Monday, April 23, 2012

Trader Horne: Sheena

During the summer of 1973, I came into knowledge of Trader Horne and the possession of their only recorded output – the 1970 album “Morning Way.” Trader Horne came into being at the behest of Judy Dyble and Jackie McAuley. Dyble was the original female vocalist in Fairport Convention and McAuley had a four month stint with the Irish rock band Them in 1965.

Trader Horne and its lone LP were completely overlooked in the U.S. I discovered them while simultaneously learning more about Fairport Convention. In November 1972, I had been given the first Fairport Convention album and by May 1973, I purchased an import called “A History of Fairport Convention.” This double album set chronicled that band from its second LP (“What We Did on our Holiday”) through the yet-to-be-released “Rosie.”

My knowledge that Trader Horne existed came from Pete Frame’s Fairport Convention’s family tree that was drawn for the album’s cover. Being interested in such things (rock and otherwise) was probably the reason I bought the album in the first place. It was a great investment and Frame’s tree introduced me to several acts that were related to Fairport Convention.

One of these was Trader Horne. Later during the summer of 1973, I found a copy of the American release of “Morning Way” on Janus Records in the cutout bin of F.W. Woolworths in the now defunct Eastland Shopping Mall. I also laid my hands on two albums by Dyble’s fellow Fairport alumnus Ian Matthews: “If You Saw Thro’ My Eyes” and “Tigers Will Survive” on Vertigo.

“Morning Way” is interesting and I like a good many of the songs. I have chosen one that stands out for our Mélange Monday feature – “Sheena.” Sung by Jackie McAuley and released as a single in the UK in late 1969, “Sheena” had real pop potential and probably the only thing that kept it from being a hit was the nonsensical lyrical content. For example, the line “I’m playing the piano with my fingers like bananas” is probably the most egregious example in the song.

The song really has an excellent hook and is easy to sing – so it was on its way of having hit potential – but alas the lyrical content made it difficult to connect with potential (and generally mindless) pop audiences. Even with that said, I like the song and the album. It’s too bad Judy Dyble is not better represented on this particular number; however, being the best cut on the album (and that’s my Top 40 persona speaking), I had to feature “Sheena.”

By the way the little piano part at the end of “Sheena” was found between all songs on side one of the LP. Side twp incorporated the use of a flute and celeste as the linking tunes. While the linking music is interesting, I never personally liked them – but I didn’t like the similar treatment used by Richard Hewson on James Taylor’s first album either. Nonetheless, if you have an opportunity to pick up Trader Horne’s “Morning Way” it is an interesting album that is worth many listens.

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