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

2019-01-31
Keyboardist Ingo Bischof R.I.P. – Keyboard player Ingo Bischof, best known as the longtime keyboard player of German band Kraan, passed away on January 29th, 2019. Bischof was born January 2, 1951 in Berlin-Kreuzberg and joined Kraan in 1975. » Read more

2019-01-11
Jazz Composer Mark Lomax, II Releases Epic 12CD Set – In addition to being a fine jazz drummer, Dr. Mark Lomax, II is a composer in residence at Ohio State University, where he has been very busy on the compositional front. The year 2019 is the 400th anniversary of the arrival of the first ship bringing African slaves to North America, and in commemoration of this, Lomax has produced 400: An Afrikan Epic, a 12 volume set of CDs featuring a variety of different musical ensembles. » Read more

2019-01-02
Chicago-Based Surabhi Ensemble Tours the World in January – Surabhi Ensemble was formed more than a decade ago in Chicago with the aim of bringing together musicians from varying traditions to make music. Saraswathi Ranganathan, who plays veena, assembled a cast that includes Arabic oud, Spanish guitar, and percussion from Africa and India. This month, the group will be sharing their sounds with concert-goers in Southeast Asia, Europe, and Africa. » Read more

2018-12-23
Seaprog Festival Seeks Donations – Seaprog is a small festival in Seattle that highlights creative music from many genres with artists from around the world. It's also a US non-profit organization. They're seeking donations to help keep the ball rolling. Starting in 2013, the organization has been growing, and has featured such artists as Free Salamander Exhibit, Jack o' the Clock, Nik Turner, Cabezas de Cera, Miriodor, Thinking Plague, and many more. » Read more

2018-11-16
The Seventeenth Dream of Dr Sardonicus Festival Tickets Now Available – Fruits de Mer Records and their merry crew of psychedelic explorers are getting set to present the next The Seventeenth Dream of Dr. Sardonicus Festival. The dates are set for August 2-4, 2019 at The Cellar Bar in Cardigan, Wales. They've also announced that the legendary Groundhogs will top the bill. » Read more


Previously in Exposé...

Pelt - Técheöd – Here we have three ambient tracks from a not-so-dark trio on the indie VHF label. According to the label website, the title of this album is pronounced "Tay-hoood," but I'm still not certain what...  (1999) » Read more



Listen & discover



Print issues