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Ithaca - A Game For All Who Know CD (album) cover




Prog Folk

2.83 | 30 ratings

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Psychedelic Paul
4 stars ITHACA (a Greek island in the Ionian Sea, featured in Homer's Odyssey) is a collaboration between John Ferdinando & Peter Howell, and sweet-voiced female vocalist Lee Menelaus. Ferdinando and Howell worked on several Psych-Folk albums together, although "A Game for All Who Know" (1973) was the only album released under the Ithaca name. The English trio had previously worked together on the Agincourt "Fly Away" (1970) album. 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. The Ithaca album consists of six songs with three bonus songs included in the 2004 CD reissue. If you have a copy of the original LP album, then you're a very lucky bunny indeed as there were only 99 pressings of the album at the time of its release.

Time now to see whether Ithaca is a Greek island of musical treasures or whether it's as dodgy as a Greek bearing gifts. Our journey begins with "Journey" appropriately enough. Shhhhh! It's a VERY quiet beginning. Prepare to be taken on a magic carpet ride with some lovely harmonising from the three singers, because this is beautiful English Folk music at its melodic best, with a slice of prog thrown in for good measure to spice things up. If you're familiar with the trio's previous Agincourt album from 1970, then you'll know you're in for another real treat. Our journey continues with "Questions", and there's no question that this is sublime English Folk music. Just let the music gently carry you away to a land of dreams as you listen late at night in bed with the lights turned down low. Don't forget to let the cat or dog out before you go to bed though, because this gorgeous pastoral Folk music will put you in such a relaxed frame of mind that you won't feel like getting up again. Now we arrive at "Times", the longest song on the album at over 8 minutes long. It's really two shorter songs in one though, as there's a complete change of pace midway through, beginning with a gentle ballad and emerging like a butterfly into a bright and breezy poppy number. This lovely music is enough to make you long for the warm summer days again, especially if you're listening to this album on a damp and dark November day. And now we come to "Feelings", another 2-part song, combining a ballad and a lively up-tempo number. This beautiful song is sure to inspire feelings of joy that you were lucky enough to discover this long-lost album treasure, nearly 50 years after its release. Onwards now dear friends to "Dream", with the charming and delightful lead vocals of Lee Menelaus. What a voice! Her sweet and gentle voice is perfectly suited to this charming music. And now we come to the final song on the album and the title track "A Game for All Who Know" (subtitled "Journey - Part II). The song begins intriguingly with the sound of pages turning and a swirling synth and acoustic guitar. It's a song full of mystery and imagination. There's the sound of a rocket taking off and then a reprise of the opening number of the album with the hauntingly atmospheric sound of an organ carrying the song through to its conclusion. It's idyllic, it's bucolic, and it may even be soporific, but not in a bad way. At 7 minutes long, it's a song of almost epic proportions, or as epic as a Prog-Folk song can be. It might not have the pomp and bombast of a blast of Symphonic Prog, but it's none the worse for that. After all, you may have drifted off into a sleep of blissful dreams by this stage, so you don't want to be woken up with a start, although the song does end rather abruptly, so be prepared!

Thanks to ProgArchives, YouTube & the Internet, this long-lost album treasure is now gaining some of the recognition it truly deserves. It's a charming pastoral Folk album with timeless appeal that you can come back to again and again. It's not essential if you're into Prog-Rock, but it IS essential if you want to hear a sublime slice of 1970's English Prog-Folk at its absolute best.

Psychedelic Paul | 4/5 |


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