include those remaining 1969 original recordings as Bonus Tracks on Disc 1 – but alas.

So what do you get? The outer BGO card slipcase adds a classy feel (as always) to this release and the 20-page booklet with new liner notes from noted writer JOHN O’REGAN offers a detailed history, original artwork (the inner gatefold of "34 Hours") – repro label shots of several rare British, Irish and Euro 45s and even 1971 concert posters from the Lyceum, The Marquee and The Winter Gardens at Great Malvern – very tasty indeed. But the big news is new ANDREW THOMPSON Remasters from 2017 that sound amazingly clean and powerful. Sure the rapidly recorded material is crude (especially on the debut) but man does it sound good. In September 2001 Repertoire of Germany issued a remaster CD of the 1970 debut album "Skid" with both parts/sides of the "Sandy's Gone" UK 7" single as its two Bonus Tracks. I've had that issue for years and the Thompson remaster is clearer right from the start of Side 1's "Mad Dog Woman". To the music...

Even though Moore was the centre of guitar attention in Ireland's Skid Row - Bassist Brush Shiels was the band's principal songwriter providing five of the nine debut tracks - "Mad Dog Woman", "Virgo's Daughter", "Heading Home Again", "An Awful Lot Of Woman" and "After I'm Gone" - while also co-writing "Unco-Up Showband Blues", "For Those Who Do" and "The Man Who Never Was" with Moore and Bridgeman. Moore alone provided the lengthy album finisher "Felicity". I have to admit that the initial "Mad Dog Woman" track is dreadfully dated (vocals, structure, the slightly clumsy playing) - but the following "Virgo's Daughter" is brilliant. With its twinned vocals-and-guitar opening refrain - the song feels like a sort of Prog Blues - like Peter Green's Fleetwood Mac circa "Green Manalishi" meets Vincent Crane's Atomic Rooster. Its clever yet accessible song-structure is perhaps why Greeny liked the Irish band so much. "Virgo's Daughter" is still on my fave tracks from their early years.

That rocking moment is quickly replaced with the plucked Country-Bop jaunt of "Heading Home Again" - Brush showing he could do melody as well as boogie. We're then hit with a track that probably introduced Skid Row to the masses - "An Awful lot Of Woman". It's complicated, short and speed freak verses with a pure Rock 'n' Roll guitar centre from Moore featured as Track 4 on Side 4 of the double-album CBS Records label sampler "Rock Buster" (with Arnie flexing those Austrian arms on the front cover). How many of us bought those cheap label samplers and were introduced to bands and artist we might never have listened to otherwise. For the end of Side 1 we then go into five and half minutes of slow Rock-Blues with "Unco-Up Showband Blues" where Gary gets to stretch out and show some fret skills. Nice...

Side 2's "For Those Who Do" shows the band's Prog even Jazz Rock leanings and it’s so easy to hear why Moore (as he races up and down the neck of his guitar) joined Colosseum II only a few years later on. That complicated jerky rhythm is evident again in the short but funkily brill "After I Am Gone" – Bridgeman and his crashing drums doing well to keep up with Gary who seems determining to chew gum really fast as he plays. Another LP highlight follows with the guitar-and-bass battle that is "The Man Who Never Was" – a song that is possibly too clever clogs for its own boots. Side 2 of the debut ends with nine minutes of Moore’s "Felicity" – a track I find hard to listen to now – like Jeff Beck forgetting economy and going off on a playing tangent just to suit himself.

Things had improved dramatically in the songwriting front by the time they reached album No. 2 "34 Hours" – so named for the amount of time it took to record. Both CBS Records UK and Ireland tried an edit of the brilliant “Night Of The Warm Witch” as a 45 in late April 1971. It’s nine-minute album length was shortened – starting the song at about 1:03 minutes when the drums and riff kick in. It’s an absolute crying shame that this brill edit isn’t included on here as a CD bonus track. But at least we do get its equally excellent and genuinely exciting B-side "Mr. De-Luxe" - the kind of kick-ass flipside I love – a little like the flip of Lizzy’s "Whiskey In The Jar" – the fab and cool "Black Boys On The Corner". For "Mr. De-Luxe" Moore and the boys get to boogie – Rock ‘n’ Roll the place – and I’ve loved it for years.

The short but speedy "First Thing in The Morning..." turns out to be another woman-troubles song that requires a wild guitar solo from Gary that sounds like he’s in the back of a school room sulking after teacher’s admonishment. Side 1 of "34 Hours" ends on the musically pretty "Mar" where vocally Shiels sounds like Terry Stamp of Third World War – weary, angry and containing the sad-and-glad with a cheery demeanour. For me Moore plays some of his best guitar on this track – a few effects first and then a solo that feels Blues-Soulful.

Over on Side 2 of "34 Hours" nine minutes of the hornary "Go, I’m Never Gonna Let You..." confirms how good the album is – great Rock and the production values are huge – as big as the riffs and musical ideas. Time for an unexpected Byrds-go-Country interlude with "Lonesome Still" coming on all Gram Parsons Pedal Steel Guitar – a misery shuffle in four-time pain. To end an accomplished second album were back to Skid Row’s trademark rapid boogie – the excellent "The Love Story..." – vocal scatting as Moore copies the staccato words. Amidst the Bonus Tracks "New Faces Old Places" is the prize for the album outtakes and those three great single sides are actually worth owning.

Sure there is a missed opportunity here (Disc 1 could have had the two versions of the debut album for the first time – one following the other - and how about a few of those Irish-only early single sides over on Disc 2 as well) – but whatever way you look at it – this is a classy release for the beginnings of a great band that imploded too soon - Ireland's Skid Row.

Top audio, quality presentation and a good price for rarities that are now so hard to find on original vinyl - old places with new faces indeed. Well done to all involved...

Sunday, 30 July 2017

"The Atlantic Recordings" by LOUDON WAINWRIGHT III (June 2016 Real Gone Music CD Reissue – 2LPs from 1970 and 1971 Remastered onto 1CD Plus One Previously Unreleased Outtake – Dan Hersch Remasters) featuring Kate McGarrigle and Saul Broudy - A Review by Mark Barry...

