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Home arrow Older News Archive arrow Unicorn albums (with David Gilmour involvement) finally get CD releases
Unicorn albums (with David Gilmour involvement) finally get CD releases Print E-mail
Written by Matt   
Sunday, 31 July 2005

Seventies country rock band Unicorn have at long last had four of their classic albums released on CD.

Blue Pine Trees, Too Many Crooks and One More Tomorrow (all of which were produced and played on by David Gilmour) have now been digitally remastered by legendary Pink Floyd Sound Engineer Andy Jackson at Gilmour's Astoria floating studio. They come with the original English Hipgnosis artwork and each CD has a bonus track. These CD's will, shortly, be available from www.ItsAboutMusic.com and they are reputed to sound excellent. Uphill All The Way is already available from this site.

We've caught up with Unicorn's bassist, Pat Martin, to ask him a few questions about the reissues, and also David's involvement with the band...

Q: Is there a particular reason that they are getting a release now? Is it due to increasing interest in Unicorn, and demand for their release, or is it due to some other reason?

Pat Martin: Interest in Unicorn started again back in 2000. We had a track on the Harvest Label Box Set, "Harvest Festival". I contacted EMI to ask if I could borrow the Unicorn tapes to make a CD copy for the band members and friends (all we had was scratchy old vinyl) but nobody would talk to me. I phoned David Gilmour and he said he would sort things. The next day, he phoned me to say that he'd had a word with his manager. He said the tapes had only been leased to EMI, and that they now belonged to Emka Productions (the Pink Floyd management company).

David suggested to his manager (Steve O'Rourke) that he should give the tapes to us and, to his great credit, he did. I got an offer from See For Miles Records to release a Best Of Unicorn CD. See For Miles was run by Colin Miles who was in the A & R Department of Harvest Records back in the seventies. The full story is on our website.

The release that year of Best Of Unicorn resulted in me being contacted by old Unicorn fans from around the world. One was Todd Glenn who offered to do a website for us and from the website we have been contacted by more old Unicorn fans. Most of them said they would love to get all the albums on CD.

I approached Phil Taylor and Andy Jackson, a few months ago, and this led to Andy doing a great job remastering the old tapes; he even had to bake one of the tapes in an oven before it could be played!

Q: Has Andy Jackson's work on the albums made a big difference?

Pat Martin: Andy has done an excellent and painstaking job, at David's Astoria studio on a boat, on the three David Gilmour produced albums. The equalisation he has added, and some other magic touches, have really improved the sound. We also added a bonus track to each album, and we are going to use the original Hipgnosis artwork. Also, each CD has extensive liner notes by our number one fan David DiSanzo, who works for EMI Capitol in New York.

Q: For the uninitiated, how would you describe the music?

Pat Martin: Unicorn music has been described in a recent press release like this:

      "Unicorn created their own unique take on Rock and Roll by applying a distinctly British flavour to their country and folk. They successfully combined their love of American bands The Byrds, The Band, The Beach Boys and CSN&Y, a rhythm section weaned on Motown and Stax, and Ray Davies (Kinks) styled songwriting. Their music was sincere and original. The songs on their albums are beautifully melodic, and balance just the right amount of melancholy with catchy hooks and phrasing. The songs are also arranged exquisitely though still built on a loose Rock and Roll structure. Timeless music, classic songwriting, brilliant musicianship, exquisite harmonies. Unicorn had it all (with no pretences)..."

Q: Do you ever see the other guys these days?

Pat Martin: Yes, Pete and Ken live about a mile away from me. Kevin lives in the North of England so haven't seen him for some time.

Q: How did you feel when David Gilmour took an interest in the band? Do you feel his involvement at times helped?

Pat Martin: We were flattered that he took an interest in us, and of course he helped us a great deal. He is a really fantastic, caring person with a terrific sense of humour and can turn his hand to anything.

Of course, being associated with a star like him can have its disadvantages, and some people think you are living off his back. But we paid our dues by playing gigs and being together for ten years before we met David (at a friends wedding that we played at).

Q: The itsaboutmusic.com website, where you can order the albums, has samples of some of your tracks available to hear. Any in particular you would steer a Floyd audience towards?

Pat Martin: Autumn Wine has [David's] influence in it. He plays pedal steel guitar on Just Want To Hold You, Too Many Crooks, and Sleepsong. He covered our song There's No Way Out Of Here on his first solo album. He plays bits and pieces on quite a few of the tracks: he plays one of the guitar solos at the end of The Way it Goes. There are more sound samples on www.unicornmusic.net as well as www.ItsAboutMusic.com, for people to investigate...

Each CD contains a bonus track (UK only B-sides that have been unavailable for over a quarter of a century). These are the definitive versions of these albums, repackaged by ItsAboutMusic.com with the original British Hipgnosis-designed artwork that was not available in the US when Capitol issued these albums originally. Each release features extensive liner notes detailing the band's story written by Unicorn historian David DiSanzo.

Unicorn deserves a second chance to be heard. Find out for yourself why David Gilmour immediately offered to produce them and get them management and recording contracts when he first heard them perform in 1973. Also released by ItsAboutMusic.com is "Shed No Tear" (a collection of late 70's David Gilmour produced demos and outtakes) and "The Best of Unicorn."

Our thanks to Pat Martin for his time.

 
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