Decca 1977 / Esoteric 2013
Temporal shift of the folk rock paradigm solidifies into an obscure masterpiece.
In the punk-poked atmosphere of 1977’s UK, ye olde music forms suddenly became obsolete (or so it seemed), and what could be more ancient than pop songs rooted in the English tradition? Undeterred, this band soldiered on and added another instrumental dimension to Mandy Morton’s songs and the significantly updated, thanks to synthesizers and heavy guitar, insistently ebbing “Blackwaterside”, with her heartfelt delivery matching that of Sandy Denny’s. “White Witch” elegantly stitches eerie balladry to the middle-of-the-road mores of the day, Morton’s voice and acoustic strum burning warm amidst glacial woodwind, and there’s much more electricity now than on "Revel Weird And Wild", and a sense of drama.
Magic flows from the violin riffs of “Dead Man’s Eyes” through the taut title track on to the final wash of Robert Kirby’s orchestra over “Letter To A Lady”. Fleshing out the piano bones of “All Before”, strings make it transcendental, third-person universal as opposed to the deeply personal “You’re Not There”, gently punctured with Wayne Morrison’s mandolin, or “For You”, which floats on his axe interjections. Yet “Devil’s Night”, for all its sharpness, thrives on ghostly vocal harmonies and is the most haunting pieces on the album that might be out of its time but remains timeless.