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Prog Folk • United States

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Lily & Maria biography
Formed in 1967, New York, USA - Active until 1969

Lily Fiszman was born in Germany in 1947. Her Polish born parents had escaped the Holocaust and emigrated to New York when Lily was only 2. Her interest in the performing arts brought her into contact with Greenwich Village acolyte Maria Neumann in the mid 1960s and they soon formed the duo LILY & MARIA. Their self titled and sole release was bankrolled by Columbia Records and saw the light of day in 1968. The generally sparse instrumentation is oddly sophisticated and the lyrics are not as transparent as typical of folk music of its day. The rarity of the original LP release has contributed to its cult status and a 2008 CD reissue. Lily herself eventually converted to Christianity and, with her husband Joe Isaac, has been part of a renowned Christian rock group THE ISAACS since the 1970s. Information on Maria Neumann's subsequent career or whereabouts is much harder to come by.

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4.54 | 10 ratings
Lily & Maria

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 Lily & Maria by LILY & MARIA album cover Studio Album, 1968
4.54 | 10 ratings

Lily & Maria
Lily & Maria Prog Folk

Review by siLLy puPPy
Special Collaborator PSIKE, JRF/Canterbury, P Metal, Eclectic

4 stars LILY AND MARIA was a one-off psychedelic folk anomaly that could only come out in a wild and turbulent year like 1968. These gals were active on the New York City scene from 1967-69 and were regulars at the Gentie's Folk Club in Greenwich Village. The girls met when Lily Isaacs was studying art, acting and music as a teenager when she happened to meet fellow teenager Maria Newman also in the academic scene who had become smitten by the 60s folk music scene. After falling for her folk interests, together they honed their guitar playing and songwriting skills and before they knew it were performing in some of New York City's best locations!

Noticed by the talent executives from Columbia Records, LILY AND MARIA entrered the studios with session players who played with Bob Dylan. It seems the girls had hit the big time as they released their debut self-titled release in 1968, both at the tender age of 21! The album itself featured nine tracks at about 34 minutes of playing time and in addition to the two girls' vocal and guitar contributions was a low-key orchestral backing that included eleven session musicians which added all kinds of guitar sounds, organ, vibraphone, piano, strings, flute, clarinet, bass and drums.

The album is most a slow burner with soothing vocal narrations backed up primarily by soft acoustic guitar strumming and subtle orchestral elements that created a truly 60s psychedelic experience. The album was dreamier than the usual politically charged folk music of the 60s. You have to remember these were the days when Bob Dylan and Phil Ochs were the hottest thing since sliced bread as well as NYC's top folkies Simon & Garfunkel adding chamber pop elements to craft super catchy crossover hits. LILY AND MARIA delivered strange off-kilter melodies that are now referred to as psychedelic or progressive folk music and while the music captured interesting melodies in their own right, they weren't the kind of slick pop ear worms that most fans were eating up during this decade.

While it's not exactly known why LILY AND MARIA's sole release failed to make an impact and garner any interest, it's been speculated that Columbia didn't promote the album and that the heavier acid rock and psychedelic rock bands like The Doors were usurping any dominance of the folk music that had its primary revival in the early 60s before the British Invasion made rock and roll cool again. Whatever the case this album remains a relative obscurity despite being released on a major label however the album has seen a renewed interest in the 2000s as all things prog and psychedelic from the 60s and 70s have become popular again therefore the album has been reissued several times on the Sunbeam label which focuses on all those long lost psychedelic and folky relics of the past.

The closest thing i can compare LILY AND MARIA to would be Linda Perhacs' 1970 release "Paralellograms" but while that album spiraled further into the farthest trips that folk music can take, LILY AND MARIA remained a rather intimate sounding duo focused on the earnest and contemplative lyrical perspectives that offers subtle yet distinct folk guitar chord progressions as well as delivering an interesting background of various supplemental sounds. In the vein of the California duo Kathy & Carol only tailor made for the late 1960s psychedelia scene. While more or less a contemporary folk duo with psychedelic accoutrements agglutinated to the musical flow during the production process, what makes this album unique is the depth and enigmatic themes that show a maturity level of two 21 year olds beyond their years. LILY AND MARIA is a unique obscurity from 1968 that sounds more relevant today than it must've nearly 60 years ago.

