Tuesday, November 27, 2007

The lost third album

Sometime ago we commented on the mystery of the lost album, the existence of which John Pac revealed in the sleeve notes of Simply...Parchment. The album was to have been the third released by the band on Pye.

Today John's been on the site adding a number of interesting comments, including some information about the lost album. He can't remember all the tracks but has recalled several. Here they are:

Chicago North West, originally recorded by Juicy Lucy.
Fast train byJohn Pac ( similar to Getting Out of This Town on Hollywood Sunset, he says; that would make it uptempo and acoustic).
How can a poor man stand such times as this (a Ry Cooder great, sung by Sue McClellan).
Money Honey, which was "a brilliant version of a classic".
Denomination Blues, a Ry Cooder song later recorded by the band on Shamblejam.
People and Places, the band's own song, later recorded on Rehearsal for a Reunion.

He says there were some "great classic tracks" but the album was unfinished. I wonder if the album had a name or artwork.

John adds: "Unfortunately the 2 inch masters were also missing at least those that had
vital tracks on them, and there has been no sight of the rough mixes. Believe me I've
searched everywhere and asked everyone."

Well the songs give a flavour of the band's direction at the time but given the band's ability to make other people's songs entirely their own, only a part flavour. Let's be sure this album's waiting in heaven if it's not going to turn up down here!

John also separately tells the story of the band's dobro. You can find that here.

Finally a message for you, John! Randy, the Liberation Suite drummer, has tried to reply to your email but his reply's been blocked by an anti-spammer. He's on a gmail account.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Interesting blog posting

A folk-oriented blog, Time Has Told Me, has posted the album of Light Up the Fire, for downloading. The posting has generated some interesting comments and recollections, especially one about the band playing at someone's school and the headmaster commenting that their (acoustic) sound was "a little loud".

There's got to be mixed feelings about the album being posted for a free download. Some download blogs aim to select albums that are not available on CD and almost all will remove a posting if approached by copyright holders. A lot of bands are delighted to see their work being circulated to new audiences and, of course, in many cases it is very hard to track down the copyright-holders.

In the case of this album almost all the tracks are available on the Simply...Parchment CD. I picked up a CD version a few years ago but it seems to have been a pirate. I believe there was a CD release in the early 90s and I saw a copy change hands on ebay a few weeks ago for a little over £10, rather more than the original vinyl fetches. There's no reason why the posting would deter people from buying Simply...Parchment as the collection encompasses all four albums and some of the singles too. So the effect may well be the opposite and collectors may rush to discover the rest of the band's music and even the wonderful songs released by Sue McClellan through her more recent band, River.

Fish Co - A Grapevine star

Fish Co. Beneath the Laughter. 1977. Producer John Pac. Grapevine 114.

A few weeks ago I got a listen of Fish Co's first album, which was everything I expected - enjoyable, poppy, easy listening songs performed by a Simon and Garfunkel style duo.

Produced by John Pac, the album, Can't Be Bad, included Sue McClellan and Peter Yates-Round on backing vocals on the track goodnight brothers. The sleeve actually records Sue M as "Sue (Won't you come out of that field and stop writing poetry) McClellan".

Now some samples of their Grapevine-issued second album Beneath the Laughter have become available. According to Ken Scott, the expert on the genre, this album is "altogether much darker" than the first. The duo had transformed into a full scale band

Getting Fish Co was a triumph for Grapevine and a mixed blessing. Grapevine may have been the most progressive Christian label but Fish Co, led by the eccentric and much lamented Steve Fairnie, had its sights on the avant garde.

According to some accounts, the band had transformed itself into a new post-punk electro-band, Writz, even before Beneath the Laughter hit the shops. By the time I saw them perform at Greenbelt 1980 they had changed again into Famous Names.

There's now a website which documents Fairnie's amazing and brave career and also offers the samples I have listened to.

These are a revelation, especially if you are looking for the Parchment legacy. Great songs backed by blues guitar, folkie, harmonising female backing vocals by Bev Sage and Barbie Benson of the kind that Parchment specialised in and amazing fade-outs. The sound is that of Shamblejam.

You can listen to Fish Co's first, Myrrh-issued album, Can't Be Bad, here, at the Ancient Star Song Blog.

You can find the Beneath the Laughter samples and the Fairnie story here at fairnie.net. This link takes you directly to the story of the album.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Grapevine's last album?

Dave Kelly, whose album Crowning of a Simple Man, was, we believe, released as Grapevine 142, has been in contact.

Dave has generously shared some of his experience of that time, giving a terrific insight into the life of a musician of the period and paying tribute to John Pac's skills. Pac produced a flute and fiddle player from Ireland and a bagpiper for the album. Other backing music came from Dylan's then backing band. Sadly the release of the album was overshadowed by an awful personal tragedy which hit Dave. You can find his account here.

The album was initially released by Pilgrim America and presumably was put on Grapevine for a UK release. So far as we believe it was the last release on the Grapevine label although information about the last round of releases in 1980 has been hard to come by.

Dave has supplied the album's tracklisting:
Side One
1/ King of Love
2/ God Knows Your Heart
3/ Tonight
4/ Supernatural Man
5/ Dead or Alive

Side Two
1/ Turn Your Back
2/ Love Night and Day
3/ Trouble
4/ Sandy
5/ Ballad of J.C.