Monday, August 25, 2014


Top image alternative cover by artist Pete Turner,   The bottom image is the better known image

           For the average listener, Under Milkwood's self-titled album will come as a sad knock-off of Jefferson Airplane's own landmark album, `Surrealistic Pillow'. For the connoisseur of sixties psychedelia, this will come as a wonderful surprise. Like Pillow, this album is split into an electric camp and a folkier, more stream of consciousness side. The recording was made in 1970, a time when psychedelic music was on its way out; all of the great bands of that era were in their twilight (except for the Grateful Dead): the Doors were good for one more album, `L.A. Woman'; the Jefferson Airplane had all but called it quits after 1969's `Volunteers'; the Beatles of course were on their last legs . . . In a way Under Milkwood is a classic example of too little too late. The opening track, "Empty room" is as good as it gets with the San Francisco sound: twin guitars loudly battling for the lead, a powerful vocal and a great drum/bass back-up. Generally the folkier songs are dependent on the vocal talents of Clara Miles; "Changing Seasons", "Tell Me" and "Lost Youth" are all pastoral, almost motionless songs. To many listeners they will be uninteresting, because other bands such as Pentangle, Fairport Convention and Steeleye Span have all done this much better. There are two prominent saxophone songs. The first, "Forgotten bridge", is a curious duet with a loud guitar that never seems to take off and go anywhere. The second, "Parade", is a strange, almost hymn-like procession. "Sandwiches and rock and roll" is loud, unimaginative filler. The last two songs actually tips things towards the favorable. The "Ballad of the spirit world" is an awesome instrumental that has a great sax solo at the start and a freaky guitar workout halfway through and then the same sax solo closes it! "Final song" bookends "Empty room", because both songs are about the loneliness of being different. It has an interesting vocal duet between Miles and Thornam, one of the guitarists. Like the opening track, this song builds to a furious, twin lead guitar attack-in all, a great way to close an album-and an era. R.Cossboon

01.Empty Room - 4:56
02.Changing Seasons - 4:23
03.Tell Me - 5:33
04.Forgotten Bridge - 3:49
05.Parade - 2:44
06.Sandwiches Rock'n'Roll - 3:30
07.Lost Youth - 1:30
08.Ballad of the Spirit of the World - 6:21
09.Final Song - 6:11

Under Milkwood :
John Thornam - Guitars, Vocals
Stephen Mallory - Guitars, Vocals
Robert Mickalsky - Drums
David Turner Jr. - Keyboards, Guitar, Vocals
Clara Miles - Lead Vocals, Percussion
Mike  Lewthorne - Tenor Sax
Alphonse Barnet - Trumpet, Flute, Harpischord


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