Earthforce

It was during 1976 that I became a little disillusioned with the electric rock category which most music had to fall into, if it was to have any chance of being played to an audience. Maybe it was due to the long hot summer in England that year, but I felt it to be the right time to pursue a quieter and more meditative approach to music. I sold my amp and electric guitar and bought the sitar and later, a 12 string guitar.

Having become familiar with a new style of music, I thought it time to 'test the water' early in 1977 and got into a few jam sessions during March, with Alan Shipgood and James Gleave, and early in April, with Alan, Tony Pettitt and Mick Marsh. Jenie and Raymond Critchell were also into the idea of this musical collective. However, the basic working unit became - myself (on sitar and 12 string guitar), Alan (on bass guitar and tabla) and Tony (on harmonium). We played one gig at a large indoor festival at Battersea Arts Centre, London on 28 May. At this time James was playing in Ken Hyder's Celtic-roots jazz band, Talisker.

By June it was becoming apparent that the larger collective idea would not come about - Jenie and Raymond were planning a move to France, Tony was about to move to Carmarthen, South Wales and James later departed for Europe.


EARTHFORCE RECORDINGS

In July 1977, Norman Jon Kissoon and I discussed the technical possibilities of making a recording to incorporate the music and ideas of all the people who had been involved. The first session took place at Farnborough, Hampshire on 30 and 31 July. We were unable to get all the music on to tape that weekend. Three weeks later, on Saturday 20 August, we completed the remaining tracks at Merrow near Guildford, Surrey.

By the end of August we had the design for the cover (three trees near Glastonbury Tor), sleeve notes, and the running order/splicing of the quarter-inch reel-to-reel master tape completed. The first cassettes were ready for distribution early in October 1977. In all, 60 copies were produced - spreading as far as USA, France, South Africa, Papua New Guinea and Australia.

The final event was a gig at the Bellerby Theatre, Guildford in November 1978, 'An Evening with Earthforce'. On the bill were John Lathey, Simon Rowan, Savourna Stevenson (on Celtic harp), myself on sitar with John Bland on tabla, and the electric band - blurring the Oa Band into Earthforce with the Oa line-up plus Nic Griffiths on saxophone.

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THE BAND MEMBERS

Steve Bayfield : 12 string guitar, electric guitar, sitar, vocals

Alan Shipgood : bass guitar, tabla

James Gleave : electric piano, synthesizer

Tony Pettitt : harmonium, synthesizer, acoustic guitar, percussion

Jenie Critchell : acoustic guitar, vocals

Raymond Critchell : 12 string guitar, vocals

John Lathey : acoustic guitar

Mick Marsh : drums, percussion

John Bland : percussion

Kirsty Anderson : violin on Wild Mountain Thyme

Norman Jon Kissoon : recording and mixing

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SONG OF THE MORNING
(Trad / lyrics S Bayfield)

Standing upon a hillside, awaiting the sun
Standing upon a hillside, awaiting the sun
The day is breaking, new life awaking
Day is a-breaking, the flow has begun

Wind blowing seaward, no cloud in the sky
Wind blowing seaward, no cloud in the sky
A smile is a greeting, in the garden of eden
Smile with a greeting, but leave with a sigh

Time long since passing, when truths were laid bare
Time long since passing, when truths were laid bare
The ways of nature, gifts from the maker
Ways of all nature, were songs we could share

So sing for the sun, and let's sing every day
My heart is a seed, and your love is the rain
In the valley of life, our place may yet be
Where woman and man and the earth
May find harmony

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CARNMENYN
(T Pettitt, J Gleave)

Blow soft, my children of the wind
Grind down this history
This urchin, ragged land
Feel the pull of moontide in the pagan heart
Hear the roar of kings in battle-fine array
Upon Preseli's lonely moors
The purple of the heather
Like some sunset, swelling sea
That breaks forever
On some craggy, unknown shore
The hermit sleeps in a six foot cave
Somewhere deep beneath
The wizard's self sealed stone
And up, above the island hills
My zephyr children dance with clouds
And I hear still their singing in my hammered ears
And cracked lips move in mute refrain
The harmonies to sound

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WANDERING
(S Bayfield, MCPS)

In my wandering -
I have swum in the seas of destiny
And drunk from the sparkling river of eternity
In my wandering -
The road I travelled, day upon day
'Til a passing smile led me the other way
Now the sun shines on my face, taking me away . . .

