I acquired this record under questionable circumstances. I was acting as the agent of an organization to transfer the record into their possession, which is how I gained access to it in the first place. They were going to sell it, and I was absolutely willing to purchase it for the price they were going to sell it for; however, it was a condition of my employment that I was not allowed to purchase it from them. So I took it. I made some other sweet scores that way, too - Sun Ra on Transition, Silver Apples on Kapp, the first Tyrannosaurus Rex album on Regal Zonophone... oops! Nerded out for a minute!
Before the hand-wringing gets too vigorous - no, it wasn't a record store.
I don't think I would have bought it for the price I guess it would normally command in an actual store (I'm thinking ten or fifteen bucks, but maybe only like seven, but really I wouldn't go over three. Priorities.)
Having a hard time zeroing in on my problem with it. It sounds great! "All the instruments played on this album are acoustic". Danny Thompson's double bass is the star in that department - real chunky. The hit - "Light Flight" - is jazzy, tuneful, and folksy as advertised.
It's just that it's not... amiable. Something in there rubs me pro, dig? Jacqui McShee self-harmonizes around twisty lines with grace, but hers is not a voice I love: breathily chipper. Bert Jansch sings lead on a couple tracks, chiefly "Springtime Promises", and I get a similar sheen, a coldness, not an icy blue certainly, but anyway a polished mahogany. The stony grey chant-inspired number "Lyke-Wake Dirge" (Frances: "Is this church music?") is an admirable, totally competent genre experiment that's successful by any measure you want, except, like, I don't really want to listen to it.
There is some stuff I like - "Train Song" closes side one with a gorgeous flitter of bass deliciousness; the cover of "Sally Go Round the Roses" is pretty great.
Ok I think I figured it out. It doesn't cohere! Everyone's a pro on this record and they are super good, like, MUSICIANS, but they aren't really feeling like a band. More of a professional collaboration. Also I think the only one I actually like is Danny Thompson.
The painting was Frances's vision. She employed me to help her cover the field with black. Being an artist is making definite decisions and executing them. Being the one who does it isn't mandatory.
Frances asked me how to spell "Red Raven." I asked her if they had said that in the music, and she said "No, it just seemed like a good name." Since I'm not a comics person, I didn't know till I googled it that it's the name of a Marvel character. I wonder if Frances knew. I'm thinking no. They don't say it on the record - I listened really carefully. Red Raven. Nuts!
UPDATE 9/17/13: OH WOW!!!