July — The Second of July
(Lion Music ACLN 1019, 1967/2014, CD)
by Peter Thelen, Published 2015-01-16
The British band that released a super rare self-titled album in 1968 and subsequently disappeared should, by now, be known to all connoisseurs of classic period British psychedelic music. At the time the sadly under-promoted album was nothing more than an obscure footnote compared to the likes of Magical Mystery Tour, Satanic Majesties and Piper at the Gates of Dawn, but through the years it has gained its due respect, partially due to the later work of the band’s leader, guitarist and singer Tom Newman (Tubular Bells engineer / producer and creator of the late period progressive classic Faerie Symphony), as well as future Jade Warrior members Jon Field (percussion) and Tony Duhig (guitar) being members of the band. Other band members Chris Jackson (drums, piano, organ) and Alan James (bass) left less of a lasting legacy, although James did important session work for many years to come. The album was a brilliant stew of classic songwriting, experimental arrangements, Indian influences, and studio trickery. One album, then gone. So what exactly is The Second of July, if there was in fact no second album? These are home-recorded demos from 1967 by bandleader Tom Newman and former Tomcats (an earlier band with many of the same members as July) guitarist / bassist Peter Cook, and all but four of these fourteen demos would later reappear on the July album proper, with the full band playing the parts, though by that time Cook was no longer involved. So why are these demos important? Perhaps it’s because much of the eccentricity, invention and experimentation of these songs were ‘smoothed out’ by producers by the time the full band got to the studio to record them. In preparation for this review, I’ve listened to the demos and the album proper back-to-back many times, and have to say the demos, even though the full band is not present and Newman is using taped drum loops, easily trump the album proper. Both the July album and the Second of July demos have been released and reissued numerous times over the years, both on vinyl and CD, once even both were included on the same CD, but this latest 2014 version of Second on Acme / Lion Music is one that can surely be counted on for superior sound.
SoundQuest Fest 2021 – SoundQuest Fest, first experienced as a live festival in Tucson Arizona in 2010 was created by ambient music pioneer Steve Roach. This 2021 event will unite a worldwide gathering of artists and audience members together for a 3-day online event unique in the realm of ambient music. From March 26-28th a continuous flow of streamed performances, audio-video wonder worlds and deep immersion zones will burn bright on Roach’s YouTube channel. » Read more
Chick Corea RIP – The sad news has reached us that Chick Corea has Returned to Forever, so to speak. The innovative keyboardist and composer died on February 9 at the age of 79. With a career that spanned from the 60s until shortly before his death, Corea touched many listeners with the incredible variety of music he produced in his lifetime. » Read more
Asia Minor Third Album on the Way – On January 29, AMS records will be releasing the long-awaited third album by classic Turkish-French band Asia Minor. Released last year in Japan, this will be the widespread debut of Points of Libration. The album features original members Setrak Bakirel (vocals, guitar) and Eril Tekeli (flute, guitar). » Read more
Harold Budd RIP – Harold Budd, one of pre-eminent American composers of avant-garde and minimalism, has died of complications from the coronavirus. Budd came to prominence in the 70s, championed by Brian Eno on his Obscure Records label, with music that blended academic minimalism with electric jazz and electronic music. Much of Budd's best known work was done in collaboration with other artists, including Eno, Daniel Lanois, Robin Guthrie, Andy Partridge, John Foxx, Jah Wobble, and many others. » Read more