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24 Jan 2017

Knocker Jungle “Knocker Jungle” 1970 UK Psych Folk Rock

Knocker Jungle  “Knocker Jungle” 1970 rare UK Psych Folk Rock
Vinilisssimo present a reissue of Knocker Jungle’s self-titled album, originally released in 1970. Ember was a British label created in 1960 by Jeffrey Kruger, founder of London’s Flamingo Club. As well as recording British acts, Ember distributed many American and other recordings in the UK. The Knocker Jungle LP was released by the label in 1970, when the duo had already split, being withdrawn from sale shortly after due to a controversial picture included in the inner sleeve that made many shops refuse to stock it. A single (for the Spanish market only) somehow managed to get released too, and that’s about all Tony Coop and Keith Jones achieved in their short life as Knocker Jungle. What the band members had done before this project was formed, or where this album led them to, remains totally unknown. Their music speaks for itself, confessing a true passion for classic song-based artists, from Donovan to Nick Drake or Dylan, with a certain degree of hippie-bluesy approach on most tracks. Tony Cox (responsible for producing Yes’s album Time And A Word (1970) and other records from Family, Caravan, etc) held production duties and Dave Pegg and Dave Mattacks from Fairport Convention are featured among the band players. From the splendid opener “I Don’t Know Why”, consistency remains solid throughout the entire album. The catchy “You’ve Lost Your Love For Me” adds some early T-Rex sound into the equation while “Where I Belong” shows a strong West Coast influence. Almost 47 years after its sudden withdrawal from the shops, this rare gem gets a deserved vinyl reissue. Presented in facsimile gatefold sleeve and pressed on 180 gram vinyl…………… 
Only a few copies were sold of this 1970 LP by the Knocker Jungle. At the time of the release, the duo had already split, and the shops didn’t take it, perhaps also because of a photograph with a finger gesture by one of the members. The problem now was that almost no information could be found about the duo, Tony Coop and Keith Jones. 

The participants surely made it look interesting. Involved were Dave Mattacks on drums (of folkrock band Fairport Convention), Phil Pickett on keyboards (of Sailor fame ; -not to confuse with Philip Picket from Albion Band-), and with no less than Tony Cox producing (at that time of Magna Carta and Tir Na Nog, besides he also had produced records later from Family, Caravan, Gringo, Françoise Hardy,…). In search of the master tapes they also found another 4 tracks of the session which have not been chosen to be included on the original LP, so they have been added now to complete this recording session. 

We hear clearly attempts -especially on the early tracks- by Tony Cox to make the bluesier and simple busker-like guitar and song moments more sweeter, like on “Caught a cold last night” by a flute intro or with band arrangements like some conga and sitar-like guitar arrangement in an attempt to make this different. 

The light sunshine hippie-like folk-blues mode (a comparable area to Keith Christmas for instance, also because of the slightly hippie-feminine aspects in the vocal tensions), in several tracks, like also on the bonus tracks, is in fact rather attractive and distinctive, despite it’s simple core, while the busker-like tendency on other moments keeps the songs on the edge of making it still able to develop into something arranged more subtely. When going towards the American way of lyrically driven songs, or sometimes ballads, some of associated, slightly Westcoast sort of style in the vocal arrangements fit with those songs rather well, without that they ever go towards a real Americana influence, they rather chose folk-blues instead. 

Two of the tracks of the album, namely the first and the eight track, “I don’t know why” and “You’ve lost your love for me” and slightly also the second track, in the same vein, through its sort of catchy simple and light form, are easily comparable for the creative song melodies to some of those 70s Nigerian Afrorock songs, in a more acoustic version arrangement instead of with fuzz, and slightly bluesy, a fitting comparison thanks to its charming way of being playful-repetitive with the main lyrical song themes during the song. 

This is an album which can be regarded as a song-album with its own, sometimes a bit more hidden charm. …………………
*Keith Jones - 12 String Acoustic Guitars, Vocals 
*Tony Coop - 6 String Acoustic Guitar, Mouth Organ, Vocals 
*Phil Pickett - Piano 
*Tony Cox - Piano 
*Owen Finnegan - Congas 
*Dave Mattacks - Drums 
*Dave (Not one for corrections) - Electric Bass

A1 I Don’t Know Why
A2 Oh To Be Free
A3 Caught A Cold Last Night
A4 I’ve Got Time
A5 Not Eleven A Letter
A6 Ecclesiastes
A7 Reality
B1 You’ve Lost Your Love For Me
B2 Amanda
B3 Sunburnt Virgin Trousers
B4 Impossible You
B5 Where I Belong
B6 It Ain’t Necessarily So
B7 Oh My 

johnkatsmc5, welcome music..