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Clark Hutchinson - Free to Be Stoned: Complete Decca Recordings  CD (album) cover

FREE TO BE STONED: COMPLETE DECCA RECORDINGS

Clark Hutchinson

 

Indo-Prog/Raga Rock

4.07 | 5 ratings

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beebfader
4 stars Like WOW man!, 23 Jun 2010

This review is from: Free To Be Stoned-The Complete Decca Recordings Anthology (Audio CD Esoteric 2010)

I think Mark Powell from Esoteric Records must have grown up in a record shop, and not just any old record shop, but one which stocked every single long forgotten obscurity from the golden age of the underground and beyond. I have a wide knowledge of this era and I had never HEARD of these guys before chancing upon a copy and being intrigued enough to investigate. The title's great too !

This value 2CD set actually covers three complete albums made at the cusp of the seventies. Mick Hutchison is a shockingly talented guitarist and his partner Andy Clark covers a multitude of instruments as well as his main focus which is keyboards (could he be the same Andy Clark who ended up in Be-Bop Deluxe ? We need to know).

The 1969 album A=MH2 is entirely instrumental and can loosley be described as `raga- rock'. It is no surprise that they were at the centre of the Ladbroke Grove scene, and could be seen alongside Pink Fairies, Edgar Broughton, Third Ear Band and Hawkwind probably most days of the week somewhere on or off the planet in those heady times. Hutchinson's strident and inventive lead guitar is one thing, but nothing can prepare you for the incredible picking abilities displayed on `Acapulco Gold'. On other pieces he solos over Clarke's droning monk-like vocals, piano and Van Der Graaf style sax interjections. It's quite unlike anything I've ever heard. It was championed at the time by John Peel and it certainly conjures up images of Sunday afternoons with joss-sticks, tea and perhaps if you were lucky...a little Acapulco Gold.

Album number two (split between two CD's here) sees a total transformation into a four piece with the addition of bass and drums and crazed vocals from Clark. "I just want to be stoned for the rest of my natural life" he declares like a man with a plan. You can almost SEE the clouds of smoke and lank hair flying around from here in the 21st century. Once again and throughout the album Hutchinson's corruscating guitar soloing raises this above the ordinary and with a much more solid backing from a rhythm section, this really takes off. A very strong album indeed.

Their final offering perhaps suffers a little from too much emphasis on vocals (which in truth become wearing after a while) and less extended material, covering 11 shorter songs, but the guitar playing still shines (particularly a stunning acoustic performance on `Boat In The Morning Mist') There is somewhat of an element of despair underlying this album though....maybe being stoned every day was not the greatest idea after all. After this it seemed that was it...whilst the others formed the equally obscure `Upp', Hutchinson left the business to become a guitar teacher...a job he was drastically overqualified for, but no doubt there was rent to be paid.

On the whole there is much to enjoyed here, and yet again hats off to Esoteric for making this available. So much amazing music was made in such a short time in the late sixties and early seventies, that one could not possibly have had the hours in the day to hear even the tip of the iceberg even if they were lucky enough to live through it. It is great that time and well preserved tape allow us the luxury to look back on an amazing era and appreciate those whose time in the sun was brief but totally worthwhile.

beebfader | 4/5 |

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