 This Review Along With 100s Of Others Is Available in my
SOUNDS GOOD E-Book on all Amazon sites
THERE'S SOMETHING ABOUT 1970... - Exceptional CD Remasters  
Just Click Below To Purchase for £3.95
Thousands of E-Pages - All Details and In-Depth Reviews From Discs 

(No Cut and Paste Crap)

"...Museum All The Blues Away..."

This CD Reissue contains the two albums 
"Loudon Wainwright III" (August 1970)
and "Album II" (July 1971)
Plus One Bonus Track

Loudon Wainright III's first two bare-bones LPs from 1970 and 1971 made very little impact sales-wise (especially in the UK) - but have ever since remained a cool pool of refreshing water for those who thirst after honest contemporary US Folk with brains, emotional courage and an acidic tongue. But their availability on CD has been problematic for decades…until now…

This stunning relaunch from America's 'Real Gone Music' is a June 2016 single-CD reissue of a mail-order-only website-CD Rhino Handmade put out Stateside in December 1999 - itself a limited edition of 5000 numbered copies. That initial CD pressing sold out almost immediately – as did a short-lived reissue in November 2003 - and both versions have been hard to locate ever since – garnishing high prices in some places too.

Well now along comes Real Gone Music to the rescue of fans by reissuing that collectable at a reasonable cost and still with the great Dan Hersch Remastered Audio and decent liner notes (including the lyrics). Packaging-wise the only difference is that 1999's Rhino Handmade RHM2-7709 (Barcode 081227770921) came in a numbered card-sleeve while this is your basic jewel case (non-numbered).

Essentially what you're getting are his debut LP "Loudon Wainwright III" from August 1970 (USA) and the follow-up "Album II" from July 1971 (both originally on Atlantic Records) - as well as one Previously Unreleased Bonus Track from the "Album II" sessions left off the original LP due to time restrictions. With his razor-sharp wit, strangulated vocal delivery and obvious lyrical prowess - it's hardly surprising too that these 1970 and 1971 recordings of one-man-and-his guitar have been favourably compared to 1962 and 1963 Bob Dylan - LW III simply updating the scenarios to his own Delaware days of sin and redemption. And with a playing time of 78-minutes-plus - you can't argue that "Atlantic Recordings" isn't great value for money too. There's a lot to wade through - so here are the Uptown details and it's time to cook that dinner Dora...

US released 3 June 2016  "The Atlantic Recordings" by LOUDON WAINWRIGHT III on Real Gone Music RGM-0461 (Barcode 848064004615) offers 2LPs Remastered onto 1CD with One Previously Unreleased Bonus Track that plays outs as follows (78:27 minutes):

1. School Days [Side 1]
2. Hospital Lady
3. Ode To A Pittsburgh
4. Glad To See You've Got Religion
5. Uptown
6. Black Uncle Remus [Side 2]
7. Four Is A Magic Number
8. I Don't Care
9. Central Square Song
10. Movies Are A Mother To Me
11. Bruno's Place
Tracks 1 to 11 are his debut album "Loudon Wainwright III" - released 17 August 1970 in the USA on Atlantic SD 8260 and October 1970 in the UK on Atlantic 2400 103 (reissued in 1973 on Atlantic K 40107). All songs by LW III - produced by LW III and MILTON KRAMER.

12. Me And My Friend The Cat [Side 1]
13. Motel Blues
14. Nice Jewish Girls
15. Be Careful There's A Baby In The House
16. (a) I Know I'm Unhappy (b) Suicide Song (c) Genville Reel
17. Saw Your Name In The Paper
18. Samson And The Warden [Side 2]
19. Plane, Too
20. Cook That Dinner, Dora
21. Old Friend
22. Old Paint
23. Winter Song
Tracks 12 to 23 are his second studio album "Album II" - released 5 July 1971 in the USA on Atlantic SD 8291 and August 1971 in the UK on Atlantic 2400 142 (reissued in 1973 on Atlantic K 40272). All songs by LW III - produced by LW III and MILTON KRAMER. Guests - Kate McGarrigle sings Backing Vocal and Saul Broudy plays Harmonica on "Old Paint" only.

24. Drinking Song
Recorded February 1971 – it was intended to be placed on Side 2 (Track 3) but there was enough room Previously Unreleased Studio Recording Outtake.

The substantial 20-page booklet is entirely US-based with new (November 1999) liner notes entitled "An Unflinching Stare" are a 'reflection' by PETER FALLON on Wainwright's melodic style and blunt-as-a-mallet skill with words. Pages 4 and 5 with Pages 11 and 12 offer full-page plates of both album covers (back and front) - whilst the all-important lyrics are reproduced for both albums (and the lone outtake) for the first time. DAN HERSCH of Rhino fame has handled the tapes and the Remasters are gorgeous - one man and his guitar - clean, atmospheric, vibrant and filling up your room with that air analogue has.

I'm no fool about Wainwright. I saw him live at Ireland's second 'Lisdoonvarna Folk Festival' in 1979 (a headliner) where he promptly slaughtered the crowd one sunny beautiful day. They loved his honesty, sense of humour and 'Rufus The Tit Man' tunes. Wainwright was dragged back to the stage for more - more – more – beaming to the encores that were genuine. But I also had a mate of mine who in early Seventies Dublin couldn't abide the nasal whine of his voice - never mind the often barren-nature of his song-subjects. So instead of guffawing - he'd come out in a rash at the mere mention of LW III's name. Therefore in my book musically both albums would be an acquired taste. But if you do get into his acoustic tales of woe and love (and I know many who have) - you may find yourself studying every chord change and memorising those brilliant lyrics to impress your mates next time you're in that village pub with a roaring fire and a few pints of Dutch courage.

