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Prog Folk • United Kingdom

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Trees biography
A few years into the British folk-rock boom, came along a band called the TREES, that got slagged off by the mindless British weekly press as FAIRPORT CONVENTION sound-alike. If those so-called journalist had actually listened, they might have seen their mistake as the TREES were a lot more like the fantastically fabulous The PENTANGLE but only even more progressive. True the dual guitarist and female singer was a sort of blueprint (almost cliché) for bands of those days into folk-rock, but here the musical interplay got uncommon space to develop and the numbers frequently grew longer in time, something rare in the genre and only followed by COMUS. But that SMBWMP (stupid mindless British weekly music press) would keep on deriding this band that folded after two excellent but unsuccessful albums.

The TREES (along with the other bands mentioned in this article) are recommended to everyone wanted to investigate the folkish side of progressive rock and its acoustic side.

: : : Hugues Chantraine, BELGIUM : : :

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TREES discography

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TREES top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.78 | 63 ratings
The Garden Of Jane Delawney
3.57 | 68 ratings
On The Shore

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TREES Reviews

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 The Garden Of Jane Delawney by TREES album cover Studio Album, 1970
3.78 | 63 ratings

The Garden Of Jane Delawney
Trees Prog Folk

Review by friso
Prog Reviewer

5 stars Trees - The Garden of Jane Delawney (1970)

Britisch psychedelic folkrock group Trees released two records in 1970. The debut (currently being reviewed) and slightly more stately yet stiff 'On the Shore'. Both albums are hailed as favorites by listeners.

Trees has a sound that reminds us of Sandy Danny era Fairport Convention and early Steeleye Span; traditional and pure female vocals, folky guitar drones, some playfulness and beautiful ballads in the minor key. Yet Trees is slightly more progressive then beforementioned bands with some nice psychedelic electric guitar playing and a more dynamic approach to songwriting - which becomes appearant mainly on the first side of the record. Trees makes good use of two skilfull guitarplayers, which also adds to the progressive vibe. The title track is surely one of the most beautiful folksongs I've ever heard, the vocals of Celia Humphris are outstanding.

Conclusion. This is quickly becoming one of my favorite folk records and I can warmly recommend it to every-one with even the slightest interest in folkrock of progressive folk. This is what collecting little known music from the progressive period is about. Five stars.

 The Garden Of Jane Delawney by TREES album cover Studio Album, 1970
3.78 | 63 ratings

The Garden Of Jane Delawney
Trees Prog Folk

Review by Warthur
Prog Reviewer

4 stars A rougher and at points substantially more psychedelic inclined than the more polished and confident On the Shore, this debut album from Trees sees them producing music which fits neatly into the electric folk tendency as developed by acts like Steeleye Span and Fairport Convention. The psychedelic side of the equation tends to come in when one of the band's three guitarists goes off on a wild tear, adding an explosive rock-oriented solo to the middle of the band's folk playing. A solid listen that's worth exploring if you like psychedelic or progressive folk of the 1970s, but I don't think it's quite as interesting as the brilliant On the Shore.
 On The Shore by TREES album cover Studio Album, 1970
3.57 | 68 ratings

On The Shore
Trees Prog Folk

Review by Warthur
Prog Reviewer

5 stars Of the various acts on the British electric folk scene in the 1970s, Trees seem to have embraced the electric rock side of their sound more stridently than the likes of Fairport Convention or Steeleye Span ever did. Showing a boldness in stark contrast to the quieter, softer approach taken by many of their contemporaries, this second album presents a perfect blend of traditional folk and psychedelic-tinged rock with long virtuoso guitar solos that I can absolutely get lost in, courtesy of Barry Clarke. Plus, keyboardist-vocalist Celia Humphris has an absolutely incredible, unmatched voice in electric folk. Top notch stuff, highly recommended for anyone who digs the direction British folk rock took in the 1970s.
 On The Shore by TREES album cover Studio Album, 1970
3.57 | 68 ratings

On The Shore
Trees Prog Folk

Review by friso
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Trees - On the Shore (1970)

I like my folkrock music, it fills the room with its pleasant atmospheres and I love the slightly magical feel. Furthermore, it is the only music genre I listen to in which female vocals work really well for me. Now most of us will have heard of Steeleye Span, Pentangle and Fairport Convention. Trees' second album 'On the Shore' can easily compete with the best works of beforenamed bands.

