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Culpeper’s Orchard: Mountain Music – The Polydor Recordings 1970 – 1973 (Esoteric Recordings) Out now



3 out of 5 stars (3 / 5)



When it comes to lists of “the best ever” prog’ rock bands, this Danish lot usually get forgotten. That’s being put right……

Esoteric Recordings has released a newly re-mastered twin-CD set by this legendary cult progressive rock band, Culpeper’s Orchard, “Mountain Music – The Polydor Recordings 1971 – 1973”.

The band formed in Copenhagen in 1969 and were a decent live act, before landing a deal with Polydor for three albums.

Their self-titled debut released in 971, “Second Sight Of Second Sight” released in 1972 and “Going For A Song” which was out in 1972. All on Polydor.

Then as Culpeper in 1977 they dropped one album for Sonet, “All Dressed Up And Nowhere To Go”, with Cy Nicklin and Michael Friis from the original line-up.

The original line-up was Cy Nicklin on vocals and guitar, Neils Henriksen on lead guitar and piano, Michael Friis on bass, organ and flute and drummer Rodger Barker.

Englishman Nicklin had been living in Denmark since 1963 and had recorded with Sandy Denny and the Strawbs. In 1968 he was a founder member of another legendary Danish band, Day Of Phoenix, but had left to form his own band with fellow Englishman Barker, and Danes Henriksen and Friis.

The debut album was a classy batch of psychedelic, progressive rock, drawing on a myriad of diverse influences from rock, folk and the US West Coast bands of the time.
Released throughout most of The album Europe and since become a sought after and valuable collectors’ LP, original vinyl copies changing hands for three figure sums.

They recorded the follow-up album “Second Sight” in 1972, with drummer Ken Gudman, formerly with The Savage Rose, replacing Barker.

The album was an equally fine work and took in more US West Coast acoustic influences as well as a rock edge. Culpeper’s Orchard performed regularly in Scandinavia with many major artists, but the band’s line-up changed by their third and final album for Polydor, “Going For A Song”.

Henricksen was replaced by Neils Vangkilde on guitar. Nils Tuxen was also recruited on pedal steel guitar and British drummer Tom McEwan replaced Gudman.

The album took in influences such as Crosby, Stills and Nash and earned critical praise, but wasn’t the wider breakthrough the band had hoped for.

A hiatus followed live performances the following year (which included an appearance at the Ragnarock Festival in Norway alongside acts such as the Pretty Things and Mungo Jerry). The band would record a final album in a different stylistic vein three years later, with “All Dressed Up And Nowhere To Go,” as Culpeper, on Sonet Records.

The new set delivers 30 tracks, 16 + 14 on two discs. The first nine cuts on disc # 1 are taken from their debut album. Track 10, “Steamhouse”, is the A-side of a single from 1971. The next four tracks of the first CD here are taken from the album “Second Sight”, as are the first three tracks on the next disc in this set.

Tracks four to 13 are on the LP, “Going For A Song”. The 14th cut of the set is “Raving”, taken from the compilation “Danske Arbejde 2”, released by Polydor in 1972.

The Final two offerings here, are lifted from the live album, “Ragnarock 73”, released in Norway in 1973 by Polydor. The tracks are, “Satisfied Mind” and “Good Days”.

This fine release includes a booklet with exclusive interviews with Cy Nicklin, Michael Friis, Tom McEwan and Neils Vangklide.


By Bernie Hamer



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