The debut opens with a tale of his Delaware younger days ("School Days") where LW was the James Dean tearaway begged by girls to join them in their boudoirs. Afterward he would pencil his pimple parables riling against those who tried to force their religious moralising down his throat. In "Hospital Song" he is touched by a dying old lady whom he knows was once a pretty young thing in 1953 - but now her new lover is the Reaper waiting with a stone face at the end of the bed (gorgeously simple acoustic melody). Both "Ode To A Pittsburgh" and "Glad To See You Got Religion" start feeling bitter and angry - strumming hard with his machine that kills fascists – raging against people who don’t discharge their creative juices while old LW can’t wait too. All the freaks are freaking him out in "Uptown" - hailing a cab – reading the Allied Chemical News en route – head into the Garden in the rain for some Basketball or maybe Boxing. Many will know the brilliant "Black Uncle Remus" – it’s death-letter-blues, catfish catches and rusted banjo strings turning up on CD compilations that want to impress with their cool.

"Four Is A Magic Number" opens Side 2 of "Loudon Wainwright III" with more acoustic guitar and his desperate Willie Nile voice regaling about a sinking sinner in the gutter. "I Don't Care" has the slow melancholy of say Leo Kottke or even Tim Buckley on a purely Folk tip - bidding his girl goodbye as she heads off to San Francisco for sand-in-the-hair nights on the beach with someone else. Mary McGuire and Big Frank Clark get drunk in "Central Square Song" - their six-pack passion making them act like teenagers – and petulant ones at that. Loudon's love of escape comes roaring out of "Movies Are A Mother To Me" - films on a rainy Tuesday giving him back some sort of recovered sanity. The debut ends on the jaunty "Bruno's Place" where yoga-girls and Swamii-pearls hang out in Bruno's meat-less apartment down on Seventh Street (he trashes his guitar like Richie Havens getting carried away on stage). In truth I don't think Side 2 is as good as Side 1 on the starter album - but LP2 is another matter…

If his undeniable songwriting and social commentary brilliance was gestating on the debut – then for me it explodes into proper magic on "Album II". I like almost every song on it. "Me And My Friend The Cat" and "Motel Blues" open the second LP in grand style - very cool melodies and words. The second Atlantic Records sampler LP "The New Age Of Atlantic" from March 1972 (the British LP was on Atlantic K 20024) gave the song "Motel Blues" from "Album II" a rare plug. The compilers no doubt hoped that lyrics like "...the Styrofoam bucket's full of ice...Come up to my motel room...treat me nice..." would tickle the public's buying fancy (not to be unfortunately). Even better song-wise is "Nice Jewish Girls" where his Episcopalian schooling isn't helping as LW stares at those ladies with surnames like Pearlstein - his Yiddish young-man juices starting to bubble uncontrollably (and not for their skills with a bagel). A newborn bundle of joy is jarring his nerves in "Be Careful There's A Baby In The House" - or is the kid's parents and their smug remarks that are getting on his trupenny bits. More misery follows in the weary and inebriated three-parter "I Know I'm Unhappy..." where our hero rarely makes love but regularly gets laid. Wainwright ends a masterful Side 1 with "Saw Your Name In The Paper" where he's happy for a talented friend from the past but warns that their heroics might induce slavery to something else – becoming a limelight chaser – a junky for fame.

There is a superb simplicity and therefore power to Side 2's "Plane, Too" where he lists the people and things on his flight. They can't get away - can't get out - and as he looks in the 747’s toilet mirror - realises that neither can he. "...Set that place for me...Arm me with utensils..." Wainwright asks of Dora in "Cook That Dinner..." where you suspect that his mealtime might contain something else baked into his cottage pie other than mincemeat.  You wish Wainwright had let both Kate McGarrigle and Saul Broudy onto other tracks – they add hugely to "Old Paint". It ends on a brilliant acoustic melody "Winter Song" and you can so hear why he thought the equally good "Drinking Song" should have been on the album.

In all honesty I'd forgotten about these Loudon Wainwright III records – especially that deeply satisfying second LP. I'm also left with more than a feeling that these 1970 and 1971 Atlantic Records recordings contain overlooked gems that deserve a second-go-round - even if they are a bit misery-guts. And typical of many musicians with a penchant for the neurotic muddle of life and loving – Loudon is a damn good actor too…

Tuesday, 25 July 2017

"Just For The Record: The Solo Anthology 1969-76" by ANDY ROBERTS (July 2005 Sanctuary/Castle Music 2CD Reissue - Nick Watson Remasters) - A Review by Mark Barry...

This Review Along With 100s Of Others Is Available in my
SOUNDS GOOD E-Book on all Amazon sites
THERE'S SOMETHING ABOUT 1970... - Exceptional CD Remasters  
Just Click Below To Purchase for £3.95
Thousands of E-Pages - All Details and In-Depth Reviews From Discs 

(No Cut and Paste Crap)

"...Andy The Revelator..."

Played guitar on Scaffold recordings – sessioned with Jimi Hendrix and Graham Nash - produced by Paul McCartney - toured with Led Zeppelin - had the drummer from Jethro Tull in his band - was involved in four Liverpool Scene albums - another for the short-lived Everyone group - another for the revered Plainsong ensemble and then on top of all that managed four more solo albums of his own by late 1973 (one of which was issued in two different versions). And yet I suspect like most people - you won't have a knacker's nadge as to who ANDY ROBERTS actually is. Which is a damn shame and something we need to rectify pronto. And that's where me and this rather brill little twofer-CD set from Sanctuary's Castle Music come bellowing in...

"Just For The Record..." offers the uninitiated 33-Tracks stretching from the London guitar-players first solo recordings with RCA in 1969 to his stay with cult British Folk-Comedy geezers Grimms in 1976. Included are Six Previously Unreleased tracks from his own archives and quality remasters of tracks from his rare and sought-after Seventies LPs - "Home Grown" (March 1970 on RCA - remixed and reissued in June 1971 on B&C Records), "Nina And The Dream Tree" (October 1971 on Pegasus), "Urban Cowboy" and "The Great Stampede" from March and December 1973 on Elektra Records as well as three tracks from the "Everyone" LP project in January 1971 on B&C Records and a Grimms track from 1976.

