310:- (24-Bit Limited Remaster Edition. Klassiker.)
On a bright summer day in 1971 in England, two young gents and a woman with a flute mounted the main stage at the Cambridge Folk Festival for their moment in the sun, remembered by all the band-members as their crowning achievement. "The whole atmosphere was still love and peace", the weather was fantastic, and despite nervousness that caused John Stannard's knee to bounce audibly and repeatedly against the microphone stand, Tudor Lodge poured out their honeyed harmonies and mesmeric spider web guitar background. The audience would remember and mention the set in almost every piece of writing about the band that appeared in the years after.
The beginning of our story, however, and indeed the truest setting for our heroes lies in more intimate surroundings, the folk clubs scattered over the English countryside. Tudor Lodge was born in the year 1968 from the temporary union of John Stannard and Roger Strevens as a performing folk duo. Roger's character included an unusual, off-the-wall sense of humor and John tended not to speak at all in performance, a strange juxtaposition that insured that they would be remembered even by the most fleetingly attentive members of any audience.
Perhaps fortunately, Roger decided that he had "had enough" sometime in late 1969 and abandoned John to a series of about six shows they had committed to play. With hopes of fulfilling his obligations to the several clubs, John approached a young guitarist he had observed playing in clubs on occasion, one Lyndon Greene, with the intention of asking him to fill in for Roger on their last few gigs. Lyndon had recently returned from a spell in Turkey, where he had been forging his own "hippie trail" through the psychedelic hinterlands, and was ripe for a new adventure. They agreed to finish out the six gigs together, and upon the successful conclusion of that run of shows saw no reason not to continue on.
Ann Steuart, the final member of the central triad, found John and Lyndon. Ann is American, grew up in New York City, and in high school participated in a performing band, originally called the "Utopians" and later "Guardians of the Rainbow". In 1969, Ann, her sister, and her mother joined her stepfather in England. Ann's stepfather had been refurbishing "narrow boats" and even a Chinese junk (!) for use in the extensive system of canals and locks laid out over the English countryside. As soon as Ann arrived, they began a family tradition of taking the junk out for "pub crawls" in which they would "crawl" up and down the Grand Union Canal, stopping at each pub along the way for a beer and conversation before piloting on. Ann would often drag her guitar onshore and play a three-song floor set, and the family also had the opportunity to see many of the local acts play, including John and Lyndon's. Tudor Lodge expanded to include Ann in Summer 1970.
The fully grown Tudor Lodge show toward the end of 1970 or in 1971 consisted of two sets, each about 45 minutes long. The whole group would play together through the first set, mostly songs that later found their way onto the group's Vertigo album. They often covered Buffalo Springfield's "Expecting to Fly", CSNY's "Helplessly Hoping", and either Joni Mitchell's "Nathan La Franeer" or "The Gallery". The first set usually finished with a humorous send-up of "Stay By Me Diana" or Buddy Holly's "Oh Boy" that began with John and Lyndon singing a cappella in traditional folk style and degenerated to Elvis Presley style to end in a truly wretched finale.
The second set began with several full-group songs, usually including "Willow Tree". Apparently they would begin the song with the dramatic intro heard on the album version. John notes that it was "very weird and out of context with the rest of the set - it was us doing our avant-garde bit." The second set would continue with solo performances by each member of the band. Ann usually played her song "Two Steps Back", either using a guitar as accompaniment, or a piano if the club had one. Lyndon usually played a guitar instrumental, the Incredible String Band's "Hedgehog Song" or John Sebastian's "She's a Lady". Several more full-group songs would follow, generally finishing the show with a version of Ralph McTell's "Kew Gardens", a 1970 live example of which graces this CD.
