Heron – S/T

This is one of those reissues that’s always high atop my list of necessities. The originals are scant and likewise expensive and I, sadly, missed out on a 500 press reissue about seven or eight years ago. Yet, now it seems that Trading Places is stepping up to fill the need for lovers of English folk out there in the crowd. The band formed among friends in Maidenhead, Berkshire, in 1967 with a sizable creative debt to The Incredible String Band, though they’d begin to carve out a more unique identity by the time of this eponymous debut. They were signed by Donovan’s A&R rep/producer Peter Eden to Essex Records as songwriters, following a stint opening for larger bands in their college circle. This then led to the band issuing their debut album on PYE subsidiary Dawn.

Most renown for its recording quality, this LP has long found favor with collectors for its natural feeling that’s only bolstered by the gentle songwriting of Roy Apps and Robert Collins, and the auburn vocals of Tony Pook. The band was notably studio-averse, having found the trappings too stiff. So, like any band with folk leanings in Britain in the ‘70s, they split for the countryside to write an album in a someone’s remote family farmhouse — in this case Pook’s. The writing lead to recording, as they had a mobile studio with them on the trip and the recordings captured the kind of communal spirit that had been threaded through the the prior years of folk and psychedelic boom.

Alongside their resplendent folk rock, the songs are flecked with birds and insects from the meadows behind the farm. It’s probably as close as any have come to capturing the sound of porchlight sessions and true woolen commune warmth. The record itself didn’t catch on, though the band did tour with Comus and Demon Fuzz as part of Dawn’s promotions. They also caught the ear of John Peel and set up a less homespun follow-up single that received a fair amount of airplay, but was sabotaged by a vinyl supply issue. Later tours with David Bowie kept them on through a second album that was billed as a double LP for the price of a single LP, though even Pook has noted it probably would have made a solid single album, but wound up a very poor and haphazard double LP. It does boast Mike Cooper on slide in places, so its not a total loss. The band reformed in the late ‘90s, but this debut remains their true masterwork. Great to have it back in print once more. I wouldn’t let this one slide away.

Support the artist. Buy it HERE.

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