The project has had AR's full involvement and uses real tapes - and it shows. There are also guest appearances across the tracks from a wide variety of musical alumni – Ian Matthews, Zoot Money, Tim Renwick of Quiver, Carol Grimes, members of Plainsong, Grimms and Fairport Convention, Bob Sargent of Brinsley Schwarz, members of Liverpool Scene, vocalists Mac and Katie Kissoon and more. And for me especially – one of the big gifts here is the beautiful Acoustic Nick Drake/Roy Harper-ish Folk Rock of the 5-track "Nina And The Dream Tree" LP from 1971 in its Remastered entirety. Yum Yum. There's a ton of detail to get through so onwards and upwards...

UK released 26 July 2005 - "Just For The Record: The Solo Anthology 1969-76" by ANDY ROBERTS on Sanctuary/Castle Music CMEDD 1084 (Barcode 5050749410849) is a 2CD 33-Track Compilation of Remasters with Six Previously Unreleased Tracks that plays out as follows:

Disc 1 (74:33 minutes):
1. The Raven
2. Applecross
3. Moths & Lizards In Detroit
4. The One-Armed Boatman And The Giant Squid
5. Creepy John
6. Home Grown
7. You're A Machine
8. John The Revelator
9. Baby, Baby
10. Autumn To May
11. Queen Of The Moonlight World
12. Lonely In The Crowd
13. Radio Lady (US Version)
14. Don't Get Me Wrong
15. Sitting On A Rock
16. Gig Song
17. Richmond
18. Elaine
19. Just For The Record
20. Good Time Charlie
All songs written by Andy Roberts except cover version of "Creepy John" and "Good Time Charlie" (both by Spider John Koerner), "John The Revelator" (Blind Willie Johnson/Traditional) and "Autumn To May" (Peter, Paul And Mary)
Tracks 1, 7, 9 and 18 are PREVIOUSLY UNRELEASED
Tracks 3, 4, 6, 8, 10 and 16 are from his debut solo LP "Home Grown" - first released as a 14-track UK LP in March 1970 on RCA Records SF 8086
Tracks 2, 5, 11, 12 and 19 are his debut solo LP "Home Grown" - remixed and reissued as a 10-track UK LP in June 1971 on Charisma/B&C Records CAS 1034. 
Track 13 is from the "Andy Roberts Is With Everyone" LP by ANDY ROBERTS - released July 1971 in the USA on Ampex Records A 10117
Tracks 14 and 15 are from the "Everyone" LP by EVERYONE - released January 1971 in the UK on B&C Records CAS 1028 (same LP as Track 13 with different mixes)
Track 20 is from his 2nd solo LP "Nina And The Dream Tree" - released October 1971 in the UK on Pegasus Records PEG 5
Track 17 is from his 3rd solo LP "Urban Cowboy" - released March 1973 in the UK on Elektra Records K 42139

Disc 2 (65:16 minutes):
1. Keep My Children Warm
2. I've Seen The Movie
3. 25 Hours A Day/Breakdown/Welcome Home
4. Dream Tree Sequence
5. Poison Apple Lady
6. Urban Cowboy
7. Living In The Hills Of Zion
8. Charlie
9. Big City Tension
10. Home At Last
11. Home In The Sun
12. New Karenski
13. Bluebird Morning
Tracks 1 to 4 are from his 2nd solo LP "Nina And The Dream Tree" - released October 1971 in the UK on Pegasus Records PEG 5
(Using Track 20 on Disc 1 and the above four - you can sequence the entire LP as follows:
Side 1: Tracks 1, 2 and 3 from Disc 1 - Side 2: Track 20 from Disc 1 and Track 4 from Disc 2
Tracks 8, 9, 10 and 12 are from his 3rd solo LP "Urban Cowboy" - released March 1973 in the UK on Elektra Records K 42139
Track 11 is from his 4th solo LP "The Great Stampede" - released December 1973 in the UK on Elektra Records K 42151
Track 13 is by GRIMMS and is from their 3rd LP "Sleepers" - released 1976 UK LP on DJM Records DJLPS 470

COLIN HARPER (author of "Irish Folk, Trad & Blues: A Secret History") penned the superlatively detailed liner notes that condense the man's staggeringly varied career into 12-pages of text. Amidst the reminiscences from Roberts are adverts for Scaffold gigs back in 1965, photos of The Liverpool Scene on stage and at various stages of counter-culture play, colour snaps of AR at The Isle Of Wight Festival in 1970 with Zeppelin and Blodwyn Pig - a trade advert for his support slot with Procol Harum at The Queen Elizabeth Hall - all rounded off with AR and Ian Matthews reunited at the 2000 Cropredy Festival (Fairport Convention). There are the usual reissue credits and a very nice touch is his 7-LP Discography pictured on the inside rear inlay (includes the "Andy Roberts" budget compilation LP on Charisma CS 6).

NICK WATSON did the Remasters at The Town House and even the largely Acoustic Demo recordings sound glorious. As much of the music is very Acoustic based Folk-Rock in its nature - the remasters seem to have made the melodies more open and haunting in ways I hadn't heard before. I also love the way the reissue acknowledges the two entirely different sounding versions of his sought-after debut "Home Grown" - with my poison being the re-done 1971 version on B&C Records. Even though it has less tracks than the RCA original (10 against 14) - along with "Nina And The Dream Tree" - I think both are forgotten gems Seventies soft-rock lovers will love enjoy rediscovering. To the music...

Although primarily remembered as a session-guitarist - Andy Roberts was/is a multi-instrumentalist. Across his four solo LPs (and on the others too) - he plays Acoustic, Electric and Slide Guitar, Dulcimer, Flute, Glockenspiel, Piano, Violin and handles all lead vocals. His debut "Home Grown" has a tangled history. RCA put out a 14-track version in March 1970 while manager Sandy Robertson oversaw a 10-track remix/re-record in 1971 put out by Charisma’s B&C Records. What you notice about the RCA initial pressing is how stripped down and Acoustic tracks like "The One-Armed Boatman And The Giant Squid" are (and hissy too in some places). While "Home Grown" feels like Country-Rock ala Gordon Lightfoot singing about weed and its 'home grown' medicinal properties. The Country feel continues with "Gig Song" where our travelling man spends his life on the motorways of the world. Things improve immeasurably with his funky cover of the Blues/Gospel Traditional "John The Revelator" (one of my fave tracks on the first version). But things go stellar for me with the accomplished sound to the B&C pressing in 1971. There's a coherence to the Cochise and Brinsley Schwarz swagger of "Creepy John" while the near seven-minute "Applecross" is as lovely as Acoustic Rock gets. Continuing with Acoustic - the beautifully recorded two-minute instrumental "Lonely In The Crowd" could be one of those fingerpicking melodic ditties Jimmy Page slipped into Zeppelin LPs. Another is the very Terry Reid instrumental "Just For The Record" - a tune that lets him show off his acoustic note-plucking and harmonics prowess (he'd been touring with Ian Matthews and Richard Thompson and clearly some of that guitar talent had sunk in deep).

