Graphite - Chestnut Loke

EricEric USA
edited August 1 in year-1996

'Chestnut Loke' is very much a laid-back affair, I really wasn't expecting another Spring, Cressida or Gracious thanks to a prog vendor who tipped me off in advance, still, it's all very trippy which isn't necessarily a bad thing.

Graphite - Chestnut Loke
ARTIST: Graphite
ALBUM: Chestnut Loke
LABEL: Audio Archives
YEAR: 1996

LINEUP: Chris Gore - mellotron, organ, piano * Dave Hook - guitar * Keith Allen - vocals * John Jackman, Dave Anderson - bass * Peter Dry, Billy Rankin - drums

TRACK LISTING: 01 Starflight Over The Skies * 02 Chestnut Loke * 03 Tide * 04 Freedom * 05 A Dragons Tale * 06 Dawn (Morning Has Come) * 07 Set It Free * 08 Out In The Rain * 09 Don't You Think It's Kinda Sad * 10 In Our Country Home * 11 Evil Arms * 12 Spring * 13 Autumn * 14 She's Gone Away * 15 I'm Feelin' Low * 15 I'm Feelin' Low * 16 Freedom (Reprise)


This rural looking lot recorded a bucket load of material most of which was never issued sans a couple singles. Oddly enough those 45's do not appear on this collection put together by the excellent Audio Archives label although my slightly educated guess is they weren't 'prog' enough to appear here. Whatever the reasons for their exclusion, this is still a perplexing release which I'll get to in a moment, but first some history.

Graphite formed in Reading England, and gigged extensively supporting Roxy Music, Pink Floyd, Mott The Hoople and T Rex, but probably their biggest claim to fame and rightfully so was appearing at Cornwall's 'Tregye Festival' in 1971 billed above none other than Queen.

Of course Queen were unsigned and unknowns at the time but I'm sure Graphite have had a good laugh over that in the years since! They did have the foresight to record their own set from the Festival (headlined by Arthur Brown's Kingdom Come) which was released by Audio Archives as 'Live in Cornwall 1971' in 1998 although I believe is now out of print.

The Songs

'Chestnut Loke' is very much a laid-back affair and believe it or not I'm still not sure if I like it or not having owned this disc for the better part of a decade. I really wasn't expecting another Spring, Cressida or Gracious thanks to a prog vendor who tipped me off in advance.

Still, it's all very trippy which isn't necessarily a bad thing and on 'Starlight Over The Skies' a classical influence does creep into the group's sound, but the title track never really takes off and I wonder what significance was attached to the song? 'Tide' is pretty much the same and it's here I detect more of an American west coast psychedelic vibe than anything English and this runs through the better part of the disc similar to the direction Man would take and probably gone down a storm in San Francisco's Haight-Ashbury during its waning days.

'Freedom' picks it up a little bit and is reprised on the last cut, but overall I'm left unimpressed and Graphite despite a handful of good cuts including later down the track list, 'Autumn' and my favourite The Byrds influenced 'She's Gone Away' never really cut the mustard for this reviewer.

In Summary

Changing their name to Sinbad in 1974, the band released their last single (again- not on this disc) and split. Pop pressures I'm sure played a part, but no matter. Graphite didn't succeed for a reason. It's all about the songs and the hooks even in the prog sphere, something these guys noticeably forgot.

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