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STACKRIDGE The Final Bow, Bristol 2015

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…This performance is exclusively confined to classic after classic spanning the whole Stackridge catalogue, all superbly delivered. Highlights abound, but the superlative versions of “God Speed The Plough”, “The Last Plimsoll” and Gordon Haskell’s wonderfully titled “No One’s More Important Than The Earthworm” take some beating. With former member Mutter Slater joining for a couple of tracks, there’s a special air to the evening and the finale of “Do The Stanley” will leave many a moist eye among the faithful. We may not see their like again. Get this if you’ve missed out on what the fuss is about!

Classic Rock Society (December 2017)


With a sound ranging from 60′s pop to blues, straight up rock to keyboard heavy prog and that of a string led, brass infused ensemble, there’s no doubt that Stackridge fit the billing ‘progressive’ much more succinctly than many out and out prog bands ever did. This set riding the gamut from the strings of “The Last Plimsoll” to the jaunt of “Fundamentally Yours”, which sounds like a less forceful Queen jamming with Yes. Along the way everything from “Something About The Beatles” to “Lummy Days”, via “Syracuse The Elephant” and “Dora The Female Explorer” confirm the stylistic about faces that occur throughout.

The crowd are involved and invigorated, if limited in size, while the sound across the show is excellent, although the fade outs in between songs do suck a little of the momentum out of proceedings; very little casual stage chatter making the cut. However with Davis, Warren and Lindley all in fine voice, whether leading from the front or combining to heighten the effect, and the overall performances as tight as you’d expect from a group of veterans who’ve run through these songs countless times, this really is a fitting tribute to a much loved band.

Coming with a booklet mixing a historical perspective with the thoughts and emotions of some of the band’s fans and which also pays respect to some of the more renowned former members, The Final Bow, Bristol 2015 is a wonderful two disc, twenty-two song strong celebration of a band who stuck to their guns and delighted many. It’s never too late to discover good music, and it has to be said that Stackridge’s final goodbye makes for just as strong an introduction to a vastly underrated group, as it is a fitting farewell.

Sea Of Tranquility (September 2017)


Although those who love the music really, really love it, Stackridge has always been criminally overlooked in the big scheme of things. They’ve written and recorded some of the most credible/incredible pop music and yet, for whatever reasons, they’ve never really received the attention they deserve. The 2015 band was comprised of Andy Davis, James Warren, Clare Lindley, Glenn Tommey, and Eddie John. And what a band they were. On this hefty double disc set, the band plays twenty-two selections for audiences who were obviously very familiar with the material. Highlights include “Over the Horizon,” “Fundamentally Yours,” “Something About the Beatles,” “Boots and Shoes,” and “Do The Stanley Aviator Brass (Plus Audience).” Sadly it’s farewell to Stackridge after so many years and so much wonderful music. But thankfully the tracks they recorded will always be around for future generations to admire and appreciate. Recommended. Top pick.

babysue (September 2017)


Stackridge in 2015 retained the spark of the early 70s when music was still expanding and they could add solid rock, whimsy and assorted oddness to witty lyrics and fine playing. Mutter Slater guests on two tracks and if you want proof of fine playing just listen to the flute composition, ‘Purple Spaceships Over Yatton’, With Mutter soloing.

RnR Magazine (September 2017)


None of their albums unturned, the ensemble concentrate on deep tracks from both distant and recent past, and throw into the mix a couple of pieces that didn’t make it to a studio LP. The quirkiest numbers aren’t performed here, though, stressing the set list’s sentimentality: from the translucent welcome of “Over The Horizon” to “Do The Stanley” which is passed to a brass section and audience singalong, there’s dewy-eyed nostalgia fogging up the proceedings, what with Mutter Slater’s flute returning to the fold for “Slark” and “Purple Spaceships Over Yatton” to help Andy Davis and James Warren close the decades-wide circle…

…Observing the group’s route from the vantage point of today, it’s almost impossible to avoid the wondering at how many songs in their repertoire bid farewell to a moment the artists’ inhabited at any given time, because the latter-day title track is only a reflection of the “Teatime” delicacy, and there’s a firm logic in placing Davis’ extracurricular “All I Do Is Dream Of You” alongside collective creations like “Fish In A Glass” whose insistent irony wouldn’t be lost on the crowd cheering their exit – because charisma still surrounds them.

The end of the story, then? Time for the band to go? Given their whimsy, here’s hoping they’ll be back one day. ****1/3

DMME.net (August 2017)


Clare’s violin leads ‘The Road To Venezuela’ from THE MAN WITH IN THE BOWLER HAT, one of the most impressive tracks, we also recognize the intro from ‘The Last Plimsoll’ is very BEATLES with always wonderful violin. The famous ‘Syracuse The Elephant’ from the second album is very oriental and sung in a very convincing way with the violin being a true revelation illuminating the concert. The delicious ‘Teatime’ from the same album is also featured, played energetically. If the violin is king, the piano and keyboards also have their time to shine. ‘God Speed The Plough’ has solo piano which is quickly joined by the violin, the piece gains in amplitude with layered keyboards…

Highlands Magazine (Translated – August 2017)


…At the end of a moving farewell tour, they decided to give a final concert at the Fiddlers Club in Bristol on December 19, 2015. That evening they were accompanied by Glenn Tommey (keyboards, vocals), old acquaintance who once played on the first album of The Korgis in 1979, Eddie John (drums) and Clare Lindley (violin, guitar, vocals)…long-time friend Mutter Slater honours the group with his presence on two titles, ‘Purple Spaceships Over Yatton’ and ‘Slark’. Still, with the same sense of derision, Stackridge offers a festive show where good mood is in order despite a palpable emotion…

Prog Female Voices (Translated – July 2017)


This new 2CD live set was recorded at Bristol and as the title says was their ‘Final Bow’ after 45 years the band have finally called it a day. I wish them a long and happy ‘retirement’. To those of you who are familiar with their output you will find, probably, a good few favourites here, remember ‘Do The Stanley’? If you are new to the band prepare to enjoy! I found myself repeatedly going back to CD2 tracks 4-6 and just smiling the tracks in question being ‘No Ones More Important Than The Earthworm’ ‘Lost And Found’ and ‘Boots And Shoes’. ‘Earthworm’ was in fact written by Gordon Haskell (Fleur-dy-lys, Ruperts People) Gordon never became a band member but had many connections, but that’s another story! It’s just a delight of a song and a title! Those three tracks just sum up the band for me. But then there’s ‘Slark’ and ‘Dora The Female Explorer’ and…well its all just so bloody enjoyable. Its fitting this should also be Angel Airs 500th release, half a grand, but a whole grand time to be had by all. Enjoy!

ninebattles.com (July 2017)


…Mutter Slater returns to add flute to signature tune ‘Slark’, and the expansive ‘Purple Spaceships Over Yatton’ but there are newer numbers too. A sad, beautiful farewell – but, given their past, one’s never certain that Stackridge have ever split up for good.

Record Collector (July 2017)


Andy Davis shines on so many tracks but Red Squirrel and The Final Bow glow to my ears. Of course we mustn’t forget little James Warren, who many consider to be the band’s Paul McCartney to Andy Davis’s John Lennon. Here that likeness is reinforced with sweet vocals and Beatlesque harmonies and melodic bass lines, amply showcased on Fundamentally Yours and The Last Plimsol. (And yes you do recognise James Warren’s voice – he sang lead on The Korgis worldwide smash Everybody’s Got to Learn Sometime.)

Both the two aforementioned songs though, first appeared on the George Martin produced The Man in the Bowler Hat, an album he held in much affection and is often considered to be one of the finest albums he produced outside of the Beatles.

In many ways the Beatles comparison is obvious and fitting, the constant need to develop and change, pulling in influences from disparate musical traditions but always remembering to write a killer tune. The difference of course is that no-one wonders why the Beatles are so under appreciated…

This parting gift is full of similar killer tunes, and after 46 years of loving them I am going to miss Stackridge live, but I have this wonderful memory of a wonderful day.

