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Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Bread Love And Dreams - The Strange Tale Of Captain Shannon And The Hunchback From Gigha (1970 uk, dreamy folk, with baroque and sunshine pop trickles)

The mouthful named Bread Love and Dreams was a relatively short-lived two woman/one man folk trio hailing from the fair township of Edinburgh, Scotland. The self-titled debut in 1969 failed to ruffle any feathers. Their producer, Ray Horricks (Davy Graham, The Human Beast), had taken the original four-track recordings made by David McNiven, Angie Ray, and Carolyn Davis without their knowledge, threw them on an eight-track, and tacked on a bunch of strings. Horrick’s idea was to turn it into a concept album, but sales figures indicate that no one got it. Davis walked half way out the door after that, to unsuccessfully embark on a solo career. Somehow, by an act of uncertain mercy, McNiven and Ray were granted an extension to their Decca contract and headed back into the studio with Mr. Horricks.

The Strange Tale Of… and Amaryllis were recorded simultaneously, with the idea of releasing them together as a double LP. Horricks invested more of himself and his contacts into these sessions. As such, he pulled in the rhythm section from Pentangle and select session musicians to fill out the compositions. This time around, McNiven worked closely with an orchestra conductor, giving the new works a more natural feel over the debut. However, Decca was in the business of making money at whatever cost, just like most RIAA labels, so they split up the albums. Captain Shannon saw release in November of 1970 and Amaryllis mid-way through ‘71. The former was drenched in personal experience and the latter focused on more mystical songs, but neither was seriously promoted. After a brief supporting tour, Bread Love and Dreams was no more.

Though they were intended as two sides of a coin, I prefer the straightforward, semiautobiographical nature of Captain Shannon, and believe it to be their most essential work. Amaryllis was weighed down by its 21-minute long opening title track, which was really several songs mashed together, while its partner had a much more even tracklisting. Shannon opens on the lovely Dylan-esque “Hymn To Sylvia.” Written about a female biker in a rough London roadhouse, a flowing church organ and touches of harmonica rounds out a warm, traveling bassline and twin acoustic guitars. It’s the kind of tune to make you fall in love with strangers, and sets the tone of the record. There are characters everywhere you look.

Ignoring the slightly sloppy bongo, “Masquerade” predates Trooper with a ballad about a homicidal car thief. Ray’s voice is sampled, looped, and altered in a fashion ahead of its time, while an electric guitar rocks out as seriously as anything the band ever did. The saxophone there adds a nice punch to accent the chorus. The lone Carolyn Davis contribution, “Purple Hazy Melancholy”, takes things down a notch with sorrowful, otherworldly female vocals and a contemplative acoustic intro. Complimentary strings and horns eventually join in, making the track a wonderfully understated epic. It draws you in and makes you stay.

They don’t make albums much like this anymore. Sure, neither Captain Shannon nor Amaryllis did very well commercially, but McNiven himself notes they were probably released as part of a Decca tax scam, noting that they were promoted about as much as Andrew “Dice” Clay’s recent comeback tour. Sunbeam’s reissues (Amaryllis popping up late in 2007) were made with complete cooperation with the band, who provide a forward and lengthy, worthwhile explanations of each song. The few random photos are nice too. That makes this pressing of the lost Scottish acid-folk classic the most definitive yet.
by Alan Ranta  (PopMatters Contributing Editor)

1. Hymn for Sylvia - 5:43
2. Masquerade - 4:52
3. Sucking on a Cigarette - 3:30
4. Ho Who Knows All - 4:50
5. The Lobster Quadrille - 2:42
6. Butterfly Land - 5:06
7. Purple Haze Helancholy - 3:48
8. Sing Me a Song - 2:12
9. The Strange Tale of Captain Shannon and the Hunchback from Gigha - 6:56

Bread Love And Dreams
*David McNiven - Guitars, Keyboards, Vocals
*Angie Rew - Vocals , Flute
*Carolyn Davis - Vocals
Guest Musicians
*Terry Cox - Drums
*Allan Trajan - Keyboards
*Danny Thompson - Bass

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Stoneground - Family Album (1971 us, great west coast psych, live and studio recordings)

Stoneground was formed 1970 in San Francisco. What originally started as a trio soon expanded to a 10 piece band. Stoneground were know for their outstanding live performances and they toured America and Europe as part of Warner Brothers' Medicine Ball Caravan. In Europe they developed some kind of cult status through this. Nevertheless 1973 marked a big break in the band's history as differences in oppinion within the band caused them to split. Some of the band members: Cory Lerios, Steve Price and David Jenkins formed Pablo Cruise in 1973, a band that turned out to be a commercial success. Only Annie Sampson and Tim Barnes were remaining to form later versions of Stoneground with new band members.

Prior to their first album Stoneground had already recorded one album for Warner Brothers which the label didn't release. Later sessions resulted in the release of Stoneground's first album in 1971. The second album, a live double album, followed in the same year and 1972 saw the release of their third album. After their new formation Stoneground recorded four more albums between 1976 and 1982 - most of the songs being rock'n'roll. Somehow this formula didn't work out in times of disco tunes and new wave and eventually Stoneground disintegrated completely in the early eighties.

Disc 1  Live
1. Get Rhythm
2. Passion Flower
3. Corina
4. Big River
5. Won't Be Long
6. Super Clown
7. Richland Woman
8. Queen Sweet Dreams
9. Precious Lord
10.It Takes A Lot To Laugh
11.I Can't Help It
12.No Doreen
13.It's Not Easy
14.If You Gotta Go
15.Total Destruction To Your Mind

Disc 2   Studio
1. You Must Be One Of Us
2. All My Life
3. Where Will I Find Love
4. Gonna Have A Good Time
5. Jam It

*Sal Valentino - Guitar, Vocals, Percussion
*Tim Barnes - Guitar, Vocals
*Cory Lerios - Keyboards
*Stephen Price - Drums
*Brian Godula - Bass
*John Blakely - Guitar, Bass
*Lynne Hughes - Vocals
*Dierdre LaPorte - Vocals
*Annie Sampson - Vocals
*Lydia Morero - Vocals