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Tom Newman

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Tom Newman Faerie Symphony album cover
2.88 | 20 ratings | 4 reviews | 10% 5 stars

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Studio Album, released in 1977

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. The Woods of... (2:14)
2. Fordin Seachrãn (1:42)
3. Bean Si (0:21)
4. Little Voices of the Tarans (1:48)
5. The Fluter (3:00)
6. The Seelie Court (4:27)
7. The Spell Breaks (4:07)
8. The Fairy Song (1:17)
9. Dance of Daoine Sidhe (3:35)
10. Memories of Cúlchulainn (1:30)
11. Aillen Mac Midna (1:17)
12. The Unseelie Court (4:50)
13. The Woods of... (1:56)

Total Time 32:04

Line-up / Musicians

- Tom Newman / arranger, balalaika, bells, concept, drums, engineer, flageolet, glockenspiel, electric & acoustic guitars, Jew's harp, keyboards, Mellotron, orchestra, percussion, producer, soloist, synthesizer strings, vocals

- Jon Collins / violin
- Ward Kelly Conover / drums
- Terry Edwards / vocals
- Jon Field / bagpipes, drums, flageolet, flute, alto flute, oboe, orchestra, percussion, soloist, vocals, wind
- Jim Fitzpatrick / artwork, cover design, illustrations
- Jane Gibson / drums & percussion
- Pete Gibson / brass, drums & percussion, trombone
- Debbie Hall / soloist, violin
- Tina Jones / vocals
- Tom Norden / guitar
- Joe O'Donnell / violin
- Geoff Westley / piano

Releases information

LP Decca records TXS123

Thanks to chris s for the addition
and to projeKct for the last updates
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TOM NEWMAN Faerie Symphony ratings distribution

(20 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(10%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(35%)
Good, but non-essential (35%)
Collectors/fans only (20%)
Poor. Only for completionists (0%)

TOM NEWMAN Faerie Symphony reviews

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Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Matti
3 stars If there is an artist clearly in a shadow of a better-known artist, it's this chap. And the shadow is cast by MIKE OLDFIELD, whose magnificent debut Tubular Bells (1973) Newman was putting together with Mike, working in Virgin Records. Also on Tubular Bells II Newman was in the production team, and maybe on some other Oldfield albums too, I can't remember.

This is the second solo album and the closest he ever got to making a, hmm, semi- masterpiece of his own if you like. Indeed, if you listened to this in a blindfold test, you'd probably think it's a Mike Oldfield album from mid-seventies. Progressive, folky, pastoral instrumental music featuring lots of acoustic guitar, keyboards, flute and percussion, creating images of faraway fairy tale lands. And just like Oldfield, Newman handles most of the instruments himself. The main collaborator throughout the album is Jon Field on woodwinds; the other guy from JADE WARRIOR - and so it comes as no surprise that music sounds quite a lot like that band as well. The background of Tom Newman is linked to the Jade Warrior guys too.

I would want to enjoy this album more than I do. But I can't help feeling a bit frustrated about the way all the thirteen tracks - except the least enjoyable one (which has time to become annoying) - are very short, and the whole album is too short. Naturally the other obvious reason for not feeling very positive about this work is its lack of true originality, since it so much sounds like a cross between Mike Oldfield and Jade Warrior. I bet anyone prefers listening to early Oldfield albums which are way more exciting and mature. But I understand that Faerie Symphony openly payed hommage and was inspired by Oldfield's work. And of course an Oldfield connoisseur would not be mistaken to think it as an Oldfield album when (s)he listens to it completely. It does have an atmosphere of its own. So, with this starting point in mind Newman did great results.

Released in 1977, it goes without saying that this album was totally ignored at the time. However I think it is respectable to make a serene, introspective instrumental album so plainly of a progressive nature at the time when it was very unfashionable. The cover art is amazing: both sides of the leaflet serve as the front cover, the one you don't see here is an orange-toned fairy tale painting. An informative essay on the artist is included in the CD released some years ago.

Review by kenethlevine
2 stars TOM NEWMAN appears to have been the "Robin" to MIKE OLDFIELD's "Batman". Just as a series based on the Robin character would never fly, a solo album by TOM NEWMAN represents a monsoon like dilution of the genius on display in most of OLDFIELD's works of the time.

One need go no further than the opening cut, like an outtake of an outtake from the weaker side of the "Tubular Bells" album. We also hear JADE WARRIOR in tunes like "The Fluter", not surprisingly given JON FIELD's participation, but Field can't work much magic in this format. Elsewhere a rather timid HORSLIPS in the more celtic oriented passages. But where is Tom himself? Perhaps this is a backwards way of looking at it, since what is deemed the Oldfield sound may owe equal debt to Newman. But one can only live in the world as it transpired, and in 1977 this was largely a disjointed rehash of instrumental prog cliches which, taken individually, might almost pass muster, but as an entity are invalid.

