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Tudor Lodge

Prog Folk

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Sean Trane
Prog Folk
4 stars Yet another folk-rock group from the early 70'ss which made a superb album, actually released on the famous Vertigo â??swirlâ? label with a stunning fold-out artwork, which under its original and mint state will fetch almost a four figure price. Actually I can only tell you that unless you plan to frame the artwork and hang it on your wall, this price is really overdone, especially now that this has been released under three (four with the vinyl re-issues) different forms: a Repertoire release in the early 90â??s, a rather expensive Japanese mini-Lp release (but the fabrication is outstanding) and again another Repertoire release but this time in a mini-Lp format (not as outstanding but at half the price of the Japan version). If I must give you an advice (should you choose to investigate this beautiful and pastoral folk rock), I would encourage you to take the third choice.

However, enjoyable this group might be, it is of a limited interest for the proghead looking for intricate music. Despite its historic Tudor-allusion in its name, one cannot say that the music is much different than Fairport Convention or Amazing Blondel, do not look at ancient music influences here, although here and there, there are hints of it. Often compared (and sometimes mixed-up with) to Trader Horne, the music does bear resemblance also to Fotheringay,

Full of hippy ideals, this singing guitar trio (Ann Steuart also plays piano and flute) gets some help from other horn musicians and a string section and most of all, the participation of giant double-bass master Danny Thompson (of Pentangle, John Martyn and Tim Buckley fame) even if he stays more discreet (not mixed loud enough) on this album than in others. The music stays completely acoustic (except for the odd electric guitar on one superb track - The Lady Is Changing Home), and sometimes also instrumental (Madeline) displaying a certain kind of virtuosity that every proghead will love.

If you have enjoyed the afore-mentioned groups in this review, no doubt you will appreciate this record and therefore only the tough choice I presented you with in the first paragraph, but even then I help you out, you lucky SOB ;-) Run for it!!!!

Report this review (#73751)
Posted Saturday, April 1, 2006 | Review Permalink
Eetu Pellonpaa
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars I found a Repertoire's re-issue vinyl of this album when I searched for psych folk albums with lady singers at my youth. I was mostly stunned by the promises of beautiful psychedelic drawings of the album sleeve, and these expectations were quite well met on both musical and aesthetic levels too, though some maturing was needed from my own part.

The medieval elements are mostly focused to instrumental classic guitar song "Madeline", and to the chamber music sequences of wonderful "Willow Tree", which has also fine psychedelic load in the freely weaving starting part. There are also some anti-war 60's folk songs resembling Peter, Paul & Mary like "I See A Man", and more casual folk charmers like "Two Steps Back". A small chamber orchestra is participating on majority of the tracks, and this brings lots of more to listen, but also deepen some slightly banal "Disney emphasizing" of the music. Well, Ann Steuart's voice is very lovely, and his hippie boyfriends do decent support with harmonies and guitars. "Lady's Changing Home" is the solitary folk rock number here with amplified instruments, and "Forest" is also a song worth to mention, painting a light and relaxing scenario of lovely day among the glades.

This album has been produced quite well, so there are no amateurish playing nor arrangements found here, and the sound quality of the recording is excellent. Though there were some characteristics in few compositions which first felt bit unpleasant to me, maybe it is fun to learn adopt all sweet and positive things as favorable experiences. However there are many beautiful scenarios on this album, and I can't emphasize too much to get it as a vinyl with wonderful opening gatefold artwork.

Report this review (#81047)
Posted Tuesday, June 13, 2006 | Review Permalink
5 stars Once again Esoteric continue to mine the seams of those long lost treasures of yesteryear, presenting forgotten gems at affordable prices. Original LP copies of this 1971 album were known to fetch silly amounts of money; a combination of the sought after Vertigo `spiral' label, and the genuinely excellent contents within.

Ostensibly an acoustic folk trio, they are augmented by the Pentangle rhythm section of Danny Thompson and Terry Cox among many other contributors, which gives a huge clue as to the level of musical accomplishment on show here. There are inevitable comparisons with Pentangle, but the trio of Lyndon Green, Ann Steuart and John Stannard are individual enough to make this a wonderful and beautifully recorded album full of truly memorable self-penned tunes and infused with that uniquely English rustic sound.

Vocal duties are equally shared but Ann Steuart in particular, has a crystal clear voice which is well up there with her peers, and on the opening track `It All Comes Back To Me' it shines out amongst chiming acoustic guitars, double bass and flute. `Two Steps Back' is also a particularly fine example of a beautifully arranged timeless melody which delights the ears and recalls sweeter, simpler times. The album maintains a consistency, the guitar arrangements are beautiful and the trio is augmented by some 12 guest musicians adding their brush strokes along the way. This was seemingly an album made with much care and attention, although we are told the studio time only totalled two weeks...

