This quirky Birmingham-based trio's debut-album was originally released in September 1969. Spanning psych, folk, blues and pop, with a range of trippy effects, it was produced by the great Gus Dudgeon (David Bowie, Elton John) and is one of the best-loved British underground recordings of its time. Now Tea & Symphony's An Asylum For the Musically Insane makes its long-overdue return to vinyl here, together with an insert containing notes and rare images.
"This amazing thing about the Archives is that you get a fair amount of albums in all sub-genres that rank from the strange, obscure all the way to the frankly bizarre. And all genre considered, one of the more bizarre is the aptly titled debut from this trio. This record dates from 1969 (on the great progressive label Harvest) and is a perfect example (almost a textbook case) of acid-folk but with such a twist of bizarre that it must rank into the folk-prog sub-genre, which has its own share of bizarrerie. Wrapped in a superb psych drawing ( a bit in the style of Beatles's Yellow Submarine) gatefold sleeve with a no-less superb inside artwork , this uncanny and baroque oeuvre is really a lost gem, one of those rare 24 carrat stuff that only comes so often.
The opening track is a hard to classify track meandering between a few styles (even developping for a few second into the Greensleeves theme) , but stays unfocused enough to destabilize the unwarned listener, but if experienced enough to get him ready for what comes up next. The second track delves into the frozen depths of demon worlds and chilly tales, freezing you to death, only to bring you back to reality with a barroom sing-along tune. Sometimes takes a plunge back into the bizarre and oblique world just left before, reminding the proghead of the insane world of Comus, and warning you of dangers soon to come in your affective life. Maybe my mind is another sombre affair with a voice that sometimes rings like Family's Roger Chapman and might just be the highlight of the first side. This first side ends into a blues , probably the low point on the album, but this might be up for debate because they are equally at ease into this style as well!
The second side is clearly the better one, and it is the succession of a few masterful "songs" like those that make an album a real classic. Terror In My Soul is just as scary and terrorizing as Comus's Drip Drip, with its sinister flute underlining a superbly tense acoustic guitar strumming. Coming next is a superb adaptation of Fred Neil's Travelling Shoes, and if it was not for the vocals, you'd swear you'be on the Traffic debut album with its delightful pastoral/hippy imagery. Outstanding and astounding! The next track, aptly titled Winter returns to the chilly athmospheres with a haunting cello in the background and bizarre noises evoking stressed and chilled birds calls. The closing track starts out on a harpsichord and flute intro to diverge back into the madness we have now grown accustomed to (we had no choice unless getting locked in forever into the Musically Insane Asylum), but soon we waltz into a great swingy jazz tune to plunge into deep madness (almost free jazz) forever as they apologize for their mischief just accomplished." - Prog Archives