Various Artists

Tea & Symphony (English Baroque Sound 1968-1974)

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2LP : Double light blue vinyl

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When psychedelia had run its course in Britain at the end of the 60s, the predominant trend was to get hairier and heavier and more long-winded. Many musicians, however, were still hung up on the trappings of psychedelia’s home-grown strain, having found a musical home in its mournful evocations of Victoriana, its village green gentility and its nods to the pleasures of suburbia. They wanted to carry on using woodwinds, cellos and melancholic melodies. As the advent of the singer-songwriter offered another possible avenue for these refuseniks, a new brand of pop was discernible - the English Baroque sound.

First compiled by writer and Saint Etienne member Bob Stanley 15 years ago, the original “Tea And Symphony” CD now sells for between £50 and £100. This new and improved edition will be the first time the title has ever appeared on vinyl and features several tracks that haven’t been reissued before; Lora Findlay’s distinctive artwork has similarly been given a fresh lick of paint.

A definitive collection of English Baroque, this compilation includes familiar classics like Colin Blunstone’s Say ‘You Don’t Mind’ and Honeybus’ ‘I Can’t Let Maggie Go’, as well Vigrass and Osborne’s original recording of the Justin Hayward hit ‘Forever Autumn’ and master of the observational, homespun pop Clifford T Ward’s ‘Coathanger’. In-demand rarities include Jon Plum’s gothic tale ‘Alice’, Mike Batt’s exquisite ‘Fading Yellow’ and Bombadil’s ‘When The City Sleeps’, a rare Barclay James Harvest spin-off single.

To the delight of people who thought the mine of great 60s and 70s 45s had been exhausted, previously undiscovered gems by the likes of Matthew Bones (the Kinks-like parlour piece ‘Two Sugars’), Erasmus Chorum (the epic ‘Mary Jane’) and Les Payne continue to be unearthed. Here are more than 20 of baroque pop’s finest moments. Make yourself a pot of tea, find yourself a comfy armchair, place a ginger cat on your lap and sit back.


01 Pictures - Ray Brooks
02 I Can't Let Maggie Go - The Honeybus
03 Off To Find A New Land - Lea Nixon
04 Alice - Jon Plum
05 When The City Sleeps - Bombadil
06 Fading Yellow - Mike Batt
07 Say You Don't Mind - Colin Blunstone
08 The Seventh Hour - Gordon Waller
09 Mary Jane - Erasmus Chorum
10 Shapes And Shadows - Tandem
11 Please Believe Me - Nirvana
12 Forever Autumn - Vigrass & Osborne
13 Oh Girl - Richard Henry
14 Very Well - Les Payne
15 You're Lovely - Sunchariot
16 Pollution Song - Mike Sedgewick
17 Epitaph (When Times Were Good) - Bill Kenwright
18 Coathanger - Clifford T Ward
19 The Race - Christopher
20 Closing My Eyes - David McIvor
21 Lifetime - The Bliss
22 Two Sugars - Matthew Bones