Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Jan Dukes de Grey

Sorcerers (1969)

Until recently this album was almost mythical amongst most folk fans and impossible to get hold of. Wounded Nurse records in the US have released a very high quality bootleg with full colour sleeves that is probably going to be our only opportunity to ever get hold of this rare release.

The band released a second album on Transatlantic that is eccentric deranged progressive rock with the occasional folk touch, however this album falls more into the acoustic psychedelia of Incredible String Band or Dr Strangely Strange and fans of these types of artists will find much to enjoy here. It's probably fair to say that it doesn't have the unifying vision or ISB but it is whimsical, sometimes spiritual folk typical of its time. It reminds of Fresh Maggots or Milkwood Tapestry with it's fantastical lyrics and hippy vibe.

Instrumentally the songs are based around acoustic guitars and often bongo. Indian touches abound as were popular at the time. Clarinet and flute are liberally used which broadens the sound considerably. In song writing terms they are often about small town concerns with a narrative perhaps like Al Stewart or even the more pastoral elements of Ray Davies around the time of 'Arthur'.

'High Priced Room' introduces dual lead vocals, organ and pattering bongos. The title song has lovely celeste and flute and a rolling feeling of the meadows, unfortunately it has a high pitched pixie like voice in the middle that manages the ruin the song. 'The Cheering Hills' shows a morbid introspective side that was realised perfectly by Tir Na Nog on their first album. 'Out of the Eastern Hills' has an interesting melody and an air of beguiling strangeness. 'Yorkshire Indian Sitting In The Sun' is an atmospheric track, mostly instrumental but with a whispered refrain of the title at the end.

The album's second side starts with a beautiful eastern folk track 'Wonder Child' that has cymbals, bells, rain, water and chimes in the background, it is far and away the best thing they ever did and reaches a different place than most of their songs manage. 'Trust Me Now' is overtly Indian in form and has more rhythmic emphasis which is very welcome. 'City After 3 AM' has an Indian chanter playing snake charmer like over the strummed instrumental folk. 'Butterfly' has a slight Pink Floyd like feeling with it's sustained organ backing. The album ends with 'Turkish Time' that marries their sound with tablas and clarinet playing Turkish melodies.

An enjoyable album then but one that doesn't reach many peaks. It's rarity probably came about through it's lack of eccentricity and poor sales not through avid collecting. It's worth picking up especially for collectors but not a pinnacle of the form. ~ The Unbroken Circle


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Very cool album! I'm surprised no one commented yet. Excellent!

07 September, 2006 00:34  
Anonymous tjd9 said...

Any chance of reposting this?

Thank you so much...


06 December, 2006 10:09  
Anonymous arbor said...

This is indeed a true gem. One of the best I've heard in a very long time

07 February, 2007 11:56  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

can anyone repost this??

really thank you

12 March, 2008 16:04  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

please repost

17 March, 2008 06:29  

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