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Culpeper's Orchard

Mountain Music: Polydor Recordings 1971-1973

Review by Gary Hill

This is a compilation of music from a Danish progressive rock act that went by the name "Culpeper's Orchard." I really like this double disc set a lot. I will say that, while this act is considered prog, and most of it is, there are points here where they land more in the zone of bluegrass, sometimes for entire songs. The reference points I hear on this album include The Moody Blues, Crosby Stills and Nash and more. I should mention that I reviewed two of these songs in compilation album review in this issue. For the sake of consistency, I've used those track reviews here.

This review is available in book (paperback and hardcover) form in Music Street Journal: 2021  Volume 1. More information and purchase links can be found at: garyhillauthor.com/Music-Street-Journal-2021.

Track by Track Review
CD One
                       
Banjocul

As you might guess banjo brings this into being. It's just a short introductory piece that is just banjo and vocals. It's very much a roots music thing.

Mountain Music Part 1
Hard rocking sounds with a decidedly prog arrangement brings this into being. The cut is driving and so classy. The vocals are on the dreamy side of the spectrum, but the music is fiery hot. This is such a perfect transition piece between psychedelia and full progressive rock. The changes are classy, particularly the timing shift and twist to seriously heavy modes. It gets incredibly intense before it all drops back down to a mellower arrangement to continue. It eventually makes its way to more powered up, but less than the way it opened, for a melodic jam that ends the track.
Hey You People
I dig the cool up-tempo sound driving this. It definitely has a 1960s vibe to it, but also some real proto-prog modes at the heart of it. The hard rocking break later is full on progressive rock.
Teaparty For An Orchard
This repeats some themes from the previous number, working out into a prog jam from there. When the vocals join I'm reminded quite a bit of The Moody Blues. The tune has some interesting twists and turns, but really overall does feel like the harder rocking end of early the Moodies' catalog. There is a descent into weird psychedelic trippiness mid-track. It eventually makes its way to the song proper, and we get some cool twists and turns along that road. 
Ode To Resistance
More of a mellow, acoustic guitar driven folk sound is in the driver's seat here as this starts. Flute adds to the arrangement. After the first vocal section the cut moves into some killer hard rocking prog. The guitar solo later is positively on fire. The closing movement has some killer flute in the mix.
Your Song And Mine
The hard rocking sound that opens this makes me think of Jethro Tull. The tune works out to more mainstream fast-paced early progressive rock from there. The fast-paced jam around the halfway mark makes me think of Peter Banks' band Flash to a large degree. It's a great musical passage. That gives way to a return to the song proper from there with a lot of folk music in the mix.
Gideon's Trap
Piano that's quite classical in nature opens this. The track works out from there into a mellower, psychedelically based arrangement. As this continues to evolve, I'm again reminded of The Moody Blues to a fairly large degree.
Blue Day's Morning
Intricate acoustic guitar melodies bring this to life. Vocals come over the top, bringing a dramatic folk rock sort of vibe to the number.
Mountain Music Part 2
Driving hard rocking sounds are on display on this screaming hot tune. This is less prog rock tune and more blues rocker, but it's purely on fire, particularly when the guitar is soloing. And, all that said, there are prog sections with some psychedelia in the mix. As the rock ends some bluegrass picking takes over and makes up the actual ending of the song.
Steamhouse
This has an old-time rock and roll basis to it, reminding me a lot of "Johnny B. Goode." The cut is psychedelic and proto-prog based, though. It has some killer guitar.
Julia
Folk music is at the heart of this as it starts. The cut works out into something that calls to mind Crosby, Stills and Nash a bit, but the vocals make me think of Ray Thomas' singing in the Moody Blues.
Keyboard Waltz
This doesn't sound at all like that title would make you think it would. It's an up-tempo melodic rocker that feels a lot like The Moody Blues. It drifts toward melodic psychedelic pop rock at times.
Classified Ads
Coming in with a driving, hard rocking sound that is decidedly proggy in a blues rock way, this is another smoking hot tune. It shifts to a more melodic, 60s pop rock based sound after a time. The vocals get seriously rocking. I love the guitar soloing over the top of a more purely prog based movement further down the road. That movement ends the piece.
Late Night Woman Blues
Blues guitar brings this into being. This gradually works outward with more of a trippy psychedelic edge added to the mix, but it's still restrained and understated. As the vocals come over the top, the track is still rather mellow. It has some down-home slide guitar in the mix. It's about two-and-a-half minutes in before it rises up to more rocking zones. It's still a full on blues treatment, though.
CD Two
                       