It is somewhat of a mystery that this album did not find a wider audience in it's own lifetime. A wonderful discovery which sounds fresh and assured and easily worth five stars.

Report this review (#512267)
Posted Wednesday, August 31, 2011 | Review Permalink
4 stars There is something very special about the british folk-boom of the 60's and 70's. Sure, the boom was not all british but came to be in parts all over the world. But for me it's the british folk-scene that is most intriguing and brings me to think of green pastures, meadows, the past, love and death, hardship and amazing musicianship. I am a great fan of Pentangle, Fairport Convention and Steeleye Span (to name but a few, though well known bands). But there are also great albums from other constellations, lesser knownor with a lifespan considerably shorter, like Tudor Lodge.

I've been slightly hesitant towards Tudor Lodge. From what I had heard it really wasn't quite what I was looking for in british folk, being slightly too american for my taste. At least that was my conception. Now, in possession of the Repertoire papersleeve reissue, I find myself nodding in recognition of my fears but also acknowledging the fact that it was not so american as I'd thought.

Surely there are american nods on here but not in a totally unattractive way, as on the Baby Whale album. The sounds of the british isles blend very well with the ever so slightly spiced americana, creating a very cohesive sound and record. I wish there would have been more of the traditionally sounding british prog folk but then again, it actually sounds great.

The music on Tudor Lodge is very mellow, harmony drenched and dreamy. It sounds extremely professional and thought through. Considering the mere two weeks it took to record it I find myself baffled and in awe. I suppose the group must have been very tight, having played and rehearsed alot before entering the studio.

The instrumentation on the album is amazing. All kinds of acoustic playing can be heard, only once or twice becoming electrified. I am amazed, really. What I had thought before seem now like totally untrue. The truth is that Tudor Lodge is a great album, full of the folk I adore. This is classic and really comparable to other stars of the same era, though sounding in a really personal fashion, not copying any of it's peers in Pentangle, Fairport or whoever.

In short: Tudor Lodge delivers an album of amazing, delicate, gentle folk in a completely individual fashion. It's a shame (or is it a blessing?) they did not make another album at the time. On the other hand the impact seem so much greater now, the legacy more intriguing and mysterious. Although the album may be a footnote in the history of music it remains a vibrant footnote. If you're into this kind of stuff I really recommend you get hold of a copy. Like, now? Yes. Right now.

Report this review (#916527)
Posted Thursday, February 21, 2013 | Review Permalink
4 stars Although generally considered to be part of the progressive folk scene (and indeed it was originally released on the famed Vertigo label), the emphasis is very much on the folk side of the equation here, and fans of Fairport Convention and other pioneers of British folk rock would probably have just as much chance to enjoy this one as pursuers of folk-prog. The warm, evocative production in particular makes the album a pleasant and approachable listen, and the very occasional inclusion of more psychedelic or electric elements stops things getting samey; on top of that, the band manage to deal with the inclusion of a chamber orchestra on most of the tracks without allowing the orchestra to overpower them or make things too schmaltzy.
Report this review (#932125)
Posted Monday, March 18, 2013 | Review Permalink
4 stars To imagine being in a forest, hear the wind rustling through the trees and the sweet sound of the rushing water of a stream

The best quality of this fine album is its simplicity. There are no long and complex songs and arrangements are extremely simple. The songs are pleasant, some even excellent and free of acid-psychedelic experiments typical of other groups of folk-prog (Comus, Strawbs, Jan Dukes De Grey, Family).

The band's style recalls groups like Pentangle and Fairport Convention: it is a melodic and refined folk-rock. The music is characterized by the obvious predominance of acoustic guitars, but also for the important presence of the strings and winds (flute and horns in particular).

There are wonderful songs that on first listen I had not been impressed, but I enjoyed with time, such as It All Comes Back To Me (characterized by a wonderful introduction with strings and oboe) the contemplative Nobody's Listening and the funny Would You Believe?.

In Two Steps Back the voice of Ann Steuart is reminiscent of Annie Haslam, in fact this beautiful song could easily be a piece of Renaissance. Another highlight is Willow Tree the song closest to the canons of prog rock (in particular Strawbs comes to mind) because of the strange introduction, perhaps the only time of experimentation present throughout the album.

The last three songs are probably the least successful. The Lady's Changing Home is perhaps a timid attempt to make a commercial hit; it has the only electric guitar solo of the record, and a more determined work on drums. Madeline is an instrumental acoustic song with some exotic appeal. Kew Gardens is a cover of the song by Ralph Mc Tell with interesting vocal harmonies but little else.