English folkrock group Trees has two guitar players that fill the space brilliantly, great interplay and unsterstanding of roles. The vocals of Celia Humphris struck me as the best folk vocals I can think of. The warmth of a mother, the magic of an angel and the power that destincts folkrock from acoustic folk. The band has a drummer and a bass player and a slightly reverb folkrock sound, which I like. On all tracks we can hear some great melodic compositions and on the longer tracks Trees scores with atmospheric interplay. Some tracks like 'Soldier Three', 'Murdoch' and 'Fool' are very catchy in a good way. I wouldn't call Trees a very progressive band, but there's a lot of very tastefull musicianship, arranging and some nice atmospheric passages. The production is really good, captures the spirit of its time.

Conclusion. If you like folkrock this is the ideal obscurity. Four stars, but I almost fellt tempted to give five because I just like to listen to this kind of music often.

 On The Shore by TREES album cover Studio Album, 1970
3.57 | 68 ratings

On The Shore
Trees Prog Folk

Review by Einsetumadur
Prog Reviewer

3 stars 10/15P. Though not as professional and well-rehearsed as their colleagues from Fairport Convention, Trees presented an album in 1970 which is absolutely above the average. There are about 20 minutes of 5-star folk rock listening here, many guitar solos which are unusually captivating and some further moments of perfect band interplay. Points are deducted for some inaccuracies in timing and one or two songs which you might also skip.

Trees are a band which actually only a few die-hard folk rock fans know, and they mostly do because of the unexpectedly much-covered song The Garden of Jane Delawney or due to bassist Bias Boshell's work with The Moody Blues and Barclay James Harvest. The few discussions about the band that do occur in the web, however, empty quite frequently in the awareness that this band is a particularly uninspired Fairport Convention clone with much too long instrumental sections - and that the two albums of this band are pretty similar in quality, the debut album being a wee bit more successful than the second one.

After having given both albums some spins in manifold situations, including checking the music out one afternoon while gazing at the sea from the coastline of the British county Dorset, I came to the conclusion that none of these points really suit my own perception of this album. It's hard for me to profess that this album is of a consistently superlative quality (hence the rating), but there are plenty of breathtaking moments which are utterly atmospheric, in an utterly British way.

Many bands from the, as I put it, 'back rows' of electric folk (Steeleye Span etc. being the 'front row') don't really get the essence of folk music and end up strumming around on a guitar and singing about maidens and pheasants and other occurances which are far away from their actual experiences, hence making their music unauthentic and pathetic. This problem mars a lot of the so-called 'acid folk' releases, albums which mix stoned-out jams with some shallow and badly-sung lyrics with pseudo-medieval topics. I personally think that this band's debut album The Garden of Jane Delawney falls, at least partly, into this category. Apart from the sometimes shrill vocals by Celia Humphris the band wasn't really able to pull together, the muffled drums being unable to carry three estranged lead guitars through the songs.

Unexpectedly, this album makes a huge difference. The drummer finally pulls his socks up and sets a stable rhythmic base, the lead guitar plays in a more restrained way - and with the help of a better production and the choice of slower songs this album turned out perfectly well. Of course, Trees aren't innovators like the Albion Country Band or Fairport Convention, but especially in folk music I don't care too much about innovation as long as the interpretations are able to cast a certain spell on me. Pieces like Polly On The Shore and Geordie only look like Fairport Convention on the surface - especially regarding the female vocals, the multiple electric guitars and the chunky bass guitar. But the overdriven guitar notes swell in and out in a nearly Steve Hackett-like manner on top of some pretty heavy power chords while the bass guitar rambles around the hectic drum fills. All that is distinctly more psychedelic than the gritty and more rootsy sound of Liege and Lief, especially in Polly On The Shore, my favorite piece on this record, which floats in its own sonic world with the distant fading guitars, some particularly heavenly - but at the very same time harsh - vocals by Celia Humphris, the wonderful acoustic breakdown around the 2/3 mark of the song and the climactic electric guitar solo in the last two minutes. These are definitely 6 minutes of folk rock of the finest kind.

Those who appreciated this song may also enjoy the fairly similar interpretation of Geordie which provides many languorous chills with the fantastic interplay of the swelling lead guitar and the sharp counterpoints of the rhythm guitar. This recording predates Deep Purple's Fools by a year, but the guitar technique in the solo is quite similar. After listening to the fairly messy instrumental parts of the debut album I find Unwin Brown's brief unaccompanied drum breaks quite rewarding, especially the one before the gorgeous restrained guitar solo around 2:25. And in this context one should also mention the tasteful choice of traditional folk songs, all of which have never gotten a rock band outfit before and most of which the band has seemingly learned from recordings of Carthy & Swarbrick.

