Whilst history books will headline 1969 as the year of the Woodstock Festival, The Beatles' last public performance on the roof of Apple Records and Neil Armstrong and Edwin 'Buzz' Aldrin becoming the first humans to set foot on the Moon, hidden away in the small-print is the revelation that Chris George, Terry Hiscock and Doug Morter formed Hunter Muskett whilst at Avery Hill College, (I would conjecture, possibly in the Dive Bar!).
Signed to Decca Nova within a year, their debut LP, Every Time You Move was released in 1970. Following this release, 'newcomer' Roger Trevitt joined on bass and the group went out on the road, full-time, for the next three years.
Their second album, the cunningly titled Hunter Muskett was released in March 1973 on Bradley Records. A change in direction for the record company saw them ditch their existing acts, (they signed up The Goodies instead!), which heralded the beginning of the end for the Musketts, who called it a day in mid-1974.
Some 36 years later, that would be 2010, and the group reformed to play a gig in Clitheroe, following an official release, on CD, of the Every Time You Move album. Such was the success, and apparent enjoyment, that new live dates, songs and another album, That Was Then, This Is Now, followed. Gigs and song-writing continued, and further recording commenced in 2015, which culminated in a fourth release, Unafraid and Sober, in 2017. (Reviewed in FATEA by Peter Cowley here.)
Danny Baker recently wrote about the gap between seeing a band live, for him 47 years, (King Crimson), which beats my 45 years for Hunter Muskett (Bradley's Road Show Tour, 1973 to their appearance earlier this year at New Forest Folk Festival), but then just like the proverbial bus, I get the chance to see them again, this time in the intimate surroundings of the Otford Memorial Hall.
Any chill November-blues were well and truly despatched, as the group concluded their most recent 'Tourette' with an evening of spell-binding brilliance.
Song selections were mainly taken from the two more recent 'come-back' releases, with a few covers, or more accurately 'reinterpretations', one track from Brief Encounters, Doug's release with Jerry Donahue (get well soon), and a very early, I believe as yet unrecorded, number.
Opening number, Leave It With Mine, Terry's song for his daughter, set the tone for the night perfectly. With a consummate professionalism from which some of today's young whippersnappers could learn, their classy, often sophisticated, sounds were delivered with a warmth that enraptured the full-to-bursting venue.
Thoughtful sequencing saw a beautiful rendition of North Of Clear Lake being followed by Everyday, featuring not only possibly the best glockenspiel solo ever seen at St Edith Folk, courtesy of Roger, but also whole-hearted and vociferous singing from an audience who had been in full participation-mode from the off.
Whilst social conscience, empathy and compassion might not be the first things that spring to mind when discussing the music of Hunter Muskett, I would assert the view that these are indeed qualities which permeate their work.
An understated, but nevertheless heartfelt, introduction was given to Cairo, taken from the Unafraid CD,
'I can hear the gates of justice crying
Blowing in the teeth of love and pride
Howling at the innocents, the refugees and
Asking questions hearing lies'
and later, Doug's Fields Of France further underscored the thoughtfulness which is manifest in so many of the lyrics.
Being blessed with two of the finest song-writers around is, however, only part of the Hunter Muskett story. Superb musicianship of the highest quality was much in evidence tonight. The interplay between the guitars, both electric and acoustic, together with solicitous bass from Roger, were all perfectly judged, allowing the vocals, be they solo or harmonised, to be delivered with pleasing clarity.
A fabulous version of the gospel classic Jesus On The Main Line, the earliest known recordings of which were made in 1937, was enthusiastically received, as were "folk classic" Walk Away Renee and the self-penned, county-tinged That Was Then, This Is Now, three songs which hopefully help to encapsulate the breadth and variety of music played.
As a by-line, interspersed between the music we were entertained with background information related to band history and song evolution/explanation, together with a litany of jokes and anecdotes which referenced, amongst others, Max and Anthony Bygraves, Ray Cooper, Justin Haywood, Aerosmith, Cary Grant, Richard Digance, Don McLean, Joan Armatrading and even Sooty.
Above all, however, the enthusiasm and genuine enjoyment of the band, or as they would have it, "A bunch of kids with a crazy dream", was plain for all to see and hear, and was reflected in the fervent demands for two encores
This was an unforgettable night, Hunter Muskett fired on four barrels and showcased live music at its very best. They will be performing again in 2019, including festival appearances. I certainly won't be leaving it another 45 years.
Leave It With Mine
Stage Lights (Musicians Song)
North Of Clear Lake
Can't Always Tell
Jesus On The Main Line
River Runs Dry
Fields Of France
Nowhere Else To Go
Five Minutes More
That Was Then, This Is Now
Walk Away Renee
Next to Me
A brief word of appreciation, too, for support band Glymjack, who gave a polished and energetic performance. As Terry Hiscock stated, "A band on the up"
David Pratt words, photo, video
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