Saphron – Red Amber
A real nice unearthing by Shagrat Records, co-released in the US through Feeding Tube, blows the dust off of ‘70s home recordings from the loose collection of friends known as The Folk Group/Saffron/Saphron/Red Amber. The name was never quite settled on, but for the release’s purpose Saphron gets the nod. Through a few pub conversations with friend Jill Tipping, partner of his friend Edwin Pouncey (aka Savage Pencil), it came to light that Jill had been in a folk-rock group with friends from school. After some urging and some rummaging the tapes emerged. The band’s sound is nuanced for their age, steeped in a bit of the folk-pop of the time, but also sitting nicely alongside obscurities like Sunforest or Trees. The traditionals here skew towards the Fairport/Pentagle school, feeling enraptured in the rising tide of folk in the UK at the time. The more modern covers lose a bit of their entanglement with the originals, and get lost in the woodsy wonderland of Saphron.
Given the age and general upkeep of the tapes, the recordings sound quite nice. The vocals ring clear, tinged with just a bit of choral overlap from the kids’ days in church groups. That feeling of just tumbling into larger ideas is what makes the record so endearing. Its still got one foot in the simple pleasures of childhood singing among friends and another looking to emulate the pop of the time. It’s got a touch of Anglican folk’s overcast tones but never tumbles into the psychedelia that would soon become so prevalent. It’s likely a bit more of a curio for those who are into this particular era of English folk and not necessarily the kind of lost gem that’s going to produce a unicorn single that drives collector’s crazy. Still, there’s such a nice charm to something so purely for the fun of the players that’s hard to ignore about this collection.
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