The Progressive Aspect (July 2017)


This 2-CD set captures the band at their final gig in front of a partisan and parochial audience just before Christmas 2015. Of course, we’ve had the previous live set ‘The Forbidden City’ in 2007 so this really is a gentle update as much as a poignant reminder of a great band…Fittingly, given Angel Air’s faith in the band’s more recent restoration, this is the label’s 500th release in its 20th year. Fan and manager reminiscences in the liner notes pad out an excellent souvenir. Stackridge may be history but their music lives on. ****

Get Ready to ROCK! (July 2017)


This recording of their final gig at Bristol’s Fiddlers Club marks Angel Air’s 500th album release and provides an appealing celebration of Stackridge’s quirkily melodic approach to music-making, with former frontman Mutter Slater rejoining their ranks for a couple of perennial crowd-pleasers, “Purple Spaceships Over Yatton” and the epic “Slark”.

Kevin Bryan, Regional Newspapers (June 2017)


Stackridge are at the heart of Angel Air Records, which celebrates its 20th anniversary this year and is now releasing their 500th album…The Final Bow was recorded at a packed Fiddlers Club in Bristol on December 19th 2015 as Andy Davis, James Warren, Clare Lindley, Glen Tommey and Eddie John were joined on stage by former member Mutter Slater. This double CD includes ‘Over The Horizon’, ‘Long Dark River’, ‘Fish In A Glass’, ‘Slark’, ‘Lummy Days’ and ‘Purple Spaceships Over Yatton’.

Bev Bevan, Sunday Mercury (May 2017)

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DAVEY DODDS Kernowcopia

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This is an album strongly infused with traditional and Celtic themes with the title track telling the story of poor Cornish folks trying the eke out a living whilst the rich Londoner lives high on the hog, but there’s hard edged social and political comment as well, notably on tracks like “Merlin’s Isle of Gramarye”, where he rails against fat-cat politicians and corporate greed, and he ramps up his electric guitar to put this message across forcibly on this which, at nine minutes, the longest track on what is, overall, a really good album.

Classic Rock Society (December 2017)


Often likened to Fish vocally, Dodds’ strong storytelling style comes through in this thoroughly stripped back setting where bodhran, mandolin, fiddle, tin whistle and even ‘bones’ are the backing for the vocalist to tell his tales – two of the musicians involved being Red Jasper men, Robin Harrison and David Clifford. The protagonist certainly hasn’t lost any of his acerbic edge, Dodds still turning a spotlight on what he views as social imbalances. The result is an album steeped in traditions, not just musically but also lyrically…an honest album that thrives on a clear love for the music and approach it employs…

Sea Of Tranquility (September 2017)


Where the Englishman’s erstwhile approach would be to weave his voice into a thick instrumental tapestry and tell a many-layered story, now Davey’s method is creating a threadbare, transparent, web-like experience of a song. It’s a cocoon of sorts, unravelling most impressively when the vocalist looks back on Dodd’s own classics such as “The Magpie” that THE UNTHANKS recently returned to the public attention: stripped of sonic assault and ensemble harmonies inherent to its “Sting In The Tale” original and left at the mercy of its writer’s a cappella choir that doesn’t require even the slightest strum, the tune is packing a mightier punch.

As only a couple cuts are given a group treatment, Davey’s ex-colleagues flocking in to adorn “Shoot The Gruffalo” and “Merlin’s Isle Of Gramarye” in an ethereal electric garb, most of the album numbers glimmer in the light reflected off Dodd’s mandolin and Martin Solomon’s fiddle and Celtic harp which make pieces like “Storm Cat Song” possessed with intrepid spirituality.

DMME.net (September 2017)


It is the harmonica of Kevin Taylor that stands out on ‘The Shaman’s Song’, it’s pretty serious music and full of mystery. ‘Shoot The Gruffalo’ is a sort of frenzied dance in the pure Celtic tradition, a successful way of finishing this beautiful album that at times reminds me of another English giant: JETHRO TULL, the influence can be heard in ‘Kick Off Your Shoes’. Unique music from an album with many traditional instruments – authenticity guaranteed.

Highlands Magazine (Translated – August 2017)


…The Magpie is a striking song because it’s all acapella. A full band version can be found on Red Jasper’s debut album in 1990. ‘The Shaman’s Song’ has harmonica in the arrangement, which makes a positive difference to the other songs of the album. Also remarkable is ‘Merlin’s Isle Of Gramarye’…The guitar and bass guitar are in the hands of Robin Harrison, while his Red Jasper mate David Clifford is on the drums…

ProgWereld (Translated – July 2017)


Davey admits that the prog-rock thing was self-indulgence on his part but some of Red Jasper’s music remains with him and several tracks are reworked on Kernowcopia. He’s also reunited with two members of the band…

RnR Magazine (July 2017)


Dodds enjoys revisiting some emblematic titles of the Red Jasper era. ‘The Magpie’ from Sting In The Tale (1990), recently released by the folk band The Unthanks on their 2015 Mount The Air album, ‘Jean’s Tune’ from A Midsummer Night’s Dream (1993), ‘Ship On The Sea’ and ‘The Shaman’s Song’ from The Winter’s Tale (1994) are among them.

Located at the crossroads between Jethro Tull for music and Fish for voice, Davey Dodds returns to the front of the stage primarily for his own pleasure. And that’s fine!

Prog Female Voices (June 2017)


I have always enjoyed Davey’s vocals, and the album certainly doesn’t give the impression that he has been away from the scene for so long, nor that he had to get himself a mandolin, as he is in full control, and it really was only yesterday that he was treading the boards (I commented that he didn’t seem to have changed much, and the response was “I have a painting in the attic”).
This is a truly beautiful album, and credit must be given to Derek Aunger who has worked with Davey to capture an incredible sound. The only real issue with it is that I have been playing it so much that it stopped me from listening to other material that I should have been getting on with! As to the album title, if you didn’t know, ‘Kernow’ is the Cornish name for Cornwall, so it is a play on that and “cornucopia” (an abundant supply of good things). Even though I’m from Devon, I must admit it’s not just pasties and the A38 that are the only decent things coming out from Cornwall, I’ll add this album to that incredibly small list. I love it.

MLWZ.pl (June 2017)


Dodds’ album is primarily Folk…drummer David Clifford is there on two pieces; guitarist and bassist Robin Harrison even features on “Merlin’s Isle of Gramarye”…otherwise, the album is dominated by Dodds’ vocals and mandolin with Martin Solomon’s fiddle…

Musik An Sich (Translated – June 2017)


Magnificent Cornish storytelling songs from prog rocker Davey Dodds! The best folk release of the last decade!

Keys and Chords (June 2017)

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RENAISSANCE ILLUSION Through The Fire

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Two bonus tracks are included: The first, ‘If There Was Something I Could Change’, contains excellent guitar parts by Dzal Martin, as well as a beautiful sequence of pan flute. ‘Moving On’ is quite similar with its beautiful guitar and piano, a delicious way of complementing the voice of McCarty…this music is sensitive, rich, and not to be judged on a single listen.

Highlands Magazine (Translated – August 2017)


…thankfully the music herein displays more creativity and imagination than the band name, as tracks like opener ‘One More Turn Of The Wheel’ and ‘Glorious One’ take obvious inspiration from McCarty’s beliefs, with much of the music on the record reflecting the peace and serenity and occasional almost trance-like feel of this philosophy…if you like those original Renaissance and Illusion templates, give this a try…it doesn’t stray to far from that template…

Classic Rock Society (July/August 2017)


It started out as a McCarty solo project – Jane Relf’s vocals are restricted to harmonies, but the dreamy, spiritual otherworldly atmosphere of Illusion remains, whether the floating soundscape of ‘Mystery Of Being’ (which turned up in a louder vein on The Yardbirds’ 2003 return ‘Birdland’), the eastern trills of ‘One More Turn Of The Wheel’ or the title track with its new age synth, this is far more than merely a casual reunion and it’s topped off with a couple of decent previously unheard tracks too.

Record Collector (July 2017)


From start to finish you are taken on a whirlwind tour of the exotic sounds and nuances of musical styles from peoples and cultures around the world. The Angel Air label’s decision to re-release this long unavailable album is to be warmly congratulated. It is captivatingly atmospheric, whisking you away to a decidedly gentler place and what feels like a much kinder space, where you can put aside the worries and complexities of the moment and enjoy the sounds of happier times.

The Progressive Aspect (May 2017)


Having recorded solo albums in the ’90s, Jim McCarty decided in 2000 to form Renaissance Illusion with his former bandmates Jane Relf, Louis Cennamo and John Hawken, who had all been with him in his bands Renaissance and Illusion, to record a new album.

