Recent Discoveries: Trader Horne, McDonald & Giles

As if my last few posts weren’t indication enough, I’ve been spending a disproportionate amount of time recently with 60’s/early 70’s music. Perhaps it’s due to a dearth in quality new releases (I can dig the narcoleptic minimalism of Beach House, but not through an entire album… and I AM an ‘album listener’). But really, the appeal of discovering old and under-appreciated gems (especially from divisive, pre-punk genres like psychedelia and prog) just sucks me in every time. So here are a couple I’ve come across in the last couple weeks:

Judy Dyble is an English singer who featured prominently in the original 1967 lineup of Fairport Convention, though she was soon edged out by replacement Sandy Denny. Dyble went on to pursue only a couple of other musical projects before getting married, having kids, and getting a job as a librarian. One of these was a 1970 collaboration with ex-Them keyboardist Jackie McAuley for the short-lived group Trader Horne. They released just one album — an acid-folk artifact called Morning Way — did a few shows, then broke up. Thirty years later, Morning Way has been reissued, and can now be found for cheap download on emusic.

I zeroed right in on the title track, a gorgeous-yet-spacey collage of acoustic guitar, electric autoharp, and traded male-female vocals that recalled The Incredible String Band in their heyday. It’s a special kind of sound that I think would fit easily on a modern day ‘freak folk’ album by the likes of Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy or Joanna Newsom…

Another group Dyble dallied with in the late ’60s was Giles, Giles, and Fripp, a whimsical, London-based psych-pop act that would morph into the original, ass-kicking lineup of King Crimson. Before she split the scene, Dyble contributed vocals to an early version of “I Talk to the Wind”, a song that eventually appeared on Crimson’s 1969 prog landmark In the Court of the Crimson King.

I’d been down with Court since college, but never read deeper into the  history to learn how the original Crimson lineup broke up after only a year. Apparently, drummer Michael Giles and multi-instrumentalist Ian McDonald felt that between scathing live renditions of 21st Century Schizoid Man and ominous, set-closing covers of Holst’s Mars, the Bringer of War, things with King Crimson were starting to get a little too dark. (BTW, How often do you hear “fear of the music” cited as reason for a breakup?) So McDonald and Giles broke off after the American tour and recorded a prog album of their own. Released in 1971, McDonald and Giles is a far sight sunnier than In the Court of the Crimson King, but no less virtuosic. I especially love the album cover (seen above): two young rock stars, flush with cash, new threads, and model girlfriends, walking through a park! Check out the drum-happy “Tomorrow’s People – The Children of Today”:


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