The "Nina..." in the title of his second solo LP turns out to Polly James of the popular TV Show "The Liver Birds" whom he was in a serious relationship with at the time - the muse for all of Side 1. Although there are only five tracks - I love the Nick Drake/Roy Harper feel to the songs - sort of "Bryter Layter" meets "Stormcock" although probably not as good as either - but close. Guests Carol Grimes and Charlene Collins (lady vocals) and ace sessionman Ray Warleigh on Alto Saxophone add hugely to the beautiful almost hymnal "Keep The Children Warm" - a song that doesn't sound fay or cloying after 46 years - but genuine and heartfelt. The casually strummed acoustic guitars and tasty piano notes remind me too of Terry Reid keeping it casual and loose on his 1973 set "River". Gerry Conway of Fairport Convention plays the drums on "I've Seen The Movie" - but its the astonishing string-arrangements of Robert Kirby that elevates the song into the magical - like when Elton used to be on "Tumbleweed Connection" and "Madman Across The Water". On the eight-minutes of the three-part "25 Hours A Day/Breakdown/Welcome Home" - Roberts sees his pal Dave Richards of Plainsong and Grimms play Bass and Organ with Backing Vocals provided by the soulful duo of Mac and Katie Kissoon (who would have their in the mid Seventies). That wild guitar solo in the 'Breakdown' section still feels every so slightly out of place - but the mellow soon returns with the very quiet and very pretty "Welcome Home" part.

His cover of Spider John Koerner’s "Good Time Charlie" has a great chug before finally hurtling into a ye-haw hoedown finish. The huge fifteen-minute "Dream Tree Sequence" runs the musical gamut – Folk Rock to begin with – then into a softer Acoustic centre – and a wicked Harper-esque electric guitar change of pace – all aided and abetted by Zoot Money on Organ and the trio of Ian Matthews (Matthews Southern Comfort) and Mac And Katie Kissoon on Backing Vocals. It feels very Plainsong before that band had been invented yet. I can’t help thinking that "Nina And The Dream Tree" is something of a forgotten classic when it comes to 1971 LPs...

For the artist himself – he prefers (as do many) to run to the two Elektra Records LPs he did in 1973 as his musical apex – "Urban Cowboy" in March 1973 and "The Great Stampede" towards Christmas of that year. With a CD reissue of "The Great Stampede" due when they were compiling this twofer – Castle only provide us with one song from the fourth LP which is a damn shame – especially given the playing time that would have allowed for two or three more at least. But what we do get of both is wonderful - with the lovely "Richmond" and "Bluebird Morning" being my faves here. Of the six unreleased – my heart goes to the demo of "Elaine" and the two-minute Dulcimer prettiness of "Baby, Baby".

Andy Roberts essentially became a musician for hire after the mid Seventies even doing a stint with the live variant of Pink Floyd for their 1981 "Wall" concerts. He's released CDs since and joined the Ian Matthews Plainsong reunion band too. 

But for many his criminally overlooked singer-songwriter work between 1970 and 1973 define him and explain why albums that used to linger unloved and unwanted in secondhand racks now go for money. Collectors discovered their quality...and you should too. Well done to all involved...

Sunday, 2 July 2017

"Milk Of The Tree: An Anthology Of Female Vocal Folk & Singer-Songwriters 1966-73" by VARIOUS ARTISTS (June 2017 Grapefruit 3CD Box Set) - A Review by Mark Barry...

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Like many collectors and fans of the late 60ts and early 70ts - I've been singing the praises of Cherry Red's 'Grapefruit' label for some time now. I acquired and reviewed two three-CD sets they did in late 2016 called "I'm A Freak, Baby" and "Let's All Go Down And Blow Our Minds" - wads of Heavy Psych, Hard Rock and 1967 Trippy Vibes.

Well here comes another threesome but this time with a more gentile theme and a far wider range. "Milk Of The Tree..." offers up 60 songs from female trailblazers primarily in the Folk and Folk-Rock fields between 1966 and 1973 – some well known names and many that shouldn't be forgotten. I've been looking forward to this Mini Box Set for some months now and in the main it hasn't disappointed. Here are the Ladies Of The Canyon...

UK released Friday, 30 June 2017 (7 July 2017 in the USA) - "Milk Of The Tree: An Anthology Of Female Vocal Folk and Singer-Songwriters 1966-73" by VARIOUS ARTISTS on Cherry Red/Grapefruit CRSEGBOX039 (Barcode 5013929183902) is a 60-Track 3CD Mini Box Set compilation of Remasters that plays out as follows:

