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JAN DUKES DE GREY

Prog Folk • United Kingdom


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Jan Dukes De Grey biography
JAN DUKES DE GREY is one of the most underrated progressive folk bands of our time, and only released two albums in their short life span. JAN DUKES DE GREY formed in 1969 and were one of the very last prog rock bands to be signed to Decca's prog label. They originally started out as just a duo and were rivals to pre glam rock T Rex folk duo, Tyrannosaurus Rex.

Their first album, "Sorcerers" was a typical acid folk album, not particularly adventerous but showcased Derek Noy's and Michael Bairstow's multi-instrumental talents. The album made little impact and is only available through bootleg. But their greatest work was to come, with the addition of drummer Denis Conlan they recorded their masterpiece "Mice And Rats In The Loft" in 1971. Consisting of three lengthy, psych drenched tracks, It was a lot more free form than their last and had much more progressive leaning. Mindblowing use of a huge assortment of instruments, even utiilizing an orchestra.

Think JETHRO TULL plus THE INCREDIBLE STRING BAND and a ton of acid. Sadly the album made little impact, and JAN DUKES DE GREY disbanded after its release. A brilliant recording that never recieved its proper praise. Recently re-released by Breathless records, the album is starting to gain some deserved recognition. Highly recommended!

Credit Goes to Con Safo for writing the majority of the biography and discography for this band.


Why this artist must be listed in www.progarchives.com :
JAN DUKES DE GREY should be listed on their site because they are most definitely a progressive folk rock band, fitting into the category perfectly. The only reason they haven't already been added to the archives is because they are a relitavely unknown band. Both of their albums are prog works and they were even signed to Decca's prog rock label.

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Sorcerers/Mice and Rats in the LoftSorcerers/Mice and Rats in the Loft
Import
101 DISTRIBUTION 2009
Audio CD$26.99
$12.99 (used)
Mice & Rats in the LoftMice & Rats in the Loft
Mischief 2009
Audio CD$50.00
$49.72 (used)
Strange TerrainStrange Terrain
Import
Cherry Tree Records 2010
Audio CD$11.10
$7.98 (used)
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JAN DUKES DE GREY discography


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JAN DUKES DE GREY top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.78 | 33 ratings
Sorcerers
1970
4.12 | 160 ratings
Mice And Rats In The Loft
1971
2.33 | 6 ratings
Strange Terrain
2010

JAN DUKES DE GREY Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

JAN DUKES DE GREY Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

JAN DUKES DE GREY Boxset & Compilations (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

4.02 | 7 ratings
Sorcerers/Mice And Rats In The Loft
2009

JAN DUKES DE GREY Official Singles, EPs, Fan Club & Promo (CD, EP/LP, MC, Digital Media Download)

JAN DUKES DE GREY Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Mice And Rats In The Loft by JAN DUKES DE GREY album cover Studio Album, 1971
4.12 | 160 ratings

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Mice And Rats In The Loft
Jan Dukes De Grey Prog Folk

Review by kenethlevine
Special Collaborator Prog-Folk Team

4 stars There's the progressive folk that largely grew out of 1960s folk rock and incorporated symphonic and psychedelic influences, and then there's the twisted, psychotic and voyeuristically mesmerizing "Mice and Rats in the Loft". As part of my personal project to finally familiarize myself with a few obscure classics of the sub genre, it has been an education in itself, so eclectically proportioned as to recall, at various times, sometimes momentarily and sometimes insistently, the works of such seemingly orthogonal artists as CARAVAN, AMON DUUL 2, MOODY BLUES, ARTHUR BROWN, KING CRIMSON, and others not yet familiar to these ears.

Comparisons have been drawn to COMUS' contemporaneous "First Utterance", which is valid per the morbid subject matter and general disrespect for structure, but Comus was a conventional English folk group by comparison. The first two tracks reinvent themselves many times over from folk to jazz to chamber to symphonic and back around through tight and improvised passages. The title track is more minimalist, but seems indebted to Kraut rock more than anything, with stabs of rhythm guitar throughout this depiction of a satanic ceremony of sorts.

