Folk/Progressive Rock U.K. 1970S (Tracks)
Fresh Maggots (Nuneaton, Warwickshire, U.K.)
“Spring” (written by Mick Burgoyne and Leigh Dolphin) A6 track included on the album “Fresh Maggots”
Released on RCA (Neon) Victor ( SF8205 ) in 1971
Acoustic Guitar – Leigh Dolphin
Arranged By, Conductor [Strings] – Brian Rogers (tracks: A2, A6, B3, B5)
Composed By – Dolphin, Burgoyne
Design, Photography By – Keef (4)
Electric Guitar, Glockenspiel, Tambourine, Violin, Tin Whistle – Mick Burgoyne
Engineer – Pete Hoskins
Producer – Mike Berry (13)
Released on an orange RCA Victor label with a cover laminated on front only.
Track List :
01 Dole Song (0:00 – 3:27)
02 Rosemary Hill (3:28 – 7:02)
03 Quickie (7:03 – 8:24)
04 Everyone’s Gone To War (8:25 – 12:19)
05 And When She Laughs (12:20 – 15:08)
06 Spring (15:09 – 18:32)
07 Balloon Song (18:33 – 22:28)
08 Guzz Up (22:29 – 24:06)
09 Who’s To Die (24:07 – 28:02)
10 Elisabeth R (28:03 – 30:56)
11 Frustration (30:57 – 36:57)
Tracks : Fresh Maggots – “Hatched” (remastered edition including tracks previously unreleased)
1. Dole Song – 3:27
2. Rosemary Hill – 3:34
3. Quickie – 1:21
4. Everyone’s Gone To War – 3:55
5. And When She Laughs – 2:49
6. Spring – 3:22
7. Balloon Song – 3:56
8. Guzz Up – 1:37
9. Who’s To Die? – 3:55
10. Elizabeth R – 2:53
11. Frustration – 5:59
12. Car Song (non-album A-side) – 4:05
13. What Would You Do? (non-album B-side) – 2:47
14. Frustration (live) – 5:54
15. Rosemary Hill (live) – 3:49
16. Quickie (live) – 1:29
17. And When She Laughs (live) – 3:06
18. Spring (live) – 3:06
All songs by Mick Burgoyne and Leigh Dolphin
Tracks 12-18 previously unreleased.
Fresh Maggots were a short-lived folk duo from Nuneaton, Warwickshire in England, consisting of Mick Burgoyne and Leigh Dolphin, who played a variety of instruments including guitars, glockenspiel, tin whistles and strings. They released one album in 1970 before splitting up, but sustained interest saw it re-released in 2006.
This duo from Warwickshire that had a meteoric career, but their sole album is ultra-sought after especially so that both vinyl pressings had major fabrication flaws. They developed an acid-folk-prog that was particularly personal but their style was wide-ranging including fuzz guitars. Even before their debut album, this multi-instrumental duo was hyped by the music press, but there was an unusual delay (including an artwork change) between the recording and the release of the album, and when it did finally arrive on the market, all interest had waned. Which is a real shame, because the duo had much talent and they were switching from guitars to violin to glockenspiel to guitars again. Sadly they became one of the many casualty from the era’s overcrowded scene.
Their sole album finally got a Cd reissue with the non-album single tracks as a bonus. Apparently still unreleased are the BBC session recordings and there are the demo tracks for their projected second album.
“The British folk-rock duo of Mick Burgoyne and Leigh Dolphin were just 19 years of age when their sole, self-titled album came out in 1971. Comprised entirely of original material, the LP has an admirable array of textures, adding some heavily distorted electric guitar and orchestration around an acoustic guitar base.” —Richie Unterberger, All Music
“There are no weak links on this consistent album, which is thoroughly recommended.” –The Tapestry Of Delights.
The sole album by Fresh Maggots came and went very quickly at the tail-end of 1971, but in another sense it has never really gone away. Collectors have nudged the price of originals ever upwards, it has been bootlegged repeatedly and is now established as an ‘acid folk’ classic – facts that amaze its co-creators, Mick Burgoyne and Leigh Dolphin. They’d known each other “since we were babies in pushchairs on the same housing estate in Nuneaton,” as Leigh puts it today, but only really became friends when they met again as teenagers on the town’s small live circuit in the late 60s. By then Mick was playing electric guitar, glockenspiel, violin and tin whistle, while Leigh had become a superb acoustic guitarist.
They promptly teamed up and started to write songs that combined their love of both rock and folk. “We were into Led Zeppelin, Deep Purple and Taste as well as Pentangle and so on,” Leigh explains, and as a result they decided to beef up their sound with heavy doses of fuzz guitar. “A fuller sound was important in clubs, and the fuzz gave us sustain. Without a band behind us, we needed that boost.”
