Saturday, August 26, 2006

Oberon "A Midsummer's Night Dream" (UK Folk 1971)

It's not often that a really scarce album is very good but this is a real UK folk rock gem. Released in 1971 in an edition of only 150 copies, Oberon's Midsummer's Night Dream is not only one of the rarest folk-rock records to ever see the light in the UK but is also considered one of the top works in its genre. Decorated with lilting female vocals mandolins, dulcimers, whistles electric and acoustic guitars and other instuments old and new this is a magical album. Since it is very unlikely that you are one of the lucky fellas who owns an original, you can't let this gem slip from your hands.

Review by Man Erg:
This is the only release from these ex Radley College, Oxford students starts with a Pentangle-esque version of the traditional, 'Nottanum Town'. Slow in pace with male/female vocals interweaving around each other, the song takes on a lilting,drifting journey accompanied by flute and violin.

The next track, 'Peggy', is a Jansch/Renbourn-ish solo acoustic guitar piece that is summery and languid and a sort of introduction to the next song, 'The Hunt'. Male vocals dominate this jazzy piece. The violin solo is very Stefan Grapelli/gypsy in style. In other words Folk/Jazz/Hot Club de Paris. The guitar on this track is especially beautiful. Again, jazz chords are the order of the day;not to dis-similar to Richard Thompson's on the first Fairport album track, Sunshade.

'Syrinx' is next up. A version of the piece written by Claude Debussy.

Gerswin and Heyward's 'Summertime' from Porgy and Bess gets the next tribute treatment. IMHO, It's probably the weak point of the album. Jan Scrimgeour's breath control on this is not good. The track's saving grace is probably the violin solo, which,once again revisits The Hot Club de Paris.

'Time Past, Time Come' is a beautiful instrumental that involves bass,flute, violin and acoustic guitar. From Summertime into autumn,you can almost see the leaves turn to gold,red and amber whilst listening to this. Utterly sublime.

'Minas Tirith.' Imagine if Dave Swarbrick and Ian Anderson had played with Pentangle, well this, I should imagine is what would have transpired. Robin Clutterbuck's vocals are a dera-ringer for those of Bert Jansch's. The problem that I have with this track is the drum solo. Not a very well executed one at that. There are a few,very audible mis-hits. In it's defence,time and money in the studio may have put paid to any re-takes. The song then resumes with jazzy flute and guitar. For all of the previous comparisons with regard to the sound of this track, the nearest I can think of is Giles, Giles and Fripp!

The final track, 'Epitaph', sounds uncannily like Sandy Denny's ;Who Knows Where the Time Goes? ' Robin Clutterbuck plays and sings beautifully in what is a fitting end to a very curious but albeit,beautiful album

1. Nottanum Town
2. Peggy
3. The Hunt
4. Syrinx
5. Summertime
6. Time Past, Time Come
7. Minas Tirith (Parts I & II)
8. Epitaph


Blogger admin said...

Yet again, thank you very much! Cant get enough of the fair nottamun town!

28 August, 2006 14:34  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

There are some quite good ideas here, but a lack of ability (especially vocal) and lack of a good producer prevents them from pulling it off. The track "Summertime" is excrutiatingly bad!

30 August, 2006 03:21  
Blogger rock of lamb said...

I agree - some good ideas, but overall I don't think it cuts it. Nothing very memorable. I kinda liked the drum solo - although admittedly I've never heard so many mis-hits, etc on a recorded drum solo.

Thanks for all your posts!

24 September, 2006 05:59  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Nottanum town" is obviously a rip-off of Bob Dylan's "Masters of War" (Only kidding! I know which came first.) Thank's so much for preserving this fine album!

23 February, 2007 08:36  
Blogger UK folk junkie said...

Not nearly as bad as many reviews would lead one to believe. If anything, this has an individuality lacking in much else from the period.

11 August, 2007 01:34  

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