(CD/Dl from )

One of the musical highlights for me over the last few years prior to Covid, has been Mark’s set at a Fruits de Mer’s gig in Glastonbury. His ‘Dark Weave’ album had just been released and he played a number of songs from it, which I enjoyed immensely. He’s back with a new album Freedom Tapes, which was realized in a two week recording session at Bristol’s Ashton Court woods in the middle of winter.

The songs were kind of half finished when Mark entered the sessions, which lend the recordings an experimental nature, they were all recorded onto a flatbed cassette recorder and had to be stretched into place, producing extreme tape flutter but more importantly an appealing warmth which is immediately apparent on album opener ‘Go Tell The Bees’, which quietly impresses, it is understated and free flowing, acoustic in nature with some fine bursts of gentle fuzz guitar. ‘Satisfy’ is more of a garage rock song, rich with organ and the following ‘Beltane Dew’ is pure acid-folk, where an old battery powered synth gently bubbles up through a gossamer light bed of acoustic guitars.

‘Falling Down’, continues with the acid-folk theme from the preceding song, it has light percussion and gentle acoustic guitar strummery. ‘Dazed’, takes the tempo up a notch, with fuzzy electric guitar licks and a sixties vibe. ‘The Roses’ is another wonky delight, getting the mix of electric and acoustic just right. Some dark magic is conjured up for ‘Zodiasi’, an album highlight along with ‘Beltane Dew’, it’s an instrumental song which throbs with deep, heavy bass notes, and more excellent burbling synth sounds.

Another highlight is the wistful, sixties inflected warmth of ‘Home To The Stars’, an off kilter pop song of note. ‘Let It Burn’, ups the tempo somewhat and chugs along quite merrily on a light motorik groove,  before album closer ‘Dead Dimmer’, closes out the record in fine style, gently lapping waves are corrupted by strange sounds, which yield to an instrumental song, rich with acoustic guitars and billowing synth.

(Andrew Young)

= April 2022 =  
Delphine Dora
David Colohan
Mark McDowell
Mordecai Smith
the Lucid Furs
the Green Pajamas Vol 1
the Green Pajamas Vol 2
Years After
Justin Hopper and Sharron Kraus




(CD Morc Records ( release date 4th may)

Recorded in the summer of 2021 at the Church of St Saphorin (Switzerland), this album is a collection of pieces for voice and Church Organ, that were improvised and recorded during a residency by the artist Delphine Dora.

    Familiar to anyone who attended church as a child, the sound of the organ is warm and comforting, easily evoking memories, the smell of wooden pews, old books, a quiet chatter and the echo of footsteps, whilst the addition of Delphine's voice adds a slightly stranger feel to the music, taking it into Canterbury sounding music, reminding me of early albums by Kevin Ayers especially on “Ritournelle Scolastisque #2” which has a lovely melody that would sit happily on “Joy of a Toy”. Another charming aspect of the album is the way the pieces just end as the pause button is pressed, each track a raw nugget of sound, the experience as it happened.

    Over 17 tracks, the music retains a similar pace and feel giving it a wonderful flow, allowing the listener time to just sit and contemplate the simple beauty of the music.

     Maybe I should be highlighting some individual songs at this point but it is the album as a whole that is its strength, seemingly more than the sum of its components although “. L'immuable sous-jacent “ has a fragile beauty running through it, whilst the six minute “Opus Divinum”  is a distillation of the whole album,a gnetly breathing piece that could be the beginning of an early seventies Tangerine Dream track, especially as it contains distant voices picked up by the recording process, I was just waiting for a sequencer to kick in.

    I have played this album several times now and it gets better every time, the rawness of the recording and Delphines' untrained voice adding a human element to the music that really appeals to me, give it a listen. (Simon Lewis)


(DL/cassette from  Cruel Nature Records  )

Consisting of one long track split into two parts this beautiful and haunting album is a study in folk minimalism, the sound of Phillip Glass or Steve Reich if they were Wyrd Folk artists, the music repetitive and slowly changing as it moves forward. Aptly titled “Song of the Silver River Gorge pt 1”  has a droning elemental feel as David adds textures through the use of Harmonium, Clarinet, Mandocello, Mandola, Viola and Violin, whilst the voice of Sophie Copper provides the icing on a delightful slice of sonic cake. This is music for dreaming, for visions, each listener will find their own personal landscape to explore whilst getting consumed by the sounds created, the mood melancholic and peaceful, the moment timeless.

