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31 Dec 2016

Stone Angel "Stone Angel" 1975 UK Private Folk, Acid Folk














Stone Angel  "Stone Angel" 1975  UK Private Folk, Acid Folk
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Stone Angel’s unique sound blend baroque instrumentation with lazily sustained electric guitars in an eerie haze of gothic splendor. Inspired by the landscapes and legends of East Anglia, through Stone Angel’s music the ghosts of slain leeni rise to walk the mist-laden Fenlands once again - trailed by that most majestic hound of Hades, Black Shuck……. 

The Stone Angel story begins in December 1972. Guitarists Ken Saul and Paul Corrick were rehearsing for a spot at the Great Yarmouth Folk Club Christmas party, but all they could come up with was a guitar duet version of ‘God rest ye Merry Gentlemen’. They invited singer Jill Child to join them, and worked on a couple of recently composed songs based on local legends, 'Sanctuary Stone’ and 'The Skater’. That first performance was so well received that the trio decided to continue, the following two years seeing them perform at clubs, concerts and festivals throughout East Anglia and occasionally further afield, while still doing the resident slot at their local club. 

During the summer of 1973 a demo recording of some of their songs was made, on which Midwinter were joined by Dik Cadbury (of 'Decameron’ and 'Steve Hackett Band’ fame) on bass, and Mick Burroughes on percussion. This was never released at the time, and in fact the master tapes remained in a box in Ken Saul’s attic until they finally were issued by Kissing Spell in 1993 as the CD 'The Waters of Sweet Sorrow’. 

Midwinter came to an end with Jill’s departure to college, their farewell concert taking place back at the Yarmouth Folk Club on September 11th 1974. Some of their songs lived on, however, as a few months later Paul and Ken formed a new band, again including fellow musicians from the Yarmouth club. This new band had something of a rockier, more gothic, edge and a decidedly experimental approach to folk music: Stone Angel was born! 

Stone Angel’s first public performance, again at the Yarmouth Folk Club, was on December 20th 1974. The line-up consisted of Joan Bartle on vocals, flute, recorders and crumhorn; Mick Burroughes on bass and percussion; Paul Corrick on electric guitars and harpsichord; Dave Lambert on fiddle and mandolin; Ken Saul on vocals, guitars and dulcimer. Building on the reputation of Midwinter, they began to appear at numerous clubs and festivals around the area. 

For a variety of reasons a decision was made to produce a self-financed recording, and this took place in February 1975. The band was assisted in this project by Eddy Green, who from time to time had deputised for various personnel in the live performances. Only three hundred and fifty of the projected five hundred albums were ever produced, and unfortunately these suffered from rather poor sound quality. A busy schedule followed, with the album being hawked around the live gigs, until the end of the summer when both Paul and Mick departed for university and art college respectively. 

The resulting trio continued, but became entirely acoustic and more traditional in their choice of material, although still including 'The Skater’ and 'Black-sailed Traders’ in their set. The only recording from this period was a basic tape recording of a live concert in the village church at Filby, Norfolk, where Ken and Joan now lived. This too was to later be released on CD by Kissing Spell under the title 'The Holy Rood of Bromholm’. After spells working in Botswana and Southampton, Dave Lambert emigrated to Australia, where he continues to play as a member of Adelaide-based band 'The Legends’……. 

The Stone Angel story probably begins in December 1972. Guitarists Ken Saul and Paul Corrick were rehearsing for a spot at the Great Yarmouth Folk Club Christmas party, but all they could come up with was a guitar duet version of 'God rest ye Merry Gentlemen’. They invited singer Jill Child to join them, and worked on a couple of recently composed songs based on local legends, 'Sanctuary Stone’ and 'The Skater’. That first performance was so well received that the trio decided to continue, the following two years seeing them perform at clubs, concerts and festivals throughout East Anglia and occasionally further afield, while still doing the resident slot at their local club. 
During the summer of 1973 a demo recording of some of their songs was made, on which Midwinter were joined by Dik Cadbury (of 'Decameron’ and 'Steve Hackett Band’ fame) on bass, and Mick Burroughes on percussion. This was never released at the time, and in fact the master tapes remained in a box in Ken Saul’s attic until they finally were issued by Kissing Spell in 1993 as the CD 'The Waters of Sweet Sorrow’. 
Midwinter came to an end with Jill’s departure to college, their farewell concert taking place back at the Yarmouth Folk Club on September 11th 1974. Some of their songs lived on, however, as a few months later Paul and Ken formed a new band, again including fellow musicians from the Yarmouth club. This new band had something of a rockier, more gothic, edge and a decidedly experimental approach to folk music: Stone Angel was born! 