Disc 1 (74:45 minutes):
1. Do You Believe - MELANIE (from the November 1972 US LP "Stoneground Words" on Neighborhood NRS 47005)
2. Blessed Are... - JOAN BAEZ (from the July 1971 US 2LP set "Blessed Are..." on Vanguard VSD 6570/1)
3. Light Flight - THE PENTANGLE (from the October 1969 UK 7" single on Transatlantic/Big T Records BIG 128, A-side)
4. Foolish Seasons - DANA GILLESPIE (from the October 1968 US Stereo LP "Foolish Seasons" on London PS 540)
5. Someone To Talk My Troubles To - JUDY RODERICK (from the December 1965 US LP "Woman Blue" on Vanguard VSD 79197)
6. Auntie Aviator - JOHN and BEVERLEY MARTYN (from the December 1970 UK LP "The Road To Ruin" on Island ILPS 9133)
7. Flying Away - THE SERPENT POWER (from the December 1967 US Stereo LP "The Serpent Power" on Vanguard VSD 79252)
8. It Could Have Been Better - JOAN ARMATRADING (from her debut November 1972 UK LP "Whatever's For Us" on Cube Records HIFLY 12)
9. Morning Morgantown - JUDE [featuring the Fickle Pickle] (Not originally issued, recorded mid 1970)
10. If Not By Fire - MANDY MORE (from the June 1972 UK LP "But That Is Me" on Phillips 6308 109)
11. Upstairs By A Chinese Lamp - LAURA NYRO (from the November 1970 US LP "Christmas And The Beads Of Sweat" on Columbia KC 30259)
12. I Thought I Knew The Answers - SUSAN PILLSBURY (from the November 1973 US LP "Susan Pillsbury" on Sweet Fortune SFS 804)
13. Give Her The Day - JAKI WHITREN (March 1973 UK 7" single on Epic S EPC 1338, A-side)
14. By The Sea - WENDY & BONNIE [Wendy & Bonnie Flowers] (from the June 1969 US LP "Genesis" on Skye Records SK 10060)
15. Come And Stay With Me - JACKIE DeSHANNON (from the November 1968 US Stereo LP "Laurel Canyon" on Imperial LP 12415)
16. Something Better - MARIANNE FAITHFULL (February 1969 UK withdrawn 7" single on Decca F 12889, B-side of "Sister Morphine")
17. An Everyday Consumption Song - SPIROGYRA [feat Barbara Gaskin on Lead Vocals] (from the April 1973 UK LP "Bells, Boots And Shambles" on Polydor 2310 246)
18. The Milk Of The Tree - POLLY NILES (not originally issued, recorded circa August 1969)
19. Chelsea Girls - NICO (from the October 1967 US LP "Chelsea Girl" on Verve V 5032)
20. Reverie For Roslyn - MARY-ANNE [Mary-Anne Paterson] (from the April 1970 UK LP "Me" on Joy Records JOYS 162)

Disc 2 (72:34 minutes):
1. Different Drum - THE STONE PONEYS [featuring Linda Ronstadt on Lead Vocals] (September 1967 USA 7" single on capitol 2004, A-side)
2. Please (MK. II) - ECLECTION (November 1968 USA 7" single on Elektra 45046, A-side)
3. Five Of Us - JADE [featuring Marian Segal on Lead Vocals] (from the July 1970 UK LP "Fly On Strangewings" on DJM Records DJLPS 407)
4. Who Has Seen The Wind? - THE SIMON SISTERS [Carly and Lucy Simon] (from the April 1969 US LP "The Simon Sisters Sing The Lobster Quadrille And Other Songs For Children" on Columbia CC 24506)
5. Jesus Was A Crossmaker - JUDEE SILL (October 1971 US 7" single on Asylum AS 11000, A-side)
6. January's Snow - THE WOODS BAND [featuring Gay and Terry Woods] (from the December 1971 UK LP on Greenwich GSLP 1004)
7. In My Loneliness - TRADER HORNE [featuring Judy Dyble on Lead Vocals] (from the March 1970 UK LP "Morning Way" on Dawn DNLS 3004)
8. Society's Child (Baby I've Been Thinking) - JANIS IAN (September 1966 USA 7" single on Verve Folkways KF 5027, A-side)
9. I Was - LILY & MARIA [Lily Fiszman and Maria Neumann] (from the October 1968 US LP "Lily & Maria" on Columbia CS 9707)
10. Feeling High - MELLOW CANDLE (August 1968 UK 7" single on SNB Records 55-3645, A-side)
11. Tomorrow Come Someday - TOMORROW COME SOMEDAY (from the January 1970 UK Privately-Pressed LP "Tomorrow Come Someday" on Sound News Productions SNP 97/98)
12. My Silk And Fine Array - JULIE COVINGTON (from the album "The Beautiful Changes" on Columbia SCX 6466)
13. Red Wine And Promises - NORMA WATERSON (November 1972 UK 7" single on Transatlantic/Big T Records BIG 507, A-side)
14. Mr. Fox - MR. FOX (from the November 1970 UK LP "Mr. Fox" on Transatlantic TRA 226)
15. The Dream Tree - BUFFY SAINTE-MARIE (from the September 1969 US LP "Illuminations" on Vanguard VSD 79300)
16. Munching The Candy - THE ACADEMY featuring POLLY PERKINS (March 1969 UK 7" single on Morgan Blue Town BTS 2, A-side)
17. Late November - SANDY DENNY (from the May 1971 LP "The North Star Grassman And The Ravens" on Island ILPS 9165)
18. Tomorrow Your Sorrow - HENDRICKSON ROAD HOUSE (from the December 1970 US LP "Hendrickson Road House" on Two: Dot Records HRH 81670)
19. Mornings - CHUCK & MARY PERRIN (from the January 1969 US LP "The Chuck and Mary Perrin Album" on Webster's Last Word Records WLW 2010)
20. Mr. Rubin - LESLEY DUNCAN (from the September 1971 UK LKP "Sing Children Sing" on CBS Records S 64202)

