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+ {Fuchsia II}

Formed in 1970, FUCHSIA were the brainchild of London-born songwriter Tony Durant, a student at Exeter University. He and co-writer at the time Robert Chudley had been fellow members of mid-to-late-60s psych-prog act Louise who included future HENRY COW/ART BEARS musician Chris Cutler.
With lyrics inspired by English poet/scribe Mervyn Peake (from a character in his book Titus Groan), singer/guitarist Durant collated other likeminded prog-folksters (bassist Michael Day, sticksman Michael Gregory, and the backing string musicians/singers Janet Rogers, Madeleine Bland and Vanessa Hall-Smith) to record their eponymous David Hitchcock-produced debut FUCHSIA (1971) {*7}.
Although very much folk inspired (think AL STEWART for `A Tiny Book’, NICK DRAKE for `Shoes And Ships’ and SYD BARRETT for `Me And My Kite’), the set had pre-ELO-esque cues like `The Nothing Song’ and the CARAVAN-esque `Just Anyone’; opener `Gone With The Mouse was ditto on all of the above, topped up with early-70s classical prog-rock.
With a Virgin Records deal never unfolding, FUCHSIA branched out in other directions; the guys augmenting the aforementioned songwriter Robert Chudley for studio sessions in 1973/74. A few years later both Durant and Gregory were part of London octet Mahogonny, who also comprised of singers Jan Pulsford and Nic Pallett, keyboard player Robin Langridge, bassist Keith Grant-Evans, violinist Angela Pulsford and cellist Philida Ahearn. Prior to Durant taking off for Perth, Australia in 1978, he and Gregory worked with singer/accordionist JOHN TAMS (then of The ALBION BAND) on the short-lived Golden Medallion project.
A few tracks by the Chudley alumni, as well as three other FUCHSIA demos (including `Ring Of Red Roses’ and five Mahogonny cues), surfaced on subsequent set FUCHSIA, MAHOGONNY & OTHER GEMS (2005) {*6}. While the GOLDEN MEDALLION end track was written for a shelved movie, the orchestra-laden Mahogonny project pieces worked the best in a sort of “Tommy”-meets-“S.F. Sorrow” kind of way.
An all-new FUCHSIA II was pieced together by Durant, while down under; his band of Lloyd Gyi (drums, percussion), Lidia Bara and Tracy Wan (violins), Emily Duffill and Jo Bara (cellos), Suzy Toomey (accordion) and Isabel Durant (backing vocals) recorded the mostly-new FROM PSYCHEDELIA… TO A DISTANT PLACE (2013) {*6} – a re-vamped `Shoes And Ships’ berthed between `Rainbow Song’. A subsequent European tour in 2014/15 involved Durant and Gyi with guitarist Bill Beare, bassist Dick Haynes and strings Su Kim and Jackie McCaughan.
© MC Strong/MCS 2010 GFD // rev-up MCS Nov2016

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