Sunday, December 21, 2014

Some Christmas collections for 2014

Just to get you in a seasonal mood for Christmas here's half a dozen songs from the "Parchment family", including some of the special Christmas videos we've made in the last few years:

 And, as a stocking filler, we've created a Parchment Christmas station on here.

You won't get much Parchment on the station - being Pandora the sounds range widely - but we've tried to exclude Phil Collins and some of the crooners. Run it in the background, you'll hear some gems, like this Appalachian Christmas song

If you have trouble getting access to Pandora because you're not in the USA, use

Saturday, December 13, 2014

And more Fresh Air...

John Pantry Live with Fresh Air. Not Guilty. 1983 Executive producer: John Pac. Producer: John Pantry. Pilgrim America RO3984

After releasing the studio album, Fresh Air, John Pantry and Fresh Air went on tour to the States. Except that not all Fresh Air went. The cover sleeve, here, shows the picture of the full line-up, the same picture that was used on the studio album with Sue McClellan, formerly of Parchment, and the singer songwriter Phil Potter. But neither Sue McClellan nor Phil Potter is credited on this live album nor do they appear on the photos of the US tour on the rear of the album.

So although Sue McC's photo appears on the album, it seems none of her work does.

John Pac and Pilgrim America used a format that was proving successful for Brits in this period - take a star artist, tour the USA and then release a live album, which knits together their greatest hits. It seemed to work - think Wings Over America or Peter Gabriel's smash hit live album. You can see from the sleeve photos that Pilgrim put some investment into the stage sets.

The tour was promoting Pantry's 1981 album Hot Coals. You can find out more about the album here.

And it seemed to work for the two John Ps. This is a great album, especially if you are a fan of John Pantry. But the Fresh Air project was clearly petering out. The three remaining members feature merely as backing singers.

There's a dedication to "Eric and Sue and all our  friends at St Andrew's."

Sunday, December 07, 2014

What Sue did next.....

Fresh Air. Fresh Air.  1982 Producer: John Pantry. Marshalls MRT1006

Some time ago we were told that, after Parchment and after the Grapevine label, Sue McClellan went to work on some Christian super-group project.

Here it is - Fresh Air - and here is an amazing picture of Sue McClellan, second from right, showing her youth as an 80s new wave rock chick.

Fresh Air was fronted by Parchment album producer John Pantry, second from left, by then an established and very successful Christian solo artist.

Disappointingly Sue didn't contribute any of the songs on this album - whilst John wrote and sang most of them. So it doesn't really count as the missing link between Parchment and River.

The band seems to have formed as a vocal band,  using others to contribute the backing music. If you can find the album, buy it for curiosity value. You get to hear Sue McC singing rock, for a start (She sang jazz on Shamblejam and the unreleased album).

It has some nice songs, some nice arrangements and some lovely bursts of music but, as often with "super groups", doesn't quite hang together. Unsurprisingly, given its date, it is heavy on key-boards - piano, keyboard and synthesiser and you won't get to hear Sue McC on the mandolin or guitar.

The band's other members were Phil Potter, an established solo performer, together with Donna Carey-Owen, Julie Moon and Steve Buckley. Chris Norton contributes one song and is responsible for arrangements.

The album was released on a new Marshalls label and John Pac is given a "special thanks" for "believing in us." Marshalls by now had taken over Pilgrim and Grapevine and John P was in the job which led to him eventually running Kingsway.

There's more Fresh Air out there and we'll be reporting on it soon.

Friday, December 05, 2014

Songs recorded more than once

If you listen to the single version of Where Can I Find You?, released sometime in 1973, you find almost a new song.

On the Light Up the Fire album, the song is a psych/folk/beat drone. It's a great album track.Review here.

Clearly the band or their record company felt the song was a single and they wanted to do something different.

The single version is New Seekerish. The New Seekers were big in 1972 and specialised in a very light form of folk/pop. There's a single lead vocalist, singing the tune as if playing live - it's probably Keith Rycroft. There's a lot of backing vocal, which does not feature on the album.

You can hear the single on this YouTube recording.

Full list of singles here.

Given the near absence of live recordings of Parchment, hearing two versions of one song is a treat. How many Parchment tracks were recorded twice?

This is what we can think of:
Working Man -  live as Trinity Folk, on Sound Vision in Concert
              -  as B side of Where Can I Find You single
Light Up the Fire - as single and as opening track of album of same name
              -  as final track on Rehearsal for a Reunion
Where Can I Find You? - track on Light Up the Fire album
               -  single version in 1973
Denomination Blues - on unreleased third album
               - on Shamblejam
People and Places - on unreleased third album
              -  on Rehearsal for a Reunion

And that's it - although we're currently looking into one more "almost Parchment" recording.

The promo single for Hollywood Sunset-  You Are My Morning - used the album tracks