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12 Aug 2017

Edwards Hand ‎"Edwards Hand" 1969 UK Psych Baroque Pop

Edwards Hand ‎"Edwards Hand" 1969 UK Psych Baroque Pop
watch Rob Edwards info....

The official CD reissue of this rare debut 1969 album by Edwards Hand, the London Psychedelic Pop band formed by the UK duo of singer/keyboardist Rod Edwards (who was later a key member of Folk Rock trio Jade, and The Piccadilly Line) with Roger Hand(The Piccadilly Line). Produced by George Martin, who also did some stunning string arrangements, during a break from recording The Beatles' White album sessions. A beautiful whimsical record of lush harmony pop rock with progressive/psych tinges. Their music can perhaps be compared to the more orchestrated moments of Kaleidoscope and Fairfield Parlour. This is an undiscovered treasure of an album.................

Digitally remastered and expanded edition of the 1969 debut album from the Psyche/Prog outfit led by Rod Edwards and Roger Hand, who formed this breezy, Psychedelic outfit after briefly recording as the Piccadilly Line. Recorded on four track tape at EMI St. Johns Wood in late '68, with Geoff Emerick and George Martin during a break in the sporadic White Album sessions, you can hear the benefits from Martin and Emerick's vast experience, technical skills and orchestral arrangements. There is plenty of swinging London vibes and whimsical vocals here, as well as dreamy vocal harmonies and elaborate electric and acoustic arrangements very much of the era. This limited edition reissue is housed in a reproduction of the original sleeve and packaged in a jewel case. Includes the original version of 'If I Thought You'd Ever Change Your Mind', a hit for Agnetha Fältskog of ABBA in 2004. Grape Fruit. 2009....

In 1968 CBS abandoned the idea of a follow up album for the Picadilly Line and looked instead g for commercial success through singles. When the singles also failed to hit the charts CBS started to lose interest in the band and in the process they lost their direction, innocence and artistic drive. 

Adding a girl singer had confused things further and Roger Hand left the band in despair. Rod Edwards soldiered on and the group went to Switzerland for an extended period to work and to get their act together. Unfortunately the hoped for new enthusiasm that was to be generated by the excursion did not materialise and a demoralised Picadilly Line returned to England before falling apart. 

Sometimes, when all is lost, fate just steps in. The band's manager and friend Jon Miller had been working for Spencer Davis Management and on meeting American manager Lennie Poncher had given him a copy of the Picadilly Line album. Rod and Roger were out of contract with CBS and since Lennie was looking for English acts he was immediately drawn to the band. 

Lennie not only offered them a US management deal but also immediately secured a record contract with CRT records, a new operation set up by the tape manufacturing conglomerate. Lennie was not typical of American managers. He was honest! He was also well respected in the business - with offices in both Los Angeles and New York . He was a musician, he cared for music and had worked with a wide range of artists, including the US garage psych-pop legends The Electric Prunes and hip arranger David Axel rod (most notably on the infamous and highly ambitious Mass in F Minor and Release of an Oath albums). 

However he had also represented Tom Jones, Englebert Humperdink, Jethro Tull, Ten Years After and Donovan. Immaculately dressed, witty and gregarious whilst just oozing credibility, he was the man with connections that Rod and Roger needed. Rod recalls a particularly hilarious time with Lennie in London "Lennie took us out to lunch at the Londonderry Hotel on Park Lane to discuss our future. 

After fifteen minutes when the waiter still hadn't appeared to take our order, Lennie took hold of the edge of the table cloth and with one swift action pulled it from the table so that cutlery, glass and plates went flying everywhere. Immediately a waiter came rushing over to see what the problem was and when he arrived at our table Lennie just calmly pointed at the menu and ordered the meal!" 

Lennie was only interested in the best and through the force of his personality secured the services of George Martin to produce Rod and Roger's new album. This was a unique scenario as they were to be the first group produced by George after the Beatles. George must have been impressed by the songs as he immediately made the commitment to produce the band whilst he was still involved with recording the Beatles' White Album. 