While I highly recommend this and do consider it an underrated classic, it's not a slam dunk in the likability department. It has that "je ne sais quoi" which can possess you to listen again and again until you have absorbed as much as you can without having to ring up the exterminator. 4.5 stars.

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 Mice And Rats In The Loft by JAN DUKES DE GREY album cover Studio Album, 1971
4.12 | 160 ratings

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Mice And Rats In The Loft
Jan Dukes De Grey Prog Folk

Review by LSDisease

2 stars I discovered this album 5 years ago and it completely didn't catch my attention back then. If you compare this stuff to famous prog albums of that era you'll know why Jan Dukes de Grey didn't make it. It's a half professional musicianship plus not very good production. The guys were ambitious but they didn't practice a lot I guess or just the recording studio wasn't the place they felt good working in. The best thing about this record is that the compositions aren't that bad. Especially 19 minutes long Sun Symphonica with interesting ostinatos somewhere in the end of the song. But don't expect this can replace your Genesis or Jethro Tull albums on the turntable. For collectors only.

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 Mice And Rats In The Loft by JAN DUKES DE GREY album cover Studio Album, 1971
4.12 | 160 ratings

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Mice And Rats In The Loft
Jan Dukes De Grey Prog Folk

Review by dragonspirit

3 stars The success of this album on this site is, in my opinion, largely attributable to its obscure nature. People who are into non-mainstream music seem to delight in "quality" favorites that no one else has heard of and thus exaggerate their quality. The 4.25 star rating seems entirely unjustified to me, although I could certainly see how someone would rate this album 2 stars. At its worst, it is repetitive, unpolished, wandering, and it has overly abrupt transitions between musical ideas (i.e. a lack of flow). It is not an album that I am especially eager to put on. I agree with other reviewers that the lead vocals are often sub-par. My least favorite track is actually the first one, which others seem to like the best. On the other hand, there are some interesting musical ideas and stylistic contrasts that are often well-executed, and the musicianship seems very good. I like the female vocals and flute on the second track, Call of the Wild. Some of the woodwind passages in that track (as well as others) remind me of 21st Century Schizoid Man by King Crimson.

Overall, this is an idiosyncratic, unpolished piece of music which, to me, demonstrates the creative and technical talent of these artists, but also shows and suffers from their lack of compositional experience.

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 Mice And Rats In The Loft by JAN DUKES DE GREY album cover Studio Album, 1971
4.12 | 160 ratings

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Mice And Rats In The Loft
Jan Dukes De Grey Prog Folk

Review by b_olariu
Prog Reviewer

3 stars Mice and rats in the loft issued in 1971 with an intresting art work is considered one of the most aplaused and unique albums of it's era, partialy agree, but not entirely. 3 pieces grace the album with a total running around 41 min. What we have here is a trip in a odd/dissonant acid folk with jazzy interplays and some prog elements added. While I do like the instrumental orchestration, has enough great moments to really like here, I'm not attached at all by the vocal abilities of Derek Noy, he sounds like a joke to my ears. Partialy considered similar with bands such as Comus or The Incredible String Band, Jan Dukes de Grey manage to pull a pleasent album , but to me is nothing groundbreaking here, only good towards great pieces, typicaly for that period bith in sound and in manner of composing. My vinyl is a re issue with a great white disc and a perfect sound. 3 rounded to 3.5 for some parts specially from the opening track Sun Symphonica, to me the best tune of the album.

