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19 Nov 2016

G.F. Fitz ”Gerald Mouseproof “1970 UK Psych Prog Jazz Rock,Experimental

G.F. Fitz  ”Gerald Mouseproof “1970 UK Psych Prog Jazz Rock,Experimental
Scottish guitarist / singer / songwriter G. F. Fitz-Gerald recorded his only album with a bunch of excellent musicians, including some legendary figures like singer Judy Dyble (Fairport Convention), tabla virtuoso Sam Gopal, sax and flute player Geoff Leigh and many others. The album was a complete commercial failure at the time of its release, disappearing entirely from the market, only to be remembered by a very few people who ever heard it as a gem of great interest. Finally after so many years the album was finally reissued, for all of us to enjoy. Fitz-Gerald moved on in the meantime into experimental improvised music (see his album with Lol Coxhill) and never recorded in the studio again. The album lost nothing of its original charm and magic and after all these years it’s still an absolute gem. Resembling the efforts of groups like Comus and perhaps Third Ear Band, this is a completely zany, funny, crazy, wonderful mixture of Psychedelics, Jazz, early Improvised Music and Folk. As usual with such mixtures, it is absolutely beyond any specific genre and placing it under Progressive Rock is the best I can do. I really recommend to everybody to try and get hold of a copy of this – it very well might eventually become your favorite album – you never know. Brilliant stuff!………… by JazzIs……………….. 

Many odd, uncommercial rock albums were produced in the early ‘70s, but G.F. Fitz-Gerald’s Mouseproof is an odd effort even in that company. It’s not so much the music itself that’s weird, though it’s certainly far outside the rock and pop mainstream, drawing from jazz, classical, avant-garde, and electronic forms as well as more song-oriented rock ones. It’s the juxtaposition of different, almost stylistically unrelated songs that’s the record’s most unusual feature, even if most of them are not the weirdest things to come down the pike when judged individually. In tunes like “April Affair,” Fitz-Gerald can recall the more obtuse British folk-rock singer/songwriters, such as Roy Harper, the pleasing textures crossed with jazzy touches and a not-too-easy-to-hum melody. Yet there are also rather comic art rock-ish pieces, somewhat along the lines of what Giles, Giles & Fripp might have been had they become a more forceful rock band, but not quite evolved into the all-out prog rock of King Crimson. There’s also droll country-rock (“Country Mouse”), and a pretty folk-jazzy number inspired by the 1970 shootings of Kent State students (“May Four,” the most accessible track). Plus there’s the bizarre “Ashes of the Empire/The End,” which almost sounds like a Frank Zappa-esque inner dialogue/struggle between the most hippy-dippy and bestial elements of the counterculture, a lewd Captain Beefheart-ish growl giving way to an angelic male-female duet intoning “This is my land/This is my home/This is my country/And I want to make love to my lady.” (The female voice in that section, incidentally, is original Fairport Convention member Judy Dyble.) The tracks get yet stranger after that. “Under and Over the Waterfall” again recalls the transition between Giles, Giles & Fripp and King Crimson with its tense jazzy rock and flute interplay. “A Movement Lost in Twilight Stone” makes much use of the kind of eerie, echoing guitar/piano pinging heard in the most abstract passages of early Pink Floyd songs. “Political Machine” runs operatic satire through a repetitive, tape-loopy grinder. The lengthy closing “Opal Pyramid Drifting Over Time” cools things out with a repetitive, meditative circular piano riff, over which gentle distorted electric guitar flutters and intermittent drums shuffle, eventually giving way to similar gentle, circular, but more disquieting tones and emissions, and then some ominous choral chanting. To say that this kind of record is not for everyone, even for some hard-bitten psychedelic collectors, is an understatement, since the record never settles into a steady groove or flow, and few of its tracks are conventionally accessible. Still, Fitz-Gerald’s work here is skilled, daring, and eclectic, though the parts aren’t particularly outstanding or memorable on their own… Richie Unterberger…allmusic….. 

