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Agincourt biography
Formed in East Sussex, UK as a one-off project in 1970

The concoction of John Ferdinando and Peter Howell, two childhood friends from the hamlet Ditchling, Sussex, England, AGINCOURT was in fact not actually a band but rather simply a name given to the trio of musicians who recorded it (Ferdinando and Howell were accompanied by the female vocalist Lee Menelaus).

Ferdinando and Howell recorded several albums in Ditchling during the latter sixties and early seventies, during which time they appeared at times as members and guests of various regional acts such as MERLIN'S SPELL and THE FOUR MUSKETEERS. The two (sometimes with Menelaus) also recorded albums under the names ALICE THROUGH THE LOOKING GLASS, ITHACA, FRIENDS and as simply FERDINANDO & HOWELL.

This record fetched significant sums as one of the more rare folk rock recordings of the early seventies, although demand waned somewhat when an unauthorized CD issue was released in the mid-nineties. Acme Lion and Media Arts have since issued legitimate versions on CD and LP with bonus tracks.

The partnership ended when Howell secured a position as a BBC engineer in the early seventies, working on among other things sound recordings for the television show Doctor Who. Ferdinando would eventually leave music for a professional career, but has over the years appeared been nominally active in his local music scene. Menelaus sporadically provided vocals for some small soundtrack and spoken-word recordings, but AGINCOURT never existed as a proper band beyond the recording of this album.

>> Bio by Bob Moore (aka ClemofNazareth) <<

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3.56 | 21 ratings
Fly Away

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 Fly Away by AGINCOURT album cover Studio Album, 1970
3.56 | 21 ratings

Fly Away
Agincourt Prog Folk

Review by Psychedelic Paul

4 stars Agincourt were a trio consisting of multi-instrumentalists and singers, John Ferdinando and Peter Howell alongside female vocalist Lee Menelaus. Ferdinando and Howell worked on several Psych-Folk albums together, although "Fly Away" (1970) was the only album released under the Agincourt name. The trio later recorded the album "A Game for All Who Know" under the name of Ithaca in 1973. The first release from Ferdinando & Howell was "Alice Through the Looking Glass" back in 1969 followed shortly after by "Tomorrow Come Someday" in the same year. In 1974 they released another album together under the pseudonym of "Friends" for their final musical partnership. Peter Howell later worked for the BBC Radiophonic Workshop - famous for the Doctor Who TV theme - during the 1970's and he went on to record a couple of New Age albums, "Legend" (1984) and "Aquarius Rising" (1991) on the New World Music label.

Right from the lovely opening of this album with "When I Awoke" you know you're in for a real treat. This is beautifully crafted English Folk music that even your granny could listen to and enjoy in her rocking chair. The song opens with a gently tinkling piano followed by acoustic guitar, but it's when you hear the charming and delightful vocals of Lee Menelaus for the first time that you realise this album is something very special indeed. Her voice will fill you with love and passion and a longing for days gone by, when talented musicians and singers were getting together to make albums like this full of marvellous Psych-Folk songs to treasure for all time. All three singers are featured together in perfect harmony in the next song "Though I May Be Dreaming" which conjures up images of an English country garden on a gorgeous summer's day. There are more pleasant harmonies to be heard on Song No. 3 "Get Together" which features a nice long Psych-Folk electric guitar break. "Joy in the Finding" is a very pleasant and uplifting instrumental which romps along in cheerful style with a flute featured prominently at the forefront, in the style of Jethro Tull in one of their more laid back moments. Next comes "Going Home", another lovely song which sounds like the epitome of quintessentially English Folk with beautiful harmonies and a very-pleasant electric guitar. "All My Life" is a slower number which again features those lushly rich harmonies alongside a gentle piano and guitar. "Mirabella" closes out Side One of the album in fine style with the lovely sound of Lee Menelaus on lead vocals once again. Ferdinando & Howell take the vocal leads for the Side Two opener "Take Me There" - another pleasantly-gentle relaxing number to while away a lazy Sunday afternoon in the English sunshine. There are more harmonic delights to be heard in the next song "Lisa", with the three singers uniting to create beautiful music together. "Dawn" opens with the sound of a haunting flute. It's another jaunty and upbeat number with more lovely harmonies from the three charming singers. "Barn Owl Blues" is a bluesy number as the title of the song implies, featuring a "vocalise" performance without any actual lyrics, in the style of "Prologue" by Annie Haslam of Renaissance. "Kind Sir" is the penultimate song on this superb album, featuring those beautiful three-part harmonies again, which are in delightful abundance on this charming Psych-Folk album. The 13th and final song "Through the Eyes of a Lifetime" is a 3-part song which opens with a spoken-word introduction in a charming English accent. It's the longest song on the album at over 5 minutes in duration and closes the album in marvellous style with the gentle sound of the piano and acoustic guitar with those Oh-So-Beautiful vocal harmonies again.

This is a charmingly beautiful English Psych-Folk album to delight the senses and leave one feeling in a cheerful and ebullient mood. The "Fly Away" album conjures up bucolic images of a pastoral idyll. The album is full to the brim with lovely harmonies and first-class musicianship which will take you right back to that wonderful never-to be-repeated musical era of the late 1960's and early 70's . It's thoroughly recommended for lovers of classic English Psych-Folk at its finest.

