Saturday, October 3, 2015

Bread Love and Dreams - 1971 - Amaryllis

Bread Love and Dreams 


01. Amaryllis:
 Part 1 - Out Of The Darkness Into The Light
 Part 2 - Zoroaster's Prophecy
 Part 3 - Light
02. Time's The Tief
03. My Stair-Cupboard At 3 A.M.
04. Brother John
05. Circle Of The Night

David McNiven / guitars, keyboards and vocals
Angie Rew / vocals , flute

Terry Cox / Drums
Allan Trajan / Keyboards
Danny Thompson / Bass

Bread Love & Dreams recorded their most memorable album ‘Amaryllis’ for Decca at the same time they put together ‘Strange Tale of Captain Shannon and the Hunchback from Gigha’, and with the same lineup that included Danny Thompson and Terry Cox of the Pentangle, but without the lovely voice of Carolyn Davis who had left after the group’s debut release. The late Allan Trajan also appears on keyboards, bur frankly his contributions pale in comparison to the depth and breadth Thompson and Cox bring to the band; were it not for Angela Rew’s vocal harmonies (limited in range but rich in tone), this could pass for a cheap knockoff of the Incredible String Band or even a folksier version of the Pentangle itself.

Clearly the highlight of the record is the sidelong title track, the three parts of the tale separated not only by lyrics but style as well. The opening “Out of the Darkness into the Light” will please fans of acoustic, heavily instrumental folk, while the middle “Zoroaster's Prophecy” covers a variety of tones and styles including a few the music could have done without (Jew’s harp, an awkward percussive section that fades out abruptly). The closing stanza “Light” puts forth the best of the duo McNiven and Rew – delicate harmonizing vocals, gentle acoustic guitar fingering and naïve acid folk lyrics. The length and ambition of this opus deserve acknowledgement, but I for one would have been just as happy had “Zoroaster's Prophecy” been separated or left out altogether.

The back side of the record features four unrelated singles, each just as unsophisticated, clear and undiluted as anything on the band’s debut album. Rew and McNiven dominate on all these, and Trajan comes out of his shell a bit, especially on the sad and bucolic song of love and loss “Time’s the Thief”.

“My Stair-Cupboard at 3 A.M.” could just as easily been released in 1973 or even 1974, an almost West Coast pop folk tune with an easy gait and only about as deep as roots in the desert. I wonder if the group was looking for radio play with this one.

Rew offers up the almost completely acoustic “Brother John” on which McNiven takes up the backing vocal role, and the album closes with McNiven’s “Circle of Night” that threatens to break out in a vocal round at any moment (but never actually does).

I don’t really know the whole story of this band, but I know they didn’t last much past this record’s recording; in fact, I’m not even sure they still existed by the time it released in mid 1971. But at least they left a legacy of decent, if not essential acid folk. One of the b-league folk groups of the early seventies, Bread Love & Dreams nevertheless is a band worth hearing if you have any interest in this genre. Three stars solid, but definitely not four. Recommended, especially if you can find the Sunbeam CD reissue at a decent price.

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