Looking Back to the Birth of English Folk Rock and Prog
Judy Dyble is a remarkable and somewhat restless figure who emerged from the British folk rock scene in the late 1960s. She was an early member of Fairport Convention, sang with the Incredible String Band, the proto King Crimson act Giles, Giles Fripp. She was also part of the underappreciated Trader Horne and earlier this year the disparate strands of her career were brought together in the impressive anthology Gathering the Threads (Five Years of Stuff), the first of those three discs is extracted to create this memorable and revealing volume.
The treasure digs go deep and so the collection opens with a 1964 home recording of “Come All Ye Fair and Tender Ladies”, a performance that’s enhanced greatly by the lo-fi quality of the recording. Dyble’s voice is unaffected and deeply moving, something it would remain through the years to come and across the songs that follow, whether a pretty faithful take on Joni Mitchell’s “Both Sides Now” or an effective reimagining of Pink Floyd’s “See Emily Play”, a song that has often sounded best when performed by female vocalists.
In between there’s the eerie folk rock of “One Sure Thing”, which is sad, desperate and positively cathartic. We’re also witness to the jazzy “Make It Today”, and the country “I Hear a Song”. A number of these are previously unreleased gems and their unretouched qualities don’t so much date them as make it possible for them to become all the more endearing, not unlike the commercial for the Mirror Master tapes which closes out this disc.
This first anthology comes with an impressive 20-page booklet featuring images and words and memories of a time long gone. And, of course, so much of what you’d want to hear from a singer who was there and will always be here.
Dyble will no doubt garner comparisons to other vocalists who emerged during the same time, including Vashti Bunyan, and no doubt there are similarities. But she’s very much her own woman, given to her own whims and vision in a career that was initially far too shore. She left the industry circa 1974 after sharing the stage with the likes of Pink Floyd, Yes, and others. She lead a quiet life until roughly 20 years later when she began taking to the stage again.
By then widowed she began to slowly return to recording and has since released a number of unique platters that have often held up nicely beside her classic work. There have been various archival recordings that have spotlighted her time with Fairport and others and she’s even performed with her former band a number of times since her reemergence. This year has seen a relative flurry of activity including this anthology and now its three separate episodes. She’s also been reunited with former Trader Horne partner Jackie McAuley for their first shows since the early 1970s and their incredible 1970 album, Morning Way is also finding its way back onto the market.
As much a vocalist of her times as a vocalist of any time Judy Dyble remains a figure worth our attention, a singer who could move comfortably between folk, rock and progressive music without pausing to measure the difference. This first volume of material extracted from Gathering the Threads will leave you wanting more and no doubt the coming year will see an increase in her profile as more (re)discover her.
// Notes from the Road
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