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Lark in the Morning

Silly Wizard - Wild and Beautiful

Silly Wizard - Wild and Beautiful


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Silly Wizard were a Scottish folk band, that formed in Edinburgh in July 1972. The founder members were two like-minded students, Gordon Jones (guitar, bodhran, vocals, bouzouki, mandola) and Bob Thomas (guitar, mandolin, mandola, banjo, concertina) and Chris Pritchard (vocals) who were joined in September 1972 by a rather youthful Johnny Cunningham (fiddle, viola, mandola, vocals) and who was still studying at school at the time. In September 1972 the band took over the running, and performed at, the Triangle Folk Club from then until March 1974. In February 1973, Chris Pritchard left the band and was replaced by Madelaine Taylor (guitar, bodhran, vocals). In October 1973, the band was signed to Transatlantic Records XTRA label. The album was recorded but before the album could be released, Madelaine Taylor left the band in December 1973. The master tapes were subsequently lost and the album has never been released.

Bob Gordon and Johnny began touring as a trio in January 1974, and went on the first of many French tours in April 1974.

The band then added Neil Adam (bass, harmonium) in September 1974 and Andy M. Stewart (vocals, tin whistle, tenor banjo) in December 1974. In March 1975, Silly Wizard began work on their next album. The band was then joined by Freeland Barbour (accordion, bouzouki) and Alastair Donaldson (bass, flute) replaced Neil Adam in July 1975 when the latter decided to return to university. Their first eponymous LP Silly Wizard was released on the XTRA label and the band began touring throughout the UK and Europe.

In late 1976, Freeland Barbour left the band and was replaced by Phil Cunningham (accordion, tin whistle, harmonium, synthesizer, cittern, vocals). At the same time Alastair Donaldson also left and was replaced by Martin Hadden (bass, guitar, piano). This lineup then recorded the band's second LP, Caledonia's Hardy Sons (Highway Records).

Silly Wizard played a variety of Scottish folk music, both instrumental and vocal, from fast jigs and reels to slow airs. While the majority of the items they played were traditional songs or tunes, the band did write many compositions of their own. Phil Cunningham wrote generally instrumental music centered on the accordion, and Stewart wrote several songs in a style often distinctly traditional. Once Andy's singing and the driving, impassioned instrumentals of the Cunningham brothers had established themselves at its centre, the group's overall sound changed little until their final album, A Glint of Silver, which introduced the synthesizer as a prominent part of the band, giving them a slightly New Age sound. It can be said, though, that certain albums (e.g. So Many Partings and Wild and Beautiful) show a thematic or musical development that makes them more than an arbitrary succession of tracks—in fact the last five tracks on Wild and Beautiful were often played as an opening set to their live performances.

They continued recording until the late 1980s, when the band decided to dissolve after performing for seventeen years and releasing nine albums

1. If I Was a Blackbird - Silly Wizard, Stewart, Andy M.
2. Pipe Major Donald Campbell/The Orphan/The Kestrel/Come up Alang [Jigs]
3. The Pearl
4. The Fisherman's Song/Lament for the Fisherman's Wife
5. Hame, Hame, Hame/Tha Me Sgith - Silly Wizard, Stewart, Andy M.
6. Tha Mi Sgith (Strathspey) /Eck Stewart's March/MacKenzie's Fancy ...
7. Miss Patricia Meagher/Laura Lynn Cunningham
8. A.B. Corsi (The Lad from Orkney) /Ril Bheara/Richard Dwyer's Reels

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