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Jan Dukes De Grey - Mice And Rats In The Loft CD (album) cover


Jan Dukes De Grey


Prog Folk

4.21 | 215 ratings

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Psychedelic Paul
4 stars JAN DUKES DE GREY sounds like a French nobleman, but they were actually a short-lived Prog/Psych-Folk band from Leeds in northern England. Their first album "Sorcerers" (1970) passed by virtually unnoticed at the time of its release, but their second album "Mice and Rats in the Loft" (1971) will be much more familiar to Prog/Psych-Folk fans. Both albums have since become real collectors items. They recorded a third album "Strange Terrain" in 1977, but that long-lost album wouldn't see the light of day until 2010/11. The "Mice and Rats in the Loft" album reviewed here, consists of three extended songs of improvisational acid-drenched Folk:- 1. "Sun Symphonica" (18:58); 2. "Call of the Wild" (12:48); & 3. "Mice and Rats in the Loft" (8:19).

The outlook for "Sun Symphonica" is for bright and sunny spells of long pastoral flute passages with occasional outbreaks of classically-inspired orchestral showers. Just as the song title implies, "Sun Symphonica" is a radiant sunburst symphony of sound, featuring flutes, clarinets, saxophones, harmonicas, violins and hyperactive percussion in abundance. It's very bold and brassy, but it's also very sophisticated and classy, mainly due to the ornate chamber music from the orchestra. Some of the exotic musical passages sound faintly middle eastern, conjuring up bizarre images of a Turkish bazaar where one is expected to haggle over the price of a carpet, whilst the vendor puffs away calmly on a hookah pipe. The music is a veritable potpourri of musical styles, combining pleasant strolls through golden meadows of woodwinds amidst glorious showers of lush strings and vibrant percussion. The song as a whole is a very pleasant confection that's as sweet and exotic as a box of Turkish Delights.

The next song "Call of the Wild" is nothing to do with wolves barking at the moon. No, this is more of a call of the wild in human terms with the lyrics apparently advocating free love and a freeing of the spirit:- "I will be free to sleep where I want and with who and what I will." ..... If the promiscuous lyrics are anything to go by, the northern town of Leeds in the seventies was just as footloose and fancy free as proverbial swinging London in the sixties, so maybe it's not so grim up north after all. The music is pretty wild and swinging too, consisting mainly of lively bursts of infectious fluty Folk blended together with a liberal dose of saxophonic jazz in a musical tour de force. Think of Jethro Tull combined with Soft Machine, and that's the kind of Jazzy Psych-Folk you have here.

And now we come to the title track: "Mice and Rats in the Loft". If you really DO have mice in the loft, here's a handy hint: mice absolutely love chocolate, far more than cheese, so if you want to catch mice humanely, just bait the walk-in trap with some hot chocolate powder and they'll be queuing up to get into the trap and the trapdoor will close behind them. You can then let them out later in a rodents version of the "Catch and Release" program. Anyway, back to the music after that brief digression. This is where the musicians really get to let their hair down and go off on an improvisational free-for-all. The wacky over-the-top singer sounds like he's on a mad LSD trip here and the weird psychedelic Jazz sounds as wild and crazy as bats in the belfry, or mice and rats scampering about in the loft.

Jan Dukes de Grey appear to have invented a whole new genre of music with their unique "Mice and Rats in the Loft" album. The music can best be described as Psychedelic Jazz-Folk. Sometimes, the music is rousing and spectacular, and sometimes it's pleasant and pastoral, and maybe it's even weird and wonderfully zany at times too, but it's NEVER dull.

Psychedelic Paul | 4/5 |


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