Shide & Acorn

Princess of the Island

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All of the material on this CD was done prior to the recording of Shide & Acorn's sole, self-pressed early-'70s album, though it wasn't issued until 1994. About half of the 14 tracks were cut in Paris in June 1970; the others are only identified as having been recorded on the Isle of Wight in 1969 and 1970, sounding like demo/rehearsal tapes. The good news is that the sound quality on this is much, much better than it is on the other CD of previously unreleased Shide & Acorn material, Legend of the Dreamstones (consisting of 1969 rehearsal tapes). In fact, the fidelity's quite reasonable and non-problematic: the production certainly isn't as sophisticated as it was for standard albums on real labels in 1970, but it's clearly recorded and listenable, though not as good or full on the non-Paris tracks. The lesser news is that this isn't British folk-rock of note, though it's OK; it's not even quite on par with the modest standards of the erratic LP Shide & Acorn did put out while they were still together, Under the Tree. It's pleasant, precious, and lightweight, a little like Donovan's lightest, most minimally arranged stuff, but lacking nearly as much production depth (or melodies and vocals that are nearly as strong). This shouldn't be taken as a knock against twee but atmospheric circa-1970 British folk-rock: at its best, that style was quite enchanting. This is too insubstantial to be enchanting, however, and there are numerous other British acts, both huge (like Donovan) and obscure, who did it better.