To their utter amazement, Rod and Roger found themselves scheduled at EMI studios in Abbey Road, St. Johns Wood under their new name Edwards Hand, a simple combination of their surnames. As stated on the sleeve of their eponymous album 'musical direction1 was supplied by George Martin and as musical director George worked closely with the duo planning, pruning, orchestrating, recording and mixing the material. 

Rod Edwards described George Martin's involvement as crucial to the recordings "The album was very much a transition from the softer Picadilly Line material to a bigger orchestral George Martin sound. At the time he was working on The Beatles' White Album - a lengthy sporadic process - and although he was very discreet he did play a rough mix from a work in progress tape of 'Dear Prudence". In addition to George Martin's involvement Edwards Hand were also fortunate to have the services of legendary engineer Geoff Emerick whose name was synonymous with all the Beatles' recordings. 

Rod described him as a consummate engineer "Recording the Beatles was just part of his repertoire. He had done everything, been everywhere and moreover had come from that peculiarly British school of excellent technical sound balance engineers. He knew about sound and how to achieve it. You have to remember at that time you didn't just press a button and out comes the New York Philharmonic! 

The album was recorded on a four track machine which really focuses your mind!" Like The Picadilly Line album Edwards Hand's first vinyl output featured a dazzling array of musicians. Not only had the duo managed to secure the most famous producer and arranger in the world they also attracted the cream of the UK session musicians. 

A veritable who's who of hip sidemen included Barry Morgan and Ronnie Verrall on drums, Danny Thompson on string bass, Vic Flick, Big Jim Sullivan, Colin Green and Alan Parker on guitars, Nicky Hopkins, Roger Coulam, Alan Hawkshaw and Mike Moran on Keyboards and Harry Stoneham on Organ. 

Such a wealth of talent under the direction of George Martin promised at the very least an album of the highest quality and unsurprisingly both Rod and Roger were overawed at the prospect of such an array of top class musical ability performing their compositions. 

The album was recorded at Abbey Road Studios in the summer of 1969 and was released shortly afterwards on the fledging GRT label in the USA, Despite the ificfedible team behind it and the seeming commercial invincibility of the project the choice of label proved to be its Achilles heel. The reviews were excellent and a buzz was in the air but GRT had moved too soon too fast and they lacked the depth of experience of a major label. 

They did not have the promotion, the organisation or quite simply the men hitting the radio stations. Edwards Hand was an album truly deserving of exposure to a wider audience. In today's ipod world 'baroque pop' might well be the closest label of categorization for the duo's debut putting it on play lists alongside albums such as Kaleidoscope's Faintly Blowing, Fairfield Parlour's From Home To Home The Strawbs Dragonfly or Nirvana's All Of Us , Whilst not sharing any creative ideas with those contemporaries what it does share is an English cosy warmth and familiarity that breathes the fresh air of an earlier, innocent and more carefree musical age. 

Sweeping pastoral string arrangements perfectly counterbalance a pop sensibility adding a certain air of mystery and romanticism. At times the blend of pop orchestration and melancholy harmony gives the record a Franco-continental feel most evident on the opening 'Banjo Pier' - with its keyboard flourishes and swelling strings -and the haunting elegiac 'Days of Our Life'. At other moments, for example in 'Magic Car1, a harder edge struggles to break through the dense harmonies. 

Whilst the roots of the duo's music can be followed back to the twee beginnings of The Picadilly Line - most evident on 'Characters No. 1', an infuriatingly catchy piece of swinging mockney - Rod and Roger's music seems to have evolved into a creation totally of it's time whilst also remaining I enchantingly timeless. 'If I Thought You'd Ever Change Your Mind' is the only non-original composition on the record and is a beautiful song, written and arranged by John Cameron, who had previously produced The Picadilly Line. 

The song has proven to be a particularly poignant footnote to Edward Hand's musical history. Once again produced by George Martin it was to be a huge hit for Cilia Black in 1969 (and an even bigger one many years later for Agnetha Faltskog of Abba) yet tie irony is that Cilia's label EMI had an option to release the Edwards Hand alburn and the single but failed to do so, giving Cilia a clear run with her version. 

