Under The Silent Tree: Gentle Sounds With Strings
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Over the course of their stop-start five years together, Honeybus ventured into the BBC studios on a dozen occasions, leaving a catalogue of recordings that mirrored their latest releases as well as offering up a fascinating alternate history. The songs that make up 1970's much-loved "almost didn't happen" Story album (reissued by Hanky Panky/Mapache in 2018, along with the rest of the group's output) began appearing as early as the summer of 1968. The likes of 'Scarlet Lady', 'Black Mourning Band' and 'Under The Silent Tree' appear almost fully-formed, played as ensemble pieces, suggesting that their album counterparts were captured quickly and without fuss during snatched studio sessions throughout late 1968 and 1969. They also demonstrate Honeybus's often overlooked skills as a live unit - BBC sessions notoriously allowed little scope for re-takes or overdubbing; you went in and you laid it down while the men in white coats watched the clock. Thrilling as it is to finally hear these alternate versions of familiar Honeybus cornerstones, it's the surfeit of otherwise unrecorded material that's the most startling revelation here. Under The Silent Tree: Gentle Sounds With Strings And Things At The BBC 1967-1973 presents no less than 10 unique Honeybus songs (plus a further four on the CD version only) that virtually constitute an entire second album's worth of unheard material. We find ourselves in a kind of musical hall of mirrors, reveling in a whole new perspective on one of the last great cult pop groups of the '60s, where every track offers a fresh outlook, a fresh thrill, a fresh sound. With strings and things.