Saturday, November 10, 2012

Dear Mr.Time - Grandfather (1970 uk, marvelous psych prog, with acoustic elements, strings and flute)

Dear Mr Time were an obscure British outfit who straddled the late-period psych/early prog divide with their sole album, a concept piece entitled Grandfather. It (loosely, of course, in true concept album style) tells the story of one man's life from his birth around the turn of the century to his own death, as recounted by his grandson. 

Birth - The Beginning makes for a pastoral enough start, but the pace picks up quickly enough as the story races towards the protagonist's experiences as a soldier in the trenches. The rest of the album veers between acoustic and electric, but quality's maintained throughout, avoiding the 'only two or three decent tracks' syndrome. On reflection, the concept actually owes a little to the Pretty Things' seminal SF Sorrow, but it's a very different album and, let's face it, a fairly universal subject.

No-one's credited with Mellotron, so I'll assume keyboard player Barry Everitt was responsible for the excellent MkII strings on Prelude (To Your Country Needs You?) and the rather shorter part in closer Grandfather. Pity they didn't use it more, but there you go. Incidentally, the cellos in Prelude are real.

All in all, this is really rather good, and undeservedly obscure, especially when you consider some of the third-rate stuff that's been available for years. The CD appears to've been pressed from a vinyl copy, but the surface noise isn't too bad, and rather a slightly crackly copy than none at all! A welcome addition to the field of UK psych/prog reissues, with a couple of good 'Tron tracks. Assuming you can find it, buy.
1. Birth - The Beginning (Baker) - 3:58
2. Out Of Time (Baker) - 4:30
3. Make Your Peace (Everitt) - 5:20
4. Your's Claudia (Baker) - 2:51
5. Prelude (To 'Your Country Needs You?') (Everitt, Baker, Sewell, Sturgeon, Clements) - 3:00
6. Your Country Needs You? (Everitt, Baker, Sewell, Sturgeon, Clements) - 3:35
7. A Dawning Moonshine (Baker) - 3:52
8. Years And Fortunes (Baker) - 4:01
9. A Prayer For Her (Baker) - 2:53
10.Light Up A Light (Baker) - 3:23
11.On A Lonely Night (Baker) - 4:16
12.Grandfather (Baker) - 2:36

Dear Mr.Time
*Chris Baker - Lead, Acoustic Guitar, Vocals
*John Clements - Drums, Percussion
*Barry Everitt - Vocals, Organ, Piano, Harpsichord
*Dave Sewell - Bass,Vocals
*Jim Sturgeon - Saxophone, Flute, Acoustic Guitar, Vocals

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David Wiffen - David Wiffen (1971 uk/canada, fabulous blend of country folk rock melted with jazzy tunes, 2014 remaster and expanded)

English singer/songwriter Wiffen moved to Canada at age 16. He started his music career with appearances at the Village Corner club in Toronto. After that he hitch-hiked across Canada where he ended up as manager of the Calgary coffeehouse The Depression.

In 1965 he was invited to perform at Vancouver's Bunkhouse with an ensemble of other musicians for a live album and when none of the other acts showed up the recording was continued. The result was Wiffen's first solo album 'David Wiffen Live At The Bunkhouse'.

He then joined The Pacers who were soon offered a recording contract in Montreal. Wiffen joined the group as they headed to Quebec but when the deal fell apart, Wiffen moved onto Ottawa where he joined the folk act The Children.

The act featured several of Canada's most prominent future artists such as Bruce Cockburn, Sneezy Waters (aka Peter Hodgkinson), and Richard Patterson (The Esquires) among others.

In 1966 another Vancouver folk trio, Three's A Crowd, played the Le Hibou Coffee House in Ottawa where Wiffen met them and was subsequently asked to join the band along with Children drummer Richard Patterson and bassist Comerie Smith from Toronto.

With the new line-up of Brent Titcomb, Trevor Veitch, Donna Warner, Wiffen, Patterson, and Smith they moved to Toronto but Warner dropped out and was replaced by Colleen Peterson who took over lead vocal chores. They began playing throughout North America and played at Expo '67.

Members of the Mamas And Papas soon discovered the act and convinced them to record a demo tape which got them signed to Dunhill Records where they recorded the singles "Bird Without Wings" and "Let's Get Together" which led to the full length album 'Christopher's Movie Matinee'.

They would disband in 1968, but in 1969 TV producer Sid Banks asked the members to appear on a CBC variety show called 'One More Time' and the band reformed with members Cockburn, Patterson, Wiffen, Crawley, Pendrith and Peterson.

Cockburn was picked up and signed to a solo recording deal with True North and the band split up once more. Though this final version didn't record together they did make a promotional music film of Cockburn's "Electrocution Of The Word" that was showcased at the Youth Pavilion of Ottawa's Central Canadian Exhibition.

Wiffen had also been spotted by executives of Fantasy Records during a Three's A Crowd gig at The Bitter End in New York and was signed to a solo recording deal. His eponymous debut was released in 1971 and produced two hit singles.

In 1973 he would shift to United Artists who released his 'Coast To Coast Fever' which gave Wiffen a Juno nomination. 
1. One Step (Kaye Lawrence Dunham) - 2:33
2. Never Make A Dollar That Way - 3:24
3. I've Got My Ticket - 2:45
4. What A Lot Of Woman - 2:12
5. Since I Fell For You (Buddy Johnson) - 3:28
6. Driving Wheel - 4:24
7. Mr. Wiffen - 2:50
8. Blues Was The Name Of The Song - 1:34
9. Mention My Name In Passing - 2:20
10.More Often Than Not - 3:30
11.Cry In The Morning Rain - 4:10
12.Lover's Prayer (Randy Newman) - 1:55
13.Blues Was The Name Of The Song - 1:29
14.Mention My Name In Passing - 2:20
Music and Lyrics by David Wiffen except where noted
Bonus Tracks 11-14

*David Wiffen - Acoustic Guitar, Vocals, Organ
*Jerry Corbitt - Electric Guitar, Acoustic Guitar
*Ed Bogas - Piano
*John Mcfee - Steel Guitar
*Sandy Crawley - Acoustic Guitar
*Kelly Bryan - Bass Guitar
*Vic Smith - Bass Guitar
*Bing Nathan - Bass Guitar
*Greg Dewey - Drums
*Jeff Myer - Drums
*Jim Stern - Drums
*Jeremy Merrill - French Horn
*Germain Wallace - Saxophone
*Gerry Gilmore - Saxophone
*Bernard Krause - Moog Synthesizer