Stone Angel’s first public performance, again at the Yarmouth Folk Club, was on December 20th 1974. The line-up consisted of Joan Bartle on vocals, flute, recorders and crumhorn; Mick Burroughes on bass and percussion; Paul Corrick on electric guitars and harpsichord; Dave Lambert on fiddle and mandolin; Ken Saul on vocals, guitars and dulcimer. Building on the reputation of Midwinter, they began to appear at numerous clubs and festivals around the area. 
For a variety of reasons a decision was made to produce a self-financed recording, and this took place in February 1975. The band was assisted in this project by Eddy Green, who from time to time had deputised for various personnel in the live performances. Only three hundred and fifty of the projected five hundred albums were ever produced, and unfortunately these suffered from rather poor sound quality. A busy schedule followed, with the album being hawked around the live gigs, until the end of the summer when both Paul and Mick departed for university and art college respectively. 

The resulting trio continued, but became entirely acoustic and more traditional in their choice of material, although still including 'The Skater’ and 'Black-sailed Traders’ in their set. The only recording from this period was a basic tape recording of a live concert in the village church at Filby, Norfolk, where Ken and Joan now lived. This too was to later be released on CD by Kissing Spell under the title 'The Holy Rood of Bromholm’. After spells working in Botswana and Southampton, Dave Lambert emigrated to Australia, where he continues to play as a member of Adelaide-based band 'The Legends’. 
Ken and Joan carried on as a duo for a while, before becoming engaged in a slightly more serious project with early music. Then in 1985/86 they formed a new band with bassist Michael Wakelin and keyboard player Dave Felmingham, occasionally being joined on vocals by Carole Irwin. Reflecting their 'middle earth’ tendencies, the name 'Arkenstone’ was chosen, but after their second gig - a local version of Live Aid - so many former fans still referred to them as Stone Angel, that they decided to revert to the old title. Sadly, work commitments away from the area meant the band was short-lived. The next stage was to see a musical involvement with Broadland Theatre Group, which entailed the composition and performance of original material for various productions. Around the same time, an article had appeared in the magazine 'Record Collector’ with details of various privately released albums from the seventies, including the original Stone Angel LP. This was subsequently re-released on CD by Kissing Spell in 1994, alongside the previously unissued ’ live’ recording and the earlier Midwinter album. All of this led to a renewed interest in the band, not only in the UK but also in Europe and the Far East. 
With a handful of local traditional songs, some original compositions - some dating from the mid-eighties ensemble - and a few fresh ideas, the 'new’ Stone Angel re-formed in 2000, chiefly to record a new CD, 'East of the Sun’. This latest incarnation comprised of Ken and Joan Saul, Dave Felmingham, Andrew Smith, and a re-called Michael Wakelin. By the time the recording was finished, one of the additional musicians, oboe and cor anglais player Richard Danby, had become a permanent member of the band, while Michael’s work commitments necessitated a substitution on bass by young Robert Futter. More recently they have been joined by Jane Denny, contributing additional vocals and assorted percussion, and original seventies bass man Mick Burroughes. It is this line-up that produced the album, 'Lonely Waters’. 


Sadly, Richard Danby died in tragic circumstances just as the recording of “Lonely Waters” was nearing its completion. His contribution to the band was greatly missed, but it was decided not to try and replace him, and the album was dedicated to his memory. Due to other commitments, Mick left shortly after the album was released. The vacancy on bass was filled by long-time friend and associate, Geoff Hurrell. 