    Having been completely captivated by shimmering beauty of part 1, I am really happy to report that “Song of the Silver River Gorge pt 2” takes that shimmering beauty and amplifies it by stripping it down, instruments taken back to Harmonium, Viola and Trombone (played by Sophie Cooper) with the voice of  Alison O'Donnell adding extra depth as the piece moves further into minimalist territory, taking a more rhythmic approach, instrument stuttering and pulsing with repetitive intent, the spirit of Koyaanisqatsi never far away, the music becoming more energetic than its languid partner.

   Easy to love, difficult to write about, lets just say that this is another essential release from David Colohan, a man who manages to create quality music with ease, or so it seems, and we should be thankful for that. (Simon Lewis)


(LP/CD/DL on Mega Dodo)

Back in 2011 a new label appeared by the name of Mega Dodo and the first release on said label was by the Berkshire based mystery man that is Mordecai Smyth whose debut album ‘Sticky Tape And Rust’, was one of my favourites from that year. A few years went by and Mordecai released his second long player ‘The Mayor Of Toytown Is Dead’, a playful record which received some critical acclaim and was indeed named album of the year by the American Goldmine magazine. This brings us neatly to this new album ‘Things Are Getting Stranger On The Shore’.

Helping out Mordecai throughout are Icarus Peel, Crystal Jaqcueline, Andy Budge and Jay Robertson from west country wizards The Honey Pot, along with Jon Camp on bass, Mordecai’s wife Tabitha adds sax and clarinet, Deborah Pike vocals, Steve Thompson on cello with Michael Creech and Mitch Griffith playing drums, Darren Medland adds a few guitar and mandolin parts with Mordecai playing everything else, various guitars, synths, mellotron, percussion and vocals.

This is a fabulous album and one to get lost in, from the cheeky expansive opener ‘In Your Dark Space’ which references the stones chorus of It’s only rock n roll but we like it, on which Icarus gets to channel his inner John Cipollina through to the last song ‘High Once More’. It has some fine progressive rock with ample room for the musicians to stretch out. ‘Fear Of Flying’ features some fine, yearning clarinet. A particular highlight comes with the third song ‘Mercy’, on which stately piano and quivering guitars weave together to create a terrific piece of music.

‘The Love That We Find’, is a charming tale of a meeting at a record fair and ‘Out Of Thin Air’ which is beautifully sung by Deborah, are two songs which are only available on the CD edition, which given their quality makes this the format of choice. I love the short tale of the ‘Upholsterer’s Wife’ which highlights Mordecai’s prowess on the electric guitar and is underpinned by some beautiful cello played by Steve. The following progressive rock moves of the lengthiest song on the album ‘The Late Autumn Sun’, an ecologically themed tour de force, which ebbs and flows throughout its almost sixteen minutes, are also an album highlight, think Barclay James Harvest with guest vocals by Grace Slick. The album ends with ‘High Once More’, a song on which for some reason I’m reminded of Hawkwind.

(Andrew Young)


(LP/CD/Digital on Argonauta Records)


On third album ‘Damn!  That Was Easy,’ Detroit heavy blues rockers The Lucid Furs bring a beer-soaked, rock-and-boogie fest in the basement bar.  In lead vocalist Karen O’Connor, this lucky band has one of the best, if not the best female rock vocalist singing today, to this writer’s ears.  I could listen to her for hours.  She reminds me of Nanci Nevins of Woodstock performers Sweetwater, had she been fronting Ten Years After or Canned Heat at the fest instead of Sweetwater, if that means anything to you.  The magic in these nine songs is the contrast between O’Connor’s calm, effortless singing approach and guitarist Gordie Kasza’s funk and rock explosions.  The rhythm section of Nick James on bass and Dan Regender on drums is as tight as they come.  And hailing from Detroit, The Lucid Furs know how to bring the scuzz factor to the rock in just the right measure.


