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The Sallyangie - Children of the Sun CD (album) cover

CHILDREN OF THE SUN

The Sallyangie

 

Prog Folk

2.91 | 16 ratings

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Psychedelic Paul
4 stars THE SALLYANGIE may have been a short-lived Prog-Folk duo, but both members went on to have long and distinguished solo careers, because they were none other than sister and brother duo Sally and Mike Oldfield! The SallyAngie recorded their one and only hippyish Folk album "Children of the Sun" in 1968. It would be another five years before Mike Oldfield stunned the world with his landmark "Tubular Bells" (1973) album. Sally Oldfield launched her long solo career as a Folk singer five years after brother Mike with the release of her "Water Bearer" album in 1978. The Oldfields were a very musical family - their brother Terry Oldfield was also a multi-talented musician who appeared on Mike Oldfield's "Hergest Ridge" (1974), "Ommadawn" (1975) and "Incantations" (1978) albums. Terry Oldfield also went on to establish a long solo career, specialising in his own particular brand of New Age World music. And so, it's time to travel back over half a century in time now to the late 1960's for Mike Oldfield and sister Sally's unique Prog-Folk offering, "Children of the Sun". The 2002 CD re- issue included a bonus disc, adding eight songs to the original fourteen songs on the album.

Right from the opening few bars of "Strangers", we're in very familiar territory with the honey-sweet demure vocals of Sally Oldfield. She's best-known for the song "Mirrors" from her first "Water Bearer" album in 1978. Sally performed the song on Top of the Pops and the single reached #19 in the U.K charts, although the hippyish Sally Oldfield would be the last person to regard herself as a Pop star. One of the most surprising things about The SallyAngie album is hearing Mike Oldfield singing for the first time, when he's not normally noted for his vocal abilities, although he sounds in remarkably fine voice on this endearing Folk album, admirably accompanying his sister Sally in a duet. Mike Oldfield also provides accompaniment on acoustic guitar (obviously!) and there's the sound of a flautist to be heard too on this brief but charming 70-second-long opening introduction to the album. "Strangers" sounds more like two familiar old friends. We're off to meet "Lady Mary" next, a saccharine-sweet Folk song with some lovely harmonies and rich orchestration. Mike Oldfield even takes the vocal lead for a brief time on this song. There's no inkling of the masterpiece to come in five years time, when Tubular Bells was still a twinkling in Mike Oldfield's eye at this early stage in his career. The music on this charming Folk album so far sounds as delicately exquisite as a warm gentle breeze. And now we come to the title track and one of the longest songs on the album at five minutes long: "Children of the Sun". The song opens with a spoken introduction from Sally Oldfield before brother Mike joins in for a duet. This song sounds like the kind of pleasant pastoral Folk number that Peter, Paul & Mary or The Seekers might have recorded back in their heyday. The song certainly has commercial potential, had it ever been released as a single, although a warm and tender Folk melody probably wouldn't have stood much of a chance in the charts when they would have been up against some of the mighty giants of late-1960's Pop/Rock such as The Beatles. The fourth song "A Lover for All Seasons" continues in similar vein with another acoustic guitar and vocal duet, so there are no real surprises in store here. Although The SallyAngie are billed as Prog-Folk, you won't find many proggy elements here, as this is more of a traditional pastoral Folk album, but that's no bad thing as the gentle music contained within is very pleasing on the ears. The SallyAngie features a percussionist, although he's so low-key that you hardly even notice he's there. You certainly won't hear any pounding drums on this album. There's no sign of Mike Oldfield's trademark electric guitar sound to be heard either on this totally acoustic album, but it's still turning out to be a very agreeable Folk album judged on its own merits. Next up is the "River Song" which has a macabre sting in its tail, because despite the pleasant melody and the dulcet tones of sweet- voiced Sally, the lyrics reveal a shocking tale of a brutal murder, so there are no happy endings here. The frightful lyrics to this song bring to mind the classic Neil Young song "Down by the River", which also involves a murder. We'd better not delve too deeply into the horrifying lyrics of "River Song", so we'll move swiftly on to the next song, which is: "Banquet on the Water". We're on much safer ground here as this lovely song is all about going for a pleasant stroll along the river and stopping for a picnic with a romantic partner for company.

