Next on BBC4, the ‘Mystical Squad’ in which a
librarian, a witch and an LSD chemist join forces to solve crimes.
Listen/Download -Marian Segal and Silver Jade – Amongst Anemones
Listen/Download -Marian Segal and Silver Jade – Fly On Strangewings
I have something very interesting for you all this week, so go trundle off to the Hippie division of the Hammer Films costume archive and hurry back.
I was out digging at one of the Asbury Lanes garage sales last year and I happened upon the album you see before you, took one look at the cover and pulled it from the box, placing securely in the keeper pile.
I mean, how could any sane record fiend (contradictory terms, but bear with me) see that group listed at Marian Segal and Silver Jade with the title ‘Fly On Strangewings’ and not buy it immediately?
I’ve been a UK folk rock fan for a long time (big ups to the Fairports and the Drakes and every witchwhatwho) and though I’d never heard of this particular group, it was immediately obvious to me that they were part of the very same bag (the DJM label clueing me in to the fact that they were English, their name and look clueing me in to everything else).
When I got the album home and slipped it under the needle, my suspicions were confirmed, and then some.
What I’ve been able to find out is that Marian Segal (vox, guitar) got her start in a duet with Dave Waite (stringed instruments), joining Rod Edwards* (keys, vox) in the studio in 1970 as Jade (their much longer name on this album due to some trans-Atlantic confusion with an American ‘Jade’).
They were supported by a veritable who’s who of UK psyche-into-prog musicians, including John Wetton, Pete Sears, Clem Cattini, Pete York and Mick Waller, and the album they created is not only wondrous and magical, but also some of the best Fairport Convention not actually recorded by Fairport Convention sounds ever committed to tape.
I should stop here and pull back a bit, because to suggest that Jade/Silver Jade were merely some kind of Fairport rip-off would be both unfair and incorrect.
The thing is, when you listen to this record, it is IMMEDIATELY apparent, and inescapable to make the assumption that Ms. Segal and the famed Ms. Denny were sharing a set of vocal cords.
The similarity is positively uncanny, and so someone not completely tuned in to a nuanced take on the Fairport sound might be forgiven for mistakenly assuming that what they were hearing was the firm of Denny, Thompson, Matthews, Hutchings, Lamble and Nicol.
While Marian Segal and Silver Jade certainly draw from the same mixture of US West Coast freak sounds and British Isles leprechaun/faerie juice, I would say that Jade has a touch more classic UK psyche in their soup as well as (thanks to the later date, a touch of the prog).
Case in point, ‘Amongst Anemones’, which sounds like they got some Fairfield Parlour in their peanut butter.
‘Fly On Strangewings’ is a touch more modern, sounding exactly like an lost Fairport Track, and I mean that in the most positive way possible.
It’s with a song like this that it is possible to see why Jade/Silver Jade didn’t go further, that being sometimes too much of a good thing (i.e. the Fairport sound) is for the listening/buying public quite actually too much, and those that came later often fall by the wayside, in this case unfairly.
The album as a whole is quite good. When I was digi-ma-tizing, I ended up recording the whole thing and giving it repeated listens.
Fortunately, Ms Segal has a very nice website with exhaustive information on her musical history, before and after Jade/Silver Jade. Of particular interest is a gig history of the group that has them appearing on UK TV alongside Matthews Southern Comfort, as well as the fact that they did a mini-tour of the US with extended stops in New York (Bitter End), Chicago (Gate of Horn, and apparently local TV) and Los Angeles (the Troubadour).
You can also purchase reissues of various and sundry Marian Segal-related material, including this very album.
I hope you dig the sounds, and I’ll see you all next week.
*Edwards had been part of UK psyche-ers Edwards Hand
PS Head over to Funky16Corners for some soul.