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 Sorcerers by JAN DUKES DE GREY album cover Studio Album, 1970
3.78 | 33 ratings

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Sorcerers
Jan Dukes De Grey Prog Folk

Review by Warthur
Prog Reviewer

3 stars Anyone familiar with the drawn-out prog folk epics on Jan Dukes de Grey's famed Mice and Rats In the Loft need only glance at the track list of this one to see that the group has a very different emphasis this time around: wheeling out no less than 18 songs, the album captures the group before their progressive side really developed, instead offering a psychedelic folk blend which focuses mainly on the folk side of the equation. Overall, it's a pleasant enough album, but there was hardly a shortage of hippy folk back in the late 1960s and far better examples are available. Newcomers to Jan Dukes de Grey would be well advised to start off with the followup instead of this one, because on the basis of this they don't seem very special, and it was only with Mice and Rats that they were able to bring something really interesting to the table.

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 Mice And Rats In The Loft by JAN DUKES DE GREY album cover Studio Album, 1971
4.12 | 160 ratings

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Mice And Rats In The Loft
Jan Dukes De Grey Prog Folk

Review by Dark Nazgul

5 stars bizarre, psychedelic, obsessive, experimental and above all...unique.

This is one of the greatest acid folk albums ever. Always compared to another milestone of the genre (First Utterance by Comus), this album reveals all the desire by Noy and Bairstow for experimentation and improvisation. It is an extremely innovative, not easily accessible to all (so it might not appeal to many), but in my opinion it is a masterpiece, in fact there are no weak points at all, and the quality of the music never falls from the first note to finish.

The music is direct, totally devoid of frills and pomposity. The first two songs are basically built from folk guitar riffs and then arranged in a clearly minimalistic way, mainly with the addition of winds and percussion. The first song, the amazing epic Sun Symphonica, is embellished by a string section; nevertheless, nothing is redundant or excessive. The song, which is over 18 minutes, is a milestone of acid folk, very well built, in my opinion more than any piece of Comus.

Call Of The Wild has a fairly soft start, characterized by soft vocal harmonies and a delicate use of flute. Soon, however, the initial calm is replaced by haunting and distorted guitar riffs, and the song becomes totally experimental.

The third piece, Mice And Rats In The Loft, has more electric sound, it is a real psychedelic trip and is the most aggressive song of the album. Derek Noy is the protagonist, his voice is warm and the tone is recitative, his interpretation extremely theatrical. The remarkable final is enriched by wind instruments.

Among the underground albums of its time, "Mice And Rats In The Loft" can only have a prominent place alongside other works of bands like Black Widow, High Tide, Comus, Tea And Symphony, Tudor Lodge and Family. This album is the clear demonstration of how even the most simple and minimalist music can be incredibly "progressive". Not for everyone, but in my opinion, a masterpiece.

Final rating: 9/10. Well-deserved five stars.

Best song: Sun Symphonica

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 Mice And Rats In The Loft by JAN DUKES DE GREY album cover Studio Album, 1971
4.12 | 160 ratings

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Mice And Rats In The Loft
Jan Dukes De Grey Prog Folk

Review by Warthur
Prog Reviewer

4 stars This one gets plenty of comparisons to the work of Comus, particularly the style of First Utterance, but of the two I actually think this one is markedly more accessible. Not that it doesn't have its moments of spooky progressive folk dissonance - but whereas Comus' debut masterpiece has them starting out in Creepsville and staying there for the duration, Mice and Rats In the Loft offers a substantially more nuanced and varied listening experience, with a few more moments of lighthearted joy or peaceful tranquility than Comus are typically willing to offer the listener. The strangeness ramps up progressively as the album proceeds, with Call of the Wild degenerating into trippy chaos by the end of its running time and the title track incorporates siren-like keyboards and rhythmic sections which start creeping towards the "motorik" rhythms of the Krautrock scene.

VanVanVan compares them to Tull jamming with Christian Vander; I'd be more inclined to suggest a collaboration between Fairport Convention and Can, but whoever you compare these guys to, it's clear that this is a bizarre little album which, along with rodents upstairs, has more than a few bats in its belfry too.

