CULT CLASSIC: BREAD, LOVE AND DREAMS-AMARYLLIS.
Cult Classic: Bread, Love and Dreams-Amaryllis.
When Scottish acid folk trio Bread, Love and Dreams appeared at the 1968 Edinburgh Festival, David McNiven, Angie Rew and Carolyn Davis had no idea that the concert was going to transform their lives. In the audience that night, was Ray Horricks, a Decca Records staffer, who nowadays, is credited with discovering Bread, Love and Dreams.
They already had a loyal local following and were regarded as one of Scotland’s up-and-coming groups. It was no surprised when Bread, Love and Dreams were signed by Decca Records and went on to release three albums between 1969 and 1971. Their swansong was Amaryllis.
Having signed to Decca Records, Ray Horricks took Bread, Love and Dreams to London, where they began work on their eponymous debut album. It featured mostly original material, apart from a cover of Artificial Light (Of All The Living Lies). The album was produced by Ray Horricks, with Ian Green writing, arranging and conducting the strings on Bread, Love and Dreams. Once the album was completed, it was scheduled for release in early 1969.
Bread, Love and Dreams.
Upon its release, Bread, Love and Dreams was well received by critics who noticed the similarities to another Scottish group who had influenced them, the Incredible String Band. On their eponymous debut album, Bread, Love and Dreams showcased their trademark acid folk sound on an album that featured several tracks with string arrangements. It was a carefully crafted album of acid folk that deserved to find a much wider audience. However, the problem was that there many other groups releasing similar albums and the album failed commercially.
This must have been a huge disappointment for the band given the quality of music on the album. Guitarist Carolyn Davis was so disappointed that she left the band. However, that wasn’t the only problem facing Bread, Love and Dreams.
After the commercial failure of Bread, Love and Dreams, Decca Records wanted to drop the band. However, Ray Horricks still believed in the band and went into back for them. This resulted in Bread, Love and Dreams being given a second chance by Decca Records.
Bread, Love and Dreams headed out on tour with Magna Carta and T Rex, and during their downtime wrote new material for their sophomore album. That wasn’t all.
During this period, Bread, Love and Dreams began working with the Traverse Theatre Group in Edinburgh. Their director Max Stafford wanted David McNiven to adapt one of the songs he had written , Mother Earth, for the stage. It was performed to critical acclaim first in Edinburgh and then London, before heading to Scandinavia, the Benelux countries and Spain. This was the break that Bread, Love and Dreams had been looking for.
The Strange Tale Of Captain Shannon and The Hunchback From Gigha.
In the summer of 1970, Bread, Love and Dreams entered the studio to record a new album. They were joined by guest artists including drummer Terry Cox, Pentangle’s double bassist Danny Thompson, bassist Dave Richmond and organist and pianist Alan Trajan. Over a five day period they managed to record enough material for two albums.
The reason that Bread, Love and Dreams recorded two album’s worth of material was that they were scared they were about to be dropped by Decca Records.
Despite having enough material for their next two albums, Bread, Love and Dreams briefly considered releasing a double album like the Incredible String Band’s Wee Tam and The Big Huge. However, eventually, Bread, Love and Dreams decided to release two more albums, the first being The Strange Tale Of Captain Shannon and The Hunchback From Gigha.
When Bread, Love and Dreams released their sophomore album The Strange Tale Of Captain Shannon and The Hunchback From Gigha in 1970, it was to critical acclaim. The album feature the epic title-track which sounded as if it had been influenced by the Incredible String Band and Sucking On A Cigarette, which featured former guitarist Carolyn Davis. She played a walk-on part on an album that could’ve transformed the fortunes of Bread, Love and Dreams.
Sadly, when The Strange Tale Of Captain Shannon and The Hunchback From Gigha was released it failed commercially. This was a disaster for the two remaining members of Bread, Love and Dreams, and frustrated executives at Decca Records decided to rush release third album, Amaryllis.
In a way, Bread, Love and Dreams decision to record enough material for two albums backfired as the group knew that Amaryllis was the stronger and best album of their career.
