Saturday, June 30, 2012

Time - Before There Was (1968 us, progressive folk rock with baroque psych shades, Shadoks release)

This is possibly the best band of the psychedelic 60's you've never heard of. They did record, but never actually released an album. I happen to know about them because one of the founders was my brother, Lynn Newton.

I won't go into the story of the band that was once known as Time and later became Think Dog! (sic). Their history and music are thoroughly chronicled in a fascinating account by Lynn on his website. This is not a garage band. These guys were educated and serious composers and musicians.

Their music is remarkably akin to the West Coast band of similar vintage called the United States of America, with similar influences (Stockhausen, Zappa, Cage, early music, et al.), but evolved independently on the East Coast. You'll hear harpsichord, lute, recorder, with the usual rock and roll ensemble in a diverse mix of tunes by the various members. Obvious and not so obvious influences include Velvet Underground, Mothers, Thomas Morley, and e. e. cummings. Some of the tunes are down and dirty rock & roll while others are finely crafted pieces of delicacy and grace.

The problem I always saw in marketing their music was their very eclecticism. Everything they did was deeply artistic, deeply creative, and ultimately very different from nearly everything else they did, making it difficult to pigeonhole them in a genre or to get a firm handle on their "sound." This resistance to categorization is also what makes them so interesting.

Miraculously, the original studio tapes somehow survived poor storage conditions for over three decades and were transferred to CD. They were made available on limited edition audiophile vinyl by Shadoks, a German company that specializes in music of this era. The earlier recording, Before there was Time, is now on CD. The second recording, "Dog Days," by Think Dog!, will presumably be released sometime later.
by A. Newton.

Oh Yeah!...Impressive late 60s art-rock with a strong British slant, holding a middle ground between the psychedelic '67 Pepper field and the cerebral excursions of the early prog era. Completely realized arrangements and recordings stand head and shoulders above most unreleased 1968 stuff you run across these days; if released at the time it would have been a classic. Atmospheric, understated vocals, wide-ranging use of keyboard, and excellent jazzy percussion all create a delightful trip for pursuers of sophisticated late 60s sounds. 

These 35 minutes of music were recorded in January 1968, when Tom McFaul, Lynn David Newton, Richard Stanley, and David Rosenboom drove twice from Buffalo to a recording studio in Toronto. Their original brand of psychedelic music had already gelled, as songs like "Introductory Lines" and "Sad Benjamin" illustrate. The 11 tracks included here go back and forth between post-Sgt. Pepper's psychedelic pop and acid folk with medieval leanings. 

The inclusion of Stanley's solo rendition of "Kemp's Jig" is somewhat surprising -- the same traditional tune would become one of medieval progressive icon Gryphon's early live staples. "A Song for You," "Introductory Lines," and "Elin Experience" are the most interesting tracks. Quite experimental for 1967, they feature odd meters and shifting sections of straight pop songwriting and abstract developments. "Dover Beach" is a straightforward pop song in the Kinks/Turtles vein, while "Waking" and "Lily Has a Rose" fall back to delicate folk, with Stanley playing the lute. 

Despite the obscurity of the band and the imperfect sound quality (the tapes were discovered over 30 years after they were recorded), Before There Was... Time makes a very decent listen. This band had stumbled upon something good early on. It is a shame that they could not develop fully in Buffalo's conservative climate.
by Adamus67

01. A Song for You 5:37
02. Kemp's Jig 0:44
03. Introductory Lines 3:26
04. Sad Benjamin 4:29
05. Lily Has a Rose 2:45
06. At Shadow's Eye 3:17
07. Green Fields 1:51
08. Waking 2:50
09. Ma's Pan 1:42
10. Dover Beach 3:25
11. Elin Experience 4:24

Lynn David Newton: bass, vocals, percussion, trombone
Tom McFaul: vocals, keyboards
Richard Stanley: guitar, lute, percussion, dulcimer
David Rosenboom: drums, percussion

Tracklist and credits by Remy.

Free Text


  1. Thanks Marios! I just discovered that this band originated in my home town.

  2. This link is dead, Marios. Could you possibly re-post? Many thanks.

  3. Kelhard,
    links replaced.
    Thank you

  4. Got it Marios. Thank you very much, my friend. Cheers.

  5. The link is dead again.Thanks for re-up.Another great record which finds a second youth in your blog.