Quality: 4 out of 5
Trip-O-Meter: 4 out of 5
Mark Fry seems to have been a man slightly unstuck in time. He cooked up one of the better acid folk, Donovan-influenced LPs of 1968. Unfortunately. this album came out in 1972. I'm sure that at the time in seemed like Fry was guilty of a anachronistic sin to the general home listener who had Tarkus blasting on the hi-fi. But with all of these decades now in the distant path, we can focus simply on the fact that this is a very groovy album. The Donovan comparison is certainly apt - one version of this album boasted a straight rip of the Barabajagal as cover art. Nevertheless, Mark Fry stakes his own ground with a darker, more tranced-out folk sound. There are actually plenty of moments where Fry matches or even surpasses the sounds of the Scottish bard.
"The Witch" comes out of the gate, instantly pegging this as an album to pay attention to. It does a fine job of evoking a creepy, misty forest at dusk, with the sound of pagan drums primitively pounding away somewhere in the background. "Song For Wilde" is a nice, compact bit of acid folk, while "Roses for Columbus" comes across almost like a Pink Floyd demo for More. "Mandolin Man" actually manages to work itself into a full-fledged psychedelic rave-up before settling into a groove for the coda. The title track is pretty fine, but it is annoyingly chopped up into pieces and used as segues between the longer tracks. I also imagine that Fry must have been hard up for one more track as the closer is just an earlier track backwards.
This is one album where the production, or lack of, really works well to create an atmosphere. Many of the songs here don't seem very far past demo-quality, but they are still slathered with warm, fuzzy reverb to give things a hazy sound.
Hey, a lot of the indie kids are going for this sound here in 2010, an Mark Fry nails the freak folk aesthetic pretty much on the head. Feel free to cross-reference these sounds with those of Donovan and/or the Incredible String Band - they hold up pretty well. The only shame here is that Mark Fry didn't manage to continue on and record more music.