Disc 3 (76:44 minutes):
1. Come Into The Garden - CHIMERA (Not originally issued, recorded circa mid-1970)
2. Early Morning Blues And Greens - DIANE HILDERBRAND (from the December 1968 US LP on Elektra EKS 74031)
3. Rainy Day - SUSAN CHRISTIE (Not originally issued, recorded 1969)
4. Autumn Lullaby - BRIDGET St. JOHN (from the August 1969 UK LP "Ask Me No Questions" on Dandelion 63750)
5. Ballad (Of The Big Girl Now And A Mere Boy) - PRINCIPAL EDWARDS MAGIC THEATRE (December 1969 UK 7" single on Dandelion Records 4405, A-side)
6. Windy - RUTHANN FRIEDMAN (Not originally issued, recorded 1968)
7. The Lonely - DESIGN (from the January 1971 USA LP "Design" on Epic Records E 30224)
8. Mirage - SHELAGH McDONALD (from the November 1970 UK LP "The Shelagh McDonald Album" on B&C Records CAS 1010)
9. Aderyn Llwyd (Sparrow) – MARY HOPKIN (June 1969 UK 7" single on Cambrian CSP 703, A-side. A Gallagher & Lyle song)
10. Love Song - VASHTI BUNYAN (May 1966 UK 7" single on Columbia DB 7917, B-side of "Train Song")
11. Sandman's Song - ANNE BRIGGS (from the November 1971 UK LP "The Time Has Come" on CBS Records S 64612)
12. When Will I Be Loved – THE BUNCH [featuring members of Fairport Convention and Fotheringay including Sandy Denny and Linda Peters who duet on vocals here] (April 1972 UK 7" single on island WIP 6130, A-side. An Everly Brothers cover)
13. The Lady And The Well – CAROLANNE PEGG (from the April 1974 UK LP "Carolanne" on Transatlantic TRA 266)
14. Think Of Rain – MARGO GURYAN (from the October 1968 US LP "Take A Picture" on Bell Records 6022)
15. Story Of Our Time/Beneath This Sky – ITHICA [featuring Peter Howell and John Ferninando] (from the 1973 privately-pressed LP “A Game For All We Know” on Merlin Records HF 6)
16. Murdoch – TREES [featuring Celia Humphries (nee Drummond) on Lead Vocals] (from the February 1971 UK LP “On The Shore” on CBS Records 64168)
17. Banquet On The Water – THE SALLYANGIE [featuring Sally & Mike Oldfield] (from the December 1968 UK LP "Children Of The Sun" on Transatlantic TRA 176)
18. Banquet On The Water – THE SALLYANGIE [featuring Sally & Mike Oldfield on Lead Vocals and Guitars] (from the December 1968 UK LP "Children Of The Sun" on Transatlantic TRA 176)
19. Pass The Night – EMILY MUFF [featuring Kathy Bushnell and Janet Dourit] (Previously Unreleased, recorded April 1972)
20. Morgan The Pirate – MIMI FARINA (from the December 1968 US LP "Memories" on Vanguard VSD 79263)

Compiled and Managed by reissue champs JOHN REED and DAVID WELLS - the 42-page booklet is a feast on both the eyes and the grey matter. Page after page of DAVID WELLS liner notes go deep into the artists and their backgrounds whilst rare 7" single picture sleeves, publicity photos, label repro's, acetates, demo copies, trade adverts all illuminate the text. It's a huge amount of effort and the details often amaze and amuse in equal measure. The mastering has been done by SIMON MURPHY over at Another Planet Music and naturally with so many disparate sources - the Audio varies like wildfire - gorgeous one moment to hissy-acceptable the next. But overall the quality is really good and with many of these ladies recorded by major labels - way better than that...

Disc 1 (Jackie DeShannon pictured) opens on a wee beauty - the slow and moving "Do You Believe" where Melanie Safka warbles out a passionate vocal that feels like a lost epic that shouldn't have gotten overlooked. "...In the shadow of God they sleep...blessed are the huddled hikers staring out at falling rain..." - Joan Baez writes of a confused generation in the double-album "Blessed Are..." - a song where parents are weeping for the young ones who've died in someone else's war far away. Perhaps dreaming of sexier things Dana Gillespie gives us the Simon & Garfunkel-cute "Foolish Seasons" - a very hooky melody where she wishes she could die in the ice cold of her winter heart. Getting older and thinking of all the things she's done - Judy Roderick comes on like a young Joni in "Someone To Talk My Troubles To" while the brilliant "Auntie Aviator" from John and Beverley Martyn only makes me want to absolutely anything on Island Records by the great man and his lovely wife. Yorkshire lass Judith 'Jude' Willey finally gets her demo of Joni Mitchell's "Morning Morgantown" an airing here with the Fickle Pickle acting as her backing band and Mandy More too - but I find both tracks generally weak to what went before.

Not so the soaring Laura Nyro song "Upstairs By A Chinese Lamp" that feels older and wiser than 1970. A rather lovely discovery comes in the form of "I Thought I Knew The Answers" by Susan Pillsbury – a 1973 track that features guitarist Jay Berliner and Bassist Richard Davis who’d famously played on Van the Man’s "Astral Weeks" in 1968. Pillsbury and her vocal style is similar to Tim Buckley (in a good way) and Wells is right to say that Jaki Whitren deserved chart success with the lovely and moving "Give Her The Day" (I used to see the 1973 Epic LP "Raw But Tender" in the racks of Cheapo Cheapo where you couldn’t give it away). Barbara Gaskin and her airy Lead Vocals gives the Acid-Folk of "An Everyday Consumption Song" a period whimsy no man could. The title track for the Box Set turns out to be a John Barry cover – the flipside of “Goldfnger” from way back in 1964 – another lightweight jangle. "Reverie For Roslyn" is a pretty Disc 1 finisher - but the best here for me is the Marianne Faithfull B-side to "Sister Morphine" called "Something Better" – just as brilliant and stinging as the A-side that would eventually become immortalised on "Sticky Fingers" in 1971 by The Stones.  Another discovery on a first disc full of them...

Disc 2 (Buffy Sainte-Marie pictured) opens with the familiar Mike Nesmith melody of "Different Drum" by The Stone Poneys - a band that of course featured future superstar Linda Ronstadt on Lead Vocals (as brilliant a single as ever came out of the late 60's). I can't say I'm enamoured with either the dreadful Simon Sisters or Eclection tracks - might have been better to use the beautiful "My Luv Is Like A Red, Red Rose" with a killer Carly vocal. But those are forgotten once you clap your ears on "Five Of Us" by Jade - or Silver Jade as they're sometimes known. Fronted by a superb vocalist in Marian Segal - the album-track feels like it's Mellow Candle "Swaddling Songs" good and worth every penny of its £200 Rare Record Price Guide valuation. I would have used "The Kiss" instead of "Jesus Was A Crossmaker" - but any Judee Sill is good news in my books. The Gay and Terry Woods Traditional cover of "January's Snows" bears a close resemblance to the melody of the gorgeous "She Moves Through The Fair" and even if it is a bit hissy and badly recorded - it's full of feel and is the kind of Folk-Rock find collectors get weak at the knees about.

