Ian A. Anderson
Please Re-Adjust Your Time – The Early Blues & Psych-Folk Years 1967-1972
published: 8 /
In our 'Re:View' section, in which we look back at albums from the past, Tommy Gunnarsson reflects on a new 4CD box set compiling folk/blues under-appreciated singer-songwriter Ian A Anderson’s first four albums
“Ian Anderson”, you might say, “isn’t that the guy in Jethro Tull who stands on one leg and plays the flute?” Well, yes, it is. But this is another Ian Anderson, who added an 'A' to his stage name to avoid being mistaken for the flute guy. Ian A Anderson began playing in his hometown of Weston-Super-Mare in the mid-60s, first of all as a member of Backwater Jook Band, but then he later moved to Bristol and became involved in the growing country blues scene there. Ian’s recording debut came with the trio Anderson Jones Jackson (with guitarist Al Jones and harmonica player Elliott Jackson) in 1967, and his first solo album, ‘Stereo Death Breakdown’ (released as Ian Anderson’s Country Blues Band), came out on Liberty in 1969. Alongside his music career, Ian was also the founder and editor of the monthly magazine 'fRoots' (originally 'The Southerm Rag', then later 'Folk Roots)', which was published for forty years, from 1979 until 2019, with Ian being the editor all those years. He is currently hosting a monthly podcast, ‘Podwireless’, which focuses on folk, roots and “unpop” music from all over the world.
That debut album is also the first one included in this 4 CD box set, which compiles the four albums ‘Stereo Death Breakdown’, ‘Royal York Crescent’ (1970), ‘A Vulture Is Not A Bird You Can Trust’ (1971) and ‘Singer Sleeps On As Blaze Rages’ (1972), with added bonus tracks, of course. As always when it comes to the Cherry Red releases, the box set comes with a lovely booklet, with an essay by Elizabeth Kinder and extensive information about all the albums and the bonus tracks.
So, that first album then. The name of the band credited on the cover, Ian Anderson’s Country Blues Band, is quite a giveaway when it comes to any expectations of what you are going to hear. This is a very blues-y album, with slight hints of country, and quite different from Anderson’s later efforts, at least regarding the music. The bonus tracks on this disc consists of two unreleased recordings from the album sessions, the songs on two 7” EPs that were released in 1967 and 1968, two tracks from a Saydisc compilation released in 1968, and some songs taken from a split album ‘The Inverted World’ (1969), which Ian recorded with Mike Cooper.
The second disc is Ian’s first album released as a solo album, ‘Royal York Crescent’, which came out on his own label The Village Thing in 1970, and now we are slowly leaving the bluesiest sound behind, and instead Anderson is moving towards the British folk, which was at its peak in the late 60s/early 70s, with bands like Fairport Convention and Pentangle, even though you can still hear influences from both country and blues here and there throughout the album. The bonus tracks here are three 1969 recordings, one from the Farnham Folk and Blues Festival and two from studio sessions in London.
Disc three consists of the album ‘A Vulture Is Not A Bird You Can Trust’, originally released on the Village Thing label in 1971, with four bonus songs, once again from London studio sessions in 1969. On this album, Anderson kept going with the folk sound that he developed on the previous long player, and for me, who’s not a massive blues fan, but really likes the folk sound, this is really a further step in the right direction.
The fourth, and final, disc consists of Ian’s last Village Thing album, ‘Singer Sleeps On As Blaze Rages’, released in 1972, plus four bonus songs, where three of them are demo recordings made with bassist Maggie Holland as the duo Hot Vulture in 1973. Hot Vulture would then go on to release three albums, and then later evolved into The English Country Blues Band, and released two more albums under that name in the 80s.
All in all, this compilation is a great introduction for those of you who are not familiar with Anderson (and I guess many aren’t), but it’s also a great way for the already converted to get a bunch of new bonus treats and to finally have all the classic albums collected on CD.
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