A key if peripheral (and sadly under-documented) figure in the early 70’s British underground, guitarist Fitzgerald’s extant discography (as far as I can determine) comprises an appearance on the seminal “Guitar Solos” compilation (alongside Fred Frith, Derek Bailey and Hans Reichel) an archivally released collaboration with Lol Coxhill and this sui generis treasure chest of curios, featuring appearances from everyone from Henry Cow’s Geoff Leigh to Roxy Music bassist Rik Kenton to early Fairpport Convention vocalist Judy Dyble, and as the idiosyncratic assemblage of players suggests, this traverses a great deal of territory, from numinous folk rock to Zappa-esque art rock snarkiness, all arranged for maximal head-scratch potential…… 

Knowing that people/labels did not know what to do with this album is an understatement. Even for a listener after having read the liner notes first, the description in the booklet notes gives a very confusing idea of the album at a first listen. After having read “One of the most unconventional records ever recorded. This avant-garde psychedelic suite…” which for the first 5 tracks at that point this still sounds completely irrelevant, even nonsense, while after that the music more and more builds up, for an English album, into rather unconventional and original ideas. Even when similar experiments were happening more often in those days (in a similar way more likely in France for instance where avant-garde and ‘musique concrete’ was normal in mixing with rock now and then), the whole context and the abstract shapes mixed with a avant-rock opera idea, the album will in the end evolve to something rather unique. 

The first song, “April Affair” still does not sound too different from the usual stuff; except that the lalala effect of the song evolves into a two chord jam where the singer screams out his talent, which is more or less ok, but it does not make it a very strong starter. “Country Mouse” has an American styled, with a Hank Williams, influence, and stoned lyrics. “May Four” is the last attempt for a serious song, also in a more American style. Because it was about the Kent State University event, where some students were shot by the army after a protest against Vietnam, the album could not be released in US (others wrote about that event, like Neil Young’s “Ohio”). After this the album starts to sound different, and even more interesting. “Ashes of an Empire/The End” sounds like a rock opera in different sections, with varied arrangements, from Indian flavoured psych (featuring Sam Gopal), using a rather nationalist folk tune, to a jazzy-like flavour, with guest vocalist Judy Dyble (the original singer from Fairport Convention, and then from Trader Horne). “Under and over the waterfall” after that is almost Canterbury but say jazzy rock mixed with electronic breaks, odd mixes, in a somewhat confusing way, and slightly chaotic but really interesting, and with surprising effects. Not loosing it through the confusion, the music becomes almost like ‘musique concrete’ on “A movement lost in twilight zone” with descriptive and oddly played organic guitar with echoes. “Political Machine” with focused chorus parts gives the concept once more an avant-garde opera-like effect. The vocal repetition, with and on a hypnotic rhythm, and odd guitars, create with their combinations another unique moment. The last track, “Opal Pyramid drifting over time” is the most beautiful moment, which is given time to develop to an almost abstract soundtrack, with ideas based on guitars, that could recall more keyboard cosmic shapes, showing some original ambition and ideas of G.F.Fitz-Gerald in the music composition, with a last part of more jazzy rock and choir. 

The strangeness in the album does not sound really challenging, which makes the result more attractive and approachable. 

Guest performers also include Rik Kenton (later Roxy Music) and Geoff Leigh (later Gong, Kevin Ayers, Henry Cow)……Sunbeam Rec… 

G.F. Fitz-Gerald - vocals, lead & acoustic guitars, electric banjo, piano, bass, percussion, synthesizer 
Sam Gopal - tabla 
Ian Andrews - double bass, bass, mellotron, synthesizer 
Geoff Leigh - alto & tenor saxophones, flute 
Rick Kenton - bass 
Tony Turnbull - drums 
Ted Tetlon - drums 
Almond Valley Peoples’ Choir - backing vocals 
Martin Rushent - backing vocals 
Roger Watson - backing vocals 
Steve Moyce - backing vocals 
Rod Herman - lead guitar on (1) 
Brian Cole - steel guitar on (3) 
Alan Place - vocals, lead guitar on (3) 

01. April Affair — 5:25 
02. New Lodger — 1:04 
03. Country Mouse — 2:37 
04. It Takes More Than A Clear Day To See It — 0:32 
05. May Four — 2:56 
06. Ashes Of An Empire / The End — 3:50 
07. Under And Over The Waterfall — 2:37 
08. A Movement Lost In Twilight Stone — 2:22 
09. Political Machine — 3:43 
10. Opal Pyramid Drifting Over Time — 7:55 

johnkatsmc5, welcome music..