Andy Roberts

Home Grown

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Andy Roberts' solo debut album, Home Grown, was issued in a bewildering variety of formats. When it first came out on RCA in 1970, it had 14 tracks; when it came out again on B&C the following year, five of the songs were removed, one song ("Lonely in the Crowd") was added, and some remixing was done to the material that had been previously issued. Further confusing matters, when an album also titled Home Grown was put out later by Ampex, it was yet a third configuration that mixed tracks taken from the previous Home Grown editions and others that appeared on his second proper solo album, Nina and the Dream Tree. The version of Home Grown on B&C thus might not capture the total picture of what Roberts was up to when creating his first album. But on its own merits it is a pretty good overlooked early-'70s folk-rock record. It's fairly similar to the early-'70s work of his future Plainsong bandmate Iain Matthews in its gentle, likable manner that draws from a wide spectrum of folk-rock influences, dipping into pop and country as well as the more typecast brand of U.K. folk-rock. Some of the songs are unremarkable (particularly the ones that lean on stock funky blues-rock riffs), yet others have a winsome mixture of cheeriness and moodiness that grows on you, the arrangements deftly blending fine acoustic guitar picking with sad stately horns and organ. At times there's more lighthearted wit than you're apt to come across in much British folk-rock, and he proves himself a skilled musical storyteller in the memorably titled "The One-Armed Boatman and the Giant Squid."