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21 Sep 2016

Sunforest “Sound of Sunforest” 1969 UK Psych Folk

Sunforest “Sound of Sunforest” 1969 UK Psych Folk
Sometimes it seems like there must have been something in the water (or the air) in England during 1969 that brought all of these folk musicians to the fore in rock music – the two acoustic musicians from Methuselah break away to form the Amazing Blondel; Prelude starts their career; Mary Hopkin gives Apple Records its biggest non-Beatles hit (i.e., “Those Were the Days”); and, getting back to the subject at hand, Sunforest, a previously unknown folk-based trio (Terry Tucker, Erika Eigen, Freya Hough) gets signed to Decca Records and cuts this album for the company’s Nova imprint. And this is one strange album, to be sure, with wildly varying sounds and styles across its 15 tracks, from the lush harmony singing on “Be Like Me” to the lapses into novelty and children’s songs on “Lady Next Door” and “Peppermint Store.” When Sound of Sunforest is folky, it’s mostly in a distinctly pop vein, but there’s also a defiantly progressive current running through this entire album, as well – the winds and reeds on the opening “Overture to the Sun” declare that this is no folk revival record, and the keyboard cadenza on “Be Like Me” carries the main body of the album into realms of classical-style exploration that most folk albums avoided. A small orchestra plays the opening bars of “And I Was Blue” behind the ethereal harmonies of the trio, before the core rock trio (Herbie Flowers, Big Jim Sullivan, et al.) takes over with a leaner folk-rock sound. And the trio lets their hair down for some plain lighthearted fun on “Lighthouse Keeper,” a folk-cum-music hall number complete with kazoo that wouldn’t have been out of place in the repertory of Spanky & Our Gang. Strangest of all in “Magician in the Mountain,” an odd, jazz-tinged piece that would be the highlight of the record – where Herbie Flowers and company get into a decided funk groove – if it were only representative of the record. Instead, it isn’t like anything else here, which doesn’t detract from its value but limits one’s ability to recommend the album, based on its presence. Needless to say, an album with so many diverse sounds wasn’t going to get anywhere in 1969 without a hit single to draw people in, and Sound of Sunforest didn’t have that. But it is a beautiful and entertaining artifact of its period as a production tour de force by the trio and producer Vic Smith (aka Vic Coppersmith-Heaven) – and it might be the most daring psychedelic-cum-progressive record to show up on Decca this side of the Moody Blues’ Days of Future Passed (another album that was outside of any stylistic category at the time of its release) Ah, those were, indeed, the days….by allmusic….. 

Oddly bracketed here as ‘Psychedelic / Space-Rock’ - a very misleading label(sorry guys) - this sun-kissed folk-pop curio has become something of a cult favourite over the years thanks mainly to the catchy acoustica of 'Magician In The Mountain’, a breezy two-minute workout that has featured on many a psychedelic compilation. A trio, Sunforest were a short- lived outfit made up of Terry Tucker(keyboards, harpsichord, vocals), Freya Houge(guitar, banjo, vocals) and Erika Eigen(percussion, vocals) and this brisk, self-titled effort from 1969 proved to be their only release, featuring as it does a succession of softly-peddled folk-pop nuggets tinged with rainy-day psychedelia. Undoubtedly 'Magician In The Mountain’ is the highlight, yet as an actual album this is surprisingly good, the bulk of the material exuding a loose, low-slung, lightly-ambling hippie vibe, though don’t go expecting any complex instrumental flourishes. This is progressive folk in the loosest sense of the term. An archetypal late-sixties relic, fans of the poppier side of psychedelia - just think Donovan, Incredible String Band or Jethro Tull’s folkier moments - should lap this up. STEFAN TURNER, STOKE NEWINGTON, 2012…… 

Line-up / Musicians 

- Terry Tucker / piano, harmonium, harpsichord, Hammond organ, vocals 
- Freya Houge / Spanish guitar, banjo, vocals 
- Erika Eigen / Latin American percussion, ankle bells, vocals 

Guest musicians: 
- Reg Weller, Jim Lawless & John Blacchard / Tunea percussions 
- Herbie Flowers & Joe Mudele / bass guitars 
- Jim Suilivan / electric guitar 
- R. Mosley & D. Wolfstal / violins 
- F. Riddle / viola 
- Malca Cossa / cello 
- Ralph Eizen, Less London & Cliff Haines / trumpets 
- John Burden & Andy McGavin / French horns 
- Harry Smit / flute, piccolo, bass clarinet 
- S. Sutcliffe & Les Baldin / oboes 
- Cecil James / bassoon 
- Alfie Reece / tuba 

Songs / Tracks Listing 

1. Overture To The Sun (1:41) 
2. Where Are You (2:46) 
3. Bonny River (2:45) 
4. Be Like Me (2:13) 
5. Mr. Bumble (1:49) 
6. And I Was Blue (2:51) 
7. Lighthouse Keeper (2:04) 
8. Old Cluck (2:44) 
9. Lady Next Door (2:28) 
10. Peppermint Store (2:02) 
11. Magician In The Mountain (4:15) 
12. Lovely Day (2:51) 
13. Give Me All Your Living (2:43) 
14. Garden Rug (2:17) 
15. All In Good Time (3:50)

johnkatsmc5, welcome music..