Most of the songs are of the “my man done me wrong” variety, often with rather creative plans for vengeance, with some songs occasionally venturing into the topic of religious hypocrisy.  The band often uses call-and-response vocals to great effect between the male band members and O’Connor – think “Piece of My Heart.”  About those guitar solos – Gordie Kasza likes to toy with us, usually starting his breaks with a stripped back funk groove, before toeing a pedal and blowing up the place, sonically speaking.


Karen O’Connor is a mesmerizing singer.  She’s no belter by any means; she sings in a measured, matter-of-fact way, and sometimes dials it up just a touch to show she means business.  Her restraint is her superpower.


Highlights are many, but include straight-up rockers “Right on My Level” and “Straight to My Head,” plus the light-and-shade Joplin-like “Another Page.”  The Thin Lizzy-esque “Follow Me,” about a bad girl on the prowl for trouble, just rips.


Channeling bands like Blues Pills and early Heart, The Lucid Furs get right to the point and stay there on ‘Damn!  That Was Easy.’  Its 32 minutes are over before you know it.  Their Bandcamp mission statement advises “To hold onto your morality and chastity DO NOT listen to The Lucid Furs!”


This is that kind of band.  Have a listen.


(Mark Feingold)


(St. Brigid Records)

Jeff Kelly jumps into the WABAC machine to unearth this first in a three-volume series of rarities featuring live recordings, alternate takes, and unreleased gems from the Pajamas’ nearly 40-year career. Always a prolific writer and home recorder, Kelly amassed a huge private collection of cassettes and digital recordings, supplemented here by unreleased material from the early lineup that included Joe Ross, Karl Wilhelm, Steven Lawrence, and Bruce Haedt. These treasures feature many surprises for collectors and casual fans alike, not least of which are Kelly’s personal reminiscences about the recording sessions and running commentary on the comings and goings of various band members during these formative years, leading up to the landmark reunion releases on Tony Dale’s Camera Obscura imprint following the first Terrastock festival 25 years ago this month! As is typical with recordings unearthed from under the dusty floorboards, the sound quality varies, but its immediacy and historical importance overrides the occasional drop out and tape hiss.

In Kelly’s words, the early Pajamas were “Seattle’s answer to the Paisley Underground” [as punnily proclaimed on my prized GPJs T-shirt: “Keeping the Paisley Underground since 1984!”] and the album begins with ‘My Mad Kitty’ from one of their earliest performances, a dance at Seattle University on 16 November, 1984! Originally released on their debut Green Monkey cassette Summer Of Lust in 1984, this rough and ready run through oozes an energetic angst that emanated from the stage to a not-so-appreciative (or interested) audience of college kids.

An early highlight ‘Conceiving Kim’ finds Kelly and Ross running through their soon-to-be-legendary debut single ‘Kim The Waitress’, a true story about one of Kelly’s early loves. It’s a great opportunity to hear how the pair bounce ideas off each other as they improvise their way towards the finished product. I think you may be surprised to discover who inspired Kelly’s “famous riff on the bass”! Credit Kelly’s wife Susanne for overruling his hesitation at including it on the grounds that “it’s not really a song yet.”

‘I Want You Back’, recorded in Kelly’s bedroom in 1985 and originally released on his Baroquen Hearts solo cassette (Green Monkey) features one of his catchiest melodies. Angelic “oohs” and “aahs’ from a chorus of girlfriends(?) and drums by Wilhelm accompany Kelly’s multi-instrumental expertise on guitars, bass, and keys.

‘Paula’ from Book Of Hours gets a welcome uptick on the high end and a beefy, Beatlesque horn section kicks out the jams on what surely should’ve been a hit single. ‘Ten Thousand Words’ is another ferocious demonstration of the Book of Hours’ line-up’s energetic live sets, featuring Lawrence’s tasty guitar licks while Kelly switches to bass, and another surprise, the rehearsal recording of the supremely Beatlesque ‘Just Like Seeing God’, which sure sounds like the blueprint for ‘Deadly Nightshade’! It would later be recorded live in the studio for the rare November album.

‘Strange City Day’ is Lawrence’s solo remake of one of his November tracks, recorded after he quit the band (for the first time) in disagreement over the direction the band was heading. It’s full of jangly guitars, pummeling drums, and a giddy little keyboard motif that highlights the songwriting and multi-instrumental skills of the often overlooked Pajama. ‘Love Song’ from the live set was never recorded by the band; it’s included from Lawrence’s solo studio recordings and includes his gnarly sax solo as the cherry on top of another infectious pop gem.