Their unusual and not entirely serious name was gleaned from an ad on the front of the local paper, for ‘Riley’s Sports Shop -fresh maggots always available’. “We never thought we’d get anywhere, so it didn’t matter what we were called,” Mick says. “Maybe Always Available should have been the album title!” But an unexpected break came their way in September 1970, when Mike Berry -a music publishing hotshot who’d handled the Beatles’ catalogue at Apple -came to watch another act playing in a local Church Hall.
Mick and Leigh were the support, and though it was only their second gig, it was them that Berry promptly signed to a management contract. “After that, things started to happen very quickly,” continues Mick. “He got us straight down to London to make a live studio demo, which he hawked around various record companies. We then did a gig in his office in Oxford Street for anyone who was interested and, on the strength of that, RCA sent some people to a gig in Coventry. Halfway through there was a powercut, but we just carried on. They were so impressed that they signed us on the spot.”
In their original press release, Mick described the extent of their ambitions as being “just to walk on stage with our gear, say hello and try to make as many people as possible a little more cheerful,” so the swiftness with which they found themselves in Radio Luxembourg’s studio at the end of 1970 was a little overwhelming. “We had no autonomy or real input into the album,” Leigh reflects. “We were still teenagers – just a pair of naive kids, really.” Despite that, the record they made was varied and powerful – and certainly belies their youth.
Dole Song, for example, is one of the most intense songs of the entire period. A sardonic celebration of unemployment, its blend of violent acoustic and fiery fuzz guitars makes for a stunning opening gambit. Leigh describes it as “a bit of a piss-take, really. I was signing on at the time and had to explain to the officials that just because I was making an album didn’t mean I had a penny to my name.” Rosemary Hill, by contrast, is delicate and melodic. “We used to take Mick’s old van down to Devon to visit friends and write songs. We’d drive past this hill in Kenilworth, and agreed it would make a lovely name for a song, though the song’s not actually about the hill.” Quickie is a brief romantic tune, followed by Everyone’s Gone To War, a fuzz-laden anti-war polemic. “That subject was close to a lot of hearts at the time,” he says.
By contrast And When She Laughs is a cheery pastoral, led by Mick’s tin whistle and showcasing the duo’s more carefree side. Spring, a complex, carefully-structured number featuring powerful Eastern-style strings, precedes Balloon Song, a spirited piece of whimsy that is perhaps the most redolent of its era, albeit propelled by fuzz guitar.
The gentle Guzz Up owes its odd title to “a parody of the Nuneaton accent, as in ‘what goes up must come down’,” explains Leigh, while Who’s To Die? is a meditation on mortality, inspired by an unsettling accident the duo witnessed. “We were on our way to a Magna Carta gig in Coventry,” he says, “and we saw a little boy run out in front of a car and get knocked over. We never knew whether or not he was killed, but it was shocking and got us thinking.” The instrumental Elizabeth R is light relief by comparison – “we meant it to sound Elizabethan, but I’m not sure we succeeded. Its name was taken from a TV series on at the time.” An immediate contrast is provided by Frustration, which closes proceedings in epic style, alternating mellow passages with further storms of guitar.
It was an unquestionably unusual collection, but – despite their initial enthusiasm – RCA had grown sluggish. “Throughout 1971, things moved pretty slowly,” Mick says. “Everything was being done in London, but we were from the Midlands and had day jobs, so it all had to be recorded at weekends. Then there were delays with the string arrangements, and even the cover – they rejected the original artwork, which featured an old water mill.” Fresh Maggots was originally scheduled for release on RCA’s Neon subsidiary (with the working title Hatched), but finally emerged on the parent label in September 1971, fully a year after the sessions had commenced. It received extravagant praise in the music press (‘an extraordinary duo, their range is incredible and their sound is incredibly full,’ said Disc), but the label undertook no promotion and the launch party had to be cancelled due to lack of response.
This embarrassment prompted an enterprising RCA press officer to fabricate a tissue of lies about a poolside orgy involving the band, but it did no good. The LP resoundingly failed to sell, and – adding injury to insult – a pressing fault meant many copies had blisters on the playing surface. The duo remained optimistic, however, and played gigs alongside Van Der Graaf Generator, Medicine Head, Wild Turkey and others. They also undertook various radio sessions, and a surviving tape of one (made for Kid Jensen’s show on Radio Luxembourg, and included as bonus tracks here) shows what a formidable act they were.
RCA was fast losing interest, though. “They got a strop on, basically,” states Mick. “Mike Berry was the sort of bloke who changed with the wind, and he’d soon switched his attention onto the next big thing. We were out playing the college circuit and it all just faded away.” Before splitting, however, they released a single (also included here), the sing-along Car Song, backed with the laid-back What Would You Do?, which appeared in December 1971. “RCA didn’t really want it out, so they didn’t support it either,” he says. “And when it didn’t sell, that was the end of the road for us, as far as they were concerned.”