Despite the fact that lyrically it works better from the male perspective, EMI could see that Cilia had the advantage of previous hits and a well known UK TV show to propel her recording into the public ear. In retrospect it is evident that the Edwards Hand version is by far superior. Who knows what might have happened had it gained wider exposure? Unfortunately although Edwards Hand's album garnered critical acclaim in the USA, the GRT label folded almost immediately after release of the alburn taking the band's first steps at a career with it. Edwards Hand missed their moment and the duos debut failed to even secure a European release. 

Because Edwards Hand were one of the few pop/rock acts other than the Beatles who were produced by George Martin in the late 1960s, their obscure self-titled debut album has generated some rough comparisons to the Beatles' own work. It's true that the harmonies, melodies, and orchestrations bear some similarity to those heard on the very most pop-oriented of the Beatles' productions, though in truth there's a stronger resemblance to the ornate pop-psychedelia of the late-'60s Bee Gees. Throwing those names into the hat so quickly, though, is a little misleading and might spark hopes for a buried treasure that's better than it is. For the actual songs are certainly coyer and more saccharine than the compositions of the Beatles, and even make the Bee Gees' late-'60s stuff sound melancholy and a little hard-edged. It's more something of a combination of Beatles/Bee Gees-lite with poppier, soaring, sometimes fruity orchestral arrangements -- most likely Martin's strongest contribution to the record -- and more of a middle of the road/sunshine pop/toytown psychedelic influence than the Bee Gees (and certainly the Beatles) admitted. Certainly some of the lyrics make one blanch a bit on the printed page, with their fey references to picture books, kings and queens, bringing flowers in the morning, walking down London's Charing Cross Road, magic cars, and the like. If you like those elements, of course, there are things to enjoy about this record. It has reasonably catchy though not stunning melodies, good duo vocal harmonies, and an ambience that captures something of the most innocuous side of the Swinging London/flower power era. It does sound best, however, when it gets most serious and Bee Gees-like, "If I Thought You'd Ever Change Your Mind" and "Orange Peel" being two examples.......... by Richie Unterberger .

Rod Edwards and Roger Hand started their musical collaboration as leaders of the band Picadilly Line. Showcasing a strong set of UK flower power moves, their sole album, 1967's "The Huge World of Emily Small" attracted positive critical reviews, but didn't do a great deal commercially and after a series of equally commercially disappointing singles, by late 1968 the group had disintegrated.
Picadilly Line manager Jon Miller subsequently put Edwards and Hand in touch with American A&R man/manager/ Lennie Poncher who wasted no time getting them signed to the newly established California-based GRT label. GRT management subsequently hired George Martin (then in the midst of producing The Beatles "The White Album") to produce the pair's debut LP - 1969's cleverly-titled "Edwards Hand". With the exception of a cover of John Cameron's 'If I Thought You'd Ever Change Your Mind' the album featured Edwards and Hand original tunes. Perhaps not a major surprise, but musically the set sounded very much like a continuation of the Piccadilly Line catalog. Exemplified by tracks like 'Banjo Pier', 'House of Cards', and 'Magic Car' the collection was full of heavily orchestrated psychedelic-tinged pop; what some folks refer to as 'Toytown'. Powered by the pair's strong vocal harmonies, comparisons to early Bee Gees, or The Hollies during their psychedelic phase were quite apt. That gave the album a somewhat dated sound - way more 1967 than 1969. Great material if you liked the genre, but probably a bit too pompous, sentimental, and fey if you were looking for a more rock-oriented attack. For what it was worth, I like the results quite a bit....Bad Cat...

A1 Banjo Pier 2:47 
A2 Friday Hill 2:36 
A3 Episodes, Being The First Part 3:53 
A4 Close My Eyes 3:15 
A5 House Of Cards 2:11 
A6 If I Thought You'd Ever Change Your Mind 2:38 
B1 Characters Number One 4:00 
B2 Orange Peel 2:53 
B3 Sing Along With The Singer 2:10 
B4 Magic Car 3:15 
B5 Days Of Our Life 5:41 


Picadilly Line “The Huge World Of Emily Small"1967 British Psych Pop,Sunshine Baroque Pop

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