That album was long out of print but now rereleased with two previously unheard bonus tracks – ‘If There Was Something I Could Change?’ and ‘Moving On’.

Bev Bevan, The Sunday Mercury (April 2017)


…meanwhile McCarty made solo albums and in an interview with Radio 68 he calls “Through The Fire” half solo, semi group. ‘Half solo’ because he wrote everything and sings most of the songs, ‘half group’ because he had, in his own words, not only the need for the talent of his old friends but also their ability to provide ‘chemistry’…The result is a piece that I would rather call spiritualistic than prog, also due to the spiritual message of McCarty’s lyrics: the imbalance in the world, the mystery of life (‘Mystery Of Being’), the importance of people with good heart (‘Good Heart’), the wisdom of the master himself (‘Glorious One’) and core elements such as karma and rebirth (‘One More Turn Of The Wheel’, ‘Through the Fire’).

Musically the group finds a nice balance between the atmosphere needed to create such a spiritualist foundation on the one hand and the needs of a progressive rock album on the other. McCarty sings the praises of Louis Cennamo and especially the classically trained pianist Hawken, who then turned a song with two chords to a charming song (‘One More Turn Of The Wheel’). ‘Good Heart’ and the two bonuses certainly provide the necessary rhythm…

Keys and Chords (Translated – April 2017)


…the surviving members of the original Renaissance line-up did reconvene three decades later to record a splendid new album in the shape of ‘Through The Fire.’ As an exercise in melodic soft-rock this tastefully constructed package was well nigh faultless, with ‘One More Turn Of The Wheel’ and ‘Mystery Of Being’ emerging as two and the stand-out tracks.

Kevin Bryan, Regional Newspapers (April 2017)


As with most of this version of Renaissance (and Illusion), the basis of this album may be more song based than many will expect, memorable and gently hook laden choruses sticking long in the mind as the likes of “Good Heart”, “Glorious One” and “My Old Friend” play out. The latter a beautifully poised selection that conveys loss and time passing in a cleverly accessible manner, even as its pace refuses to rise above an engaging crawl. With “Beyond The Day” a gentle sway that incorporates pipes and whistle and “Through The Fire” almost a casual jaunt that possesses a decided glint in its eye, while this album could never be seen as anything other than reserved and controlled, it is somehow surprisingly diverse. This Angel Air reissue adds two previously unheard bonus selections in the shape of “If There Was Something I Could Change?” and “Moving On”, which thankfully don’t break the album’s spell, fitting the mood and atmosphere perfectly. As such they are both welcome additions and, rather pleasingly, just as good as anything the original release contained.

They may have been overshadowed by the band they formed and then left behind and their reappearance as Illusion. However, with this solitary album Renaissance Illusion created a worthy legacy of their own and one that in this hectic world provides an excellent opportunity to slow down and relax with some beautifully poised and memorable music.

Sea Of Tranquility (April 2017)

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SHOOT On The Frontier CD

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Shoot’s one and only album was recorded at Abbey Road and Air studios in early 1973, and produced by Ian McLintock, who’d played with The Others, Sands and Sundragon before moving into the production field at EMI. “I knew The Others because they were all at my school, Hampton,” notes Jim. Released later that year, the album features an impressive set of melodic West Coast-flavored material, all but one song composed (or co-written) by McCarty. The opening “Neon Life” is a standout with its soaring vocal harmonies, tasteful lead guitar work and jazzy undertow. “Neon Life” was about that late city life that I was trying to avoid at that time,” says Jim. “I’d moved out of London about 20 miles and relished the peace and quiet where I lived.” The haunting “Sepia Sister” is another highlight, its gentle acoustic backdrop cloaked by clouds of Mellotron and psychedelic lead guitar. “Sepia Sister” was influenced by the spaciousness of America – something I’ve always loved,” says McCarty. “I liked those old sepia prints from the Wild West. The Mellotron was pretty fashionable at the time and really brought out the feeling of spaciousness in that song. Also, you didn’t have to be a keyboard virtuoso to play it!”

…Unfortunately the album sold unspectacularly at the time. “I’m afraid we had very little airplay and consequently never really got off the ground in terms of touring,” recounts Jim. “We recorded some more demos, but were not taken up by the record company.” The group split up soon afterwards. “It was all very disappointing,” he admits, “but I think the album does sound pretty good now, and I’m very happy it got a rerelease.”

The CD reissue by Angel Air adds two tracks from a December 1972 BBC radio session, “Neon Life” and an otherwise unrecorded song, “Storms as Sorrows”.

Ugly Things Magazine (Summer/Fall 2017)


On this CD debut (with 2 extra items), the compositions per se still shape up to confident and often unorthodox arrangements, passing any artistic litmus test if stripped down to just voice and piano, as is actually the case for half of waltz-time ‘Old Time Religion’, a most immediately memorable opus along with ‘Ships And Sails’, guitarist Dave Greene’s brief ‘Head Under Water’ instrumental, the understated tension of ‘Sepia Sister’ plus the title track (and spin-off single)

R2 Magazine (May/June 2017)


Released in 1973, it keeps a wide berth from the sort of sweeping acoustic-based prog of that early Renaissance in favour of a largely soft-rock approach which yet lurches wildly and unpredictably into country-rock, blues, folk-boogie and even some art-pop, worthy of the nascent 10cc. The latter is best represented by the opening track and probably the standout, the very cleverly composed and played ‘The Neon Life’. Other highlights are the subtle yet charming ‘Sepia Sister’ and the lengthy closer ‘Mean Customer’.

Classic Rock Society (May/June 2017)


It’s a shame that Shoot’s flame burned out so quickly, as this debut showed a lot of promise but ultimately it was to be the lone recorded output from the band before they broke up. Angel Air has gone to great lengths to make On the Frontier’s first appearance on CD a good one, complete with a detailed history of the band and photos. It’s well worth investigating for those always searching for rare ’70s rock.

Sea Of Tranquility (April 2017)


‘The Neon Life’ is responsible for opening the album and it is particularly well placed, led by Jim’s piano. The saxophones of Lyn Dobson and Bob Birtles give a jazzy colouring…We notice the importance of Jim’s dominant voice, with beautiful vocal harmonies on ‘Ships And Sails’ combined with sumptuous arrangements, and wonderful guitar. ‘Living Blind’ has electric piano bringing a funky side, also enhanced by the saxophones and feverish guitar. Jim’s voice is warm and melodious.

All the sound of the west coast of the United States is honoured on ‘On The Frontier’ where BJ Cole plays the pedal steel guitar. In 1973, this track was offered by Jim to Renaissance for his fourth album ‘Ashes Are Burning’…two bonuses are included from radio sessions…a beautiful version of ‘The Neon Life’ where guitar and piano are worth the detour. One wonders why this album has gone completely unnoticed, certainly hidden by the stars like Roxy Music, Queen and Genesis.

Highlands Magazine – Translated (March 2017)


Jim’s former group would cover the title piece of “On The Frontier” a few months down the line, but there’s a charged urgency to the ivories-driven original to send ripples across the tracks and veer away before voices elevate the country-tinctured “Midnight Train” above the painstakingly textured surface of the record – best felt on “Sepia Sister” which, in its grand understatement, could shine on McCarty’s next venture, ILLUSION. In a SHOOT context, though, the momentum-gaining “Living Blind” unfolds as a demonstration of the band’s jazzy edge, from electric keyboard strokes to the shards of brass that are also sprinkled over Greene’s acid-kissed six strings to add a touch of psychedelic delight to “The Neon Life” whose previously unreleased live-on-radio version extended it to highlight the collective’s interplay and vocal harmonies.

Another bonus, “Storms As Sorrows” where wah-wah has a field day, didn’t make the cut, but if it did there would be a nice arc between this number and an almost orchestral “Ships And Sails” which is weaving acoustic lace around the same bobbing bass. Just as majestic, and helped by a new RENAISSANCE’s John Tout on piano, “Old Time Religion” paints patinated lines over a hymnal swell, but it’s “Mean Customer” that rhythmic wonders are housed in to shake off the cobwebs and welcome raga into the fold.