Mind Pollution / Weather Report

I love the cool guitar texture that opens this with melodic stylings. The cut works out as a dramatic folk styled tune from there. After working through like that for close to half the length of the piece, it fires out into killer, fast paced progressive rock jamming. There is definitely a Moody Blues element to it. This gets into some powerhouse instrumental zones further down the road as this drives onward. This piece is an epic number that's over nine-and-a-half minutes long.

Autumn Of It All
Folk music is merged with dreamy progressive rock stylings in an arrangement that again has some hints of The Moody Blues.
Satisfied Mind
This number is set very much in a country music approach. It's a huge change, but also an effective tune. The guitar work is classy, and the vocal arrangement is rich. This gets more powered up further down the road, but very much in a bluegrass kind of way. They turn in a real hoedown later with an up-tempo section.
Trying To Find Home
An energized folk rock sound is at the heart of this number. The guitar fills bring more of those country elements to it. This is a fun number that has plenty of class and style. There are some pop rock vibes to the cut, and still some hints of prog at times.
She's Back Again
Folk prog is on display here. This is a fun tune with some definite pop-like chorus hooks. I love the bass work on this number.
Good Days
I love the cool folky approach that starts this. The cut works out into proggier zones after the first vocal section. This really qualifies as folk prog for sure. I love the more filled out proggy sections, but the folk textures of the vocal movements really provide a great counterpoint. The vocal arrangement is rich and impressive, too.
Alone In Pain
Imagine adding Ray Thomas to Crosby, Stills and Nash. It might sound like something very close to this. There are plenty of country angles to this number. The vocals really do sound like Mr. Thomas to me. This works through a number of changes and is quite effective.
Time Flies
I can hear hints of The Beatles in this full-on melodic prog number, but the rockier side of that band. The dreamy layers of sound on this are classy. The bass line really grabs me on this, too. There are some folk rock elements in the song structure, too. I can definitely make out hints of psychedelia, as well. The cut drops down early and a sea of voices rises up as its reinvented.
Sailor
Country music, folk and even some hints of The Moody Blues and CSN are heard on this number. The vocal arrangement is the best part of this for me, but some of the country guitar fills are very cool, too. There is a killer electric guitar solo later in the track, though, and the cut gets more powered up and proggy from there. That Moodies reference is more valid on that section. When it gets back to the more purely country based zones it still retains the greater level of intensity.
Couldn't Be Better
Fast-paced folk rock concepts bring class and style on the opening here. This does have some proggy concepts on the slower, dreamier parts of the tune. It also gets into some energized rock and roll territory at times. The tune reminds me of things like The Guess Who in some later energized sections.
Roger And Out
A distorted guitar brings this into being with a rather bluesy riff. As the tune starts to coalesce from there it takes on almost a Southern rock edge. This takes on more mainstream rock sounds as it continues.
Before It Begun
A slow moving, mellow number, this has plenty of folk and country in the mix. It definitely reminds me a bit of some of the mellower output from The Beatles.
New Day, New Day
I love the cool texture brought by the almost jazzy guitar soloing on this thing. The cut builds upward with a folk prog meets jazz kind of arrangement that is so classy. This is a short tune that's also very effective.
Raving
Fast paced jamming that makes me think of what you might get if the instrumentalists of Renaissance would create music with The Moody Blues. This is a driving folk prog tune that really works well. I dig the classy guitar solo on this that brings it more into jam band zones.
Satisfied Mind (Live)
This live track shows a different side of the band with a real pure bluegrass country sound at its core. That said, the keyboards and some other aspects do bring some proggy things to the number. This gets involved and potent as it continues. The instrumental movement later in the track definitely takes into proggy zones, but still informed by country music.
Good Days (Live)
I love this killer prog rock jam. It's packed full of tasty twists and turns. They manage to pack a lot of cool into a roughly three-and-a-half minute tune.
 
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