Covering Mr. McTell's song was without doubt a tip of the hat to the band's greatest and closest-to-heart inspiration. In addition to Ralph, Bert Jansch and John Renbourn were also "inspirational but not influences because we could never play to their standard." Very often Tudor Lodge was playing in the same clubs as their favorite musicians, the Troubadour and Les Cousins in London. The late show at Les Cousins began at midnight and ran to dawn, and all the musicians who had finished their earlier gigs showed up to drink, listen and play. In one evening, one might hear Ralph McTell, Al Stewart, Mike Cooper, John Martyn, Keith Christmas and Tudor Lodge under the same roof!
Beside the couple-of-nights-a-week hometown club shows, Tudor Lodge did several extended tours of more distant parts of England, making the rounds of, and filling small local clubs with listeners. Occasionally Tudor Lodge headlined in small theaters or played support for more famous bands like Genesis, Fairport Convention, or Steeleye Span. Stranger gigs also sometimes came their way, such as a poetry night at the Roundhouse in Chalk Farm in honor of Cecil Day Lewis, where Tudor Lodge was hired to stand in for an absent Leonard Cohen. The band sat on stage in a semicircle with the various budding poets as each in turn declaimed his or her pearl of wisdom until the band's turn arrived to come forward to the podium and present the only musical offering of the evening, hastily practiced renditions of "Suzanne" and one of Mr. Cohen's other songs. Odd!
In December 1970, Karl Blore, the band's manager, arranged for an audition with the new record label, Vertigo Records. Most of Vertigo's cluster of bands were in the rock vein, and included well-known acts Black Sabbath and Uriah Heep, along with lesser known acts like Gentle Giant, Patto, Jade Warrior, and Colosseum. Many of the Vertigo albums released between 1969 and 1973 have come to be seen as the progenitors of both modern heavy metal and modern progressive rock, and the original LPs have become desperately sought-after objects for many collectors. Many collectors will buy a Vertigo album without having heard the band before, simply on the strength of the label, and this is one of the reasons that copies of the relatively obscure Tudor Lodge LP change hands for upwards of 175 pounds today. Being one of only two folk acts on the label, Tudor Lodge must have been a surprise to a few of those avid fans of the label.
Tudor Lodge auditioned in less than ideal surroundings for conveying the subtle nuances of harmony and song writing that were their stock in trade: in downtown Soho at the Marquee Club, squeezed in between two King Crimson sets! The sound person apparently cared little for changing the settings at the mixing board that he had prepared for the wildly raucous and electric King Crimson, and they had "nothing but feedback all the way through." However, the band went down well, and was signed to Vertigo Records, a major coup.
The album was recorded in a week or two in February of 1971. Danny Thompson and Terry Cox (both from the Pentangle) were hired by Vertigo to provide bass and drum tracks for the album, and learned all the songs on the spot. The unerring grace with which these two complement the Tudor Lodge musicians is certainly an astounding testament to their abilities as session men.
Within a couple of months, a single from the album sessions was released. The B-side of the single, Peter, Paul, and Mary's "The Good Times We Had", is included on this archival CD in its first re-release in any format. "The Good Times We Had" was briefly a part of Tudor Lodge's live set, but didn't settle in as a regular component. Shortly after the single, Vertigo released the album in a wonderful, intricately drawn, black and white four way foldout cover, which sold poorly during the year it was available.
After the album was released, the band began to find a somewhat larger following, and began to be invited to more of the larger venues than before as well as different types of venues. In the summer of 1971 they played that most venerable of all British folk festivals, the Cambridge Folk Festival, and in August played at the Weeley Festival in Clacton. Weeley attracted 150,000 attendants, and Tudor Lodge was sandwiched in between rock bands like Mungo Jerry, Barclay James Harvest, Mott the Hoople, the Pink Fairies and Brinsley Schwarz. The Hell's Angels were acting as security at the festival. At one point John remembers being forced to hide in his car while two Hell's Angels fought each other with iron bars just outside: "They left blood on the bonnet of my car to prove it!" Tudor Lodge was originally scheduled to play in the evening, but scheduling problems forced their set later and later until finally they played sometime near sunrise, largely "to a sea of sleeping bags with heads popping up now and then." Certainly the largest audience the band ever played for, but hard to know how many were actually aware of the treat.
