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Album Review

Jan Dukes de Grey are best remembered for their 1971 apotheosis, Mice and Rats in the Loft, an album inspired equally by Jethro Tull and the Incredible String Band. Sorcerers, the group's debut, arrived two years earlier. Back then, Jan Dukes de Grey were still the duo of multi-instrumentalists Derek Noy, the band's songwriter and lead vocalist, and Michael Bairstow. The pair had come together in early 1971 and immediately garnered attention, and were one of Decca's final progressive signings. Sorcerers arrived later that year, jam-packed with 18 songs showcasing the duo's folkie leanings and expansive musicianship on guitars, woodwinds, brass, keyboards, and percussion. Every number conjures up its own time and place, from the quiet pastoral delights of "28th June, Village Song" to the urban pulse of "City After 3.00 AM," the homage to the vast expanses of an idealized "Texas," and the Eastern promise of "Turkish Time." Moods shift dramatically from the anger-drenched "M.S.S." to the medieval musings of "Dragons" and the wonder of a "Butterfly." With most songs clocking in at under three minutes, there's little time for experimentation, and thus Jan Dukes de Grey are far less adventurous than many of their contemporaries. However, their subtle use of multiple instruments within a pure folk context definitely has its charms. For those who prefer their folk without all the excessive excursions into eccentricity, Sorcerers will cast a mighty spell.


Formed: 1969

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '70s

Jan Dukes de Grey was a strange progressive folk-rock outfit who were one of the last acts of their kind signed to England's Decca Records -- not to the Deram imprint, which had started out as a progressive label before getting sidetracked and muddled, but on the Decca Nova line, a short-lived, true progressive rock label. The group started out as a duo of Michael Bairstow and Derek Noy, multi-instrumentalists who stood midway between Tyrannosaurus Rex (the pre-T.Rex Marc Bolan acoustic outfit) and...
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Sorcerers, Jan Dukes De Grey
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