vineri, 13 februarie 2009

Forever Amber - The Love Cycle (1969)

There’s a tangible aura about “lost albums”, something that draws you into their parallel universe. Beyond high-profile items such as the Beach Boys’ Smile and Prince’s Black Album are a wealth of “private pressings” issued in tiny quantities by local bands; almost all are half-baked, classics only to the socially challenged obsessive. Forever Amber’s The Love Cycle, though, resides in a secret garden all of its own, bursting with unfettered melodic glee and the pop experimentation prevalent in the provinces in 1968.
Originally they were an act called the Country Cousins, gigging at Cambridgeshire air bases for homesick Americans. By 1967 they were driving to gigs in a psychedelically painted ambulance – the new moniker was an abbreviation of Forever Ambulance. Meanwhile, the 18-year-old accountancy student John Hudson was spending his lunchtimes writing songs for the group’s sole album in a rehearsal room above a shop in Cambridge.
Hudson had ambition. The Love Cycle’s 16 songs, like Pet Sounds, cover a relationship sequentially from first meeting to grim denouement. He found a studio to fit his £200 budget below a musical instrument shop in Hitchin. The album was recorded in a marathon 19-hour session on a Sunday in September 1968, and the band made great use of the profusion of riches upstairs; glockenspiel, penny whistle, a wah-wah pedal, and plenty of harpsichord.
Years of harmonising had created a group with five strong lead singers, though Mick Richardson’s woody, middle-class delivery stands out. English as tuppence, The Love Cycle has a distinctly Grantchester Baroque atmosphere – the nearest comparisons are the Zombies and neighbours Pink Floyd, though the naive yearning of songs such as Bits of Your Life and Going Away Again are pretty much their own.
Only 99 copies were pressed and flogged off at gigs to the lucky few. The drummer Barry Broad sold his only copy recently and recarpeted his entire house with the proceeds.
John Hudson went on to run his own accountancy firm. Of the band, only Chris Parren turned pro, ending up as the keyboard player on George Michael’s Careless Whisper, which outsold The Love Cycle by roughly three million copies. (Times Online).

1. Me oh My
2. Silly Sunshine
3. Bits of Your Life, Bits of My Life
4. For a Very Special Person
5. The Dreamer Flies Back
6. Misunderstood
7. Better Things Are Bound To Come
8. On a Night In Winter
9. On Top of My Own Special Mountain
10. Mary (the Painter)
11. All the Colours of My Book
12. Going Away Again
13. A Chance to Be Free
14. I See You As You Used to Be
15. Letters From Her16. My Friend
16. My Friend

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