Slightly exotic, although not going all over the place, the album would struggle to find a listener, so after a handful of concerts, the players became disillusioned and soon went separate ways; their only collaboration remains an essential piece of British art-rock rock puzzle. ****

DMME.net (March 2017)


This in fact is mostly soft rock with hints of country, psych and prog here and there, with only ‘The Boogie’ being somewhat in blues mode…Dave Greene plays incisive guitar on ‘The Neon Life’ and is excellent throughout; on some tracks the exceptional Lyn Dobson (ex-Georgie Fame and the Blue Flames) and Bob Bertles (ex Max Merritt & the Meteors) augment on horns; there are two bonus tracks, from radio sessions.

Blues In Britain (March 2017)


Their one and only album…now released for the first time on CD, Jim McCarty has added 2 previously unreleased radio session bonus tracks – ‘Storms As Sorrows’ and ‘The Neon Life’.

Bev Bevan, The Sunday Mercury (February 2017)


The band made only a scant number of live appearances and managed only a single album, On the Frontier, now reissued by Britain’s highly laudable Angel Air label with two radio sessions tagged on for good measure…a closer listen reveals several hidden gems – the supremely melodic “The Neon Life,” “Ships and Sails” and the title track (belatedly covered by a McCarty-less Renaissance) among them…there’s something to be said for the album’s sensual sound, making it more than a mere curio and a still-worthy part of the Yardbirds’ lingering legacy.

Goldmine Magazine (February 2017)


It’s a shame that Shoot’s flame burned out so quickly, as this debut showed a lot of promise but ultimately it was to be the lone recorded output from the band before they broke up. Angel Air has gone to great lengths to make On the Frontier’s first appearance on CD a good one, complete with a detailed history of the band and photos. It’s well worth investigating for those always searching for rare ’70s rock.

Sea Of Tranquility (February 2017)


This is the first time that this album has ever been made available on CD. Shoot was a short lived band. During the time they were together, this is the only album they released in 1973. The band was comprised of Jim McCarty (lead vocals, keyboards, percussion), Dave Greene (vocals, guitars, banjo), Bill Russell (bass), and Craig Collinge (drums, percussion). Principle songwriter McCarty is best known as the drummer in The Yardbirds and Renaissance. But he has also released solo albums and played in Together, Illusion, Box of Frogs, Stairway, The British Invasion All-Stars, and Pilgrim (whew!).

This is one of those cases in which this album will probably find an entirely new listening audience in 2017. It seems sad that these tracks have been unavailable for such a long time. Although recorded decades ago, these recordings have lost none of their magic over the years. The playing is precise and inspired, and the vocals are simply amazing. Recorded at Abbey Road studios, these cuts still sound amazing. In addition to the original ten tracks on the original album, this reissue also includes the bonus tracks “Storms As Sorrows (radio session)” and “The Neon Life (radio session).” Listening to this, one can’t help but wish these guys had kept things together longer to record more music. Another true gem unearthed by the folks at Great Britain’s Angel Air label.

babysue (February 2017)


A forgotten jewel of former Yardbirds and Renaissance drummer Jim McCarty. ‘Shoot’ missed the commercial goal in the seventies but is nevertheless an impressive album.

Keys and Chords (January 2017)


This album will tweak the interest of classic rock fans, featuring the drummer from The Yardbirds and the original line-up of Renaissance, Jim McCarty.

Originally released in 1973 it failed to make much of an impact; the band hardly gigged to support it. However, now on CD for the first time, it is something of a lost psychedelic progressive rock gem.

Southern Daily Echo (January 2017)

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GORDON GILTRAP & PAUL WARD The Last Of England

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With beds of synths crafting alluring soundscapes and orchestral arrangements, Giltrap mesmerizes with his nimble guitar flights, as on the folky prog of “Spring” or the epic title track, while “All the Days of May” is just gorgeous, melodic pop music that enchants on every level. It’s not all upbeat and wispy however, with “The Light of the World” having more of a somber tone and the solo Giltrap piece “Loren” also taking a more poignant, emotional course, but for the most part, this is a very uplifting album that tugs at your very soul. “Work” is just lovely, a symphonic prog ride littered with Giltrap’s deft picking, and Ward’s fine church organ adds a majestic touch to the grand “The Anna Fantasia”. Fairport Convention’s Rick Sanders even shows up as a guest on the final track “A Promise Fulfilled”, easily the albums brightest song and a lovely way to end this magical album.

…Filled with memorable melodies and fantastic instrumentation, it’s a can’t miss instrumental album for anyone into folk based prog music with killer acoustic guitar work and symphonic keyboard arrangements. Well done guys!

Sea Of Tranquility (October 2017)


This inventive pairing has resulted in a warm, pastoral record inspired by Pre-Raphaelite art. Ward’s synth flourishes and string arrangements are never obtrusive, serving to underscore each hypnotic guitar figure.


Ford Madox Brown’s haunting painting The Last Of England is the stunning cover of this limited edition vinyl album, 10 tracks that in the old days of prog rock, might have been called a suite. But it’s hard to get a handle on the music. Paul Ward lays down glorious melodic washes of floating synth, creating ethereal backdrops for Giltrap’s guitar work, always underrated and empathetic. And his neo-baroque licks mesh well with the grandeur of Ward’s keyboard creations. The result is a a rolling ambient soundscape of much beauty. Peculiarly it’s only at the end that you realise that there’s nary a tune in sight.


This uplifting album takes its name from an 1855 oil painting – ‘The Last Of England’ by Ford Madox Brown. Both painting and record supply feelings of light & flight and deliver a promise of a better tomorrow beyond brush strokes and detailed liner notes.

There is much Greensleeves and Lavender Blue in folk tempo – a delightful dilly-dally – the whole album acts as a whole and although each of the fourteen tracks bear their own names, such as ‘April Love’ and ‘Sadie In May’, the default position is always the ever faultless, ‘The Last Of England’. Highly recommended. 10/10

Mark Watkins (August 2017)


Giltrap remains one of the supreme folk guitar stylists of any era. This collaboration with keys meister Paul Ward brings out the best of both men. ‘The Last Of England’ is grounded by Ward’s vast cinematic keyboard sweeps (redolent of his film and TV work), while Giltrap’s intricate finger picking is pure English shires on a summer’s day . Indeed several of the tunes, including the title track, might be lifted from a film score about the Pre-Raphaelite painters whose work inspires much of this album. Meditative ballads like ‘This Father’s Love’ and the glorious hymn-like ‘The Anna Fantasia’ showcase Giltrap at his best.

Prog Magazine (April 2017)


All compositions and acoustic guitar work are by Gordon Giltrap while the keyboards (at least 16 types) are by Paul Ward. One is unlikely to distinguish between the various Moogs, Rolands and Mellotrons etc, but overall there is the effect of full orchestration without being overloaded.

Guitar carries the main tune each time and the guitars used were made by Roger Bucknell of Fylde Guitars except for a 3/4 sized instrument produced by Paul Brett of John Hornby Skewes. Giltrap’s technique is well known and recognisable throughout this disk but the track ‘Spring’ is the most in his tradition.

Tracks 1 to 7 are reflections on famous Victorian Pre-Raphaelite paintings and are subtitled ‘The Brotherhood Suite’, the original paintings being described briefly in the liner notes. The 8 1/2 minute title track ‘The Last Of England’ is a well-balanced piece introducing this section while ‘Work’ provides a percussive, lively conclusion…

Pipeline Magazine (Spring 2017)


…Giltrap starts in harmony on the atmospheric ‘April Love’, accompanied by the Mellotron flute. Acoustic guitar provides sweet nostalgic efflorescence in the opening of ‘From The Light Of The World’, there are some programmed drums which are happily fleeting – the acoustic guitar, accompanied by a translucent orchestration quickly returns. ‘Loren’ offers guitar arpeggios, with an opening in the vein of Anthony Phillips. The resemblance is striking, with the same sense of beauty and shade. ‘The Anna Fantasia’ has dreamy guitar in the introduction, keyboards providing an atmospheric counterpoint. ‘This Father’s Love’ begins with serene acoustic guitar, enhanced by a fine orchestration, offering a feeling of serenity…it should be noted that inspiration inhabits the entirety of this collection. A great success! 4/5 Stars

Highlands Magazine – Translated (March 2017)


Weaving silvery vignettes over a pastel backdrop, an unobtrusive mood-setter of sorts, the maestro’s acoustic guitars project a lucid pastorale to enchant the listener, while the ivories delicately spill pointillist drops on the landscape and elevate the panorama of the title piece, and the entire “Brotherhood” suite, to a 3D-vista. A meditative “Ania’s Dream” may suggest there’s a new-age kind of slow motion on display, what with instrumental voices almost turning “Plas Oriel” into a maudlin song, but melancholy doesn’t belong here: “The Anna Fantasia” is a solemn hymn, “Spring” a jovial minuet, and it takes “Work” to reveal a rock-minded contrast between drama and serenity. Still, Gordon’s Gordian knot of folk tunes and prog sophistication & Ward’s sentimental telepathy come to full fruition on “A Promise Fulfilled” with FAIRPORTS’ Ric Sanders violin leading them towards cosmic dance.