A few noteworthy excursions do standout, particularly the mysterious "Fairy Song" and the majestically layered "Dance of Daoine Sidhe". "The Unseelie Court" inspires nigh gut wrenching ambivalence, a brilliant and anticipatory riff slowly built upon that is at least twice as long and five times as unlistenable as it deserves to be

This disk's lack of cohesion, overall sense of deja vu and brevity, and filler quotient all suggest that Newman, blessed as he clearly was as producer, was not up to the task of recording artist, let alone that of symphony composer.

Review by stefro
4 stars Although hardly prolific, the producer, composer, engineer and multi-instrumentalist Tom Newman has enjoyed a rather colourful musical career. He would start out with the universally-ignored pop-psych outfit July, a group that featured Newman in the twin roles of both lead-guitarist and main songwriter, before developing a parallel career behind the mixing desk which saw him join Richard Branson's burgeoning Virgin imprint at the beginning of the 1970's. This move would find Newman helping to engineer Mike Oldfield's seminal 1975 album 'Tubular Bells', making Newman the only other musician to feature on the notoriously reclusive and shy young Oldfield's record, a feat that would eventually allow him to produce his own solo album 'Fine Old Tom' during the same year. Although 'Fine Old Tom' would ultimately fail to find an audience, his earlier work with July would, finding popularity several decades down the line and attaining cult 21st century status, the album now regarded as one of the high points of the brief British psychedelic movement that blossomed during the latter part of the 1960's. However, whilst Newman is probably best remembered for the July album and its endearing single 'Dandelion Seeds', the Englishman's best work is to be found on his fantasy-themed second - and final - solo album 'Faerie Symphony', a sprawling, deeply-ethereal and highly-atmospheric prog-folk record from 1977. Finally issued on CD during 2009 by Mark Powell's prolific reissue imprint Esoteric Recordings, 'Faerie Symphony' is a true relic from a bygone age, a magical instrumental album steeped in the traditions of both J. R. R. Tolkien and the fantastical imagery found on the covers of early-seventies progressive rock albums. Featuring an organic, earthy sound conjured up by the plethora of different instruments - both electric and acoustic - 'Faerie Symphony' develops slowly across thirteen interlocking pieces, brewing up a unique musical experience that is probably best enjoyed under herbal circumstances. Stylistically if not sonically 'Faerie Symphony' very much resembles the earlier works of Oldfield, especially 'Ommadawn', which shares this records mystical ambience. So, as a result, this is very much for those listeners who enjoy Oldfield's 1970s material, this twinkling concoction of twittering flutes, softly tribal percussion fills and slowly unfurling rhythms the kind of album that may well take a few listens to truly comprehend. However, those who do take the time to explore what would turn out to be(so far) Newman's final work, will find a fascinating album full of dreamy melodies and dazzling instrumental landscapes. Hardly immediate stuff then, yet for some 'Faerie Symphony' makes for a truly cinematic experience quite unlike any other. STEFAN TURNER, STOKE NEWINGTON, 2012
Review by apps79
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
2 stars Widely known as being the producer of Mike Oldfield's groundbreaking ''Tubular bells'', Tom Newman was born in 1943 in a small suburb of London to Irish mother and a second generation Russian-Jewish father.He got married at the age of 22, around the time he was performing with the Psych outfit Tomcats, which would evolve into the short-lived Psychedelic Rock act July in late-60's.At the beginning of the 70's he met Virgin's future leader Richard Branson and both collaborated for the constrcuction of The Manor Studios in Oxford.He would soon meet a young Mike Oldfield and produce his now highly-acclaimed debut.Newman himself had his own solo album out in 1975 on Virgin, ''Fine Old Tom'', his last collaboration with the mega label.In 1977 he returned with a huge line-up and a second personal album on Decca, entitled ''Faerie symphony'', featuring among others his old July bandmate and future Jade Warrior member Jon Field.

A pretty minimalistic and ethereal affair, ''Faerie symphony'' sounds like a mix of Psychedelic/Folk, a bit close to PETE FINE's or PAUL BRETT's solo works, with pre-New Age stylings, that lack dynamics and passion, instead Newman, who handles multiple instruments in this work, tries to build folky, dark textures in a cinematic way.His work with MIKE OLDFIELD seems to have inspired him as well, though the album sounds more like a late-60's/early-70's work than a more recent offering.Plenty of acoustic instruments blended with traditional British sounds recall Newman's Irish roots in an archaic Celtic mood, containg lots of flutes, percussion, bagpipes, oboe, harp and violins.These deliver a very rural atmosphere with a strong psychedelic approach.Parts of the album contain light orchestral textures with strings and very mellow keyboards.Only a pair of the short arrangements are closing the rock territories with some decent electric guitar solos in the vein of MIKE OLDFIELD and DAN AR BRAZ.Combined with some nice Celtic tunes out of the grandiose bagpipes these seem to be the most passionate passages of an album, that otherwise sounds very hypnotic and extremely ethereal.

''Faerie symphony'' seems at moments to be totally out-of-date, while the lack of serious melodies and the overall very minimalistic soundscapes do not help either.This album would strictly appeal to fans of dated Psychedelic Folk, loving acid and trippy atmospheres and do not mind the absence of rich instrumental movements.

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