Tea and Symphony – The English Baroque Sound (1968 – 1974)


In 1733 when Rameau premiered his “Hippolyte et Aricie” the response was, at best, muted and, in the case of one anonymous review, caustic.  That anonymous reviewer labelled the work “…du barocque”  and suggested, in his critique, that the piece was lacking in coherent melody, constantly changed key and meter and ran through nearly every compositional device known at that point.  Fast forward 250 years and those self same qualities are what make English Baroque pop a thing to cherish.

Turning its back on noisy guitars, raw sexuality over romance and Romanticism, drums that pound instead of beating like your heart and evoking warm summers evenings and mild autumn mornings the baroque sound left a lasting impression on English pop and can be heard in everything from The Smiths to Belle and Sebastian, from Orange Juice to The Divine Comedy.  During its “moment” though it barely registered and many of the artists and records are lost or ignored by modern music writers and musicians.

Thankfully ACE Records and Saint Etienne’s Bob Stanley the sounds and delights of the baroque moment are about to find their way onto your turntables and into your ears before taking up permanent residency in your hearts.

Following on from 2007’s first “Tea and Symphony” collection this new suite of songs gathers 22 gems together in one immaculate bundle.  From the criminally ignored Ray Brooks whose music career is so rarely mentioned that one could be forgiven for thinking it never happened…but happen it did and his 1971 album “Lend Me Some of Your Time” is a heartbreaking work of genius.  Then there is Zombie’s frontman Colin Blunstone who was, and remains, one of the finest male vocalists this country has ever produced but who never enjoyed the success that voice deserved.  Brooks “Pictures” is a thing of wonder and Blunstones “Say You Don’t Mind” is so achingly beautiful that it might simply be a figment of my imagination.

The presence of the likes of Nirvana (no, not that Nirvana), Christopher and Bill Kenwright (yes, THAT Bill Kenwright) mean that there are nuggets of poetry, kitsch and pop that will lift your heart and make your spirit soar and swoop in delight.

Tea and Symphony: English Baroque Sound 1968-1974 will be released on ACE on January 31st.  

You can order your copy here now.