Thursday, 4 December 2014
3000 Years with Ottilie
This record, which came into the Oxfam record shop in Exeter yesterday, is a real discovery. Ottilie Patterson was the singer with the Chris Barber Band, belting out good time trad jazz. But on this 1969 album she explores entirely different territory. There's dark folk with lush studio arrangements, baroque psych pop (with the rhythm section of Brian Auger's Trinity lending a bit of heft) and jaunty Elizabethan dances setting Shakespearean lyrics. The label has a nice art nouveau/Biba look - all purple and orange swirls. Very late 60s. It was set up by Giorgio Gomelsky in 1966. He was one of those characters in swinging London who seemed to try his hand at anything. He managed (vaguely) the Stones and the Yardbirds at the outset of their careers, ran the Crawdaddy Club which they emerged from and produced a number of records. In the 70s, he was involved with Gong (he produced the Flying Teapot album) and in particular Magma. They ignited his love of experimental, exploratory music. The Marmalade label released records by Julie Driscoll, Brian Auger and the Trinity (including Wheel's On Fire), John McLaughlin's Extrapolation (his 'free' record with John Surman, Tony Oxley and Brian Odgers) and John Stevens Spontaneous Music Ensemble (a key progenitor of British free improv, here with Kenny Wheeler, Derek Bailey, Trevor Watts, Peter Lemer, Johnny Dyani and Maggie Nichols), English psych pop band Blossom Toes (whose music features in Eric Rohmer's film La Collectionneuse), a pre-10CC Graham Gouldman and Kevin Godley, and Chris Barber himself. Diverse or what! This is a great record, though. The dark tenor, low key balladry and expansive arrangements remind me of 60s Scott Walker. Which is never a bad thing. Here's Ottilie with the dark, epic folk of Helen of Kirkconnell.