In my loneliness -
I believed the stars were my only guide
To help me find the trail to my other side
In my loneliness -
Yesterday was for evermore
And today must always wait on a distant shore
'Til the wind blows on my brow, and carries me away . . .

For my ladylove -
I would build a house made from willow boughs
With a pathway to the sea and windows in the clouds
For my ladylove -
I would sing a song that would help me say
My love for you will last . . .
For the sun shines on your face, and carries me away . . .
Yes, the sun shines on your face, and carries me away . . .

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A SOLSTICE SONG
(S Bayfield, MCPS)

Meetings of the spirit
Places we have all known
To explore the two-fold meaning
Travellers coming home
All along the dusty highways
A million miles to roam
To find the lost connection
Somewhere in the land of stone

There's a vacuum in the city, there's an island with no sea
There's a gentle wind a-blowing, all the way to Glastonbury

The festival is over
To celebrate the sun
Brought us closer to the seasons
So it's only just begun!
And time will lead us, through the mountains
To yet another where and when
Come together as one family
To be nearer home again

Much to learn from what we're doing, many places we can be
So we got to keep on a-moving, doing what comes naturally

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JENIE'S SONG
(J Critchell)

As I walk, a cloudless day
Begins to haze and lose the way
High far away I dream a senseless dream
Far in a world or is it reality

Here I am, the things I see
In cobbled streets and people free
All around the faces which appear
Far from delight and closer to fear

The sky around is red and mauve
The stillness dusk becomes untold
To share the silence is a wondrous thing
For people never know and realise it's for them

As he walks, he talks to me
I understand and try to see
The light in the sky is for eternity
And always understand for you and me it's free

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EARTHFORCE CD


During the years 2002 and 2003 I digitally remastered a selection of Earthforce recordings, based on the limited edition cassette from 1977 and some of the live performances in 1977 and 1978. I then chose the best 11 tracks for release on CD (total running time 60 minutes). Recorded between May and August 1977 with the exceptions of Raga recorded live at the Bellerby Theatre, Guildford, Surrey on 26 Nov 1978, and A Solstice Song recorded on 10 Dec 1979.

Dawn
Song of the Morning
Carnmenyn
Wandering
Keep Moving
Carnmenyn (slight return)
Raga
Wild Mountain Thyme
A Solstice Song
Jenie's Song
Moonrise

"Ultra rare mid-70s UK acid folk rock recordings. Features sitar, moog, acoustic and electric guitars, assorted percussion instruments to create a Popul Vuh like soundscape. If you can imagine the perfect blend of Eastern trance/psyche and English hippy acid folk rock, this would be it. Very cool and freaky."

"Earthforce were an offshoot of Ebling Mis and Oa Band formed by Steve Bayfield. Hailing from the UK, the band was influenced by a wide variety of music including English folk and acid rock. This release is culled from sessions that have never been released before, and they sound like a cross between Popul Vuh and Gong. Very tasty, very spacey and mystical vibe throughout. Liner notes and photos galore, a very nice package."

Sound engineer: Norman Jon Kissoon of Atom Heart Visual Sound
Digital remastering: Steve Bayfield
Final mastering: Jeff Risdon
Produced by: Richard S Patz for ShroomAngel Productions
Cover design: Jilaen Sherwood of Dreamland Design
Release date: 14 May 2004
Released and distributed by ShroomAngel Productions
Catalogue no. SAP 002

Jenie Critchell 1957-1995
The Earthforce CD is dedicated to the music and memory of Jenie Critchell.

Enquiries and further information: Earthforce CD

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