...Leaves you feeling rather uplifted.
Greg McLaren 2007
Trees released two records in 1970, The Garden Of Jane Delawney and On The Shore and that was about it for them. The effort and exuberance needed to record two LPs (neither bad) in the same year can be felt all through On The Shore: Their record company CBS applied pressure but not much money and so, due to lack of rehearsal and studio time, some of the musicianship suffers, and the original material is patchy. But the overall sound of this album is what is really impressive.
Cilia Humphris (now the voice of the Northern Line, fact fans) sings in an earthy and raw way sailing right down the middle of every note. On songs like "Murdoch" and "Sally Free And Easy" she sends a shiver up this reviewer’s withered spine. "Murdoch" also sports a rather natty ‘wall of sound’ ending which is aided on the remix by a wailing organ.
The musicians behind Humphris are where the real strength is. The twin guitars of Barry Clarke (lead) and David Costa (acoustic) are a muscular equal to the sometimes luminary bass of Bias Boshell and solid drums of Unwin Brown. The sound is bold and more psychedelic than Fairport and you feel a band who are really into their style if not their stride. This is what you might enjoy more about this recording than others of the genre: the energy of the performances. There is a Led Zep feel in there and I'm sure I spotted a future Iron Maiden riff somewhere. Notably there is a timid pedal guitar part on ''Geordie'', another highlight, which was sampled for ''St. Elsewhere'' on the Gnarls Barkley album of the same name.
Cyril Tawney’s ''Sally Free And Easy'' pops up here and is one of the album's high points. A beautiful piano intro played by Boswell leads into low and sultry vocals from Humphris. Trees are oft-derided for their overlong arrangements and ''Sally...'' is no exception, except just when you are about to tire of this one Clarke embarks on a surprising guitar wig-out that crashes into another good ending. The whole thing is quite a hit and miss affair: “Fool” is fantastically irritating and ''While The Iron Is Hot'' lurches from harps and strings to prog-rock guitar and back. However taken as a whole it is enjoyable and it leaves you feeling rather uplifted.
The second disk contains remixes of some album tracks, nothing amazing here, just cymbals fiddled with and guitars jiggered. There is a BBC recording called ''Forest Fire'' which is pleasant enough, but the joys are contained in the original album, now restored to its full glory. Well worth discovering this summer....