Liverpudlian Mick Head started to make music with The Pale Fountains, a Love-obsessed early-'80s band whose tenure with Virgin records fell apart after two albums when the A&R man who signed them jumped ship.
Head and brother John regrouped as Shack in the late '80s, recording two albums for Ghetto, the second of which, '91's Waterpistol, was abandoned when the master tapes were first thought lost in a studio fire and later left in a rental car in America. In late 1995 a copy turned up, and German label Marina released Waterpistol to rave reviews in the British press, who hailed it as one of the best LPs of the decade.
By this time the Heads were recording as The Strands, although they briefly reformed Shack and signed to London records, only to see the label go under. On The Magical World of The Strands, Mick and brother John (genius twelve-string picker who also contributes a song of his own - the spare, elegaic "Loaded Man") choose folk music as their vehicle, strumming through arrangements that are gentle and uncluttered. Sympathetic strings graze "Something Like You" as it passes, never distracting the melody or dominating the mood. Was it German label Marina that had come to the rescue of 'Waterpistol'; now it was the turn of French label Megaphone, who offered Mick a small sum to make an album for them. 'The Magical World Of The Strands' was the result, and it underpins this whole story, making it worth the telling. If 'Zilch' was Mick at his most socially concerned, then 'Magical World ...' sees him in about as other-worldly a state as it's possible to record. It's an instrumentally beautiful record, totally idiosyncratic, rightly titled magical - alluding to a fantasy world beyond reality, or of heightened reality. Songs such as 'Something like you' and 'Fontilan' are liquid, sleepy, and impressionistic. Others - 'Queen Matilda', 'Hocken's Hey - are folk songs in the truest sense, mythical and timeless.
Track Listing :
01. Queen Matilda
02. Something Like You
03. And Luna
04. X Hits The Spot
07. Glynys And Jaqui
08. It's Harvest Time
09. Loaded Man
10. Hocken's Hey
This is an album of exquisite beauty. Very few albums are made like this anymore-music stripped to the basics. Lovely songwriting and beautiful musicianship. Imagine "Bryter Layter", "Astral Weeks", "Forever Changes" and "Harvest" and you are getting somewhere near the sound of this superb album. (Review written by an anonymous customer on amazon.co.uk)
Not to be missed, it's a pretty unknown gem !!!