David McNiven had written the three-part title-track, Amaryllis, Time’s The Thief and Circles Of Night. He also penned My Stair-Cupboard At 3 A.M. with Lindsay Levy. The other track on the album was Brother John which was written by Angie Rew, a talented songwriter and multi-instrumentalist.
Vocalist Angie Rew played guitar and percussion on Amaryllis, while David McNiven played guitar and added vocals. Augmenting Bread, Love and Dreams were drummer Terry Cox, double bassist Danny Thompson, bassist Dave Richmond plus organist and pianist Alan Trajan. Just like the two previous albums, Amaryllis was produced by Ray Horricks and released in 1971.
In their haste to release Amaryllis in 1971, Decca Records made two massive mistakes. The first was failing to promote the album properly. While this didn’t necessary mean the album was doomed to failure, failing to press enough albums was.
Ironically, Amaryllis was released to widespread critical and was regarded as their finest hour. Despite this, the album failed to even match the sales of Bread, Love and Dreams’ first two albums. This was because Decca Records had failed to press enough copies of Amaryllis, which had the potential to launch Bread, Love and Dreams’ career. Sadly, it wasn’t to be.
Side one of the album is taken up with Amaryllis, an ambitious three-part suite. Part. 1: Out Of The Darkness and Into The Night has a dark, mysterious and ruminative sound. Despite being released in 1971, there’s a flower power sound. There’s also acid guitar and beautiful folksy harmonies from Angie Rew and David McNiven as the song blossoms and Bread, Love and Dreams move Out Of The Darkness and Into The Night. The centrepiece of the first side was Part 2: Zoroaster’s Prophecy, an eleven minute epic that was inspired by religion and philosophy. Several songs are weaved into one by Bread, Love and Dreams to create this lengthy, imaginative and mysterious piece of modern musical folklore. It’s without doubt the album’s highlight. Closing side one is Part 3: Light, a truly beautiful, heartfelt, romanic and emotive song. Much of the success of the song is because of the way Angie Rew and David McNiven blend combines and creates another of the album’s highlights.
Opening side two is Time’s The Thief, a lovely folk ballad which is driven along by an acoustic guitar. Although Bread, Love and Dreams were often influenced by the Incredible String Band, here there’s a nod to Fairport Convention’s Song No. 5. Another beautiful folk ballad is My Stair-Cupboard, which hints at Sandy Denny’s Fotheringay and Pentangle which starred Danny Thompson who plays double bass on Amaryllis. Then on the wistful and ruminative sounding Brother John the hugely Angie Rew’s heartfelt and soul-baring plays a starring role as she paints pictures with the lyrics. Closing Amaryllis is Circle of Night which is the most traditional sounding folk song on the album. It’s also uplifting and irresistible and closes this oft-overlooked hidden gem of an album on a high.
On Amaryllis, Bread, Love and Dreams and friends fuse elements acid folk, traditional folk and progressive folk on what’s an album of quite beautiful, cerebral, emotive and sometimes romantic music. These tracks were part of a vastly underrated album that when it was released in 1971 deserved to find a much wider audience.
Sadly, that wasn’t the case. Decca Records’ failure to promote Amaryllis properly and then their failure to press enough copies of the album is an object lesson in how not to release an album. Ironically, Amaryllis was regarded as Bread, Love and Dreams’ strongest and best album and had the potential to transform their careers from also rans to acid rock contenders. Alas, that wasn’t to be for the band who many critics thought were about to follow in the footsteps of the Incredible String Band.
Following Bread, Love and Dreams’ presentation at the Royal Court Theatre in Edinburgh, executives at Decca Records decided to drop the band. The three albums that Bread, Love and Dreams recorded for the label were written down as a tax write off. It was a sad end to a musical adventure that began just three years earlier in 1968 and promised so much. However, Bread, Love and Dreams kept their finest album until last and Amaryllis was an ambitious and critically acclaimed opus that nowadays is regarded as this acid folk cult classic.
Cult Classic: Bread, Love and Dreams-Amaryllis.