Kelly’s tribute to our illustrious editor Phil McMullen’s lovely daughter ‘Emily Grace’ has been aired in several permutations over the years. The live version here (from a radio broadcast from Evergreen College in 1990) is one of my favourites, featuring the twin guitar attack of Kelly and Lawrence, with solid rhythmic support from Ross and Wilhelm. Another live favourite that never made it to tape in the studio is ‘Any Time Of Day’, originally released on the Indian Winter compilation (Get Hip, 1997). This storming version includes an extended guitar jam from Lawrence and Kelly, the latter’s dirty, fuzzy fandango even more reminiscent of Neil Young riding the Crazy Horse into the sunset. Almost worth the price of admission alone and another example of their too often overlooked stage prowess.

Another pleasant surprise is the original 1993 ‘Dr. Dragonfly’ demo, four years before it was polished up for Strung Behind The Sun (Camera Obscura, 1997). A tad rawer with a charming arcade organ solo, this one is just Jeff and Steve having fun. Next we have a stalking, heavy-lidded jam between Ross (drums) and Kelly (everything else) on yet another version of the oft-recorded ‘My Elizabeth’ and I think this ‘Electric Version’ is my favourite. We wrap up volume one with a “Strung Out…” outtake, ‘Woman, Woman’, which despite Kelly’s protestations against the “goofy synth solo” impressed me with its dreamy Fleetwood Mac vibe from the Bob Welch Future Games period.

So there you have it. Seventy-five minutes of unreleased goodies and impossible-to-find rarities from the first phase of the Green Pajamas. Fans and collectors obviously need it, but newcomers will find a lot to like that will hopefully entice them to explore the “officially released” back catalogue. Next up: Vol. 2 1997-2021 brings us up to date with more hidden treasures from the last 25 years of Pajama Magic.

Jeff Penczak


(St. Brigid Records)

Twenty-five years ago The Green Pajamas were coaxed out of semi-retirement to release their first album in seven years on fledgling Australian imprint Camera Obscura, masterminded by our dear friend, the late Tony Dale. An instant classic of Beatlesque pop with paisley underground trimmings, it rejuvenated the band, who eventually were enticed to venture beyond their comfortable Seattle homestead and join the Terrastock caravan, beginning with Terrastock West in San Francisco in 1998. (Further details will emerge when we review the live volume of their Under The Radar “Bootleg History”.)

     For now we head back to Strung Behind The Sun (Camera Obscura, 1997) and it’s brilliant successor All Clues Lead To Meagan’s Bed from the following year to enjoy several outtakes and alternate versions of some of our favourite tracks. Opener ‘Agent 99’ was omitted from “Strung”’s final release when Kelly deemed it a “silly love song” inspired by ‘60s British pop in the Hollies’ style. Perhaps the reference to Barbara Feldon’s character on US television comedy Get Smart was too obscure? Then again, Kelly had already paid tribute to characters portrayed by Natalie Wood (‘Sand (In Search Of Daisy Clover’) and Mary Tyler Moore (‘Laura Petrie’s Eyes’) on his solo albums, so maybe he feared he was pushing the envelope a tad too far? But it’s a great example of the band’s penchant for ear catching melodies and we’re glad to hear it 25 years later!

     “All Clues” is one of the Pajamas’ most popular albums, one many fans point to in introducing newcomers to their discography. We’re blessed with three early (unedited) mixes that illustrate the band’s newfound glory having fun making perfect pop records with weird overtones. The album title comes from a lyric in ‘Shock Of Blonde’ which lasts a full minute longer here and feels a bit more energetic than the dreamier arrangement on the official release. ‘The Secret Of Her Smile’ could have sat comfortably on Revolver with its intoxicating arrangement, irresistible guitar riffs, and (additional) swirling harmonies dropped from the “Meagan” version. The fun continues at the coda, lifted straight out of the Ramones salute to Bay City Rollers!

     Kelly doesn’t hog the limelight here, yielding equal time to several tracks from keyboardist Eric Lichter (as was done with several Steve Lawrence compositions on Vol. 1) via ‘Happy Again’ a toe-tapping headnodder with more than a passing resemblance to Tom Petty at his peak. One of the Pajamas’ strengths are the contributions from four talented songwriters, and although recent releases have featured mostly Kelly’s material for numerous reasons, ‘Happy Again’ is a fine example of Lichter’s equally infectious melodies.

