Sunforest

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Who was Sunforest? It's an excellent question, and while the literal answer is known -- they were a trio of Terry Tucker, Erika Eigen, and Freya Hough -- their own history is really largely a mystery.…
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Who was Sunforest? It's an excellent question, and while the literal answer is known -- they were a trio of Terry Tucker, Erika Eigen, and Freya Hough -- their own history is really largely a mystery. This was due, in part, to the fact that they barely existed as a professional trio before they were auditioned and signed to record an album, and then didn't last very long. Tucker (vocals, keyboards, arrangements), Eigen (vocals, percussion), and Hough (vocals, guitar) had come to London at the end of the 1960s in hopes of making it as singers, and were working at a cafe when they were spotted by an executive from Decca Records. After an impromptu tryout at their place of employment, they were called in for a formal audition and, almost immediately, signed to do an album, and placed on the label's new (and short-lived) progressive rock Nova label, itself an offshoot of the Deram imprint.

How an otherwise untried group could be allowed to cut an entire LP can be explained by the time in which this took place -- 1969 -- and the state of the industry and Decca's position in it. At the time, Decca was at its weakest point in anyone's memory -- it had started the '60s on a par with rival EMI, but the latter's signing of the Beatles had provided them with a cash flow and exposure that allowed EMI to pass Decca in sales and prominence. And by the end of the '60s, they were consistently coming up short in most areas, especially in popular music. Where the company had succeeded was signing some homegrown acts that did appeal heavily within the U.K., trippy acts such as pop singer Cat Stevens, groups like the Honeybus. By 1969, they were aware that even in the new field of progressive rock, EMI was outstripping them with its new Harvest imprint. Decca was casting about for new talent with potential mass appeal, and Sunforest, as the trio of Tucker, Eigen, and Hough were christened, seemed to offer that possibility, hence pushing them right into doing an LP.

Their one and only album, titled Sound of Sunforest, featured such top session players as guitarist Big Jim Sullivan and bassist Herbie Flowers, along with a large contingent of violinists and other classical musicians. And the producer of this esoteric voyage was one Vic Smith, later known as Vic Coppersmith-Heaven, and closely associated with the music of the Jam and, to a lesser degree, Black Sabbath. The resulting album was a strange piece of haunting sunshine pop with Renaissance elements, not quite progressive enough to stand alongside, say, Gentle Giant, but more daring than the work of the American group Spring. Sad to say, without a hit single to propel interest, the album never sold in large numbers, and the trio never made another commercial release. The members, however, did achieve immortality of a kind when they were asked by director Stanley Kubrick to contribute to the soundtrack of A Clockwork Orange (which was in production in England at the time). And one of their songs, "Lighthouse Keeper," later turned up in a popular U.K. television commercial. And in 2005, Sound of Sunforest was reissued on CD in several different editions in Europe, America, and Japan, the latter as a mini-LP CD. And among the trio, Terry Tucker has enjoyed a long career in the decades since, in folk, rock, and soundtrack music.