Talking with Strangers - Reviewed By Renaud Oualid (Translation)

Talking With StrangersJudy Dyble - that name  doesn’t ring any bells? That’s because you’re too young, son! Of course, she was the legendary singer with Fairport Convention and Trader Horne (just to mention her most well-known bands). Yes, of course it’s a long time ago, -we’re talking about the end of the Sixties. Here’s a short biog of the lady: born in London in 1949, she joined Judy and the Folkmen in 1967 and taught herself the autoharp. They gave one fleeting concert and didn’t record any albums. In 1967 she was recruited by Fairport Convention who were looking for a female voice and was lucky enough to be on their first eponymous album which was released in 1968, shortly before she was dismissed from the band just before the record came out, without any explanation, it seems. Then she met Ian McDonald, and they put out an ad for musicians, which received a reply from Peter Giles, who introduced them to his brother and Robert Fripp. She joined their existing group and they became Giles, Giles, Fripp, McDonald and Dyble. Her work can be heard on the legendary Brondesbury Tapes album, their first album, The Cheerful Insanity of Giles, Giles and Fripp, having already appeared before she joined them. The arrival of Peter Sinfield marked her departure for new horizons. In 1969 she joined Trader Horne, with whom she did several tours and made one album, Morning Way. She left the group abruptly and with no explanation. In 1972 she joined Lol Coxhill, Steve and Phil Miller (Caravan/Delivery) in a group named Dyble, Coxhill and the MBs, or Dyble, Coxhill and the Miller Brothers (also known as Penguin Dust). This short-lived group didn’t record a single note, but did some gigs in Holland. Nothing was recorded, and there isn’t a single photo of the band in existence. We can now understand why our singer went into ‘retirement’ for nearly thirty years after experiences like that! In fact, between 1973 and 2002, there isn’t a trace of Judy Dyble anywhere to be found! Those who thought she was dead were seriously mistaken, as she is ‘alive and kicking’ and deftly managing her new career, starting with her web-site, on which she details her past and present musical life. In 2004 she released a solo album, Enchanted Garden, which was followed by two others in 2006: Spindle (on which there appears a version of Pink Floyd’s ‘See Emily Play’) and The Whorl, on which she sings King Crimson’s ‘I Talk to the Wind.’ 2009 has seen the release of her fourth solo album, recorded with a host of friends. Co-produced and co-written with the leader of No Man, Tim Bowness, and the top man of Cromer Museum, Alistair Murphy, the album is a perfect gem of rich and varied songs with stunning melodies. Among the outstanding guest artists (the list is too log to name them all) we find Robert Fripp, Ian McDonald, Pat Mastelotto (King Crimson), Jacqui McShee (Pentangle), Julianne Regan (All About Eve), Simon Nicol (Fairport Convention) and Celia Humphris (Trees). The album consists of six fairly short pieces (between 1 minute 51 seconds and 6 minutes 28 seconds in length) and an ‘epic’ of nearly 20 minutes. The songs are outstanding, thanks to the singer’s voice, which has lost none of its beauty over the years. She even takes on a reprise of Greg Lake’s ‘C’est la vie’ (written by Greg Lake and Peter Sinfield, and popularised by ELP). The highlight is ‘Harpsong’, which closes the album, which starts classically and ends in an astounding orgy of progressive music. This is a real come-back for Judy, whom you should discover for the first time, or rediscover through this fantastic album - not to mention the superb cover by John Hurford (the insert booklet is dotted drawings with by the cult artist Koldo Barosso).
Renaud Oualid