     Kelly finds inspiration from many sources (he’s an avid reader and film fanatic) and ‘The Perfect Chill’ explores his love of Hammer Horror films and suggests there may be a soundtrack hiding inside that head of his waiting for the right film to come along. Featuring guitarist Laura Weller’s first visit to Kelly’s basement recording studio, it’s reminiscent of their Goblin Market material.

     Kelly’s tribute to the recently deceased Kirsty MacColl (‘Miss You Miss MacColl’) originally appeared on the “Essence Of Carol” EP, but the earlier mix here brings the heartbreaking lyrics to the fore. ‘She’s Still Bewitching Me’ was always one of my favourite Kelly love songs (Mary Lou Lord loves it too and has recorded several versions!) and several arrangements (live and studio) have appeared over the years. This one is from the Ten White Stones sessions recorded live on 16/17 April, 2004) and is more languorous than the one we’re familiar with. Lichter’s ‘Mrs. Cafferty’ kicks out the jams (Weller’s husband Scott Vanderpool had replaced Wilhelm on the drumkit and his attack is perfectly suited to the live-in-the-studio setting). This is the Pajamas at their ferocious best letting their freak flags fly at full throttle, as is the “rough mix” of ‘Gazelle’ which highlights their “psychedelic leanings.” Kelly also rips off one of his more ferocious paint-peeling solos.

     ‘Hidden Minutes 1’ brings an embarrassment of riches to the recording session, with dancing vibes, Revolver-esque guitar, and a tip-toeing piano backing from Lichter that adds up to one of Kelly’s favourite Pajamas’ tunes (and mine too). Craig Flory is the star of ‘Who’s That Calling?’  His sexy sax weaves around Kelly’s vocal like smoke rings in a dark and dusty Parisian café and this rough mix of the Poison In The Russian Room (Hidden Agenda, 2007) standout will excite fans of ambient jazzers like Bohren Und Der Club Of Gore. We’re also treated to the full ‘Ring Around The Sun’ medley which was segmented into ‘Ring Around The Sun’ and ‘The Universe Is Full Of Noise’ on the Death By Misadventure album (Green Monkey, 2012). Kelly adds three previously unreleased sections and piecing everything together adds another dimension to the original concept album and gives the track an elusively anarchic Olivia Tremor Control vibe suggesting the (new) whole is preferable to its component parts. The lovely string coda (‘Ring Around The Sun (Reprise)’) is simply sublime!

     ‘William’ is another outtake (from the Sunlight Might Weigh Even More sessions (Green Monkey, 2020)) and it’s a tribute to Kelly’s songwriting prowess that something he dropped for not fitting with the rest of the album material is another engaging gem of a tune with stinging guitars and a memorable melody that many other songwriters would spend weeks trying to pull together.

     The eerie, Eastern inflected (sitars, tablas, maracas, and other goodies) ‘Just To This’ (another Sunlight Might Weigh Even More highlight) is restored to its full 7½-minute ‘Director’s Cut’, reinstating the “whole part with the cool cellos” that Ross and his son liked so much. Don’t fret, though, Kelly’s intricate guitar soloing also remains, as does its overt psychedelic overtones.

     And so we come to the close of another treasure chest of rarities from Kelly’s vast archive. Seventy-five minutes of live outtakes await us on Volume 3, including several from the infamous “last gig ever”, although I’m tempted to pilfer a tag line from Stiff records: “until the next one”!

(Jeff Penczak)


(LP/CD/Digital on Apollon Records)


So you’re thinking, “Everything’s such a bummer lately; I could sure chill to a hit of Allman Brothers.  But not the same old records, it’s gotta be something new, like maybe a lost album.”  You could check out one of their many solo, side projects and offshoots.  Nah, you want something closer to the good stuff.  You could put on their children’s bands, such as the Allman Betts Band, or The Devon Allman Project.  Still not scratching the itch.  So naturally you set your sights on…Norway?


