Pegasus 1971 / Esoteric 2015
Strings-drenched acid-folk tapping into immortality: cult classic comes alive.
So loved as to become a pirates’ bounty, it’s amazing that “Fuchsia” didn’t bloom at the time of its release, when folk-rock reigned supreme. Not for this English band, though – ostensibly the first non-classical ensemble to include a string section in their line-up, ELO lagging behind – whose only record couldn’t make a splash until much later, and then it was lapped up with delight. Quite deservedly, for the album’s lush mystique feels fascinating even now, because neither exquisite epics such as jubilant, if reserved, “A Tiny Book” nor shorter ditties like the lucid “Me And My Kite” haven’t lost an iota of original charm.
Factor in a storytelling aspect of it all, and you’ll find the delivery irresistible: the pull of Tony Durant’s soft voice, supported by vocal talent and chamber bent of three string players – Vanessa Hall-Smith, Janet Rogers and Madeleine Bland – and the magnetism of his intricate strum on electric and acoustic guitars. The blend is as ancient as it is contemporary, “Gone With The Mouse” building a dramatic beginning to the album, where traditional tension and ballroom release create an ever-shifting tapestry, while “Another Nail” – hammered down with a heavy riff and given a psychedelic edge – rocks hard. Still, nothing here is grander than “The Nothing Song,” its adventurously cinematic time changes enveloped in a tidal wave of orchestral proportions and woven into almost avant-garde instrumental exchange.
For all its complexity, the album comes easy on the ear, the wonder oozing out of the songs. The more difficult it is to understand why the LP failed and the band didn’t land a new deal. A pity, the demos for their second album aren’t on this reissue; otherwise, it’s perfect.