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"Sad Song For Winter" & "Morning Sounds" by Chimera (UK, 1970)

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Published on Jul 22, 2010

https://www.facebook.com/prognotfrog Legendary lost masterpiece of late 60s acid folk/baroque psychedelia, the unreleased 1969 album by Chimera -- featuring future Fleetwood Mac guitarist Bob Weston -- was partly produced by Pink Floyd drummer Nick Mason who, like Rick Wright, makes a cameo appearance. First released a couple of years ago in vinyl-only format, this first-ever CD issue adds an extra eight previously-unheard pre-album demos to come up with the definitive Chimera anthology. 12 page booklet with lots of photos and the full story behind the band's astonishing adventures in Swinging London.

Reviewed by Paul Martin:
Chimera were basically two young girls Francesca Garnett and Lisa Bankoff accompanied by an ever changing line up of musicians (all of them good). The album presented here is mastered from a cassette tape (though you'd never know it to hear it) which was all that was left of these sessions. A projected then abandoned album, the recordings ended up as a miscellaneous collection of sessions partly due to their label, Morgan Bluetown's, dithering which led to people leaving the group or becoming disinterested. Pink Floyd's Nick Mason produced all of these sessions and Rick Wright plays harpsichord on 'Lady With The Bullets In Her Hair', the whole (and sometimes harrowing) story of which can be found in the liner notes and in more depth and context in Francesca and Lisa's self-published book 'Making It: Famous Names And Silly Girls'.

What we have as the musical legacy is a game of two halves. Half, or perhaps slightly more, of the songs are real vehicles for the girls voices (all the songs are originals). These are acid-folk of the very first order and any Mellow Candle fans for instance will want this album and many of the numbers would have fitted deftly in to 'The Wicker Man' film soundtrack. Francesca and Lisa's voices on album opener, 'Come Into The Garden' suddenly emerge out of a swirling introduction and proceed to take off like two uncaged birds soaring towards the sun. Backed by busy drums, this mid paced number (as most of these numbers are and thus allowing both singers and musicians to stretch out) is a jaw dropper for anyone attuned to an acid-folk vibe. It should be said that none of the songs on this album have a predictable or conventional pattern to them. They are beautifully syncopated affairs with interesting vocal patterns lilting bass lines etc., in fact 'progressive' in the very best sense of that often abused word, with rhythms rising seemingly from nowhere and winding back down again.

'The Grail' is brooding, full of foreboding and warning with great keyboards in an almost improvised rhythm, whilst 'Sad Song For Winter' is a beautiful solo vocal from Lisa accompanied by acoustic guitar and harpsichord which produces a surprisingly full sound for such spartan instrumentation. 'Lady With The Bullets In Her Hair' features Rick Wright on harpsichord (or Spinet or some such) and is a beautiful pastoral and orchestrated number (Cellos, wood wind and a touch of brass) with acoustic guitar. Similarly 'Morning Sounds' takes us in the same direction. 'Song In E' is also a beautiful light number featuring acoustic guitar and tablas with a dual female vocal, soft and flowing, a nice tune with good changes.

The other dimension of the album are those songs which feature the band more strongly. Most famously, or at least the track most widely heard by anyone that is part of this aspect is 'Peru' with its swooping, loping bass line and compulsively addictive rhythm. In similar style is 'Mary's Mystery' which has a phased guitar part and a long instrumental passage which rises to a crescendo. The band dominated numbers can best be described as Fairport Convention meets Little Feet as they have a blend of blues-funk and folk rock in them. Both 'Black Hat Babe' and 'Episode At Telegraph Hill' (which also includes some John Mayall-like guitar work lacing its way throughout the number) are other examples of this style.

All songs on this album are instrumentally very strong and seem to go out of their way to find counter rhythms rather than plump for the obvious, both instrumentally and vocally. The whole project was far more worthy than the way it got treated, and it is a pleasure to have it here now. I could listen to this all day and still want more. It is slated for release on CD by Sanctuary who own the Morgan Bluetown catalogue as well, and if there is even just one extra track not on the LP, I'll be bagging that as well! Acid-folkers, dreamers and seekers after musical cerebral accompaniment should all tap into Chimera, this albeit posthumous release deserves a much wider audience. http://time-has-told-me.blogspot.com/...

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