’70s folk obscurities, lovingly restored to view
Until the reissue of his private-press albums last decade, English songwriter and guitarist Mick Stevens would have gone down as a footnote in others’ careers: during the 1970s, Stevens toured with, among others, Richard And Linda Thompson, The Albion Band, June Tabor and Bert Jansch. A gifted guitarist with a fluid, elemental touch on the instrument, the eventual unearthing of his four solo albums – See The Morning (1972), No Savage Word (1975), The River (1977) and The Englishman (1979) revealed a complex writer and lyricist whose material was of a piece with the loner folk of the era. Released in minuscule editions on recording studio house labels Deroy and Spaceward, it’s no surprise they disappeared on release. But with Sweet
Dreams, a compilation that bumps the extra recordings from Branco’s See The
Morning/No Savage Word double-CD onto vinyl, we get Stevens denuded: from the stream of six-string sadness on songs like “Myrtiotissa”, through featherlight takes on blues standards “See That My Grave Is Kept Clean” and “St James Infirmary Blues”, to the rich, drifting harmonies of “The Eagle And Me”, a songwriter and performer of grace and fluency is revealed, a lost voice uncovered.
Extras: None. JON DALE