Saturday, 17 November 2012


Shagrat Records is honoured to release Lawrence Hammond’s second and until now unissued solo LP, Presumed Lost.
Although the initial release is on a CD, a vinyl version is being prepared.

Those of you who bought last year’s Mad River archive set Jersey Sloo will know that after the band split up, singer, bassist, guitarist and song writer Hammond embarked on a solo career in the 70s that saw him pursue a rootsier path, one that revealed his deep love of country and blue grass music.
Lawrence released one fine solo LP called Coyote’s Dream on the Takoma label and performed regularly with his backing outfit, the Whiplash Band. Though sales of the Takoma release were disappointing, he did begin work on a second solo set finishing it in 1981 whilst in med school. The tapes were subsequently lost for well over a decade but have been finally rediscovered and restored for release some 35 years after they were first recorded.
1. Red-Dirt Texas Fiddler
2. Nevada McCloud
3. Papa Redwing Blackbird
4. Little Britches
5. West Texas Border Patrol
6. John Deere Tractor
7. Love for the Hunter
8. The Heavenly Saga of Flight 641
9. Pale Moon on the Pecos
10. Lone Star Blues
11. Tumbleweed Plantation
Using many of the musicians that made Coyote’s Dream such a joy, including lead guitarist James Louis Parber, fiddle player Byron Berline, Alan Lane on bass, Bill Weingarden on pedal steel, and featuring Lawrence on lead vocals, acoustic and acoustic lead guitars, dobro, mandolin and viola, Presumed Lost sees the Hammond come of age as one of American music’s great story-tellers. Packed full of his eloquent tales of hardship, love and death, and occasional flashes of real humour (The Heavenly Saga of Flight 641), Presumed Lost is a treat from start to finish.
In amongst the country ballads and road songs that ooze with gritty realism and conjure up utterly believable characters and situations from the American heartland, are such gems as the enchanting Papa Redwing Blackbird with its glorious soaring flute and classic West Coast harmony vocals, and the dark, almost sinister Love for the Hunter. Arguably though, the centrepiece of the record is the epic West Texas Border Patrol, a story of heart-rending tragedy and broken friendship set against the majestic backdrop of the Rio Grande, crammed full of startling cinematic images, and brought to life by a sparse musical soundtrack that puts one in mind of the melancholic grandeur of Procul Harum at their late 60s best. And on this outing, Lawrence has finally got to air his own version of John Deere Tractor, a song he wrote way back when, which has been recorded by many over the ensuing decades including Jerry Corbitt, Larry Sparks, and of course the Judds, who enjoyed a huge hit with it.
Presumed Lost S(a Shagrat/Soft Cloud release) is available from 16th November as a limited edition CD with 16 page booklet containing comprehensive sleeve notes and many rare photos from the era.
Vinyl junkies please note that Shagrat are planning a VERY limited vinyl edition early in the New Year. Keep checking the website for updated details

Monday, 29 October 2012


Hugely obscure, Horace grew out of some informal "hash" jams that guitarist/bass player Jim Mercer and drummer Ric Parnell held in the autumn of 1970. Mercer was already a veteran of the British Blues Boom having played in the Tenement Blues Band and Uncle Bud (with Screw guitarist-to-be, Graham Neill) whilst Ric, son of well-respected drummer and band leader, Jack Parnell, had been playing in the later-to-be-revered Horse, and Atomic Rooster, as replacement for Carl Palmer.
Ric wangled some free studio time through mate Andy Ced Curtis, and with Ced at the controls, Ric and Jim went into Central Sound Studios in London's Denmark Street on 1st January 1971 to cut a few of their own numbers.
The three tracks they laid down had an indefinable magic and musicality that Shagrat Records felt deserved a wider audience, and they have been taken from an old acetate Jim preserved for the past 40 years and lovingly released on vinyl (as they would have been back in the day) for the first time.
The music has a strong bucolic yet at times experimental feel to it, conjuring up comparisons with Traffic, Caravan, Frank Zappa’s seminal Hot Rats album, and the more pastoral moments of early Stackridge. Ric Parnell, perhaps best known for his role as the spontaneously combusting drummer Mick Shrimpton in This Is Spinal Tap is a revelation as the band’s lead vocalist and the tracks are made even more special by Mike Piggott’s magisterial violin playing, adding edge, textures and atmosphere to the songs.

Waiting for the Moon is a moody blues shuffle somewhat reminiscent of The Grease Band’s debut LP for Harvest cut around the same time, whilst See the Sun shines with an exquisite West Coast aura, Parnell’s scatting in the closing moments reminiscent of the great David Crosby! The closing instrumental, Mongrel Polyop based around some haunting violin riffs is just plain beautiful – a kind of Brit version of Peaches en Regalia with Curtis’s cascading grand piano runs to the fore.
Sadly these numbers were all that Horace recorded. Despite Mercer and Parnell landing a publishing deal, Ric soon re-joined the Rooster for a further two albums and a life in music that has seen him play with the everyone from Italian prog-jazz-fusion band, Nova to more recently, Mick Farren’s (LA-based) Deviants. He’s currently playing with Montana psychedelic collective, Donovan’s Brain.
Andy Curtis joined Rare Bird for their Polydor albums. Jim and Mike would both go on to long careers in music (for more details of which please read the sleeve notes). Long time followers of the Shagrat label will fondly recall that Mercer went on to form the short-lived Sandoz, a wild psychedelic power trio (produced by Curtis), whose surviving acetate Shagrat released in 1995 as Pay Attention.
Mastered by Tony Poole, the 7” EP comes in an astonishingly beautiful full-colour gatefold sleeve, and inner bag designed by psychedelic artist John Hurford with extensive sleeve notes by Colin Hill.
Pressed on heavyweight 70g vinyl, it has been produced in a sure to become collectable limited edition of 250 copies. Before they all disappear in to the hands of collectors, music and art lovers may place their order with the nice folk at Shagrat Records.
A super-nifty item.