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About Tony Caro & John

Tony, Caro and John, a two-man-one-woman folk-rock trio, recorded the extremely rare All on the First Day album in 1972. The threesome took much of their inspiration from the Incredible String Band's brand of leprechaun-ish folk-rock, though songwriter and frequent lead singer Tony Doré's compositions were more conventionally melodic than the ISB's. Doré's vocals were much like those heard on the early ISB records, as well. Tony, Caro and John were also wont to embellish their basic male-female vocal harmonies, and one electric guitar-one-acoustic-guitar-bass lineup, with weird touches of hippie psychedelia in the occasional electronic effects, tinkling percussion, flageolet (a type of small flute), wah-wah, and violin. Yet despite the Incredible String Band references, the record does have a sound of its own. Slightly sardonic but cheerfully playful, and with strong tunes effectively blending major and minor modes, they're more approachable for listeners with conventional rock and pop tastes than the Incredible String Band, or Incredible String Band-like bands of the period, such as Forest and Dr. Strangely Strange. Tony Doré and bassist John Clark met each other as boys in Derby, England, playing together both in rock bands and on the folk circuit. When they went to University in 1967, they headed separate ways musically but reunited in 1970, when Clark came to London to join Tony and Caro Doré, who had played University folk clubs together. The songs comprising All on the First Day were done on primitive technology, recorded on Clark's tape recorder; they could overdub in mono only by re-recording the backing track at the same time. They self-pressed the LP in a small edition of 100 copies to little acclaim. Expanding the band lineup with Simon Burrett on lead guitar, Jonny Owen on harmonica, and Rod Jones on keyboards, Tony, Caro and John did continue for a little while under the name Forever and Ever, though that group didn't issue any recordings. As family and jobs took over, the core trio stopped playing live, but did continue recording together off and on.

In 2002, Shadoks Music reissued All on the First Day with the addition of five bonus tracks from the same time, or slightly afterward. This helped the legend of the band grow as a new audience discovered their music for the first time. Beach House found their songs inspiring enough that they borrowed one, "The Snowdon Song," for their 2006 debut album. They retitled it "Lovelier Girl" and settled the royalty issues with the living members of the trio, bassist Clark having passed in 2005. In 2012, Drag City issued a collection of outtakes and live versions from the All on the First Day era, titling it Blue Clouds, then in 2017 Gaarden and Tapete reissued All on the First Day again, this time with no bonus tracks and new liner notes from Tony Doré. To mark the occasion, Tony and Caro headed out on tour for the first time in 40 years, with Simon Burrett and Jonny Owen joining them once again. ~ Richie Unterberger

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