TREES – ” Trees (50th Anniversary Edition) “

Posted: November 6, 2020 in ALBUMS, MUSIC
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“A beautiful hybrid, Trees found a unique space between intimate folk and freewheeling psychedelia. Musically ambitious yet brilliantly balanced, they have left an enduring legacy for those lucky enough to be in on the secret” Edd Gibson, Friendly Fires

· This is a Beautifully packaged four-disc anniversary edition includes 12” book with liner notes from founder member David Costa and comedian Stewart Lee. The reissue Features two new discs of alternate mixes, early demos, BBC session tracks and 2018 live recordings in London

· Includes lost demos of ‘Polly On The Shore’ and ‘Streets Of Derry’

It’s now over fifty years since Trees’ formation, a band who helped define ‘Acid Folk’, creating a sub-category in the lexicon of record dealers and music critics alike. Earth’s new Trees collection brings together both albums adding shiny alternate mixes of key tracks along with a selection of radio sessions and demos, all sounding brighter and cleaner than ever before.

Trees first album, ‘The Garden of Jane Delawney’ (1970) snuggles nicely into contemporary nu-folkies’ idea of the genre, and shares some of the pastoral-whimsy that characterised The Incredible String Band or Donovan, offset by some stunning interpretations of traditional material and Bias’ own songs, which were somehow part of the tradition Trees had adopted. Readings of ‘Lady Margaret’, ‘Glasgerion’ and the old standard ‘She Moved Thro’ The Fair’, and the extended fade of the group’s own ‘Road’, presage the explosive instrumental duelling that would come to characterise the follow up album, ‘On The Shore’.

Divided about half-and-half between traditional folk covers (“The Great Silkie” is the best) and Tobias Boshell originals, this is very much in the mainstream of 1970 British folk-rock. But the material is often plain, and the arrangements simply too drawn-out, even bombastic at times. The band takes on Fairport head-to-head on “She Moved Thro’ the Fair” (sung by Sandy Denny on Fairport’s second LP) and loses. The title track, though, is their best song, an atypically light piece for acoustic guitar and harpsichord that has a beautifully haunting melody.

The Trees’ second album is so similar to the debut (The Garden of Jane Delawney) that it’s difficult to recommend one above the other. If you like one, you’ll like the other; if you want only the best stuff in this style, you’ll stick to Fairport Convention and maybe Steeleye Span without digging this deep. It’s more assertive, harder-rocking, and fuller-sounding than the debut, but the principal flaws of overlong songs and patchy original material remain. The taut and dramatic original “Murdoch” is the highlight, rivaling the first album’s “The Garden of Jane Delawney” as their best track.

There’s a definite shift between the records, the second being darker and more ambivalent. Here Trees don’t tell you what to think. You’re left to formulate your own response to this odd, opaque music.

The ‘Streets of Derry’ session version leans into the brain vibrating drone-groove they somehow found at the traditional tune’s centre. ‘Polly On The Shore’, another traditional tune, is one of the definitive moments of English folk rock.

This special expansive collector’s edition celebrates the bands 50th anniversary.

Releases November 13th, 2020

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