Saturday, August 20, 2016
New Horizon Sometimes Alleluia 1977 Producer: Sue McClellan Pilgrim PLM426
There was only one reason New Horizon were not recorded on the Grapevine label. They did not write original material.
They were a Scottish singing group, similar to Grapevine's Unity.
Sue McClellan's first outing with them was in 1977 when they produced highly listenable Sometimes Alleluia. But it was in 1979 they produced an album that should not be languishing in the obscurity of Ebay.
It was the title that made me chance a few pounds on Ebay for this album. It could only be a cover of Parchment's Vision, a song found on Rehearsal for Reunion and which later became the opening track of the Simply...Parchment CD. What I received was an album that was worth ten times what I paid.
The band offers layers of Scottish harmony, electric guitar and flute. A lot of flute. All deployed towards the performance of a collection of mostly obscure Christian songs. Not praise songs, proper songs. There are two tracks by Grapevine songsmiths Stewart and Kyle. There are songs that are so obscure I struggled to work out who might have performed them originally. There is a track that Unity also performed, suggesting it might be a Scottish song. There is something by Kevin Gould. And, yes, there is a rendition of Sue McClellan's Vision.
There is also the eponymous New Horizons, a song by the Moody Blues (another personal favourite - but hey, you only strike the jackpot once in a lifetime.)
Then on side 2 there was a song with the most amazing minor key melody. I was convinced I could place it - but I could not until I realised it was a little known song by the late Scottish pop/rock singer Jerry Rafferty. I put it on Youtube so you can hear it too. Do not listen to it on your own - as it will only make you weep. Rafferty was not a gospel artist - but he used the story of The Ark to produce a song of amazing profundity and relevance to the world of the 2010s that he, sadly, did not live to see.
* The man behind New Horizon was a Scottish musician called Ian Watson. He continued to be an influential figure in Scottish gospel music, directing an Annual Praise Gathering. I wonder if the choice of music for those events was equally eclectic.