 Fly Away by AGINCOURT album cover Studio Album, 1970
3.56 | 21 ratings

Fly Away
Agincourt Prog Folk

Review by BrufordFreak
Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

4 stars They call this "psychedelic folk" as there are a lot of instruments and arrangements common to those genres at this time

1. "When I Awoke" (3:21) sounds remarkably like a 60s folk band like Peter Paul and Mary. (8.5/10)

2. "Though I May Be Dreaming" (3:18) a fine acoustic folk song with wonderful vocal arrangement and vocal performances by John and Lee. (9.5/10)

3. "Get Together" (2:56) no, not a cover of the American Youngbloods' song of the same title, this one opens with full rock instrumentation setting up a kind of rudimentary blues rock song before John Ferdinando begins his gravelly sexy-voiced singing. Nothing too special but solid. (8/10)

4. "Joy in the Finding" (3:15) again, this happy-go-lucky instrumental conjures up the 60s--American folk pop and Brit pop in general. (8/10)

5. "Going Home" (2:34) this one sounds more like a Turtles or Association song. Nice work from the instrumentalists on this unusually thickly orchestrated song. (7.75/10)

6. "All My Life" (3:00) piano and finger-picked guitar provide foundation support for John's rather washed out/"background" lead. With multiple layers of male vocals, the song has some very pleasant even haunting melodies and an eerie psych ending (8.75/10)

7. "Mirabella" (1:45) incredibly engaging and hypnotic--the guitar tremolos and multiple layers of John's voice and then Lee's turn in the second half. Awesome! (10/10)

8. "Take Me There" (2:38) sounds like a Spanish version of the previous song's music, until Lee begins to sing the lead. Nice guitar work; poor recording of the drums. (8.75/10)

9. "Lisa" (2:40) piano with a sad, emotional feel over which John's multi-tracked voice takes the initial lead. (8.75/10)

10. "Dawn" (3:24) flute, cymbal play, nylon string guitar arpeggios and humming are the foundation for this song before John's multi-track lead opens the singing. Lee takes the lead for the second stanza and holds it with John joining in with harmonies for the chorus. (8.75/10)

11. "Barn Owl Blues" (3:09) a bluesy, almost ASSOCIATION-like organ opening shifting over to a bluesy guitar and vocal scat. Interesting. Dated but cool. At the 1:00 mark the tempo and key shifts though the guitar-and-voice scatting continues. Farfisa organ lays down a cool solo at the end of the second minute before the gang recoups for a repeat of the opening two sections. Interesting song. Not what I'd call a folk or even Prog Folk song; more of a quirky pop song. (8.5/10)

12. "Kind Sir" (3:04) acoustic foundation for multi-tracked vocal of Lee in one of her lower, more somnambulant performances. At 1:16 John takes the lead while the music shifts slightly and drums join in. Flute solo before John and Lee take turns in the lead over the final half minute. (8.25/10)

13. "Through the Eyes of a Lifetime" (i) The Poem (ii) Peace of Mind (iii) Closing In (5:21) Spoken poem recital for the first 40 seconds before the music kicks in. John sings with Lee in harmony as rock band accompanies. At 4:10 the song seems to end but then a kind of piano-and-orchestra outro plays out. Interesting collage! Very pleasant. (8.25/10)

Total time: 40:25

Sound engineering seems to be the major detractor from this collection of fine songs. The arrangements and compositions are all actually quite nice, simple yet unique and professionally performed with some great pop sensibilities and pretty awesome vocal performances and clever arrangements.

Four stars; a very enjoyable musical journey from a trio of highly creative songwriters.

 Fly Away by AGINCOURT album cover Studio Album, 1970
3.56 | 21 ratings

Fly Away
Agincourt Prog Folk

Review by GruvanDahlman
Prog Reviewer

3 stars There is something truly endearing about british folk from the late 60's and 70's. And there is an amazing quality about so many of the bands from that period. Not only Fairport Convention or Steeleye Span made great music. Sometimes the best recordings stems from the more obscure groups.

Agincourt is one of these obscure groups. Unlike, say, Pentangle the music of Agincourt is quite resounding of the 60's american folk boom but with a strong british bottom, which can be heard on tracks like "When I awoke" or "Kind sir". The musicianship is good throughout and there are plenty of beautiful and haunting harmonies to be found.

I would classify Agincourt's album as proggy folk with a bit of rock leanings, spiced with a bit of psychedelic west coast. Actually, when thinking about it I find the album is a strange and remarkable yet cohesive affair. I find it to be an enjoyable album in it's dreamy, fairytale-ish way. Still, it's not at all up to par with say Jade or Mellow Candle. Rather it is a good but not essential part of the UK folk prog-scene. It has a lot going for it and, as I wrote earlier, it possesses a genuine identity and charm but it fails to reach the heights of other, greater bands.

Conclusion: a gentle, enjoyable album with a lot of ideas and ambition. I rate it a solid three stars.

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

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