If this is the future of Albion they’re heading for, it’s not the last we’ve seen of England: until artists exist there, it’s going to rule aural waves. ****3/4

DMME.net (March 2017)


How can anyone fault the faultless? Anyone who’s into what Giltrap brings to the table – acoustically or electronically – will be truly endeared by this release. And the team-up with producer Paul Ward, who supplies the keyboards and expansive backdrop to this album, is an inspired success. Beautiful and gentle in the main, sometimes folky but unmistakably Giltrap. If you’re a fan or not, but appreciate acoustic guitar, this is most definitely your cup of English tea.

Classic Rock Magazine (March 2017)


…The delicate ‘Ania’s Dream’ is a wonderful marriage of guitar sympathetically underpinned by church organ, whilst the liveliest track is saved to the very end. ‘A Promise Fulfilled’ sees Fairport’s Ric Sanders adding his distinct violin, who along with Gordon and Paul offer a rousing conclusion to The Last Of England.

Gordon Giltrap and Paul Ward have produced something rather special here and a release that ranks very highly in the GG catalogue. The Last Of England is a wonderful testament to Gordon Giltrap and his music…

The Progressive Aspect (March 2017)


This is a different sort of album than what we’re used to hearing from Great Britain’s Angel Air label. A few years ago this probably would have been categorized as new age or world music. But in 2017, folks would probably just describe this as instrumental. Guitarist Gordon Giltrap has been making music for decades. He came to the attention of most of his fans with his 1978 hit “Heartsong.” Ever since, he has continued playing for his ever-growing fan base. For this album, Giltrap teamed up with keyboard player/producer Paul Ward. Together, the two present some very subtle instrumentals that feature excellent gliding melodies and articulate arrangements. If there’s a single word we would use to describe this music that word would be…inspired. Fourteen immaculate tracks here including “The Last of England,” “April Love,” “Sadie In May,” and “A Promise Fulfilled.”

babysue (February 2017)


Now Gordon has teamed up with keyboardist and producer Paul Ward to release an innovative new album that crosses several styles, from prog to rock to pop to classical, in the unique style that Gordon has developed and honed over his career.

Bev Bevan, Sunday Mercury (January 2017)


Giltrap and Ward serve up an attractive blend of old and new composition for your listening pleasure, including a suite of evocative instrumental pieces inspired by the significant pre-Raphaelite paintings hanging in the Birmingham Art Gallery, most notably ‘All The Days Of May’ and the epic title track.

Kevin Bryan, Regional Newspapers (January 2017)


Ward’s arrangements are never intrusive but always complementary giving an extra dimension to Giltrap’s solo guitar. It’s evident a lot of thought has gone into this aspect, and the informative liner notes highlight the mutually shared inspiration. Fairport’s Rick Sanders adds violin to the closing piece – and standout – ‘A Promise Fulfilled’.

A great way to usher in 2017 and Angel Air’s 20th anniversary. *****

Get Ready to ROCK! (January 2017)

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ROBIN SARSTEDT TU

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Away from music for a long time, as there was only a collaboration with Peter on 1986′s “Asia Minor” after “You Must Remember This” that had been out six years earlier, Robin’s comeback wasn’t overdue, to say the least – nobody could hope for a new album – but he’s on a roll again, and is good at it. Mostly acoustic, with keyboard providing a delicate backdrop to an exquisite guitar strum, the pieces on “TU” are brimful with gratitude to life that’s never taken for granted, and not for nothing, opening with the artist’s own “Love Can Hurt” whose bittersweet optimism is a light at the end of memory lane, the record is resolved with Dylan’s “Forever Young” because there’s a blessing in every experience Sarstedt has gone through to tell about now.

He’s no stranger to a singer-songwriter stance, but the concise autobiography “I Just Want To Rock ‘n’ Roll” betrays a rebel under a bard’s skin, and the jagged riff of “Back Again” scratches against its tanned complacence – a deceptive kind of veneer which can be easily broken when sociopolitical affairs come into romantic play on this track or a cover of brother Peter’s “Beirut” – while Robin’s take on Ric Grech’s “Kiss The Children” adds baroque air, that Gram Parsons’ version didn’t have, to the proceedings. And if “Song For Tessa,” a ballad dedicated to Sarstedt’s late wife, is straightforwardly lyrical, “Losin’ End” cuts the deepest, whereas the determination of “Doggone” has its harmonica-oiled bluesy twang shaping a bright tomorrow – or TU-morrow – for Robin. He persevered with this music, and it’s time for him to carry on. ****

DMME.net (February 2017)


His latest album ‘TU’ is a melodic one, featuring several self-penned compositions plus versions of two Peter Sarstedt songs – ‘Beirut’ and ‘Mellowed Out’ – two Bob Dylan – ‘Thunder On The Mountain’ and ‘Forever Young’ – and Michael McDonald’s ‘Losing End’.

Bev Bevan, Sunday Mercury (December 2016)


…There’s some lovely guitar playing, too; smooth and vaguely bluesy riffs on the electric guitar and some nice picking on the acoustic guitar. He opens with a selection of his own songs, all of which are strong compositions, before some covers, including ‘Beirut’ by brother Peter and Nobel Laureate Bob’s ‘Thunder On The Mountain’.

The Chronicle (October 2016)

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MUTTER SLATER BAND The Champ

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The album finishes with a wonderful ballad ‘I’m Not The Man’ where Mutter SLATER offers a new song of love with a sequence of flute in the finale…The MUTTER SLATER BAND gives you the assurance of having a good time.

Highlands Magazine (Translated – August 2017)


…His second sees a five piece band – subtle guitar, rich sax, hammond – used to startling effect; a progressive West Country reinvention of Gulf Coast roadhouse rock ‘n’ soul music. The slow arm title track would make Dan Penn and Spooner Oldham smile. ‘Why Are You Talking To Me?’ rocks with selfish abandon and yet ‘Even Love?’, with Mutter’s echoing flute, could eerily be a modern Stackridge number. All with one of the greatest unsung voices in British music at the fore.

Record Collector Magazine (November 2016)


Champ is an album of sophisticated rock with a retro feel. In fact, there isn’t that much flute and the chief instrument is Clive Ashley’s tenor saxophone underpinned by Tom Hughes’ organ and a solid rhythm section. Nor is there much of the eccentricity of Stackridge, although ‘Icing On The Cake’ could well date from them, cleverly playing with a pun on ‘counter culture’. It’s a great song, as is ‘A Day On The Town’, which reminds me oddly of Ray Davies – world weary and bluesy with its finger on the pulse of a seedy pub, and restrained lead guitar from co-producer Chris Cleaver. The title track is pure melancholy with sax and organ playing a tired duet. The band is extremely tight, as it should be after ten years and three previous albums, and it all sounds effortless. If I called it laid back you might get the wrong idea because there’s an edge to all the songs and a sting in the lyrics.

