Having previously released two favourably received, but commercially neglected, albums for Mercury under the name Eyes Of Blue in the late 60s, Welsh band Big Sleep recorded Bluebell Wood for the Pegasus label in 1971. Though Eyes Of Blue had started out playing Motown numbers, they’d expanded their range by covering Love’s 7+7 Is and opening themselves up to psych and progressive rock.
They’d split by the time of Bluebell Wood’s release, with drummer John Weathers joining Gentle Giant and keyboardist Phil Ryan decamping to Welsh prog rock legends Man. But the result of their Chappell Studios deliberations was an adept and stylistically diverse collection that explored the band’s progressive interests, while still leaning on the classical influences that Eyes Of Blue had followed.
The music ranges from the very 70s travelogue sounds of the title track, though the ludicrously baroque opening strings on Saint & Sceptic and on to the lively and marketable closing song, When The Sun Was Out. Never before available on CD, this is a pleasingly easy-on-the-ear album that effortlessly blends its warm and hazy sounds with contrasting downbeat lyricism.
by Ian Abrahams
1. Death Of A Hope (John Weathers) - 5:35
2. Odd Song (Gary Pickford Hopkins) - 3:54
3. Free Life (John Weathers) - 6:29
4. Aunty James - 4:44
5. Saint & Sceptic - 6:36
6. Bluebell Wood - 11:26
7. Watching Love Grow -2:35
8. When The Sun Was Out - 3:42
All songs by Ritchie Francis except where stated
*Phil Ryan - Organ, Piano
*Ritchie Francis - Bass, Piano, Vocals
*John "Pugwash" Weathers - Drums, Vocals
*Raymond "Taff" Williams - Guitar
*Gary Pickford Hopkins - Vocals, Guitar