New York, NY (Top40 Charts)
The band known as Unicorn
released three exquisite albums in the mid-'70s, with David
Gilmour of Pink Floyd
in the producer's chair. But a wide audience was elusive, even though Unicorn
opened for many heavyweights in the day (including Linda
Ronstadt, Fleetwood Mac, The Doobie Brothers, Billy Joel, and Dr. Hook), played with Kate Bush
on her first proper demo recordings (which landed her a deal with EMI), and were even covered by Gilmour on his first self-titled solo album, released in 1978.
With Laughing Up Your Sleeve, out October 5, 2018, Omnivore Recordings attempts to correct what may have been a matter of wrong time, wrong place for a band whose music overflows with beautiful melodies, lush arrangements and perfect harmonies. The CD/LP/Digital set compiles 20 previously unreleased demos recorded in Gilmour's home studio in 1973-74, with Gilmour adding pedal steel guitar to "Sleep Song."
Unicorn's music owes as much to rustic Americana acts such as The Band, The Byrds, and Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young as it does to the lyrical themes of English tradition and whimsy relayed by the likes of Ray Davies and even Syd Barrett. Although musically inspired by American acts (mostly folk and country rock), theirs is a very British sound, which, unfortunately, was out of step for the time in which it was released, at least in England, from where they rarely strayed.
Laughing Up Your Sleeve contains many never-before-seen, recently discovered photos of the band, documenting them in the studio with Gilmour and on stage in London. In addition, extensive liner notes detail Unicorn's story and how these demos were found, and include new interviews with Gilmour and key band members. The demos, recorded on multi-track tapes, have been lovingly restored and beautifully mixed and mastered by Scott Anthony at Storybook Sound in New Jersey and produced by Pat Martin
from Unicorn. The sound quality is simply stunning.
It's hard to imagine this music managed to remain under the radar for so long, but as true artists, Unicorn
never played "the game" the music industry requires in order to achieve commercial success. We are fortunate now that this music was preserved so Omnivore can give it its just reward now.
According to Gilmour in the notes: "One could say that Unicorn
didn't want success quite enough, or that they just weren't prepared to compromise their music to better fit into the competitive world of popular music. Their music still gives me great pleasure."
Laughing Up Your Sleeve
1. Sleep Song
2. I Saw You
3. Ooh! Mother
4. The Farmer
5. Autumn Wine
6. Take It Easy
7. Electric Night
8. All Night Long
9. Just Wanna Hold You
10. The Ballad Of John And Julie
13. Blue Pine Trees
15. Ferry Boat
18. Nightingale Crescent
19. Drinking All Night
20. So Far Away