R2 Magazine (November 2016)


The name Mutter Slater is familiar to many people, mostly in Great Britain as Slater was the frontman and flute player for many years in the critically-acclaimed pop band Stackridge. Now that the band is sadly no more, individual members are (thankfully) continuing to make music. As you might expect, Slater’s music has changed and evolved since his days playing pure pop in Stackridge. The Champ finds him writing and recording songs heavily influenced by American blues, soul, and rhythm and blues. Slater’s voice adapts beautifully to this style of music. These tracks have a nice smooth sound, and an overall laidback vibe. Joining Mutter on these recordings are Chris Cleaver, Clive Ashley, Dan Wheeler, Tom Hughes, and Ian Oliver. Nine relaxed pensive cuts including “Even Love?”, “Icing On The Cake,” “The Champ,” and “I’m Not The Man.”

babysue (October 2016)


In sound it’s still the 70s, a blend of the folk, rock and the psychedelic that reminded us of Traffic. It could be a little heavy handed but it’s not, Slater having a good ear for melody and still wielding a mean flute. Opener ‘Even Love?’ is a slower, bluesy rock tune that’s not the best but does indicate what’s to come, with flute and sax. The next song, ‘Your Love Affair With Pain’, is funkier and more on the pop side, with some nice sax. Elsewhere, the upbeat ‘Icing On the Cake’ has some good Dylanesque organ. ‘Jesus In The Backyard’ mixes prog and blues and showcases all the instruments; take a listen to that or the jaunty country-tinged ‘Why Are You Talking To Me?’ Overall, it’s a strong album, and for fans of 70′s rock, a good one to buy and tell all their friends about. But don’t believe us; Uncle Billy Bragg says: “Mutter Slater has one of the greatest voices of British rock, and he writes a mean song, too.”

The Chronicle (September 2016)


The Champ is filled with fine British rock with a main influence from classic R&B of the ’60s. What hit me right from the start was Slater’s excellent lead vocals. His voice is deep and clear with excellent tone and depth of feeling. Every song is strong but if I had to pick a few favourites I would choose the heart wrenching balladic title track, the tender “I May Not Be An Angel” with its lovely organ and guitar and the catchy R&B of “Icing On The Cake” with its nice acoustic flavour.

The Champ proves the old guard can still make some great music. In this day and age when it seems substance and quality is sorely lacking in popular culture, it is refreshing to hear music full of soul and passion. Another highly recommended release courtesy of Angel Air Productions.

Sea Of Tranquility (September 2016)


With Cleaver and Hughes producing and engineering, the nine tracks on The Champ take the listener through all kinds of bluesy rock terrain and Mutter’s lyrics are key to understanding the power and the glory behind Mutter’s latest rock classics. Best listened to several times to gain the full impact, with The Champ, The Mutter Slater Band has produced a 21st century music classic.

MWE3.com (September 2016)


The music can be described as “blue-eyed soul” and the lyrics are about human strength and tenderness, love, bars, train and bus rides, long walks and cosmic disintegration. Mutter’s voice has become more mature over the years, which is evident on “Icing On The Cake”. The title track is a ballad with a sax solo. “Jesus In The Backyard” is sometimes more rocky. For lovers of mixed forms of blues with soul and R & B.

Keys and Chords (September 2016 – translated)


The man who Billy Bragg once haled as ‘one of the greatest voices of British rock’ still turns out effortlessly melodic albums from time to time, marrying his enduring love of sixties blues and soul with a lyrical sensibility which couldn’t be more quintessentially English as he unveils the freshly minted charms of ‘I May Not Be An Angel’, ‘Even Love?’ and the majestic title tune.

Kevin Bryan, Regional Newspapers (September 2016)

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SNAKE EYE The Journey

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All written by Richardson, with the exception of a co-write with Hales (original drummer Jackson was replaced by Gary Burroughs on two tracks, liner notes misspell), half the number of tracks compared to Red Dirt’s debut signal the new direction. Pulsing Rickenbacker stereo bass opens the title track, joined by orchestral-like guitar and atmospheric harmonies, then the dreamy interludes of World In A Mountain build to fine solos. Twin guitars (both Gibson SG’s) swirl over a Nick Pickett-sounding vocal (Sweet Dream Lady), followed by shimmering cymbals with guitar-picking, power drumming and bass oscillating crescendo and interlude (The Heart Of A Young Boy). As it’s about a youth’s early death, the twin vocals haunt in their contrast fitting the tragic theme; one can even imagine the poor chap’s last breathing. This isn’t prog for its own sake but inventive creativity.

Energy is upped with prickly, staccato guitars reminding of Steve Hillage complete with some pungent riffing (Don’t Be A Fool), then atmospheric vocal and wide palette on the mystical 13-minute closer The Journey’s End. All combine for middle riffs as time changes stun by their variety, a hallmark of this imaginative combo. The bonus tracks are a surprise-but not if you have the Red Dirt album. The violin-led (by multi-instrumentalist Dave Richardson) group composition Tolly Cobbold, from early Morgan sessions in 1970, would have been perfect for a quirky single-think of a jam with East of Eden and Steeleye Span!

Psychedelic Baby Magazine (January 2017)


The album was recorded in 1972, but then, despite hawking it around various record companies, it failed to get a release and the band folded (until, that is, guitarist Ron Hales resurrected them with a new line-up this year). They deserved better, as this six track album, with its twin lead guitar form, is a pretty enjoyable listen…an interesting enough curio to invest in and see for yourself.

Classic Rock Society (January / February 2017)


If your hankering terribly for early-70′s twin lead guitars, you owe it to yourself to sniff out The Journey (****) – recorded in ’72 but unreleased until approximately this instant…Formerly trading as Red Dirt, under which name they issued a hugely collectible self-titled album for Fontana in 1970, Snake Eye played with a tenderness that whispers volumes about their maturity and discreet confidence. The title track and ‘Don’t Be A Fool’ are little paragons of jazzy, gentle sophistication, while you could play the dry and deliberate ‘World In A Mountain’ to any of your muso pals and tell them it was by Wolf People, and they’d believe you. Yep, it’s that good.

Shindig Magazine (December 2016)


…Strange as it may seem, the most elaborate and at the same time beguiling display of the group’s method is epic “The Journey’s End” where a psyched-up tension and romantic release bring out the best in them. The clarity is there, in the title track, whose two guitars – that Ron Hales and Gary Boroughs interweave in an intricate if loose pattern akin to early WISHBONE ASH – envelop a jazz-tinged rhythm and introduce mellifluous vocal harmonies, and in the intermittently effervescent “Don’t Be A Fool” that Dave Richardson’s pipes inform with a call to action.

DMME.net (December 2016)


The Journey was recorded in 1972 but never released. Dual guitar, changes of tempo with melodic to heavy elements of both British and American rock infecting their sound, allowing the listener to draw comparison to everyone from Blue Cheer to Wishbone Ash.

Record Collector Magazine (November 2016)


Strangely for an album where they are buried deep within lengthy twin guitar interplay and booming rhythms, the vocals from Dave Ritchie offer a dreamy change of mood that fits the music well. Although there’s little doubt that it’s the fret work of Ritchie and Ron Hales, and how that melds keenly with Ken Giles’ bass, that is the key to what makes The Journey as engaging as it is. Drummer Steve Jackson holds up his end of the deal, eagerly adding emphasis and style – as does Gary Boroughs who appears behind the kit on two tracks to Jackson’s four…the six main album cuts are worth the price of entry alone, the easy mannered but pinpoint sharp and hugely memorable melodies this outfit were capable of weaving, really quite impressive.

Personally I’d never heard of Snake Eye before this welcome Angel Air release, something explained by the fact that these recordings have never actually seen the light of day before. The debut Snake Eye album coming some 44 years too late for them to hit the big time. Which when you consider just how good their music was, is nothing short of a travesty. Fans of Wishbone Ash will lap up The Journey and wonder at what could have been for an undiscovered band that deserved so much more.

Sea Of Tranquility (October 2016)


Lengthy tunes filled with extended, melodic guitar solos, more than a fair share of complex musical passages, strong vocals, and the occasional heavy riff…these are some of the characteristics that you’ll find on the one and only release from Snake Eye, titled The Journey. Originally recorded in 1972 but failing to secure a label for its release, this British band played numerous gigs with some of the heavyweights of the day but quickly folded, never allowing The Journey to see the light of day until now thanks to the folks at Angel Air Records. With a dual lead guitar attack that owed as much to Wishbone Ash as it did to the Allman Brothers Band, Snake Eye were ripe for stardom but it was sadly never to be. The album is an excellent snapshot of the times, the guitar interplay stupendous on tracks such as “World in a Mountain”, “Sweet Dream Lady”, the jazzy “Don’t Be a Fool”, and the epic Wishbone Ash-meets-King Crimson intensity of “The Journey’s End”.

