Flashback Magazine: Heron Vinyl Reissues


Recent years have seen the prices of folky British obscurities from the early 70s rocket in price, with the two albums by Heron regularly fetching £300 or so. They’re typically hyped as ‘acid folk’, but there’s nothing remotely psychedelic about either. Their self-titled debut was famously recorded in the open Berkshire air, and appeared on Dawn in November 1970. With live birdsong and chat between tracks, it’s a mellow, good-natured and largely insubstantial. At its best (Yellow Roses, Car Crash, Lord & Master), the delicatelystrummed guitars and warm harmonies neatly capture the bucolic vibe, but the quartet are less successful on upbeat numbers like Harlequin 2 and the downright annoying Sally Goodin (which comes in two doses). It’s well played and sung, but not especially varied, and I find it rather soporific. Their second album appeared the following October, and is a classic example of a double LP that should have been whittled down to two sides. Also recorded al fresco (in Devon this time), it alternates between reflective ballads and laid-back pop songs, with a marked soul influence (typified by uninspired covers of You Really Got A Hold On Me and This Old Heart Of Mine). Heron were more eclectic than many such groups, but the good numbers here – like lilting opener Madman and the thoughtful Take Me Back Home Again – are countered by missteps such as a tedious 7-minute setting of Bob Dylan’s ‘John Brown’, and I find it rather dull as a whole, with especially sub-par vocals.


Nonetheless, many people like the band more than I do, and these reissues – the first from the new Mapache label – are beyond reproach. The sleeves do their best to replicate the look and feel of the originals, and reproduce the inserts that accompanied the original albums, as well as offering detailed background notes on a separate insert. The first album is alsoaccompanied by a facsimile of the EP that Dawnissued at much the same time. The sound quality is excellent, and Mapache are to be congratulated on going to such lengths to present value for money. There’s a movement at the moment towards labels offering top-quality vinyl reissues in place of the glut of tacky counterfeits that have flooded the market in recent years, and these are as thorough as any I’ve seen.


by Richad Morton Jack, Flashback Magazine