Julie Driscoll – 1969: Album Review

Remastered version of classic ‘away from the public eye’ album by Julie Driscoll.

Release date: 28th October 2002

Label: Cherry Red Records

Format: CD

There is a  huge amount of music released in the late 60’s /early 70’s  that when heard today has stood the test of time and fits in well with contemporary music. When the guitars are bluesy it is very much the sound of  Mayall’s Bluesbreaker guitarists, when it is brassy it is like early Chicago style (the group not the blues style) and the bass is deep and rhythmical and never over-elaborate. This album wavers between compliance to the modern ear and somewhat ‘of its time’  albeit still entertaining . This Wheels On Fire by BA and the Trinity featuring Julie Driscoll on vocals is one such piece, and may hint at some trepidation heading back to Julie Driscoll’s 1969 album a listen.

 I needn’t have worried as although released in 1971 it stands up to the modern ear admirably and defies belief that it wasn’t given a higher profile back in the day. 1971 was of course an exemplary year as earlier articles on At The Barrier pages show, but listening to 1969 now it could have been a contender as there are many outstanding tracks.

Julie Driscol’s vocals alone, in versatility and range, are a match for any of the top female vocalists of her time including Sandy Denny. Just listen to Those That We Love and you’ll know what I mean. Collaborating with Keith Tippet and with contributions from Chris Spedding, Elton Dean, Nick Evans, Mark Charig, Jim Cregan, Karl Jenkins and Jeff Clyne sprinkled into the mix she released an album of high quality which has elements of jazz, rock and folk.

Guitar highlights are shared with more acoustic tones on the gentler songs and when more electric tinges are needed the shrillness of Chris Spedding’s penetrating guitar accentuates the mood. Keith Tippet’s intricate arrangements and keyboards adds to the tightness of the band.

The spotlight of fame and hero worship were spurned by Julie Driscoll but this album should have put her on a similar plane as her male counterparts of the early 70’s who still maintain global renown. The decision to shun the commercial success that she would surely have attained is justified with this eclectic mix, some tracks will be more to your taste than others but as a whole, it is musically lasting.

The soulful acrobatics in her vocal requires a patient ear, you may not be whistling or be singing along to these tunes but you should appreciate them as expertly constructed compositions. The unearthing and remastering of them has been an extremely worthwhile task.

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