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Gay and Terry Woods

+ {The Woods Band}

Most folk aficionados will know this husband and wife duo from their early 70s tenure as original members of STEELEYE SPAN; one LP, `Hark! The Village Wait’, was their sole contribution before the pair opted for pastures new – Terry (formerly of late-60s Irish folk act SWEENEY’S MEN) briefly joined DR. STRANGELY STRANGE, and even stranger sessions in November 1970 for BBC Top Gear alongside ex-KING CRIMSON stars Mike Giles and Ian McDonald.
The history of Dubliners GAY & TERRY WOODS stretches as far back as 1963, when the former neighbours performed together at their local Neptune Rowing Club. Married in May 1968, it was clear after their acrimonious split with Brit-folk supergroup STEELEYE SPAN that the duo’s talent could withstand the odd hiccup or two.
The WOODS BAND was formed early in 1971, and while singers Terry & Gay stalled in their attempt to bag future BOTHY BAND uilleann piper Paddy Keenan, they did succeed in luring guitarist Ed Deane (from Granny’s Intentions) and drummer Pat Nash.
From sessions recorded at Morgan Studios near Wallingford, THE WOODS BAND (1971) {*6} was released on Decca’s fledgling, Greenwich Gramophone Company imprint (run by producer and future GREENSLADE bassist Tony Reeves). Bogged down by a plethora of other folk-rock sets issued around the same period, the LP suffered by comparison – they never quite shook off the STEELEYE SPAN connections. The album itself was a mixture of light, mainly TERRY WOODS-penned ballads (`Dreams’ and the SANDY DENNY-esque `January’s Snows’) and pre-PLANXTY, Celtic-trad instrumentals (`Valencia Lament’ and `Apples In Winter’). The LP has since become a collectors’ piece.
Subsequently inspired by the success of RICHARD & LINDA THOMPSON, the Irish equivalent, GAY & TERRY WOODS, finally surfaced from time spent rehearsing in a rented rural County Meath cottage. During a relatively short period, the duo released three LPs for Polydor Records: BACKWOODS (1975) {*7}, THE TIME IS RIGHT (1976) {*7} and RENOWNED (1976) {*4}.
The first of these contained a cocktail of contemporary pop-folk such as `I Missed You’, `Dublin Town’ and the JONI MITCHELL-cloned `Winter Poem’, as well as darker, traditional/self-penned gems such as `Dunlavin Green’, `The Fair’ and the INCREDIBLE STRING BAND-ish `Sorry Friend’ – all performed with the aid of Ed Deane, Dave Wintour, Geoff Whitehorn, Mike Giles, Pete Arnesen, Tony Carr and Joe O’Donnell. Whether or not the time was indeed right for a second quick-fire release above, it did however contain the FAIRPORT/DENNY-like `Song For The Gypsies’ and `Under The Yew Tree’, plus `Redlake Piker’ and the NEIL YOUNG-ish `When The Time Is Right’ (both featuring pedal steel from BJ Cole), `Stealer Of Dreams’ and `Northwinds’ (another two inspired by the aforementioned Lady Of The Canyon).
Carrying former FAIRPORT musos Dave Mattacks and Dave Pegg, plus Jon Gillaspie and David Morrison from the last set (alongside Bryn Haworth, Bob Andrews and Steve Goulding), the duo’s third Polydor effort was clearly clutching at straws; only radio-friendly ballads `Love Is Like A Burden’, `Radio Man’ and `Country Blues’ (and not the C&W reading of Pomus-Shuman’s `Save The Last Dance For Me’) were of any merit.
A subsequent LAKE SONGS FROM RED WATERS: THE BEST OF GAY & TERRY WOODS (2003) {*7} comprised the best of these three sets, while a fourth underwhelming delivery, TENDER HOOKS (1978) {*5}, signalled the end of their musical – and indeed domestic – partnership; they split in 1980. Gay relocated to the Netherlands and formed synth-pop act AUTO DA FE, alongside Terry Knight (she later re-joined the ranks of STEELEYE SPAN in the latter half of the 90s). Meanwhile, the multi-talented, multi-instrumentalist TERRY WOODS found fame with The POGUES, staying with them until the early 90s, including many of their perennial reformations; he also worked with RON KAVANA and his new wife Marian Skeffington’s act, Quiet Management.
In 2002 (after another Christmas stint with MacGOWAN and Co), Terry re-formed THE WOODS BAND, recruiting young-ish backers Shane Martin (lead vocals), Dave Browne, Steve Browne, Paul Harrigan and David `Sparky’ Hughes. The comeback was complete with the delivery of MUSIC FROM THE FOUR CORNERS OF HELL (2003) {*6}, an album slightly recalling – although fresh from the factory – traditional songs arranged by Terry from his halcyon days with SWEENEY’S MEN (`As I Roved Out’, `Finnegan’s Wake’, `The Spanish Lady’, `The Dublin Jack Of All Trades’ and `Leave Her Johnny Leave Her’); there were also readings of EWAN MacCOLL’s `The Travellin’ People’ and Hal David/Paul Hampton’s `Sea Of Heartbreak’, while The POGUES connection came courtesy of `Love On Tillery’, penned with Spider Stacey.
© MC Strong 2010/GFD // rev-up MCS Aug2015

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