Of course if you love the virtuosity of jazz-rock, the solemn tones and bombastic keyboards arrangements typical of symphonic progressive, you'll probably enjoy this album only in part. But if you love the folk music of artists such as Magna Carta, Anthony Phillips or Strawbs, this album certainly will keep you good company.

Finally, my intentionally stupid (and provocative) little game of "the best song of the album". It is very easy for me to identify here the less successful songs, but in this case it is very difficult to choose my favorite track since there are four or five songs all at the same level. Given that can be only one winner, I will choose at random!

Keep on proggin'.

Final rating: 7/10.

Best song: It All Comes Back To Me

Report this review (#967649)
Posted Friday, May 31, 2013 | Review Permalink
4 stars Tudor Lodge - st (1970)

As I was you-tubing the Akarma vinyl reprint label's catalog my eye fell on this folky songwriters album from the obscure Tudor Lodge. When I finally unwrapped this beautiful animated record I was happy to find a great album with nothing but strong songs well performed and well arranged with the help of a variety of musicians (wind, strings, percussion). The recording quality (on my Akarma reprint) is sublime! Warm, soothing and very professional. I don't think that an album like this would be added under the current progarchives restrictions, but it's a great folk record that will be very hard to dislike for everyone interested in early seventies music.

I quickly found that the women in my life also like this record, an effect other recent purchases like T2 and The Human Beast did not have. The special designed fold-out sleeve with fantasy drawings of the three band- members are also an eye-catcher. I myself like the relaxing atmospheres and the tenderness of it all. Some songs do have some harmonically interesting parts and especially the wind-instruments may remind me a bit of King Crimson's 'I talk to the wind' - but let's not stretch it too much.

Four stars it is. Dig it up, uncover it and enjoy!

Report this review (#1425165)
Posted Tuesday, June 9, 2015 | Review Permalink
4 stars TUDOR LODGE were a charming Prog Folk trio from Reading in southern England, who are often compared with (and sometimes confused with) Trader Horne. The trio of merry minstrels are best-known for their eponymously-titled "Tudor Lodge" album in 1970, but the band have been touring and recording on and off for well over forty years now. It seemed like their self-titled album from 1970 might be the last we'd ever hear of Tudor Lodge, but they made a surprising comeback over a quarter of a century later with five further albums:- "Let's Talk" (1997); "It All Comes Back" (1998); "Dream" (1999); "Runaway" (2003); & "Unconditional" (2006).

We begin with a lovely nostalgic trip back in time for "It All Comes Back To Me", a saccharine-sweet Folk song that's very reminiscent of early Fairport Convention with Judy Dyble. This beautiful trip down memory lane will bring back fond memories of that bygone age when there were a whole plethora of delightfully endearing Folk albums just like the album we have here. "It All Comes Back To Me" is a haunting refrain with a semi-classical opening and featuring heavenly angelic vocals from Ann Steuart (not a misspelling) with the two male vocalists providing some delicious harmonisation. This is a truly gorgeous opening to the album, in the true spirit of Fairport and Pentangle, and of course, Trader Horne too, who released their "Morning Way" album around the same time as this album. "Would You Believe" this album can possibly get any better!?? Yes, indeed it can, because "Would You Believe" is a lovely melody with all three travelling troubadours playing jangling acoustic guitars in perfect symmetry together and featuring some exquisite three-part harmonies too. This song and album as a whole also features cellos, violins and woodwind instruments in abundance too, which all adds to the gentle pastoral charm of the music. "Would You Believe" sounds like a very pleasant hybrid cross between Magna Carta, Simon & Garfunkel, and The Association, with those oh-so-beautiful three-part harmonies very much at the forefront. Tudor Lodge is proving to be a very desirable property to own so far. "Recollection" continues the pleasant nostalgia trip with a tune that sounds like it could have come straight from The Seekers songbook. The bright and uplifting vocal harmonies are as clear as a bell and that's something that really shines through on this outstanding Folk album. It wouldn't be an exaggeration to say this album sounds as good as, if not better than anything Fairport Convention have ever done, so it's a pity Tudor Lodge haven't managed to gain the wider recognition they deserve. They were one of the many touring bands on the early-1970's English Folk circuit who never quite managed to make the big breakthrough to the big time in the same way as Pentangle, Steeleye Span and Fairport Convention obviously did. Our fourth song "Two Steps Back" features Ann Steuart taking the vocal lead this time around, and sounding like a beguiling cross between Joan Baez and Judy Collins. This very appealing song sounds like it could have had the potential to become a real Folk classic if only it had received any radio airplay at the time of its release, but sadly, it wasn't to be. This memorable song has a very catchy hook-line that's very much in the style of "Diamonds and Dust" by Joan Baez. It's one of those evergreen timeless classics that sounds strangely familiar, even though you may be hearing it for the very first time. It's also a gorgeous slice of nostalgia - just like the album as a whole - that you can keep coming back to time and time again and never tire of listening to. Our musical journey continues with "Help Me Find Myself", a lovely Folk song that's positively bursting with sunshine, conjuring up a rustic image of strolling through fields of buttercups, daisies and dandelions on a beautiful summer's day. This is the kind of song (and album) that could ONLY have come from the much- missed late-1960's/early 1970's Folk era, the like of which we'll sadly never see or hear again, but we can still treasure the memories forever every time we put this gem of an album on the record player. Side One concludes now with "Nobody's Listening", another charming Folk song in what is turning out to be a very fine album indeed. Every ardent fan of the early 1970's English Folk scene will almost certainly enjoy listening to "Nobody's Listening".

