Trader Horne were a folk duo whose music, for an all too brief moment in time, captured something of the passing of an era. Sadly, their one album, Morning Way, which was released in 1970, slipped by largely unnoticed seemingly lost within the rich musical scene of the time.
It has subsequently become a sought after collector's piece and has now been lovingly re-released by Esoteric Records.
For many the passing of the sixties signalled the end of a period that had promised so much. The hopes, dreams, and world changing ideals of the time were somehow locked within, and have become forever associated with that decade. The sixties had seen advances in social change, and of course, the world of music like no other decade. In truth, however, it had been a bitter sweet ride.
Music had broken out of your parents record player and become a social movement. Music was suddenly in colour as we began to realize its potential power. Pirate radio blew apart the old-school programming of the past. Record labels sprang up to release some exciting and revolutionary sounds to a waiting generation. The times had indeed a-changed.
In fact, the so called 'summer Of love' of ’67 can be traced back a lot further than those few spectacular yet brief months. No wonder people wanted to hold on to the memory.
Tragically, it was also the decade that saw continuing war, assassinations, and ended with student riots. As much as we remember Woodstock, which in many ways seemed to capture the whole vibe of a generation, the decade ended at Altamont and the infamous violence of the Stones free gig there. In many ways it seemed to be the symbolic end to the hippy dream.
As the seventies loomed many feared what they would bring. It was a strange time for the world of music and the inevitable break-up of The Beatles at the very point that the seventies arrived seemed to confirm the end of an era.This was the scene that the short lived Trader Horne was created within.
Londoner Judy Dyble had come to notice as the original vocalist with the now legendary Fairport Convention. She left in 1968, along with her partner at the time, Ian McDonald, after appearing on their debut album. Together they became part of Giles, Giles, and Fripp, who would eventually morph into King Crimson.
Somewhere along the journey Judy not only split with the band but parted company with McDonald as well. Despite a brief appearance with The Incredible String Band, Judy was on her own and ready to embark on a solo career.
Ireland’s multi-talented, multi-instrumentalist, Jackie McAuley (sometimes spelt McCauley) had earned his reputation playing keys for Van Morrison's band Them. His journey also took in influences heard during a visit to Morocco as he tried to find a musical path to follow. That is until he met Judy Dyble.
In some ways it was an unlikely pairing and on the other hand they complimented each other perfectly. Judy the quintessentially English folk singer and Jackie’s multi faceted talent blended together to form Trader Horne.
The name apparently came from the nickname of John Peel’s nanny Florence Horne. She had acquired the name ‘Trader’ after the ill-fated 1931 film about a swashbuckling ivory trader of the same name.
The background theme to their album, Morning Way, sees a journey through the rites of passage to adulthood. It isn’t as simple as that though. There is an eclectic puzzle to the whole that sees tracks such as the Tolkien inspired “Three Rings For Elven Kings” sitting next to their cover of Jimmie Cox’s “Nobody Knows You When You’re Down And Out” (“Down And Out Blues”).
The result is a slightly quirky, yet enchantingly compelling album that is very much of those magical times. It is certainly one that should be explored rather than be consigned to the musical dustbin of days past.
It opens with “Jenny May” which immediately shines a huge beacon on the musicianship of Trader Horne. It is a blend that, for this particular moment in time, was clearly in the stars.
“Children Of The Oare”, curiously set above an echo of “We Three Kings Of Orient Are”, captures the fascination with all things inspired by Tolkien that many of us explored at the time. This is continued magically through the enchanting instrumental piece “Three Rings For Elven Kings” during which Jackie displays his superb skill on flute.
“Growing Man” showcases Judy’s beautiful voice, the pair’s harmonies, and a whole galaxy of unfulfilled possibilities that are contained within this ‘lost’ album. Their unpredictability kicks in next with the inclusion of “Down And Out Blues”. “The Mixed Up Kind” is wonderfully evocative of that precise period in music. Again the harmonization between the two would be near impossible to better.
The delightful “Better Than Today”, the string soaked richness of “In My Loneliness”, lead to the upbeat “Sheena”. “The Mutant” is worth the money alone, a fascinating piece of imagination, brilliantly performed, but sadly like Trader Horne itself all too brief. The stand out title track delves further into some darker areas and rich visual imagery.
Judy is never better than on the piano laced “Velvet To Atone” which leads beautifully into “Like That Never Was”. It is a title that seems to sum up this band. No sooner had they appeared, they were gone. The whole leaves you wondering just what could have been and how a pairing that was so complimentary of each others strengths could fall apart so quickly.
Maybe it was a matter of timing or lack of commercial possibilities that caused the break up shortly after Morning Way’s release. In the album’s notes Judy merely sites ‘ a tantrum’ as the catalyst that brought about their premature demise. Either way it was all over.
The re-release appears with two welcome bonus tracks. “Here Comes The Rain”, and “Goodbye Mercy Kelly” either of which would possibly have fitted better than the seemingly misplaced but well performed “Down And Out Blues”.
I am again indebted to the musical knowledge of the Esoteric label who have been bringing quality music back to life that otherwise might lay lost in the sands of time.
Morning Way perfectly captures the exact moment when the world was awaiting the coming of a new era. Sadly, Trader Horne, was not destined to part of it.Powered by Sidelines