An article wot I wrote in 1979 in the London Music Advertiser: tk.
'Has the world gone mad? Essex winning the County Cricket Championship, my tomatoes actually turning red, and now the most staggering of all, Karl Dallas has made Hot Vultures latest album 'Up The Line' album of the month in his paper 'Acoustic Music'. One is tempted to think the Russians must be involved somewhere in a subtle plot to subvert the normal pattern of British life. It is difficult to explain away the first two mysteries so I shall concern myself only with the latter.
To those who have enjoyed the music of Hot Vultures over recent years Dallas's view has been a long time comin'. Similarly their appearances at the Loughborough Festivals, the staunchest of traditional events, have not passed without a few raised eyebrows, and no doubt resultant spilt beer!
Ian Anderson has, after all, been around for a good many years, having decided that a career as a Coronation mug salesman had limited possibilities.I first encountered him in 1968 when young Al Jones brought him along to his gig at Leyton County High for Boys, scene of many memorable musical evenings at that time.Never one to let the curry powder settle under his feet he has changed his style several times, seemingly guided only by a desire to play good music. Ian rose from total to moderate obscurity in the '60s during the much written about Great White Blues Boom releasing two interesting albums: 'Stereo Death Breakdown' with his Country Blues Band comprising Chris Turner on harmonica and Bob Rowe on bass, and an album he shared with Mike Cooper called 'Inverted World'. The blues boom like all good things came to an end, and Anderson turned his hand to being a 'singer songwriter' with an album for Philips called 'Book Of Changes' which for reasons best known to himself he has tried to disown.
In the late '60s Bristol was the folk metropolis centred on the Bristol Troubadour sporting such people as Steve Tilston, Fred Wedlock, Mudge and Clutterbuck, Keith Christmas, Ian Hunt, Tucker Zimmerman, Pigsty Hill Light Orchestra and so on (a useful phrase when the memory fails). From all this activity developed Anderson's own label and agency, Village Thing, which in very short order produced some of the finest records of the time. It would, of course, be foolish for an aspiring record mogul not to slip in the odd album of his own - hence 'Royal York Crescent' which contains my favourite Anderson composition 'Hero', 'A Vulture Is Not A Bird You Can Trust' and 'Singer Sleeps On As Blaze Rages'.
The plot thickened with the arrival at Bristol University of one Margaret Holland, traditional music enthusiast and aspiring singer and guitarist. This being a music orientated publication and not a rival to William Hickey's column I shall gloss over subsequent goings on and say that 1973 saw the birth of Hot Vultures with Maggie having learned to play bass guitar joining Ian in a musical act of the highest quality, rather than a coach party of tax collectors on holiday in Torremolinos, as their name suggests (well doesn't it?). More recently, no doubt due partly to the influence of Martin Simpson, Maggie has added the banjo to her range of instruments played. And the purchase of an acoustic bass has enabled them to do smaller clubs without the aid of electronic wizardry.
Their new album 'Up The Line' is released this week, and will be dealt with in greater detail in a later issue. The album is a collection of American songs sung without trying to give the impression of being Americans. This British sound is not hindered by the imaginative choice of accompanying musicians - Pete and Chris Coe whose instruments (melodeon and hammered dulcimer) can't help but give a distinctive sound to songs like Jimmy Rodger's 'T B Blues' and the irritatingly talented Martin Simpson. Having yet to hear the album it is tricky to comment further except to say that it appears to be a natural progression from the two previous Vultures albums 'Carrion On' and 'East Street Shakes'.
The Andersons enthusiasm for music has resulted in three other activities worthy of mention. Ian is a third of the editorial staff of a quartely regional folk magazine called 'Southern Rag' which on the strength of one issue is the best magazine of its type hat I've ever seen. Maggie, whose singing and playing has developed so much since being in Vultures, is now undertaking some solo bookings when Vultures heavy British and European schedule permits. Finally 1979 has seen the emergence of the Scrub Jay Orchestra comprising Ian , Maggie and Martin Simpson, a band designed for special occasions only but one which when they sort out who stands where and plays what instrument, could well be a highly successful combination.
Conclusion: In a period of increased categorisation of music and listeners shutting off from anything not in 'their' category, Hot Vultures go some way towards breaking down these barriers. Music played technically well but designed to entertain (can I refer some folkies to the Oxford English Dictionary at this point). I would urge you to see them instantly.'
you are too late. But not too late to hear them because Hot Vultures
greatest hits and Maggie's latest solo CD are available from this
site. Ian is now of course editor of fROOTS see our Links page.
BACK TO PHOTO GALLERY