- by Rob Taylor Release Date:2015-11-27 Label: Fire Records
Judy Dyble has been described by sections of the British press as a ‘national treasure’, a moniker of pride often assigned with the benefit of hindsight, or after an artist’s worth is calculated in a more mainstream context. Whichever way, Judy Dyble’s musical accomplishments deserve praise from the establishment.
Dyble preceded Sandy Denny as singer with Fairport Convention, and was a founding member of Trader Horne. Those expecting an anthology of her work to focus on traditional folk leanings might be surprised that Dyble’s influences extended beyond a homespun cultural sound. Collaborations with the likes of Robert Fripp and a young Richard Thompson show an experimental edge, making comparisons with the likes of the Norwegian, Karin Krog not that preposterous, even though Dyble’s voice is idiomatically suited to traditional form.
On the track ‘Improvisation’ she performs with Thompson at the age of 17 yrs old, the music awkwardly veering from inharmonious jazz experimentation gamelan-style to folk woodwind mayhem in a manner not exactly coherent. When this is followed on Anthology Part 1 by Dyble’s upbeat take on Joni Mitchell’s ‘Both Sides Now’ the incongruity of the track sequencing does call for some dramatic refocusing of perceptions.
‘Both Sides Now’ and ‘One Sure Thing’ are Fairpoint Convention demo recordings, which should be obvious but it isn’t. I can only assume they’re alternate takes. The sound is fervidly embroidered in the way of Trembling Bells’ progressive folk, and fans of the latter will find much to enjoy in Dyble’s early career as singer with Fairport.
Tracks 6-9 are from the 1968 group Giles, Giles and Fripp which later devolved into King Crimson, and show a more progressive edge especially under a jazz banner. 'Under The Sky’ is an evocative track, very much of its time, Robert Fripp’s guitar is beautifully elevated in mood and the sound is still kindred with the summer of love.
The silvery modulations of Dyble’s voice soar to high-pitched but never shrill top ends, and she appears to achieve each musical phrase with skilful ease. It’s a portentous instrument, one that defines a sound rather than augments it for the most part.
Baroque number ‘Better Side of Me’ comes more from the Bacharach school of pop, and I detected a slight warbling as Dyble attempts to control her estimable top end in a song appearing to call for huskier tones.
Having shared the stage with the like of Hendrix and Syd Barrett-era Pink Floyd, Dyble was no doubt a debutante of the emergent progressive and psychedelic sounds of the late 1960s. Here on Anthology Part 1 you’ll find a high spirited and cheerful cover of ‘See Emily Play’, less acid dream and more innocent recollection. Evidently, she would occasionally sit on stage and knit while the principal band was playing. Weird but somehow apt for a period of holistic change.
Perhaps as a reminder of how we like to exploit our national treasures, included here is an advertisement that Dyble did for a cassette tape product “The Mirror Master” in 1982. She sings the hymn ‘Amazing Grace’, its message of christian redemption connaturalized by lyrical changes spelling out the virtues of the chrome cassette. All with marvellously wooden male voice-over by husband Simon Stable. Truly surreal.
Here’s the track listing:
1. ‘Come All Ye Fair And Tender Ladies’ – Judy & The Folkmen home recording, 1964
2. ‘Spanish Is A Lovin’ Tongue’ – Judy & The Folkmen home recording, 1964
3. ‘Improvisation’ – Judy Dyble and Richard Thompson edited home recording, 1966
4. ‘Both Sides Now’ – previously unissued Fairport Convention demo, 1967
5. ‘One Sure Thing’ – previously unissued Fairport Convention demo, 1967
6. ‘Make It Today’ – Giles Giles & Fripp, 1968
7. ‘Passages Of Time’ – Giles Giles & Fripp, 1968
8. ‘Under The Sky’ – Giles Giles & Fripp, 1968
9. ‘Murder’ – Giles Giles & Fripp, 1968
10. ‘May Four’ – GF Fitzgerald, 1970
11. ‘Better Side Of Me’ – unissued baroque-Pop demo of Marianne ‘Jade’ Segal’s song with Mike Batt, 1972
12. ‘ Hear A Song’ – previously unissued demo, 1973
13. ‘Satisfied Mind’ – cassingle, 1974
14. ‘See Emily Play’ – previously unissued demo with Adrian Wagner, 1982
15. ‘Mirror Master’ – advert for cassette tape by Judy and husband Simon Stable, 1982