The trouble with ‘best of’ lists is that you always miss some really good releases and only find out about them till much later.
That was the case with the brilliant compilation Echoes From The Mountain, releases last October.
The story of this album is really interesting and thrilling. It all starts with an evening in London, took place in Cecil Sharp house. The evening was a 40th anniversary of the label Village Thing. VT was a British psych-folk label in the early seventies, that was ran by singer-songwriter Ian A. Anderson (now editor of fRoots magazine), and although it survived for only four years, its importance cannot be looked away.The Guardian writes about Ghost From The Basement evening.
The label had released some rare gems of British folk-psych-rock, by heroes like Wizz Jones and Steve Tilston, Chris Thompson and Dave Evans, The Sun Also Rises and others. Only couple of the albums were later reissued, partly with a label that ceased to exist called Scenscoff, some with Sunbeam Records, and maybe some others – but a lot of the catalog doesn’t exist anymore.
In October, the label Rif Mountain released a tribute to the Village Thing label, and had the Rif artists covering some tracks from the Village Thing catalog.
So, as usual, I was listening to the great Irene Trudel’s show on WFMU, and stumbled upon a singer-songwriter (and a devilish guitarist) called Pamela Wyn Shannon, who covered Steve Tilston’s beautiful song Simplicity (Originally released on his debut album Acoustic Confusion). I was immediately amazed. A cover of a Steve Tilston song? and so early in the week? Something’s going on.
So I did a little research on that, and discovered this new compilation called Echoes From The Mountain – the Rif Mountain artists covering the Village Thing songs, and this is where the Wyn Shannon version can be found.
So there you have it, 15 tracks appears in this album, performed by some really good musicians like Starless and Bible Black, Pamela Wyn Shannon, Katie Rose and Jane Weaver. I was surprised to find Mark Fry there, but I’m not sure if it is the same Fry who released the classic acid-folk album Dreaming With Alice.
But above all these really good musicians, I was thrilled to find Wizz Jones there, performing Steve Tilston’s Sometimes In This Life (Off his beautiful album Life By The Misadventure), while Tilston himself is covering Wizz Jones tune The Night Ferry (one of my fav Jones tunes). There are some more Jones tunes being covered, like When I Ceased To Care and See How The Time Is Flying, while another Tilston tunes by Wyn Shannon’s version of Simplicity and and the beautiful It’s Not My Place To Fail.
So basically, if you’re into the folkadelia of VT, and even if you never heard of the label, this compilation is as essential in your psych-folk collection, like any other Pentangle or Mellow Candle album. Folk on!