Friday, September 15, 2006

"Chimera" (UK Acid Folk/Baroque Psychedelia 1969-70)

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.


Anonymous Bannermike said...

I never thought I'd ever find this incredibly rare album. Once again, Lizardson, you have worked magic. Many thanks for sharing this one.

PS. Yours is easily the best blog on the Net. Keep up the good work. I know you have many grateful fans.

15 September, 2006 09:38  
Blogger arstider said...


Thanks a lot for this one. I have had some track but not all of them.

Best wishes from Sweden.

Here are some more info

Chimera - Chimera
Tenth Planet TP 054

Limited to 1000 copies (104/1000)


1. Come Into The Garden*
Interlude #1
2. The Grail
Interlude #2
3. Sad Song For Winter
Interlude #3
4. Mary's Mystry*
5. Lady With Bullets In Her Hair
6. Black Hat Babe*
7. Song In E*
8. Episode At Telegraph Hill*
9. Morning Sounds
10. Peru*

All tracks written by Lisa Bankoff
Tracks recorded 1969 except* 1970

Produced by Mal Luker
except* produced by Nick Mason
Orchestral arrangements by Wil Malone

Lisa Bankoff - guitar (tracks 2,3,9) and vocals on all tracks
Francesca Garnett - vocals on all tracks except "Sad Song For Winter"
Mal Luker - guitar and keyboards on "Sad Song For Winter"
Bob Weston - guitar on tracks marked *
Nick South - bass on tracks marked *
Roy Temro - drums on "Mary's Mystery"
Nick Mason - drums on "The Grail"
Rick Wright - keyboards on "Lady With Bullets In Her Hair"
Ian Milne - keyboards on "The Grail"

15 September, 2006 17:10  
Blogger ZubZub said...

This looks great, thanks for it and all the other excellent posts (and for placing Juju in your links!)

16 September, 2006 01:54  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Find this fragnment of the notes of LP:

“We returned in Rome in May 1968 when they were told by Francesca's boyfriend, Roberto, that a major pop festival, to be headlined by the Pink Floyd, was about to take place in the city. With Roberto helping out with the festival's publicity, the girls were able to worm their way backstage.

"With our usual effrontery", recalls Lisa, "we went up to Nick Mason, drummer with the Floyd, and told him we were songwriters. We were soon chatting away with him, and found him very approachable. He took us seriously enough to give us his phone number in London, and told us to look him up when we got back, and that he would see if he could do anything to help us”.

this extract is cited at this page:

beautiful blog!

16 September, 2006 05:38  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Since you seem to like finding similarities between cover art, let me say that Chimera's cover has been "ripped" by Lisa Suckdog for her '94 ST lp.

22 November, 2006 09:18  
Anonymous Stella said...

This album's description and cover art are fascinating but unfortunately the link has expired. Can I request a repost ?

Thank you for a splendid blog, I find it hard to leave this site.

07 December, 2006 07:44  
Anonymous Stella said...

Your reply came much faster than I had anticipated, wow!

Thank you so much.

07 December, 2006 18:17  
Anonymous Paisley Panties said...

Wow! A lot of things are called lost masterpieces, but this really is one. Thanks!

08 February, 2008 00:31  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

hey, my name is sacha edmundson and i am lisa bankoffs son, its great to see people who have had the chance to hear my mums almost forgotten music. And its even better to see people praising it.

14 June, 2008 23:06  
Anonymous zappahead said...

this looks very interesting...have to give it a listen...thank you.

06 July, 2008 01:36  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

my name is Carlo Maucioni and I'm an Italian journalist and I'm very very interested to "Chimera" album.
So, I'd like contacting Francesca Garnett or/and Lisa Bankoff.
Lisa's son Sacha Edmundson, can you help me?
Time Has Told Me bloggers and administrator can you help me?
Thank you in advance.
My e-mail address is:

07 August, 2008 05:58  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for yet another lost classic that I would never have heard..

Dr Debaser

23 November, 2008 17:24  
Blogger alice said...

hi, i'm a french, i love the "sad song for winter" i'm trying to find the lyrics, but some words are missing... i'll be enchantée if someone could help me. i like the other too... but i'd like to be able to sing the sad song.

well, lots of thanks for the blog anyway!

19 May, 2009 04:36  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Marvellous music collector ! Greetings to Paul Martin ;-)
Anyhow I seem not to find the link of chimera at all,love&peace Harry

04 July, 2009 23:15  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi there. Is it possible to repost this 'lost' masterpiece please? I only have a terrible LP rip and would love to hear this in better quality.

Thank you,

- Mugz

03 August, 2009 02:53  
Blogger Alonso\*/Esteban said...


I'm from Costa Rica, Central America. I really love this blog, and I found it thanks to this jewell Chimera's album is. I've been spreading the word about this album among my friends, and all of them had just found it amazing.

I really want to thank you for this blog. When I found this, maybe I was the only guy in my country that had listened to them. Now, a little bit more people has discovered not only this band, but the incredible material this blog has.

Indeed, thanks again...


30 October, 2009 18:25  
Blogger Daniel! said...

Hi there,

I'm sorry but is there any chance you would be able to up this again? :)


05 November, 2009 09:45  
Blogger The Tutorial Machine said...


30 April, 2010 02:44  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanx a lot!

16 May, 2011 15:45  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow. Brings back memories. Lisa was my best friend at boarding school and we used to compose poems and songs together.
She was far more talented than me though.
Wonder what she is doing now. The music sounds lovely.

22 August, 2011 07:31  
Anonymous Sacha Edmundson said...

Unfortunately Lisa passed away in March of 2003. She wrote music in her later years and played in a couple bands, mostly just for fun though, she wasn't interested in making a career out of it in the end.

07 February, 2012 22:15  
Blogger louis ward said...

All the great musician's seem to be passing now, daevid Allen too.

26 March, 2015 00:22  

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