Janis Ian shows her extraordinary writing chops in "Society's Child..." - a tune she penned at 14 about a mixed couple who get the authority's interracial tights in a tangle - it's baroque melodrama rhythms incredibly poignant and wise for a song cut in August 1965. Lily Fiszman and Maria Neumann get their (rather hissy) moment with "I Was" - a love song that trembles under the weight of its own search for tenderness. Unreleased or not Tomorrow Come Sunday is fey-Nico and probably better left in the can. Julie Covington successfully blends William Blake with guitar-led Folk Rock on the excellent "My Silks And Fine Array" (great audio too). Updated English Folk starts to show up a lot on Disc 2. "...Fell in the street in a drunken heap...I don’t nobody helping me..." moans Norma Waterson in the brill boozy ballad "Red Wine And Promises" – shameless and gut-hurting real like cheap red wine and the painful morning light. More misery follows as a poor maid falls fowl of the sly and violent "Mr. Fox" who cuts a girl only to have his comeuppance at the teeth of ravenous dogs (nice).

You forget how powerful Buffy Sainte-Marie's voice can be especially when she wraps that tremble around the worries and yearnings of women waiting for their sailor men to return unharmed and whole - long for one who is longing for me in "The Dream Tree". Dodgy substances surface in "Munching The Candy" where The Academy sings with a smile on their collective flower-painted faces. Uber rarities ahoy with Chuck & Mary Perrin and Hendrickson Road House - two US groups the first of which contained Sue Eakins and the second Chuck Perrin of The Shaggs. The HRH track is almost Jazz-Folk with great guitar work while "Mornings" is simple acoustic-guitar and voice folk with a superb lead from Mary Perrin - like The Mamas & Papas doing unplugged - undoubtedly a highlight on here. "Mr. Rubin" comes from Lesley Duncan's wonderful "Sing Children Sing" album from 1971 - a woman whose 'don't vote against love' voice and songwriting talent graced Elton's "Tumbleweed Connection" and Pink Floyd's "Dark Side Of The Moon". Coupled with Sandy Denny's "Late November" - both highlight the sheer talent and emotional reach amongst the English ladies.

Disc 3 (Vashti Bunyan pictured) opens with an unreleased cut from Lisa Bankoff and Francesca Garnett fronting Chimera as 'children of the sun'. The shadows of Grace Slick's Jefferson Airplane and Sandy Denny's Fairport Convention fill the trippy Folk-Rock soundscape as the guitars and voices chime (Pink Floyd's Drummer Nick Mason was the band's manager). "Early Morning Blues And Greens" brings the musical vibe firmly into Laurel Canyon Americana as Diane Hildebrand awakes to freshly scented sycamores and cold bare feet on someone's hardwood floor (this song was featured on the "Forever Changing: Elektra Records..." 5CD Box Set in 2006). I've lovely and reviewed the Bridget St. John material - her Nico-like vocals beguiling again here. The fey hippy 'he walks like a child' track by Principal Edwards Magic Theatre will probably bring some out in a flute-induced rash - better is a trio of goodies from The Association/Jefferson Airplane associated Ruthann Friedman, the wistful acoustic harmony-vocal of Design in their Jimmy Webb-sounding "The Lonely" which has very clever brass jabs and 5th Dimension big choruses. But best is Shelagh McDonald whose "Mirage" track features of wad of cult luminaries - Keith Christmas and Andy Roberts on Guitars, Keith Tippett on Piano with Tristan Fry on Vibes. It even has Robert Kirby who did Nick Drake’s work as the Arranger. It's driving flick-guitar vs. vibes rhythm feels like Fairport crossed with a jazzy Pentangle. I can so hear why this 1970 debut and the "Star Gazer" from 1971 both attract the interest of so many collectors (they clock in at £200 each in 2017 if you can find copies).

The Mary Hopkin track which is a Welsh version of a Gallagher & Lyle song called "Sparrow" has to be one of the most bizarre covers I've ever heard and unfortunately isn't likely to be to anyone’s tastes. Darling of the thousand-pound-LP club Vashti Bunyan gets her moment too from 1966 with the B-side "Love Song" - a pretty ditty that was too lightweight at the time to get noticed. I'm kind of shocked at how good the Bonnie Dobson track is - "Winter's Going" cleverly mixing Sitar and Strings to create a very cool tie-dye hip shaker. Back in the realms of serious money - Anne Briggs' 1971 LP "The Time Has Come" on CBS Records has been escalating in value for years to a point where it now commands a £500 pricetag. But "Sandman's Song" is again a tad underwhelming. Not so the rather brill and strangely poignant cover of The Everly Brothers classic "When Will I Be Loved" by the UK Folk Supergroup 'The Bunch'. Featuring a mishmash of Fairport Convention, Fotheringay and Matthews Southern Comfort at its playing core – out by the mikes The Bunch had the gorgeous vocal-duetting of Sandy Denny and Linda Peters. I recall the Island Records single and album were poo-poo'd at the time by purists - but in hindsight the whole project and this cover in particular have turned out to be lambasted material that absolutely deserves a second go-round. Other winners include Celia Humphries fronting the much-revered Trees on "Murdoch" (the very definition of UK Folk Rock) and an amazingly pretty "Banquet On The Water" by a 15 and 18-year brother and sister team called Sally and Mike Oldfield as The Sallyangie (his playing was utterly extraordinary even then and you can so hear Tubular Bells brewing under the surface).

To sum up - at times "Milk Of The Tree..." is truly wonderful and will definitely get you in touch with the feminine side of your record collection. But at other times and despite all the right credentials being there - the song-selection on each disc just firmly refuses to fly – so for me it’s four stars instead of five.

But having said that there's more than enough here to be seriously impressed and genuinely look forward to Volume 2. Hats off to all involved and big-time praise to all the women and artists who opened the doors all those years ago...