In November 1971 Ann decided that it was time to take her leave; she had grown tired of the constant traveling and shortage of money. A six-week tour of Holland had been scheduled for January and February of 1972, so a replacement was needed in short order. Karl Blore was friends with many in the British folk scene, including the Richard Thompson / Sandy Denny / Fairport Convention axis, so he was able to contact and entice Linda Peters from that crew to sign on with Tudor Lodge. Linda started work with Tudor Lodge in December 1971, and the three tracks included on this CD were recorded toward the end of 1971 before the tour of Holland. "Morocco" was a regular part of the Tudor Lodge set even before Ann left the band, and was inspired by a week of evenings spent playing in a small holiday resort in Asila, a town near Tangier in 1971. "Look At Me" was a new Stannard song, and Carole King's "It's Gonna Take Some Time" was probably a song that Linda brought to the band. The band played 6 or 8 gigs in Holland and one or two in England upon their return before Linda decided it wasn't her cup of tea and departed for an illustrious musical career with Richard Thompson and solo. Linda's departure signaled the end of Tudor Lodge.
Soon after the breakup of the band, John Stannard gathered together all the Tudor Lodge folk and friends he could find and went into the studio to record a new set of songs he had been writing. In a single one-day session, the five songs that comprise tracks 6-9 and track 12 were recorded and mixed. The master reels have been lost, so these tracks were taken from a second or third generation normal bias cassette mix down tape, accounting for the inferior sound quality even after substantial equalization and adjustment performed in the digital domain. (One track, "We Are Today", is taken from a studio acetate and is better quality.) None of these songs were ever performed as part of the Tudor Lodge set, and John has played them live perhaps only once or twice over the years.
In the spring of 1972, Lyndon traveled to Berlin with Mike Silver, where he spent the next year playing gigs and recording album tracks with Mike as well as with the American John Vaughan. Over the many years since then he has played music, worked as a travel agent, as a second hand bookseller, in limited edition publishing, and at present is gearing up to live in Japan. Soon after leaving Tudor Lodge, Ann met Simon Baker, with whom she started a hotel barge business on the Thames, refurbishing boats and conducting vacation tours of the English waterways. Eventually the two moved to Jamaica and then New Hampshire in the U.S.A. John Stannard still lives in Reading, England.
However, the Tudor Lodge story does not end there. In 1981, Ann, Lyndon, and John discovered quite by chance that all three were living in Reading, and decided to play a reunion show. (One of the tracks on this CD, "Sundown Waker", is taken from a recording of the reunion show, overdubbed later by John and Lyndon.) Ann left for Jamaica soon thereafter, but John and Lyndon continued playing together. They recruited Lynne Whiteland, a local musician they admired and began playing weekly shows together. Lynne, Lyndon and John recorded track 10, "One More Drink", for this CD release. In 1985, Lyndon moved to Australia and John and Lynne were left to carry the torch as a duo. The very fine music that John, Lynne, and Lyndon have made in the 80's and 90's can be explored on the CD "Let's Talk" released by Cast Iron Records.
In an attempt to complete the circle, we have included John and Lynne's absolutely latest work as Tudor Lodge on this archival CD, tracks 4 and 5. Both tracks were recorded in February 1997 onto analog tape at the Outhouse Studio in Reading. Lynne and John wrote, arranged and recorded "Home to Stay" within 6 days of first deciding to record new material for the CD! In homage to the roots of their music, John and Lynne have also reprised "It All Comes Back To Me" from the Vertigo album in really one of the most wonderful performances on the CD. Play it for your friends and you may find yourself hoping that this little group of musicians continues to make music through many a year still to come.
01. It All Comes Back To Me
02. Would You Believe ?
04. Two Step's Back
05. Help Me Find Myself
06. Nobody's Listening
07. Willow Tree
09. I See A Man
10. Lady's Changing Home
12. Kew Gardens