Angel Air have added two bonus tracks here, “Tolly Cobhold” and “Hoe Down”, both brief tracks that are in a completely different style than the rest of the album, more of a country & bluegrass flavor than the progressive hard rock, blues, and jazz that you’ll hear prior. Apparently the band have reformed with original guitarist Ron Hales at the helm, so it will be interesting to see what the future holds for Snake Eye. In the meantime, any fan of early ’70s hard rock & prog will want to investigate this one.

Sea Of Tranquility – Staff Roundtable (October 2016)


With the song ‘The Journey’s End’, they prove their great potential and you can only regret that the band prematurely shut down. There are also two interesting bonus tracks that actually come from their folk roots. ‘The Journey’ may therefore tempt us. Singer Ron Hales has now brought the group back together and this re-release will be performed live in Hull on 14th October. Let’s see what happens after this reunion. To be continued!

Keys and Chords (October 2016 – Translated)


…The six main album cuts however are worth the price of entry alone, the easy mannered but pinpoint sharp and hugely memorable melodies this outfit were capable of weaving, really quite impressive. Personally I’d never heard of Snake Eye before this welcome Angel Air release, something explained by the fact that these recordings have never actually seen the light of day before. The debut Snake Eye album coming some 44 years too late for them to hit the big time. Which when you consider just how good their music was, is nothing short of a travesty. Fans of Wishbone Ash will lap up The Journey and wonder at what could have been for an undiscovered band that deserved so much more.

Sea Of Tranquility (October 2016)


With such a keen focus on progressive rock bands from the 1970s in the twenty-first century, this one ought to be an instant obscure favorite among music fans…Incredibly, the album has remained unavailable and stored away in the vaults until now. This is definitely one of those glimpses into a band that could’ve been huge…if all the pieces had fallen together like they should have. Sadly, the group threw in the towel not long after they recorded this album. But now (once again, thanks to the fine folks at Great Britain’s Angel Air label) the tracks can finally be heard by everyone. A true lost progressive gem. Fans and critics will love cuts like “The Journey,” “World In A Mountain,” “Don’t Be A Fool,” and “The Journey’s End.” Includes two bonus tracks: “Tolly Cobbold” and “Hoe Down” (recorded live).

babysue (October 2016)

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MIKE HURST Producers Archives Volume 4 1966-1980

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On the album you get twenty-two short tracks with a brief synopsis on each one by Hurst. I like the fact he is brutally honest in his descriptions even to the point of not liking some of the tunes. The disc opens with two tracks by the band Fancy, a version of “Wild Thing” and “Touch Me”. Both tunes have sultry female lead vocals that add a certain sexual element and I can see why teenage boys back in the day probably dug these tunes. The next two tracks by the Fingertips, “You Put The Magic In Me” and “Anyone You Want Me To Be” are breezy pop tunes with a hint of disco…New World’s “Somethings Wrong” is in the style of say America or James Taylor and are pleasant enough as are the two Billy Fury tunes “Old Sweet Roll” and “Paradise Alley”. One of the best tunes is the irresistible pop of “Face To Face” by Sprinkler. Other good tracks include the psychedelic rock circa 1968 of “Pink Dawn” by New Zealand’s The Human Instinct and The Beatles-like “Top Girl” by The Cymbaline.

…if you dig ’60s and ’70s pop music Producers Archives should be worth checking out. Released on Angel Air Records.

Sea Of Tranquility (January 2017)


Seven years down the line from its predecessor, this disc could have been a barrel-scraping effort if it wasn’t so consistent quality-wise, despite the mostly non-familiar names on display. Focused for the most part on MOR, now the standout tracks are those that Mike Hurst had a hand in writing of, while covers such as Billy Fury’s barrelhouse take on “(Hi-De-Ho) That Old Sweet Roll” or an attempt to glamorize “Wild Thing” by FANCY firmly remain in the sweet early ’70s pocket. FINGERTIPS’ cheerfully delicate “Anyone You Want Me To Be” may be a prime example of the period’s light side, but the song’s title is also a possible motto for the producer’s method of bringing out the best in artists he worked with, and the same goes for his own projects, as suggested by 1969′s “Wednesday’s Child” – credited to MIKE HURST ORCHESTRA – which, drenched in strings, had emerged like a space-era answer to Strauss’ waltzes…

DMME.net (November 2016)


Billy Fury’s 1970 takes on two City-era Carole King songs, ‘Old Sweet Roll’ and ‘Paradise Alley’, are pleasant enough… Kiwi psych-poppers Human Instincts’ ‘Pink Dawn’ still sounds as tough and assured as the first time most will have heard it on Rubble Volume 12, 20 years ago…

Shindig Magazine (November 2016)


Mike Hurst has over the decades produced a massive amount of music. Mike was originally a member of The Springfields…and they were the first British vocal group to have a top 20 single in the USA, with ‘Silver Threads And Golden Needles’…Mike then turned to producing and initially worked with Andrew Loog Oldham and Micky Most. He then went on to produce The Wizard for Marc Bolan and Cat Stevens’ ‘Matthew & Son’ and ‘I’m Gonna Get Me A Gun’…his production work included ‘The First Cut Is The Deepest’ by P.P. Arnold, ‘The Mighty Quinn’ by Manfred Mann and ‘Curly’ by my old band, The Move.

Bev Bevan, Sunday Mercury (November 2016)


The Briton Mike Hurst has been an important person in the music industry for more than 40 years. He was originally part of the group The Springfields, with Tom and Dusty, and they were the first British group who had a single in the top 20 with “Silver Threads”. At the end of 1963, the group broke up, and Mike started playing for producer Andrew Loog Oldham and Mickie Most, and in 1965 he produced ‘The Wizard’ by the young Marc Bolan. He formed his own company, discovered Cat Stevens and produced his first five singles, including ‘Matthew And Son’ and ‘I’m Gonna Get Me A Gun’. Later, he would take care of PP Arnold’s ‘The First Cut Is The Deepest’, The Move’s ‘Curly’, Manfred Mann’s ‘Mighty Quinn’, as well as Spencer Davis Group, New World, Hot Sounds and Alan Bown Set. During the following decade he founded, Showaddywaddy and produced a string of hits such as ‘Under The Moon Of Love’, ‘Three Steps To Heaven’ and ‘When’. At the end of the ’70s he signed Shakin’ Stevens and produced his debut album ‘Hot Dog’. The fourth producers archives volume features tracks from the period 1966 to 1980.

Keys and Chords (October 2016 – Translated)


This fourth collection contains some well-known artists such as The Bachelors, Billy Fury and
Russ Abbot. There is also the presenter of TV’s ‘Lift Off’ Ayshea Brough and Aussie ‘folkies’ New World. Sprinkler was Dennis Waterman’s backing band, they went on to back Bucks Fizz and leader Alan Coates was a member of The Hollies for many years. Some fine recordings here too: ‘Save The Last Dance For Me’ comes courtesy of The Bachelors and the Jerome Kern/Dorothy Fields song ‘I Won’t Dance’ is well sung by John Henry. The Troggs’ ‘Wild Thing’ gets a seventies make-over by Fancy, whose lead singer was a Penthouse Pet! Add to this a couple of Carole King songs and you can’t go wrong.

Amplified Magazine (October 2016)


Here we open with a monster American hit single, Fancy’s 1973 soft-porn reworking of the Trogg’s “Wild Thing”, still riding the squelchiest, filthiest bass line ever to get past the Thought Police, and its “Touch Me” follow-up, too. New World resurface with a James Taylor b-side; and fifties rocker Billy Fury, making a comeback in 1970.

There’s another late-in-the-day revival…the Bachelors from 1977 (“they were…on their last legs when we made this,” Hurst’s refreshingly honest liner notes admit), and also a handful of cuts by bands which he acknowledges he simply doesn’t remember. But we also hear Human Instinct, a New Zealand psych band that you need to hear; and the Cymbaline, who Hurst describes as a Beach Boys style band from England’s industrial north east.

And more and more and more, twenty-two tracks in all, that also see Hurst at the helm for singles by TV comedians (Russ Abbot’s rather spiffy “The Space Invaders Meet The Purple People Eater”) and presenters (Ayshea Brough’s “Moonbeam”); a youthful Gary Barnacle and even his own pop orchestra. Add this disc to the other three volumes and you’re on the way to a lesson in British pop history that nobody else could tell.

