Spotted by Decca staff Ray Horricks at the Edinburgh Festival in 68, they were brought down to London by him to record their first album and it was released in early 69. This self-titled album contained some acid folk with some string arrangements, but the market being flooded by such albums, it sold poorly, enticing guitarist Carolyn Davis to quit.
Decca wanted to cut the band from its roster, but Horricks held good and the group was grudgingly allowed a second chance. Aware of this BL&D first went on the road (sharing stages with MAGNA CARTA and TYRANOSAURUS REX) and wrote new material for their upcoming album. It was during this time that BL&D developed a working project with the Traverse Theatre Group in Edinburgh. Their director Max Stafford wanted McNiven to adapt one of his pieces Mother Earth to the stage actors. It eventually became Amaryllis, given a twist of name. This piece was then performed in Edinburgh, then London, than on a European tour (Scandinavia, Benelux, France & Spain) to apparently great acclaim.
Although reassured of their recent successes, but still not well with Decca, BL&D recorded over 5 days in the summer of 70 two albums’ worth of material with a bunch of added guests (including THE PENTANGLE’s bassist Danny Thompson and drummer Terry Cox); they even considered releasing a double album (ala ISB’s Wee Tam & The Big Huge), but Decca decided against it. Strange Tales Of Captain Shannon was therefore released fall of 70 to critical acclaim, and it contained the lengthy title track that was again in the ISB mould. As their second album failed to sell, Decca quickly released (botched-up marketing and too few copies pressed) in early 71, Amaryllis, which is arguably their best works, but it fail to sell, or even match the sales of the preceding two albums. Although both albums came out with superb sleeves, it was not enough for the public to invest in a second version of ISB. Decca dropped the band after an Edinburgh’s Royal Court Theatre’s presentation and wrote the whole thing down as a tax write-off.
McNiven and Rew first married, then kept courageously on for a year or two before finally quitting. They would resurface in a Scot band in the mid-70’s Mama Flier. McNiven has been writing music for Granada TV in the past two decades and Rew is toying away in theatres
Yet another Scot group that made a dent on the folk-rock scene and their music was inventive enough to be labelled progressive folk as well.
Edited by [deleted user] on 25 Aug 2009, 12:50
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