Work then began on another rather different and exacting project with Broadlands Theatre Group – an epic community production of “Green Man”. After much deliberation and a few drinks in that other-worldly time between Christmas and New Year, ideas were made material. Pip Sessions wrote the script and the band wrote songs and arranged and adapted traditional material. In October 2005 “Green Man – a pageant of ancient mysteries” was performed for two nights in Filby Church with Stone Angel playing live in the context of the play. Soon after this, the CD “Circle of Leaves” was produced – all the music from “Green Man” linked together with words from the drama. It was a moment never to be forgotten, when the whole cast was recorded for the final track “The Promise”. A concert version was later put together and premiered again in Filby Church. 

November 2009 saw Stone Angel celebrate their 35th anniversary with a concert at the Assembly House in Norwich. It was good to see fans and friends, old and new, from around the country – and indeed, the world – gather for this landmark occasion. Since then, Jane has departed for work and family reasons, leaving the remaining five-piece ensemble to record and release another new CD “Between the Water and the Sky”. Most recently, the band celebrated their 40th anniversary with a short tour and another concert at the Assembly House in Norwich. Currently (2015) they mark the 40th anniversary of the release of the original Stone Angel album, recorded in February 1975. The story continues….. 

If I had to pick one album in my collection that best exemplified British acid folk music of the early seventies, it might be this one. Really Midwinter’s ‘The Waters of Sweet Sorrow’ is an even better example, but considering most of that band became this band, and since the presence of psych guitar is slightly more pronounced here I’ll go with this one as more representative. 
Stone Angel seem to have been yet another British progressive folk band of the early to mid- seventies who took their lead from the Incredible String Band, Comus and the Pentangle (although their sound is certainly their own); but never found the success those groups did. This album probably came out too late (1974), and undoubtedly had no promotion to speak of considering the minor label on which is was issued (Seashell). Too bad, but I suppose Kissing Spell can credit their existence to lots of poor management on the part of many minor music groups between the years of 1970 and 1976. 

The word ‘pastoral’ comes to mind right away when listening to these guys. If you’ve heard Midwinter you have an idea what Stone Angel sounds like. The singer Joan Bartle replaced Jill Child after Midwinter’s demise and band leader Ken Saul recruited violinist/mandoliner Dave Lambert, but otherwise the band is the same (Dick Cadbury of Decameron fame had appeared on the Midwinter album but was never an official member of the group). 

But Stone Angel are even a bit more subdued than Midwinter. The addition of Lambert gave the band a stronger folk vibe with plenty of prominent, minor chord violin throughout to set an almost medieval mood; especially on the title track and the dirge-like “The Gay Goshawk”, both of which pretty much position the violin as a lead instrument. 

Elsewhere other folk instruments enrich the sound of the songs. “The Holy Rood of Bromholm” benefits from Bartle’s deployment of a crumhorn to augment her singing. Bass player and percussionist Mick Burroughs dominates “The Skater” with a lively Jew’s harp. And Saul himself lays down his guitar for a while on “Black Sailed Traders” to join Bartle on recorders while Paul Corrick plucks away on steel strings in the background. 

Several songs on this album would surface again on the band’s second release ‘The Holy Rood of Bromholm”, including that album’s title track (which closes out this album); “The Skater”; and “Black Sailed Traders”. Only “The Holy Rood of Bromholm” appears to be the same version on both records. Unfortunately the band would dissolve shortly after these recordings, although they would resurface in the eighties and again in the mid-nineties. From what I’ve read they appear to be officially in existence today, and did release an album of new material a couple years ago which is challengingly difficult to find. 

This is acid folk at its finest; and by ‘finest’ I mean with just enough of the acid touch to move it out of medieval times, but not so much that it turns into a sitar and patchouli recital. Great stuff if you like this sort of thing, and I’m giving it four stars for that although I could certainly understand other reviewers rating it slightly lower since there’s nothing really innovative here. If you are not a fan of progressive folk music this isn’t likely to win you over any more than a stuffy, rich white guy could convince a tree-hugger to vote Republican. But if you’re open-minded about peaceful and sincere music with enough hippie trappings to give it cobblestone-street cred, then this album might be for you. 

peace……by ClemofNazareth ….. 