Side Two opens with "Balloons", the longest song on the album at five and a half minutes long. The song begins as a very twee- sounding lullaby that sounds so light and delicate, you feel it might get blown away like a balloon by the slightest of breezes, but don't let that put you off, because it's really a great song once you get past the first minute or so. This song comes the closest to Psych-Folk of any of the songs so far on the album. Not that you'll hear any psychedelic fuzz guitars, but the music is a hauntingly-beautiful Folk refrain, featuring some eerie-sounding harmonising and witchy chanting in the style of Comus, although nowhere near as creepy as those witchfinder generals of Psych-Folk. "Balloons" is a helium-filled uplifting highlight of the album. We're travelling right back in time to the world of Shakespeare now for "Midsummer Night's Happening". This fluty duet sounds like a typical Elizabethan madrigal that you might hear accompanying a medieval banquet, so watch out for those flying chicken bones and glasses being thrown into the hearth fire with gusto and gay abandon! Yes, this is definitely minstrels in the gallery music, so you'll know exactly what to expect here with this merry-making music. The intriguingly-titled "Love in Ice Crystals" conjures up a frosty image of some romantic brief encounter at the South Pole, which is not that far from the truth, as the lyrics are about making love on a rug in front of the warm comfort of a blazing fire when it's freezing cold and snowing outside. Listen out for the soaring echoey vocals on this song, the like of which you may never have heard before. They're really quite incredible! Side Two of this lovely album is so far turning out to be even better than Side One. The next piece of music "Changing Colours" is a brief prelude, featuring some offbeat twangy guitar strings where Mike Oldfield sounds like he's tuning his guitar up, so we'll leave him there and move on to the next song which is the aptly- titled "Chameleon", which follows on nicely from "Changing Colours". The enchantingly mystical lyrics to this haunting refrain deserve a special mention here:- "The king of Orion brings, The jewels from his belt and his sword, The emeralds shine through the trees, To dance upon the high forest lord, I am to you as I am to me, I am a star in a deep blue sea, I am the queen of a million queens, I am a ripple on a crystal stream, The three kings from the east bring gifts of gold frankincense and myrrh." ..... It's a complex tune in which Mike Oldfield cleverly sings in counter-point to Sally Oldfield, bringing a whole extra dimension to this engaging piece of music. The next brief 30-second-long acoustic instrumental "Milk Bottle" sounds just like a "born on the bayou" twangy country steel guitar, which it probably is! This leads us into the penultimate Psych-Folk song on the album, the ominously-titled "The Murder of the Children of San Francisco". Mike Oldfield's semi-whispered vocals sound quite sinister on this song, giving the song an ethereal other-worldly haunting atmosphere, which makes a stark contrast to Sally Oldfield's traditional sweet-voiced Folky tones. This is another album highlight in what is turning out to be quite an extraordinary album, featuring mainly traditional Folk songs on Side One, spiced up with some spookier off-kilter Psych-Folk tunes on Side Two. We're entering a twilight zone world now, as It's time to bed the album down for the night with the 14th and final song and what better way than with the "Twilight Song", a delightful Folk melody where Sally Oldfield's gorgeous dulcet tones carry you away blissfully to a land of sweet dreams and peaceful slumbers.

Mike Oldfield and sister Sally have come up with a very pleasant album of gentle pastoral Folk in their first musical outing together. It's not going to take the progosphere by storm, but it makes a pleasurable diversion to while away a warm summer's afternoon when we can all be transported back in time to the late 1960's and be "Children of the Sun" all over again. That's the theory anyway. If music be the food of love, then let Mike & Sally Oldfield play on forever!

Psychedelic Paul | 4/5 |

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