 Lily & Maria by LILY & MARIA album cover Studio Album, 1968
4.54 | 10 ratings

Lily & Maria
Lily & Maria Prog Folk

Review by BrufordFreak
Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

5 stars An album (or artistic duo) that I'd never heard of before seeing it recommended on ProgArchives by our own wise and eclectic cheerleaders of the obscure and cabaret, Jean and Friede. Though I first listened to Lily & Marie over a year ago, it took me a while to acquire it and, now, post its review. Though an obvious folk-rooted collection of songs, the elaborately textured and changing and shifting song crafting is highly creative, innovative, and definitely "progressive."

- Ismenę-Jasmine : 1. "Subway Thoughts" (1:39) solo notes from a guitar's bass strings precedes a gap before the airy voice of one of the duo enters, practically a cappella, before spaciously picked acoustic guitar joins in as sole accompanist. (4.425/5)

2. "Everybody Knows" (4:35) beautiful dual vocals throughout. Lily and Marie are so perfectly attuned to one another that their timing is impeccable. The shifts and turns within the course of this four-and-a-half minute song are amazing, wonderful, and totally unexpected/unpredictable. (9.333/10)

3. "I Was" (4:01) incredibly intimate vocal with acoustic guitar and intermittent influxes of clarinet and strings. Amazing! (10/10)

4. "Ismene - Jasmine" (1:46) chamber strings instrumental supporting picked acoustic guitar before everybody backs off for Mellotron-sounding organ to solo. Guitar and others rejoin. (4.5/5)

5. "There'll Be No Clowns Tonight" (6:43) (8.75/10)

- Scatterings : 6. "Aftermath" (3:21) sounds like a standard 1960s folk duet over acoustic guitar. The vocal complexity skyrockets with the more upbeat chorus--amazing harmonizing. Things smooth out again for the second verse and then ramp up again for the next chorus. (8.875/10)

7. "Morning Glory Morning" (3:15) another gentle masterpiece similar to "I Was". Guitar chord progression is familiar but the lilting flute play in the background is so sumptuous. (9.75/10)

8. "Melt Me" (5:27) opens so gently but then bursts forth with such power and emotion! Similar to some Jefferson Airplane & Grace Slick but really something unique--the likes I haven't experienced since Edith Piaf, Marianne Faithfull, or Anne Pigalle. And such an unusual and interesting yet-subtly-sophisticated song construction/arrangement. (10/10)

9. "Fourteen After One" (3:22) classical organ opens as bass and gently picked acoustic guitars join in before one of the vocalists begins singing. The second vocalist enters later singing as if her own song (in a style imitative of one that Simon & Garfunkle occasioned). Beautifully rendered if not quite my cup of tea (too dependent on the lyrics/words). (8.75/10)

Total time 34:09

A/five stars; a masterpiece of early rock-influenced Prog Folk music and definitely an essential addition to any Prog lover's music collection--especially if one is interested in the history and significant developments within the folk side of progressive rock music movement. Simply put: this is an album that one must hear--as well as one that continues to reveal more and more surprises and delights with repeated listens.

 Lily & Maria by LILY & MARIA album cover Studio Album, 1968
4.54 | 10 ratings

Lily & Maria
Lily & Maria Prog Folk

Review by BaldJean
Prog Reviewer

5 stars I am usually not the biggest fan of prog folk, but this album is different. it has a refreshing naiveté to it and is simply beautiful. and it is definite proof that the general belief that "In the Court of the Crimson King" was the first prog album is nothing but a myth.

it is not my habit to go into discussing the music in detail in my reviews, and I certainly won't start here. just listen and enjoy. but this album is one of my absolute favorites and deserves 5 stars, which I gladly give so more people will listen to this wonderful little gem

Thanks to kenethlevine for the artist addition. and to Quinino for the last updates

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