The Bevis Frond
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About The Bevis Frond
The Bevis Frond was the banner used by Nick Saloman, a neo-psychedelic Renaissance man and the sole constant writer, performer, and producer behind the cottage industry bearing the Frond name. The head of his own label (Woronzow) as well as the co-publisher of his own underground magazine (the highly regarded Ptolemaic Terrascope), Saloman was a quintessential English eccentric, a frighteningly prolific talent and a true anachronism purveying an archaic musical genre while simultaneously pioneering the lo-fi aesthetic. The Bevis Frond's influences were strongly rooted in the '60s, as Saloman's music blended elements of psychedelia, pop, early hard rock, and folk, with plenty of epic-scale guitar soloing laid over the top as he sang his lyrics that leaned to the pastoral and the engagingly addled. Beginning with homemade projects like 1987's Miasma, Saloman moved up to working in proper studios with 1990's Any Gas Faster, and he was wildly prolific, releasing nineteen albums between 1987 and 2004, maintaining a consistent creative vision throughout. While Saloman went on hiatus after 2004's Hit Squad, the Bevis Frond returned in 2011 with The Leaving of London, and 2013's White Numbers and 2018's We're Your Friends, Man left no doubt he hadn't lost his touch during his downtime, either as a songwriter, guitarist, or bandleader.
Saloman cloaked his formative years in mystery; according to legend, he formed his first band, the Bevis Frond Museum, during his school years, and after the group disbanded he performed solo acoustic sets throughout the London area known as Walthamstow. After founding the Von Trapp Family, later known as Room 13, Saloman was sidelined in 1982 following a motorcycle accident. With the money he received as compensation for his injuries, he revived the Bevis Frond name and during his recuperation period assembled 1986's Miasma, a slice of twisted, latter-day psychedelia issued on Woronzow in a pressing of 250.
Much to Saloman's shock, the record sold out. Realizing an audience existed for his brand of time-warped pop, he quickly issued Inner Marshland in early 1987; the LP was another underground success that encouraged him to raid his extensive archives for more material. Double LP Bevis Through the Looking Glass also appeared that year. With the floodgates opened, new Bevis Frond material -- much of it written and recorded at Saloman's home long before it ever saw release -- appeared constantly; in 1988 alone, Woronzow issued three separate collections: Triptych, The Auntie Winnie Album, and Acid Jam, all spotlighting his surreal wit and acute social commentary. Beginning with 1990's Any Gas Faster, Saloman was secure enough financially to begin recording in an outside studio; as the new decade dawned, he also made his live debut, appearing sporadically with an ever-changing group of backing musicians.
After 1990's Magic Eye, a joint collaboration with former Pink Fairy Twink, the Bevis Frond issued its acknowledged masterpiece, 1991's double-LP set New River Head. Erratic and eclectic, Saloman's output continued on without concession to trends or consumer tastes, with new albums appearing with clocklike precision: 1992's London Stone, 1993's It Just Is, 1994's Sprawl, 1995's Superseeder, 1996's Son of Walter, 1997's two-disc North Circular, and 1999's Vavona Burr, plus the excellent concert recording Live at Great American Music Hall, San Francisco and Eat Flowers & Kiss Babies, a collaboration with Country Joe McDonald. Valedictory Songs followed in 2000 on a new label, Rubric, which also reissued the early Bevis Frond albums with different bonus tracks. Additionally, What Did for the Dinosaurs appeared in 2002 with The Hit Squad following in 2004.
After releasing albums at an astonishing rate for more than 15 years, apparently a hiatus was in order and it was seven years before the Bevis Frond reappeared in 2011 with Leaving of London, back on Saloman's Woronzow imprint. A double-disc follow-up, White Numbers, featuring longtime collaborators guitarist Paul Simmons, bassist Ade Shaw, and drummer Dave Pearce, was released in 2013. Later in the year, Live from the 4th Psychedelic Network Festival 2011, another double album, was released. Cherry Red released a Bevis Frond retrospective compilation, High in a Flat, in 2014. A new full-length studio album, Example 22, appeared in 2015. Early the next year, Fire Records signed up to reissue the extensive Bevis Frond back catalog beginning on Record Store Day with vinyl re-pressings of Miasma and Inner Marshland. Fire also stepped up to issue new Bevis Frond material, bringing out the double-disc We're Your Friends, Man in late 2018. ~ Jason Ankeny
- Walthamstow, London, England
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