White Faced Lady

  • AllMusic Rating
  • User Ratings (0)
  • Your Rating

AllMusic Review by

This elaborate two-CD set collects two albums by Fairfield Parlour: From Home to Home, a somber, more mature album that was inspired by early Pink Floyd and released on Fontana's more progressive Vertigo imprint in 1969, and White Faced Lady, the band's so-called "lost masterpiece." Burning Airlines Records' 2001 reissue of White Faced Lady collects both albums -- which are accredited to the band's previous moniker, Kaleidoscope -- with the best packaging of these recordings thus far, including two lavishly designed, glossy booklets, including one that features singer Peter Daltrey's original White Faced Lady story and lyrics. The origin of White Faced Lady is quite interesting: over the spring and summer of 1970, the band's two songwriters -- Peter Daltrey and Eddie Pumer -- had noticed that quite a few of their new songs seemed to have a similar theme. They began shaping these tracks into what turned out to be an ambitious and conceptual pop opera, taking its name from a pivotal track, "White Faced Lady." The narrative followed the tragic life of a troubled movie starlet named Angel, desperate for both love and fame but finding neither. The story was said to have been based loosely on the tragic life of Marilyn Monroe. Musically, White Faced Lady was less British pop-like than their earlier recordings, as the band was then becoming more "renaissance/progressive" overall, even as it revealed they may have been straining beyond the scope of their sweeping orchestration vision. The first part of White Faced Lady had a wistful, somewhat light air about it, with acoustic guitars, flutes, full orchestra, and choir giving way to more complex and cluttered arrangements that sometimes blended in sitar ("Song for Jon") and other psychedelic elements along the way. Without a label's backing, however, the band had to invest their own money into the recordings. Later, their longtime producer, former Radio One DJ David Symonds, signed a leasing deal with a Vertigo exec who agreed to pay them upon delivery of the album. The sessions were continued the following spring at Sound Techniques in London's Chelsea district. Toward the end of the sessions, the band found out that their leasing deal was off, so this ornate and abstruse album was shelved for 20 years. It wasn't officially released, in a complete form, until 1991, when the band issued the vinyl version on their own Kaleidoscope label. Both albums were later collected on CD as Kaleidoscope: The Fairfield Parlour Years. As with that release, this set -- released on Pilot/Burning Airlines in the U.K. and Pilot Records in the U.S. -- features all of the band's Fairfield Parlour singles and no less than nine rare bonus tracks, including a brand-new version of "Bordeaux Rose" remixed by Underworld's Rick Smith. The collection has been reissued again, in this new form with more elaborate packaging, by Burning Airlines.

blue highlight denotes track pick