Goldmine Magazine (October 2016)


Hurst must have been great to work with, because all of these artists sound like they’re having the best time playing in the studio. Hurst’s involvement in music has touched millions upon millions of listeners and yet his name probably doesn’t ring a bell with most…Volume 4 of the Producers Archives focuses on the period from 1966 to 1980. We never heard most of these tracks so this serves as an introduction to some wonderfully entertaining music. Groups in this collection include Fancy, Fingertips, Billy Fury, Mike Hurst Orchestra, Hit & Run, The Speedos, The Bachelors, John Henry, and Russ Abbot. We’ve rarely heard any various artists compilation as thoroughly entertaining as this one. Highly recommended. TOP PICK.

babysue (October 2016)

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RENAISSANCE Live Fillmore West 1970

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“Bullet” starts out almost like a straight up classical piece, before the band burst in with some psychedelic hard rock for what turns out to be the most rousing number in the set, showing that Relf & McCarty hadn’t forgotten their blues and rock roots…

All in all, this is an intriguing release, containing some rare material from the very first line-up of Renaissance, not long before the band would be completely revamped with all new members and taking the elements begun here to the next level.

Sea Of Tranquility (February 2017)


Of documentary as well as recreational interest are additional numbers that embrace ‘Try Believing’ (reminiscent faintly of Steams ‘Na Na Hey Hey Kiss Him Goodbye’) – a McCarty-Relf collaboration from the Yardbirds-Renaissance interregnum, and three demos from the period between the group’s return to England (and subsequent disbandment) and the 1975 reformation (as Illusion) of the surviving personnel of this original, and as far as I’m concerned, finest edition of Renaissance.

R2 Magazine (November 2016)


…this CD catches their performance live on stage that night, 46 years ago. The 4 tracks that they performed were ‘Innocence’, ‘Wanderer’, ‘No Name Raga’, and ‘Bullet’. Also included as bonus tracks are original demos and one previously unreleased song ‘Statues’, which was recorded in London on their return from that American trip.

Bev Bevan, Sunday Mercury (November 2016)


This disc showcases the talents or the early short-lived Renaissance line-up – the band formed by ex-Yardbirds Keith Relf and Jim McCarty. There’s a gentle, trippy, spiritual vibe to all of this, far removed from the heavy blues rock vibe of The Yardbirds. It’s an earnest kind of prog-rock – very much of its time, but none the worse for that. It’s easy to imagine the switched-on Fillmore audience nodding appreciatively to the gently shifting grooves and intertwining melody lines of guitar, bass and keyboards.

Shindig Magazine (October 2016)


‘Try Believing’ by Relf-McCarty presents a more cheerful, rocky face, with rhythmic guitar teeming with percussion as well as bass – Louis Cennamo thank you! Although this piece may have benefitted from more elaborate arrangements, it is eminently friendly and concludes this pleasantly unexpected album, including its share of nuggets. Fans of original Renaissance, you know what you have to do! 4 stars

Highlands Magazine (September 2016 – translated)


The demos are listed as ‘bonus tracks’, but with better sound quality these quickly become the selling point of the set. Less than twelve minutes between them, these tracks could have easily worked as B-sides, possibly A-sides, but unfortunately were lost in the annals of time until the turn of the millennium. Statues is a marvellous ditty with a subtle 7/8 time chorus, showing tendencies of progressive rock. I love the track I’d Love to Love You Till Tomorrow simply for its name. No further questions. Another favourite, Please Be Home, highlights Jane Relf’s beautiful vocals and is the only place on the album where her voice shines. All in all, it’s a peculiar set of tracks, but one that helps the listener further understand the first incarnation of the legendary band.

The Progressive Aspect (September 2016)


The sound here is basic, yet that somehow introduces a lo-fi charm, nearer to Relf and McCarty’s origins, keeping the five piece band away from the pomp-rock that later line-ups (devoid of original members) turned into a decent living…As a bonus there’s an unreleased studio track ‘Statues’, a workout for Relf’s vocalist sister Jane, and demos of several other unheard numbers.

Record Collector (September 2016)


…studio run through “Statues” – recorded soon after this San Francisco performance and added here as a bonus – starts to show how easily, and elegantly, the band could bend to pop idiom, one that brother and sister Relf would acoustically explore at home with the solemnly soulful “I’d Love To Love You Till Tomorrow” in 1976, shortly before Keith’s untimely death. Without him, “Please Be Home” which didn’t make the cut for the first album by ILLUSION, a new incarnation of the original RENAISSANCE, turned out rather chamber-like, if arresting, but as a reminder of the ensemble’s beginning, “Try Believing” – that gave the two Yardbirds an initial opportunity to test their new formula back in 1968, as TOGETHER – is a fittingly festive finale to the testament of the unique group’s continuity. An essential listen. 5 stars

DMME.net (September 2016)


Though this original version of the band was short-lived, you can hear the seeds of the classic Renaissance sound being born on this live recording, even though the band was completely overhauled just a short year later. Kicking off the set with “Innocence”, Relf’s effects laden guitar textures and Hawken’s majestic piano blend classical leanings with psychedelia, while the complex arrangement of “Wanderer” goes straight into the type of prog that the band would shortly become famous for, as the sinewy bass lines bounce around intricate passages of Hawken’s vast array of keyboards until Relf’s dreamy vocals come into play. The 14+ minute “No Name Raga” is more of a jam, again with plenty of psychedelic, folk, and prog rock elements fighting for supremacy, complete with some tasty guitar playing courtesy of Keith and layers of trippy keyboards from Hawken. “Bullet” starts out almost like a straight up classical piece, before the band burst in with some psychedelic hard rock for what turns out to be the most rousing number in the set, showing that Relf & McCarty hadn’t forgotten their blues and rock roots.

To round out the CD, Angel Air have included some bonus material, including the previously unreleased song “Statues” from 1970, an upbeat pop tune with a catchy hook and some nice piano, plus the demo cuts “I’d Love to Love You Tomorrow”, “Please Be Home”, and “Try Believing”…All in all, this is an intriguing release, containing some rare material from the very first line-up of Renaissance, not long before the band would be completely revamped with all new members and taking the elements begun here to the next level.

Sea Of Tranquility (September 2016)


This CD catches their performance live on stage that night, 46 years ago. The 4 tracks that they performed were ‘Innocence’, ‘Wanderer’, ‘No Name Raga’ and ‘Bullet’. Also included as bonus tracks are original demos and one previously unreleased song ‘Statues’, which was recorded in London on their return from that American trip.

Bev Bevan, Sunday Mercury (September 2016)


This band was formed by Keith Relf and drummer Jim McCarty in the aftermath of The Yardbirds’ sad demise, and Angel Air’s new offering was recorded in fairly murky sound quality at San Francisco’s Fillmore West in March 1970 during their one and only American tour, fleshed out a little with the inclusion of a few demo tracks, outtakes and hitherto unreleased 1976 track from vocalist Jane Relf entitled ‘Statues’.

Kevin Bryan, Regional Newspapers (August 2016)


Renaissance was a group that always fantasized and improvised, so the music lovers are best catered for. With 35 minutes of music, we are treated to an unreleased song (‘Statues’, 1970), a studio demo (‘Please Be Home ‘, 1976) and two home recordings where Keith Relf plays the lead role (‘Try Believing ‘, 1968 & ‘I’d Love To Love You Till Tomorrow’, 1976). As on his official solo single, you can hear a Keith Relf here that has nothing to do with The Yardbirds, nor Renaissance. ‘I’d Love To Love’ is a folk tune, whilst ‘Try Believing’ sounds very commercial. Renaissance are for music fans and Keith Relf enthusiasts.

Keys and Chords (August 2016)


…this record captures the band in full progressive rock mode, recorded as they supported the Butterfield Blues Band during a US tour. Although there are only four live tracks, these weigh in at suitably hefty lengths allowing the band to indulge in a mixture of extended keyboard and guitar workouts that place them somewhere between the psychedelia of Jefferson Airplane and the more progressive rock noodlings of Soft Machine. The Airplane feel is further enhanced by Jane Relf’s vocal, a slightly less self-assured Grace Slick. The album comes with the addition of demos and the previously unreleased light ’70s pop rock offering Statues.

Southern Daily Echo (August 2016)

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