Look no further, friends.  Bergen, Norway’s ‘Years After’ is about as close as you can come to the Allman Brothers’ sound, making brand new music.  Their online materials list a host of other bands as influences besides the ABB, but the music is way more specific than that.


Start by heading Southbound – figuratively, not latitudinally speaking – with brief instrumental opener “Follow the Trail.”  This 1:38 track will tell you all you need to know about what you’re in for.  The harmonized lead guitars, the Hammond organ – it’s uncanny.


This segues right into “Stand Back.”  A bluesy slide guitar with attitude, a piano lick with travelin’ fever, and finally a gravelly voice enters (OK, not quite as gravelly as that one), and you’re on your way.


Each track on ‘Years After’ is dialed in to specific sides of Macon’s finest.  (Incidentally, one time a flustered airline telephone employee was stymied by a caller’s repeated requests for tickets to
“Maconga.”  Telling the caller there was no such place, it was only after the employee asked the caller to spell the destination that the light went on.  True story.  But I digress.)  The only aspect not represented here is long concert jams.  This is more akin to the ABB’s debut album or ‘Eat a Peach.’  But who knows, if Years After gets popular enough and plays more live music we could see some of that, too.


There’s the slow train blues of “Free” and “When You’re Gone” and the ‘Blue Sky’ ramblings of “Don’t Leave Me” and “Blue.”  “When You’re Gone” even quotes the line “Crossroads, will you ever let him go?” from ‘Melissa.’  Particularly impressive is the way Years After nails the Gibson Les Paul guitar tones and playing styles perfectly for both leads.


Perhaps the most enjoyable track is the breezy “Les Montagnes.”  Sadly, with a name like that, it doesn’t combine musicians from Norway playing in the style of guys from the US Deep South, all whilst singing in French.  It’s an instrumental, which plays out like a seven-minute excursion through one of Dickey Betts’ melodic, wistful rides.  It has a double drummer attack, and another harmonized twin guitar lead, though not quite as intricately labyrinthine as Betts’ best work (as one might expect).


Years After plays good, easygoing music in a style you know intimately and instantly.  It’s definitely worth 34 minutes of your time, and should put a relaxed smile on your face.


(Mark Feingold)


(DL/CD Bandcamp )

Victor Neuburg (1883-1940) was born in London, became involved in the counterculture of the time, was a lover of  Aleister Crowley and was shipped to the Western Front. All of this left him a broken man until his Aunt offered him Vine Cottage, Steyning, West Sussex, a place of sanctuary where he slowly healed and where he acquired a letterpress and began publishing his poetry.

   Drawing from “Swift Wings” a collection of Neuburg's writings, Sharron Kraus and Justin Hopper have created a beautiful and enchanting album that is released as a companion piece to “Obsolete Spells,Poems and Prose from Victor Neuburg and the Vine Press (Strange Attractor Press 2022, edited by Justin Hopper).

    Opening with some gently cascading, chiming notes “Ivory” draws you in as if opening the gates to a secret meadow, the scent of flowers and humming insects ever present whilst the words fall, delicate as petals, into your mind.  On “Orchard Songs” the blend of the two voices has a magical character, a quiet giggle punctuating the tune as if blessed by mythical beings, enchanting indeed.

    Over eight songs and only twenty one minutes, the voice tumble and echo around each other, the sympathetic music adding mystery and majesty to each track, electronic and acoustic instruments blended wonderfully together with a dark synth riff creating great power on “Coombes” with its talk of sprites and tombs.

    On “Frenchland” Bamboo Flute and Double Bass weave sacred patterns around the words, whilst the short, electronic “October” has a wistful, melancholy feel.

    With a flute that has the same fell as the flute on “Coming back to me” (Jefferson Airplane) , “Cuckfield” is truly beautiful, glistening with emotion as it paints delicate images in your imagination, reminding me strongly of the Kent countryside I grew up in. This same magic can be found on “Rockpool”, a droning backing track mimicking the gentle waves, whilst, “Rottingdean” introduces Violin and Drums for the first time, adding yet more layers of tone and texture, the Flute again taking flight sparkling across the tune with confidence and beauty, a fitting ending to an outstanding collection of music.

   To be fair this one of the loveliest albums I have heard in a while, it has a meditative, fairy-glamour quality that will slow down time and offer a retreat from the world around, highly recommended. (Simon Lewis)