Trees iTunes Tracks


Psych-folk-rock was at its most quintessential with TREES, a Baroque, FAIRPORT-like quintet that comprised Celia Humphris (vocals), songwriter Bias Boshell (bass, acoustic guitar, harpsichord and vocals), Barry Clarke (guitars), David Costa (guitar) and Unwin Brown (drums).
Formed in London, England in 1969, the group’s imaginative but heavy electric guitar improvs on traditional ballads and original songs stood them in good stead for C.B.S. who were undoubtedly looking for a group to rival the success of the FAIRPORTs. This was never achieved. However, their first of two LPs, THE GARDEN OF JANE DELAWNEY (1970) {*7}, has come to be regarded as a long-lost classic by some folkies, through other pundits are a little sceptical of their wanton mainstream traits. Showcasing a good half-hour of trad fare in five songs from the best, `The Great Silkie’ and `Nothing Special’ to the worst, `She Moved Thro’ The Fair’ (all 8 minutes of it), Celia’s high-pitched deliveries were closer to MARY HOPKIN than SANDY DENNY, but Bushell’s `Snail’s Lament’ and the title track were worthy of admission price alone.
Repeating the formula on album number two (albeit with a 10-minute arrangement of CYRIL TAWNEY’s `Sally Free And Easy’), ON THE SHORE (1971) {*7} was to many folk fans the cat’s whiskers. Boshell’s thrilling TREESome starred `Fool’, surely one of folk-rock’s greatest songs ever; `Murdoch’, too, was up there, the sing-along `While The Iron Is Hot’ was, er… not. Of the trad cues, `Polly On The Shore’, `Soldiers Three’, `Streets Of Derry’ and the Appalachian mountain dirge, `Little Sadie’, came off best. Both original vinyl albums are now worth over £100 mint.
Sadly, the astounding lead guitar licks of Clarke were only heard on record once more by way of the group’s splinter band, CASABLANCA, who yielded one eponymous set for ELTON JOHN’s Rocket imprint in 1974 (with Costa and newbie singers Juanita Franklin and Aliki Ashman). The remaining TREES (trimmed of Boshell and Brown) had previously attempted to reconvene for a third set with former MR FOX rhythm section Barry Lyons and Alun Eden (the JSD BAND’s fiddler Chuck Fleming was also in tow). The TREES split early in 1973 and branched out into other directions, augmenting obscure folk-rock act Trainer on their self-titled German-only album.
© MC Strong GFD 2010// rev-up MCS Sep2014

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