Streets of Derry, making good use of the pretty unknown Fender 12-string electric guitar, is for sure the most professionally arranged song in which a consequent splitting of guitar duties makes the whole band extremely tight and interesting to listen to. The very first stanza is even stripped from all electric guitars and features only drums, a melodically independent bass line and drums plus Celia Humphris' voice. During the course of nearly 8 minutes there are always new ideas, different guitar solos by different guitarists and everything is covered in that bittersweet harmony which draws through the whole album. Sally, Free and Easy is the piece which actually brought me to this band as I was looking for a folk rock version of that Cyril Tawney song. Profiting from Bias Boshell's well-performed classicistic piano work and some competently rapid acoustic guitar picking the band manage to catch my interest for the complete 10 minutes - more so than their previous She Moves Through The Fair rework, although it's clearly music which allows you to let your mind wander for a little while. I quite like it that the band, starting with the quiet vocal parts and letting the whole piece grow into a louder instrumental part, ends the piece in a similarly peaceful vein to the beginning.

The two shortest numbers on the album are the traditional Soldiers Three and the cheekily entitled Adam De La Halle adaptation Adam's Toon. Both of them are, regarding their short length, unexpectedly effective. The former, serving as the opener of the record, features wonderfully grim harmony vocals by nearly the complete band, very much in contrast to a peaceful instrumental version of the verse placed in the second half of the song. Adam's Toon is entirely instrumental, played with guitar and percussion instruments, echoing the minimalism of the Middle Ages when this tune was composed.

Although I'm usually a bit sceptical when songwriters of our times write songs in the vein of the old folk songs, the three original compositions Bias Boshell provided for this album turn out to be quite decent; actually, the original compositions were those which, in my opinion, also saved the group's debut album from complete irrelevance. Murdoch, a ballad depicting a Tolkienesque mountainside quite akin to how one imagines Mordor, succeeds in captivating an uncomfortably dark, cold and ghostly atmosphere which one also knows from British literature. The multi-tracked vocals of Celia Humphris in the last part are indeed remarkable, but don't ever listen to this album in the car, particularly when you aren't the only one sitting in this car. Somehow the composition with the many many words put on one chord reminds me a bit of Ian Anderson's acoustic songs, mainly the ones in the end of the Ch'teau d'Isaster tapes. While The Iron Is Hot, a historically founded protest song written by Boshell from the perspective of the working class, proves that Bias Boshell wouldn't be a good lead singer, but in combination with Celia Humphris and some other band member singing backing vocals his voice is perfectly okay. With the slightly Kirby-like (q.v. Nick Drake) restrained string arrangement in the background and a fairly crude rock band part in the middle it shows in which direction folk rock may be taken as well. Fool is a nice listen, especially because of a blazing guitar solo, but ultimately not really memorable, apart from the hushed guitar lick which appears after nearly every line which is sung. Overall there are too many Celia Humphris overdubs and too few real harmony vocals.

Little Sadie, a brief piece of American folk, however is a complete let-down which cannot be saved by some half-decent instrumental parts between the stanzas. Celia Humphris cannot keep the timing of the song, the whole arrangement is a mess and the melody gets on my nerves terribly. Think Rocky Raccoon by the Beatles or Benny the Bouncer by ELP, but performed in an amateurish way.

Since I only own the original album without the bonus CD I cannot say if buying the expanded edition would be recommendable. Apart from a BBC track and a demo you only find remixes of the original album among the bonus tracks. The remixes reportedly add additional backing vocals, lack some reverb and

The album itself is absolutely recommendable to folk rock lovers, in particular because of there are plenty of excellent haunting moments gathered on the record (Soldier's Three, Polly On The Shore, Streets of Derry, Geordie). These ethereal renderings of pretty unknown folk songs easily touch the 5-star mark. I give the complete album merely 3 stars overall because the other songs, ranging somewhere between 'bad' and 'very decent', cannot really keep up with the rest.

 On The Shore by TREES album cover Studio Album, 1970
3.57 | 68 ratings

On The Shore
Trees Prog Folk

Review by DeKay

5 stars "One The Shore", the second and last album released by Trees in 1970 (the same year as their debut) is much different musically. The compositions are more (only two covers) and much more mature and progressive. The band leaves time for their songs to develop and has already established a more atmospheric, narrative style. The bass guitar is present much more, and the whole album is more electric, without any decrease of the prog (or the folk) element. The voice of Celia Humphris is once more safely leading the band to high levels of performance. The cover photograph taken in Golders Hill Park in North London is one my favourite prog-folk covers.

