The Magical World of The Strands
Deluxe reissue of Michael Head's classic 1997 album The Magical World of The Strands. "Head, who is no stranger to either classy, baroque pop or neo-psychedelia, has composed an album of gorgeously illustrated songs that are lushly orchestrated by a standard rock quartet augmented by a flutist (Leslie Roberts) and a string quartet. The result is an album that, while little known, is a classic, a masterpiece of modern chamber pop... this disc walks the line between the deep, darkly expressionistic chamber work of the Tindersticks to the airy, classically augmented breeze-laden pop of Nick Drake à la Five Leaves Left -- long before the millennium obsession with Drake's work began anew because of a Volkswagen commercial" --AllMusic. "This is an elegantly unified work, tough yet guileless, and rustic in tone when the idea of lads with beards and banjos was unheard of. The balance of masterful songcraft with an in-the-moment looseness is probably the defining mood, the group uncrowded and unhurried as they feel their way around 11 folk-influenced, strings-augmented, subtly layered tracks" --Mojo (5/5 stars). In 1993, Head teamed up with his brother John, his longtime drummer Iain Templeton, and two new recruits, Michelle Brown on bass and Les Roberts on flute, and began two years of recording sessions. The sessions came to a halt when Head was offered a major label deal, not for his current work, but for him to record as his previous band Shack again. Weaving rough mixes and sketches -- by engineer Steve Powell, made in Liverpool -- with completed mixes by producer Mark Coyle (Oasis), Stephane Bismuth, the French promoter who initiated the Strands sessions, finally released The Magical World of The Strands on Megaphone in 1997. This reissue includes two bonus tracks, the B-sides to the 1998 NME and Melody Maker Single of the Week "Somethin' Like You." "Green Velvet Jacket" is an acoustic solo piece by Head, and "Queen Matilda (Demo)" was recorded in early 1993 and produced by the band's friend and live engineer Ian Eastwood on a four-track Tascam cassette recorder. Also includes 20-page booklet containing new liner notes by Head himself and photographs testifying to the album sleeve's work-in-progress.