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OLIVER

Crossover Prog • United Kingdom


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Oliver biography
OLIVER was the moniker chosen by Welsh-born composer and musician Oliver Chaplin for his first and last foray into the world of music creation. Issued in a limited edition of 250 copies in 1974, "Standing Stone" was never available as a commercial entity as such, most of the copies were given away to friends and relatives of the artist.

The album sports an excellent production for such a venture. This was courtesy of Oliver's brother Chris, who worked as a sound engineer for BBC and had his own claim to fame with his involvement in BBC's Jimi Hendrix sessions.

Several record companies tried to sign Oliver on the strength of his debut effort, but in vain. Oliver thought that the entire record industry was corrupt, and didn't want anything to do with those folks. Eventually Oliver returned to his native Wales, shortly after rejecting a distribution deal with Virgin Records.

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3.04 | 7 ratings
Standing Stone
1974

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 Standing Stone by OLIVER album cover Studio Album, 1974
3.04 | 7 ratings

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Standing Stone
Oliver Crossover Prog

Review by ClemofNazareth
Special Collaborator Prog Folk Researcher

3 stars I saw an (allegedly) original copy of this album sell at auction for nearly $1,100 USD (around 800 euros) not too long ago. The 1974 vinyl release consisted of only 250 copies, so I'm surprised this guy managed to get his hands on one.

Oliver Chapman was brother to BBC sound engineer Chris Chapman; still is, I suppose if he's still alive. This was a self-produced, self-released album that finally saw a reissue in 1999 thanks to Tenth Planet's Wooden Hill label. I've no idea how legitimate the CD version is given Chapman's well-documented disdain for the music industry, but nonetheless I'm glad folks are finally able to hear this unique and engaging album.

Chapman's music has no easy label or frame of reference that I can tell. It's been compared to Captain Beefheart and there are definitely some of the same sorts of musical experimentation, as well as creative use of instruments to produce sounds not normally heard from those instruments. Chapman's vocals and eclectic guitar riffs dominate though, and vary from everything from psych to folk to a disjointed form of American country. At times the guy reminds me more than a little of the much later Butthole Surfers with their tendency toward amped-out and largely intelligible vocals, bluesy fuzz guitar and abrupt tempo shifts. Check out tracks like "Trance" and "Freezing Cold Like an Iceberg" for the best examples of this style.

Elsewhere the guy mellows considerably, at least for a bit. "Royal Flush" for example is framed around light woodwinds and an odd guitar picking style before launching into a vocal rant, returning just as quickly to the folksy flute/picking theme. The instrumental "Instamatic" has a bluegrass country feel with what sounds like dueling lead and rhythm guitars along with banjo, and "Getting Fruity" also has a strong country feel set to a toe- tapping rhythm with tasty lead guitar licks at erratic intervals.

Oliver seems to drift further away from psych and more into folk territory as the album wears on, reaching a folk-bard pinnacle with the bongo/acoustic ditty "In Vain" and the catchy, blues-tinged "Primrose".

Toward the end "Tik Tok" becomes something of a dirge sampler, mixing bongo, acoustic and fuzzed electric guitar, disjointed lyrics and a fadeout ending that sort of summarize the sounds of the entire album.

I'd love to know what happened to this guy. This album was mostly recorded on a 4-track TEAC deck in his home, and issued on a private label after being cleaned up and mixed by his brother Chris. To the best of my knowledge he never toured to support it or ever released anything else. Too bad, as on the whole this is a charming and highly creative album with a collection of songs that suggest all manner of genres and sounds, but somehow remain unique. Worth a spin if you can find the Tenth Planet or Wooden Hill versions; if you stumble across a copy of the original vinyl, head straight to eBay and scoop up some coin. Three stars out of five and well recommended.

peace

Thanks to ProgLucky for the artist addition. and to windhawk for the last updates

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