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 Mice And Rats In The Loft by JAN DUKES DE GREY album cover Studio Album, 1971
4.12 | 160 ratings

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Mice And Rats In The Loft
Jan Dukes De Grey Prog Folk

Review by VanVanVan
Prog Reviewer

5 stars I won't lie, I discovered this album by clicking on the prog folk link and reading down the "best of" list until I got to something I didn't have yet. I'd never heard of Jan Dukes de Grey before that, but there's definitely a reason that "Mice and Rats in the Loft" appears on that list, because this is one of the most consistently excellent, bizarrely brilliant albums to be found anywhere out there. With reference points ranging from Jethro Tull to Magma, this is a truly excellent album and certainly one that's not to be missed.

The album begins with "Sun Symphonica," a massive 19 minute track which itself begins with a fantastic folky theme accompanied by some eccentric vocals and a perhaps surprisingly groovy bass part. It's a very cheery motif, but the smiling veneer shows some cracks with a jangly, atonal guitar part, and it isn't long before the track loses it completely. Scarcely two minutes pass before the sunny (no pun intended) disposition of "Sun Symphonica" gives way to a frenetic, dark, acid-folk freak-out that almost reminds the listener of Magma. Folky undertones continue to show through, however, especially during an extremely intense acoustic guitar solo that sounds like it may have destroyed the guitar in the process. Another drastic style change follows, with a pastoral, Tull-ish vocal theme appearing briefly before another acid-drenched instrumental section. It's at this point (around the six minute mark) that symphonic elements begin to appear as well, with some awesome string parts that really add to the sound. Vocals don't reappear until about 9 minutes in, but when they do, they're fraught with enough Comus-esque dread to make the listener forget how cheerily the song began. The lyrics, too, are nothing short of chilling, with obscure descriptions of blood running and all sorts of other arcane topics. The pseudo-zeuhl sound returns after this, and if the vocals were somewhat droning before they positively turn into wails in the track's final third. The track ends with what can only be described as a rhythmic, psychedelic freak out, with all kinds of instruments and sounds layering on top of one another over a repetitive bass groove. "Sun Symphonica" is truly one of the overlooked epics from the early days of progressive rock, and boy is it a killer one.

"Call of The Wild" begins with significantly less insanity, making use of a very Tull-esque (Tull-ish? Tullian?) sound as well as some excellent vocal harmonies to craft a folky soundscape that ends up being quite pretty. Fret not, however, that the track will be too vanilla next to "Sun Symphonica," however, as the band includes multiple intervals of frenetic chanting and of course a variety of insane guitar solos that range from standard, acoustic folky fare to darkly bleak walls of sound. In fact, a good portion of the middle of the track features an instrumental section that sounds like it was performed on a single guitar, and it's impressive how much sound the band is able to wrench from one (or at most two) instruments playing unaccompanied. Like the first track, however, it's the last few minutes that really shine if you're looking for psychedelic freak-outs: darkly frenetic guitar strumming leads the way, but all kinds of instruments pop up in this ending section. The final minute even features some guitar playing that actually sounds surprisingly similar to some of the playing that would come to exist in Opeth's quieter moments (though, given the title of My Arms, Your Hearse it may not be too great a stretch to imagine that Mikael Akerfeldt has heard this album). "Call of the Wild" may not be the masterful epic that "Sun Symphonica" was, but it's still a killer acid-folk trip.

The title track that concludes the album is by far the darkest and weirdest. Beginning with a high pitched siren noise but quickly delving into a weirdly rhythmic groove, "Mice In The Raft" contains some of the most ominous vocals this side of First Utterance and one of the weirdest instrumental sections this side of Amon Düül II. The lyrics as well are excellent, with dark and creepy imagery used to great effect and put together subtly enough that it doesn't sound corny. "Mice And Rats In The Loft" is by far the most simply constructed song on the album (though it's still the farthest thing from straightforward), but it's probably also the most visceral and intense track of the three on the album.

