Exposé Online banner

Unicorn — Laughing up Your Sleeve
(Omnivore OVCD-302, 1974/2018, )

by Peter Thelen, Published 2019-02-06

Laughing up Your Sleeve Cover art

Never quite receiving the fanfare or attention they deserved, Unicorn was a British four-piece band that worked their magic throughout the 70s, beginning in 1971 with their debut album, Uphill All the Way. After a series of unfortunate band names throughout the 60s (The Senders, The Pink Bears, The Late Edition, which got shortened to The Late) Transatlantic insisted the band find a better name, so they became Unicorn. The band at the time of their first album was Pat Martin (bass, vocals), Ken Baker (guitars, keyboards, harmonica, vocals), Pete Perryer (drums, percusion, lead vocals), and Trevor Mee (lead guitar), but the latter was replaced by Kevin Smith by the time of the recordings at hand. The debut album was a mix of originals and cover material, strongly influenced by the sound of Crosby Stills & Nash; the originals were written mainly by Baker, who would continue to be the band’s main composer, and the covers from a diverse set of songwriters including Joe Cocker, Neil Young, James Taylor, John Stewart, and others. At this early stage and throughout their career, Unicorn seemed to be a British band primarily influenced by the American West Coast sound. In the three years between their first and second album Blue Pine Trees, the band went all in composing their own new material, and somewhere along the way while doing an unpaid gig at the wedding of one of the promotion guys at Transatlanic, they met David Gilmour who liked what they were doing and took the band under his wing, inviting them to record demos in his (then new) home studio. Those demos are released here on Laughing up Your Sleeve for the very first time, the 20 tracks herein would comprise much of the material for Blue Pine Trees (1974) as well as the band’s third album Too Many Crooks (1976), with Gilmour producing both of those albums, as well as playing pedal steel on some of the tracks. By the time these demos were recorded, in the 1973-74 timeframe, Unicorn had refined their sound and songwriting, the listener may well be reminded of America (the band) or The Byrds (of roughly the same vintage), pressing forward with what might be considered harmony laden country rock, an unusual sound for a British band of the day, but their superb songwriting savvy and the approach to arrangements truly makes their work stand out. There are a number of real gems here: “Ooh! Mother,” which would not appear on any of the albums, but eventually be released as a single; “Autumn Wine,” “Electric Night,” and “Sleep Song,” which all ended up on the second album; and “Weekend” and “Ferry Boat” would end up leading off the third album. This collection of demos recorded at Gilmour’s studios come highly recommended, as do the albums Blue Pine Trees and Too Many Crooks which were reissued by Esoteric in 2017, each with a generous helping of bonus tracks.


Filed under: Archives, 2018 releases, 1974 recordings

Related artist(s): David Gilmour, Unicorn

More info
http://omnivorerecordings.com/shop/laughing-up-your-sleeve/

Latest news

2019-06-05
Legendary Co-Founder of The 13th Floor Elevators Passes Away at Age 71 – Sadly, Roky Erickson passed away on May 31, 2019. Known as the father of psychedelic music and co-founder of the ground breaking 13th Floor Elevators, Roky had a profound influence on music from the 60s to today. Plagued by his own personal demons, Roky had a difficult life and is now free of these burdens. » Read more

2019-04-24
Help MoonJune Bring Great Music to Life – Like many music lovers around the world, we’ve been thrilled and amazed to hear the recordings that have been released by MoonJune from sessions at La Casa Murada in Spain. Such label stalwarts as Mark Wingfield, Markus Reuter, Asaf Sirkis, Tony Levin, Dusan Jevtovic, Vasil Hadzimanov, and many more have gathered in various combinations at the studio to produce some of the most creative music in recent years. Now, label head Leonardo Pavkovic is offering a compilation, La Casa Murada - MoonJune Sessions, Volume One, as a fundraiser for upcoming sessions. » Read more

2019-04-10
The Pineapple Thief to Tour North America – November and December of 2019 will see The Pineapple Thief bringing their music to Canada, Mexico, and the US, and famed drummer Gavin Harrison will be on board. The band has been touring extensively in Europe, but North America will be new territory for them. » Read more

2019-03-25
Scott Walker RIP – Noel Scott Engel, better known as Scott Walker, was one of the most intriguing and enigmatic musical figures in the second half of the 20th Century. His strange career started with The Walker Brothers, an American pop group that featured no one named Walker and no brothers. After moving to England in 1965, they had a series of hit singles. Scott's solo work started with Scott in 1967. Starting in the 80s, his work took an increasingly avant-garde turn. » Read more

2019-03-20
Freedom to Spend Unearths June Chikuma's Archives – Jun (June) Chikuma is well known for her video game and anime soundtracks, but she also released an album of experimental electronic music back in 1986 called Divertimento where she indulged the kind of spontaneity that wouldn't work in a soundtrack. RVNG Int'l label Freedom to Spend is bringing this overlooked item to broader attention with a deluxe reissue. » Read more


Previously in Exposé...

Nurse with Wound - She and Me Fall Together in Free Death – Beta-lactam Ring Records seems to revel in obscurity. Most of their product is released only on LP in limited pressings, they come with minimal credits, the discs themselves have lovely graphics in...  (2003) » Read more



Listen & discover



Print issues