The rare self-titled album by the British band Stone Angel was heard by few people when it was first issued (as a private pressing) in the mid-'70s, though it found a wider (though still small and cult) audience when it was reissued on CD many years later. It’s not so much folk-rock as folk-rock-influenced folk, often with a medieval/Renaissance feel. You can hear some electric guitar, but there are no drums, and there’s a good heaping of instrumentation such as flute, dulcimer, crumhorn, and mandolin that aren’t heard on many rock records. Some listeners might be put off a bit by the basic and slightly (and, on some tracks, more than slightly) lo-fi production; it was, after all, recorded in February 1975 as a demo. But overall, it’s an impressive take on Middle Ages-era British folk music that has enough force and mild electric rock influence to make it more approachable to modern listeners, even if it’s still on the somber (indeed mildly gloomy) and anachronistic side. Some of the performance, indeed, have a hymnal quality (especially in the vocals, whether solo or harmonized) that seems almost right out of olden times. At least, it seems like ancient times until you hear well-placed bass runs, as you do on “The Gay Goshawk,” or circular guitar licks that wouldn’t have sounded too out of place on a Yes record, as you do on “The Black Dog.”….by Richie Unterberger….allmusic……….. 

After the demise of their folk group Midwinter, Corrick, Burroughes and Saul formed Stone Angel and gave their first public performance on December 20, 1974 at the Great Yarmouth Folk Club, bringing in Joan Bartle on vocals and Dave Lambert on fiddle. Because many fans already knew them in their prior incarnation, Stone Angel quickly developed a following and gave numerous concerts throughout the U.K. In February 1975 the band decided to record a demo, which was privately released under the title Stone Angel. The band continued touring, until Corrick and Burroughes left for university in the fall of 1975. The group, now a trio, began to play more traditional and acoustic material, due to the departure of Corrick on electric guitar. Their 1976 concert in a Filby church was recorded, but not released until 1994. Around 1977, Dave Lambert left to work with various other groups before ending up in Australia working with The Legends, while Bartle and Saul married and settled down in Filby. 

Now down to just two members, Stone Angel took a long hiatus, though Bartle and Saul remained involved in various projects involving early and antique music. Finally, around 1985, a new lineup was assembled, and the band began touring again, at first under the name The Village Band, then Arkenstone (reflecting the prevalence of Tolkienesque elements in their compositions), but soon reverting to Stone Angel for the sake of convenience and reputation. After various delays and work in theatre groups, the group was surprised when, after an article in the magazine Record Collector, they were approached in 1993 by indie label Kissing Spell to release their only recordings: the original Stone Angel LP and the live recording The Holy Rood of Bromholm, as well as the earlier Midwinter album The Waters of Sweet Sorrow. 

With public interest and renewed critical attention (inexplicably, much of it in Japan and Korea), the band recorded their first new material in 2000, releasing East of the Sun with a slightly modified lineup. A new vocalist and drummer, Jane Denny, joined them in 2002 for the release of Lonely Waters…. 

Stone Angel 
*Ken Saul - Vocals, Guitars, Dulcimer, Treble Recorder 
*Joan Bartle - Vocals, Flute, Recorder, Crumhorn 
*Mick Burroughs - Percussion, Bass, Jews Harp 
*Dave Lambert - Violin, Mandolin, Rebec 
*Paul Corrick - Electric Guitar, Bass 

Tracks 
1. The Bells Of Dunwich - 6:04 
2. The Skater - 3:13 
3. Pastime With A Good Company - 1:12 
4. Traveller’s Tale - 5:41 
5. Black Sailed Traders - 5:04 
6. Stone Angel - 3:38 
7. Galliard Merrie England’s Musicke Box - 2:02 
8. The Gay Goshawk (Traditional) - 7:08 
9. The Black Dog (Paul Corrick, Ken Saul) - 5:42 
10.The Holy Rood Of Bromholm (Ken Saul) - 4:01   

johnkatsmc5, welcome music..