Favourite tracks: "Murdoch", "Sally Free And Easy", "Fool".

 The Garden Of Jane Delawney by TREES album cover Studio Album, 1970
3.78 | 63 ratings

The Garden Of Jane Delawney
Trees Prog Folk

Review by DeKay

4 stars The British progressive folk scene of the 70's is one of the brightest in the progressive movement after 1969. The debut of Trees is a great album with a magnificent combination of acoustic guitars, percussion and the ehtereal voice of Celia Humphris (comparable to Jacqui McShee of Pentangle). Four of the tracks are covers, among which a beautiful version of the traditional Irish song "She Moved Through the Fair". The title track is one of the best moments of British folk-rock, with lyrics similar to "Crazy Man Michael" (Fairport Convention). "The Garden Of Jane Delawney" is an excellent addition to any prog rock music collection. Favourite tracks:"The Garden Of Jane Delawney", "She Moved Through the Fair", "Epitaph".
 The Garden Of Jane Delawney by TREES album cover Studio Album, 1970
3.78 | 63 ratings

The Garden Of Jane Delawney
Trees Prog Folk

Review by listen

4 stars A great album of the acid folk genre! this album is very much infused with an almost west coast psychedelic atmosphere (mostly in the guitar). Moderately long instrumental sections/jamming/solos in most songs and the music is very upbeat, inspired and is a very nice energetic and highly folksy acid rock/folk album. Way better than their second and only other album 'On the Shore', in my opinion. Drums are fairly simple and some will complain, though unjustly so I think as I think they fit the music very well. Singer Celia Humphris has an absolutely beautiful voice and also plays keyboards, which are very nice. The drummer and the bassist/guitarist sing too at times, and there are two other guitarists. My favorite songs are "Nothing Special", "The garden of Jane Delawney", "Lady Margaret", "Glasgerion" and "Snail's Lament".

Highly recommeded

 On The Shore by TREES album cover Studio Album, 1970
3.57 | 68 ratings

On The Shore
Trees Prog Folk

Review by listen

2 stars Much of the music on this album is uninspired standard folk-rock in the vein of Fairport Convention. I unfailingly get bored each time I listen to this album. Gone are the psychedelic touches, beautiful singing, inspired instrumental sections, great guitar parts and great songs of 'The Garden of Jane Delawney'. It is also less progressive. The album begins with "Soldiers Three" which is under 2 minutes and a standard but done well. "Murdoch" is by far the best song on here, and it is an original! It has a memorable melody, and sounds inspired and energetic. The traditional "Polly on the Shore" is also a good song, albeit a bit languid. "Adam's Toon" is a short acoustic guitar-led instrumental with bass and drums. "Sally Free and Easy" is fairly uneventful and drags on too long, sounding similar to "She Moved Thro' The Fair" on the previous album but less memorable. Next is "Fool" which is a decent song, more energetic but still not sounding inspired and having a chorus that rhymes the same sounds: Oswald the smith has not returned, to see which way the world has turned, and gets a bit repetitive along with the melody. "Geordie" is an unbearably slow song that has little of interest to offer. "While The Iron is Hot" is a nice folk ballad with a curious fast electric guitar solo in the middle that seems very out of place. "Little Sadie" is more very straightforward folk-rock sounding a little insipid. The last song "Streets of Derry" is one of the better songs on the album.

A great disappointment for me after hearing their fantastic debut "The Garden of Jane Delawney", and not one I really enjoy much, though there are some moderately enjoyable spots.

 On The Shore by TREES album cover Studio Album, 1970
3.57 | 68 ratings

On The Shore
Trees Prog Folk

Review by Marcfras93

2 stars I just bought this album, i'd only heard one song off it but i was convinced it would be amazing due to it's cover. When i played the whole album i was a little disapointed, the are only a three good songs for me: "Slly Free and Easy", "Polly On The Shore" and "Fool". All the other songs get pretty boring for me, and the singer's voice pisses me off, i've never really liked folk music but i bought the album thinking it was gonna be a lot more prog sounding. And i probably wouldnt have bought it if it wasn't for the album cover, i'm just in love with it, it's my favourite album cover, it's sorta spooky but set in such a nice garden, anyway not the best music.
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