MARK FRY – Dreaming With Alice

Mark Fry was of English origin, but mostly lived and recorded in Italy. This album came out in 1972, in an extremely limited edition of just a few hundred copies, and appeared only in Rome and London. It has been a well-kept secret until now, with Akarma bringing it to the attention of the public with a heavy duty vinyl re-issue. Musically it is very much of its time, and in some cases even earlier, with hints of Donovan in the writing style and the sitar on ‘The Witch’ evoking the late 60’s. One gimmick (which I don’t think works particularly well) is having the title track split into eight separate pieces, each of one or two verses, and interspersed between the other songs. Apart from that minor quibble, though, the rest of album is excellent folk/psyche, with the aforementioned ‘The Witch’ being one highlight. ‘A Norman Soldier’, ‘Lute And Flute’ and ‘Down Narrow Streets’ are all fine folky tracks, with Fry’s gentle voice suiting the style perfectly, while it is left to penultimate song ‘Mandolin Man’ to provide the vehicle for Fry to rock out (in an understated way), with the eight minute plus track containing some good psyche guitar soloing. ‘Rethorb Ym No Hcram’ closes the album with a backwards guitar drenched piece, obviously a song called ‘March On My Brother’ played backwards, but it sounds really good, even if it doesn’t quite fit in with the rest of the album. This is an exceptionally good album of its genre, which is to say that if you don’t like folk you will find it rather boring, but if you are a fan of 70’s folk then you really should hear this fine album.