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Judy Dyble

Once the genteel starlet of FAIRPORT CONVENTION and TRADER HORNE (an original in every sense), JUDY DYBLE (born 13 February 1949, London) had tapped into the burgeoning pre-1970s folk-rock scene. At the age of 15, her first taste of folk came about with The Folk Men, through her contribution to a couple of traditional cues, including `Come All Ye Fair And Tender Ladies’.
Although only around for the exclusive single, `If I Had A Ribbon Bow’, and their eponymous debut LP in ‘68, before being cast aside for SANDY DENNY, FAIRPORT CONVENTION afforded singer/autoharpist Judy one composition, `Portfolio’ (scribed, incidentally, with ASHLEY HUTCHINGS). A bit-part vocal cameo, alongside RICHARD THOMPSON on The INCREDIBLE STRING BAND’s `The Minotaur’s Song’ (from 1968’s `The Hangman’s Beautiful Daughter’ set), secured DYBLE further accolade and historical “brownie” points.
After a brief spell as an auxiliary member of GILES, GILES & FRIPP (singing outtake cut `I Talk To The Wind’, before the track was half-inched for postliminary prog-sters KING CRIMSON – and singer GREG LAKE), Judy’s next port of call was as cohort to “Belfast Gypsy” JACKIE McAULEY, in folk duo TRADER HORNE. Once again an all-too-brief liaison, only sticking around for one album (1970’s `Morning Way’), DYBLE subsequently left the music business, married a Count (Simon de la Bedoyere) and became a mother and librarian.
Regular guest spots for the FAIRPORTs in concerts kept Judy active within the folk community and, after the death of her husband in 1994, she took several years grace before beginning to write songs again.
As all Judy’s past works had now seen fresh daylight among the CD re-issue market, 2004 was an appropriate time to contemplate her own solo return. Indeed, her long-awaited, self-penned “debut!” for Talking Elephant Records; the delightful ENCHANTED GARDEN {*7} – a songwriting collaboration with Simon House (ex-HAWKWIND, HIGH TIDE and the THIRD EAR BAND) and technical percussionist Marc Swordfish (ex-ASTRALASIA) – found reviewers re-investigating her serene vocal chords. At the ripe young age of 55, the magical melodies of tracks from `Summer Gathers’ to `Going Home’, resonated with a fresh-faced folktronica audience.
Proving that her “comeback” was no flash-in-the-pan, SPINDLE (2006) {*7} – featuring an interesting rendition of PINK FLOYD’s `See Emily Play’ – and THE WHORL (2006) {*6} – which saw her perform `I Talk To The Wind’ for the first time in the studio since her late 60s stint with the aforementioned GG&F – breathed an air of nostalgia and respectability among her growing inner circle of fans.
Not content with reaching out to the converted, in March ’08, Judy hooked into a new generation of folk-rockers when credited on The Conspirators’ indie Top 10 single, `One Sure Thing’. By coincidence, her KING CRIMSON connections continued on to her next project, TALKING WITH STRANGERS (2009) {*7}, a record which highlighted her folky take of GREG LAKE and PETE SINFIELD’s `C’est La Vie’. Augmented by NO-MAN’s Tim Bowness and multi-instrumentalist side-kick Alistair Murphy, her ghostly “Wicker Man” style was in simpatico with the haunting title track and the concluding freak-folk epic, `Harpsong’ (at 19 minutes!); listen out for backing vox from contemporaries Jacqui McShee (PENTANGLE), Celia Humphris (TREES), SIMON NICOL, ROBERT FRIPP and Ian McDonald.
On the back of download singles completed with Kings Cross and Bowness respectively (`Every Single Moment’ in 2009 and `Grey October Day’ in 2011 saddled either side of the solo `Fragile’), four years now seemed an age leading up to DYBLE’s fifth album, FLOW AND CHANGE (2013) {*8}. Intimate, explorative and atune to the 21st century modus operandi of progressive folk – or whatever – the timeless and quintessentially English goddess tossed away depression undercurrents on the airy `Featherdancing’, the reflective `Beautiful Child (Freya’s Song)’ – concerning her granddaughter – and the all-encompassing 11-minute anchor, `The Sisterhood Of Ruralists’.
Capturing the essence of her previous two sets and featuring a re-arranged `If I Had A Ribbon Bow’, the concert piece LIVE AT WM JAZZ (2014) {*6} added to her growing discography, which subsequently incorporated an “Anthology: Part One” a year on. Now 67 years of age with over half a century – on and off – in the business, the folk-rock legend published her first book, An Accidental Musician: The Autobiography Of Judy Dyble, in April 2016.
Rivalling comeback psych-folk peers a la LINDA PERHACS, Judy duly inked a deal at Acid Jazz Records. Together with multi-instrumentalist Andy Lewis (a long-time producer/DJ and former bassist with PAUL WELLER), the canny collaboration unfettered SUMMER DANCING (2017) {*7}. The record was certainly once that encompassed the past with the present. Listening to the deliberately wonky MBV backdrop by Lewis (probably in homage of GILES, GILES & FRIPP), `No Words’ worked for the most part, whilst `A Net Of Memories (London)’ loomed sentimentally alongside the evocative title track, `Summers Of Love’ and the simplistic `He Said – I Said’.
Unwilling to stand still, a solo DYBLE found time to unveil another album, EARTH IS SLEEPING (2018) {*8}. The record was an elegant and enchanting set that fully extolled the virtues of Judy’s pastoral vocal chords and lyrics. In a timeless fashion, these lilting songs of tenderness, sadness and joy were led by `I Found A Rainbow’, `She Now Owns A Heart Of Stone’ (featuring co-composer Matt Stevens of The Fierce & The Dead) and `Answerphone’.
© MC Strong/MCS 2010/GFD // rev-up MCS Jul2016-Jun2019

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