They returned to Nuneaton and, though they continued to play locally, no more material ever appeared. “We were the young innocents in the big bad music business, and became disillusioned, really,” he concludes. Certainly neither anticipated the following they’ve developed since. “As far as we were concerned, the album was deleted, dead and gone forever,” says Leigh. “So we were surprised and delighted when we found out about all the interest around the world.” Even more astonishing are the sums collectors are willing to pay for original copies. “I can’t believe it,” laughs Mick. “I can remember seeing it in Woolworth’s bargain bins!” Leigh is also surprised that they are now categorised as ‘acid folk’. “To us the album was just a collection of songs,” he says. “We only heard of ‘acid folk’ very recently.”
In summary, he remarks that “not a lot of local bands like us ever get to make records on major labels, so it was a great opportunity. But deep down I think we both knew it was never going to be a huge seller.” More than thirty years on, Mick has mixed feelings about the album. “Some of it makes me proud, some of it makes me cringe,” he says. “I tend to hear all the bits we should have done better, and some of the words are a bit naive. But lots of people tell me they like it just the way it is.
Taking their name from a newspaper advert for a sports shop that proclaimed “fresh maggots always available”, the pair were spotted by Mike Berry of the Sparta Florida Music Company in September 1970 while playing only their second concert at Wolvey village hall, and signed a publishing deal with the company. They were signed by RCA Records, who released their only album in 1971 – when they were nineteen years of age. Fresh Maggots was recorded at the Radio Luxembourg studios in London over several months at a cost of 1,500 pounds, and produced by Berry. Although its release was preceded by some degree of anticipation, delays in publishing gradually saw interest wane. Upon its release, it was met with favourable reviews, however record sales did not reflect this, and pressing was decommissioned soon after. The duo went on to play two live shows broadcast by BBC Radio 1. They released one single, “Car Song”, before splitting up.
The resurgent popularity of folk music over the last decade reawakened interest in the band and the album became a collector’s item fetching hundreds of pounds; The duo started to receive airplay in the US, prompting a reissue in 2006 as Fresh Maggots…Hatched on the Sunbeam label in the UK and Amber Soundroom in Germany, with the tracks from the “Car Song” single added. The reissued album received a three and a half stars review from Allmusic, and an 8 out of 10 score from PopMatters, with Whitney Strub describing it as “a remarkably assured debut—and finale”. Kevin Hainey, reviewing it for Exclaim!, stated the group’s “concise and fast-paced songwriting tendencies certainly make this stuff transcend its own age in a strange and wonderful way”. John M. James, in the River Cities’ Reader described it as a “five-star masterpiece of hypnotic vocals, electric fuzz guitar, trippy tin whistle, and shimmering six- and 12-string guitars”.
Fresh Maggots (1971), RCA Victor – reissued in 2006 on Sunbeam as Fresh Maggots…Hatched
“Car Song” (1971), RCA Victor
Compilation appearances :
“Rosemary Hill” on Gather In The Mushrooms (The British Acid Folk Underground 1968-1974) (2004), Castle
“Dole Song” on Shifting Sands (20 Treasures From The Heyday Of Underground Folk) (2009), Sunbeam
“Rosemary Hill” on Dust On The Nettles (A Journey Through The British Underground Folk Scene 1967-1972) (2015), Grapefruit
Fresh Maggots – “Fresh Maggots” Album cover photo (front)
Fresh Maggots – “Fresh Maggots” C.D. artwork photo (back)
Fresh Maggots – “Spring” Video link on YouTube
Fresh Maggots – “Fresh Maggots” Full Album Video link on YouTube
Fresh Maggots Band’s Page on Spotify
Fresh Maggots Band’s Page on Discogs
Fresh Maggots Band’s Page on Rate Your Music
Fresh Maggots – “Hatched” Remastered Edition of their eponymous album with unreleased tracks Full Album Download Link on Rockasteria Blog
How Rosemary Hill was immortalised by Nuneaton duo Fresh Maggots Pete Clemons on how an insignificant piece of road in Kenilworth became iconic. Article on Coventry Telegraph Website
Fresh Maggots Band’s Page on Facebook
Backbeat: Folk duo Fresh Maggots’ album now sells for hundreds FORTY years ago a Nuneaton prog-folk duo released a single in Europe that effectively signalled the end of their career. Article on Coventry Telegraph Website
Fresh Maggots Article about the band on Coventry Folk Club and Acoustic Scene 1960’s to Present BlogFresh
Maggots Band’s Page on eBay
Fresh Maggots Band’s Page on Google Play
Fresh Maggots Get a Welcome Re-Issue Article on River Cities Website
Fresh Maggots – “Hatched” Full Album Review on Dusted Magazine
Fresh Maggots Band’s Page on Apple Music
Fresh Maggots -“Fresh Maggots” Full Album Download Link on Contramao Prog Rock Blog