Moving swiftly through the remaining half a dozen songs now to avoid a hopelessly long review (although it may be too late for that already), we arrive underneath the "Willow Tree", which represents quite a departure from the jolly Folk tunes on Side One. "Willow Tree" takes us into the spookier dimensions of slightly disturbing Psych-Folk - although nowhere near as sinister as the spectral music of Comus. The opening of "Willow Tree" is eerily discordant, which only adds to the creepy and mysterious atmosphere. This just serves as a prelude though for a hauntingly-beautiful melodic soundscape of swirling pastoral Folk. "Willow Tree" is a real album highlight! We're not out of the woods yet as the next song is titled "Forest", which is a typical pastoral Folk song about taking a country ramble through an autumnal leaf-strewn forest, filled with chirruping squirrels and squawking blackbirds. It's generally a celebration of the wonders of Mother Nature in all of her infinite loveliness, so this song will no doubt have special appeal to hippyish environmentalists and Green Party activists. It's also a jolly nice tune too. The next song "I See a Man" is a sad melancholic refrain about the futility of war, as these thoughtful soul- searching lyrics reveal:- " I see a young man in early days of war, Who wants nothing more than to do the best he can, And so he volunteers to join the grenadiers, And fight the battle for his fellow man. I see a man who is welcomed home a hero, The crowds cheer as he holds his head up high, For now the war is past and now he's home at last, The crowd don't notice the tears in his eyes. I see a proud man who fought for his country, He did everythng a soldier could do, But now he's getting old and many times his story's told, The crowd don't even know his name any more." ..... It's always the sad songs that reach most deeply into the depths of the soul. Anyway, cheer up, because "The Lady's Changing Home" is on the way, which is an altogether jollier tune with a bright and catchy melody. It's the longest song - at four and a half minutes long - and also the most commercially appealing song on the album, featuring the sound of a funky electric guitar for the first time on the album. "The Lady's Changing Home" is a good all-round Beatle-esque Pop song with a rousing anthemic chorus, which marks a very pleasant and unexpected departure from the Folky tunes on the rest of the album. It's another album highlight in an album that somehow manages to get better and better as it goes along. You certainly won't find any mediocre album fillers here! We're off to meet the fair maiden "Madeline" now, and very pretty she is too. It's a gentle acoustic guitar instrumental, which serves as a pleasant horticultural introduction to the ephemeral 2-minute-long "Kew Gardens" (a Ralph McTell song). It's the 12th and final song on the album with those gorgeous three-part harmonies very much in evidence again. "Kew Gardens" is just as lovely as the song title implies, bringing the album to a delightful and memorable conclusion.

Tudor Lodge stands out like a magnificent Mansion on the Hill! There's a once-in-a-lifetime investment opportunity to acquire the very desirable oak-beamed Tudor Lodge at a very affordable price. The property has a delightful Olde Worlde artful decor and is situated in a lovely rural idyll. The purchase of the strikingly impressive Tudor Lodge will take you on a nostalgic trip back in time to a wonderful never-to-be-repeated bygone age of peaceful pastoral Folk, with twelve beautifully furnished rooms/songs to explore. This charming Folk album from yesteryear sounds as warm and comforting as lying on a soft woolly rug in front of a nice blazing log fire with a cup of hot cocoa in the middle of winter. Baby, it may be cold outside, but it'll give you a lovely warm feeling listening to the music inside the "Tudor Lodge"!

Report this review (#2340140)
Posted Wednesday, March 4, 2020 | Review Permalink

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