If there is one warning to be issued about this album, it's that you shouldn't let the opening strains of the album fool you, because if you go into it expecting cheer and frivolity you will be bitterly disappointed (and probably slightly terrified). "Mice And Rats In the Loft" is an excellently weird, weirdly excellent masterpiece of an album, and I would highly recommend it to anyone who can't get enough of Comus or wants to hear what Jethro Tull would sound like if they dropped acid and jammed with Christian Vander.

5/5

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 Mice And Rats In The Loft by JAN DUKES DE GREY album cover Studio Album, 1971
4.12 | 160 ratings

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Mice And Rats In The Loft
Jan Dukes De Grey Prog Folk

Review by BrufordFreak

4 stars Mice and Rats in the Loft sound to me like an Andalusian combination of Traffic, The Doors, The Kinks, John Sebastian, Andrew Lloyd Weber, The Moody Blues, Fairport Convention, Simon & Garfunkle. The orchestration is quite welcome, the 12-string and other acoustic guitar playing is ambitious--perhaps a bit over-ambitious (lots of mistakes and rather raw recording choices)--but, in the era before midi and computer 'air-brushing' this is part of the acceptable defects and even charm of the "almost live" studio recordings--especially of 19 minute, 13- minute, and 8-minute songs.

"Sun Symphonica" (10/10) has the feel of a combination of and extended version of The Moody Blues' "(I'm) Just a Singer in a Rock'n'Roll Band" and The Doors "The End." It is an awesome song!

"Call of the Wild" (9/10) starts with more of a Jethro Tull feel, despite the multiple voices. Again, I wish the guitar pickups had been able to pick up a cleaner sound--though perhaps the band was going for the ROBERT JOHNSON sound effect? At 2:25 begins an odd vocal section over the unclean RJ almost-dobro sounding guitar. At 5 minute mark there is another shift, announced with some drums and culminating in a prolonged strumming guitar solo--a bit like Jimmy Page's mandolin on "The Battle of Evermore". At 8:40 the song really kicks in with full- band and sax sounding a bit Soft Machine-ish. Sax and guitar play off each other really nicely.

The title song (8/10) is the shortest, last, and, IMO, the weakest song--but it's still good! Just a bit drawn out. Distorted guitars and eery vocal again conjure up a feeling of the theatrics of Jim Morrison and his mates in The Doors. I like the use of the woodwinds and the treated/distorted mystery instrument solo starting at 5:05

A very enjoyable listen that I can't quite give 5 stars to, but so close! 4.5 for sure.

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 Mice And Rats In The Loft by JAN DUKES DE GREY album cover Studio Album, 1971
4.12 | 160 ratings

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Mice And Rats In The Loft
Jan Dukes De Grey Prog Folk

Review by Dobermensch

4 stars An album that I hated 10 years ago has now struck a chord which I would never have thought possible.

Beginning off in almost Jethro Tull '72 manner, this record takes more twists and turns than you could wave a sword at. I guess it's an British thing, we seem to be good at schizo music, unlike Americans, where it seems forced. Although in saying that, the French were very good at it too.

'Mice and Rats in the Loft' is however, one freaky recording which holds itself together effortlessly. Usually these type of recordings fall flat on their face - trying so hard to be strange they more often than not end up sounding stupid. Not this one.

There's a lot of nice interplay with stringed instruments which give this album an important and well produced feel throughout. What really makes 'Mice and Rats in the Loft' worthwhile, are the crazy lyrics sung by the very capable Derek Noy.

The highlight of the album is certainly the last track, where Noy sings among other monstrosities 'The priest tore him open and thrust his hand inside... the still beating heart' is ripped out from his dying body' ... What the??!

This, aligned with a repetitive but scary guitar scraping and John Carpenter keyboards out of the blue makes for very uncomfortable listening

Similarities can only be found in the equally, if not stranger but quieter 'Tea and Symphony'

Such a pity they only made the one album in the 70's. These were guys who could have gone places.

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Thanks to frenchie for the artist addition.

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