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Heron Oblivion: Heron Oblivion

Pentangle with power chords.

Heron Oblivion album cover

Curry and chips. Ronnie Corbett and Alice Cooper. Platform boots and drainpipe trousers. Sometimes the most bizarre combinations actually work a treat. Heron Oblivion are a further example.

This, the San Franciscans’ debut album, mixes sweet-tempered psych-folk with howling freakout guitars. It’s the pastoral style of Pentangle overlaid with crazed early-70s wah-wah duelling – think a pistols-at-dawn affaire d’honneur between Larry Wallis and Mick Bolton – and it’s very good indeed.

The culprits in this collision of styles are drummer/vocalist Meg Baird, whose ghostly singing style – very much in the vein of Jacqui McShee and Sandy Denny – evokes visions of sun-baked meadows and mysterious pagan rituals. So far, so Wicker Man. At the other end of the spectrum are six-stringers Noel V. Harmonson and Charlie Saufley, who clearly think Robin Trower’s Bridge Of Sighs is the greatest album of all time.

The whole caboodle coalesces on the 10-minute epic Rama, the listener spinning darkly down the rabbit hole amid a maelstrom of acid-washed guitars. It’s quite a trip.

Geoff Barton is a British journalist who founded the heavy metal magazine Kerrang! and was an editor of Sounds music magazine. He specialised in covering rock music and helped popularise the new wave of British heavy metal (NWOBHM) after using the term for the first time (after editor Alan Lewis coined it) in the May 1979 issue of Sounds.