16/06/2010

Mick Wills - Fern Hill (1988)

«Guitarist and songwriter Mick Wills is a close pal of Bevis Frond frontman Nick Saloman. Wills and Saloman played and recorded together in a band called the Parthenogenetick Brotherhood of Woronzow. Woronzow is a pet label project of Saloman’s, hence this record’s issue in 1988, and its eventual very limited CD release on Acme in 1995. Much of the disc falls into the trad folk and blues category with one or two notable exceptions. The title track is a six-string workout that is almost reel, in feel and structure; it departs in the turnaround that is more Anglo than Celtic in style. On "The Storm," one is reminded of Michael Chapman’s tune "The Rainmaker," where the English Channel provides accompaniment in the form of waves and swells as Wills moves into the folk-blues, bending and pulling the hell out of his strings, varying tempos, and allowing the waves to provide a kind of percussive atmosphere. One listen and it’s obvious: the guy’s a monster guitar picker. One of the previously mentioned exceptions is "Jam #3-Extracted Decebelia," which features Wills burning up a blues jam on an electric guitar, Cyke Bancroft on alto saxophone, and Graham Cummings on organ. Saloman participates as a duet partner on the gorgeous tunes "Saxifrage" and "Waltz." The guitar interplay is as telepathic as Ronnie Woods and Keith Richards, but tougher, more fluid, and certainly not as burnt out sluggish as all that. The finest track on the disc is its closer, "She Looked Down," with vocals by Jenny Brown. It’s a lengthy tune, with Saloman playing lead electric guitar, bass, and drums. However, it’s Wills and Brown who shine here. Wills’ folk styles are so fluid, so silvery and knotty he’s like Richard Thompson or Martin Carthy with his traditional material, but so much faster and so much darker, using diatonic fourth and eights to punch up the standard minor key lines of his melody. Brown doesn’t enter the tune until almost three minutes in, after some lengthy interplay by Saloman and Wills. The lyrics are simply adapted from old world folk songs, like something out of Steeleye Span or Fairport in their true neo-traditionalist period. But half way through the track’s nine minutes, there is a break with tradition. Although the melody remains throughout, the song drifts, hither and yon, transforming itself into a psychedelic folk/acid jam, ending up in some other place and time, far from the territory it began in. It’s too bad this set isn’t readily available, as fans of Bevis Frond would get a kick out of it, and Wills varies it so much there is something for almost everyone here.» (Thom Jurek, All Music Guide)

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2 comments:

Radu said...

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Dermot said...

Thanks very much. Always interested in anything Salamon related.