Sunday, May 20, 2018

JAN DUKES De GREY – Mice And Rats In The Loft (Transatlantic Records / LP-1971)

Label: Transatlantic Records – TRA 234
Format: Vinyl, LP, Album / Country: UK / Released: 1971
Style: Psychedelic Rock, Folk Rock, Acoustic, Free Improvisation
Recorded at Tangerine Studios, London, 1971.
Design [Sleeve] – Caroline Browne
Photography By – Keith Morris
Engineer – Robin Sylvester
Producer – Stuart Taylor
Written-By – D. Noy
1st Original UK Pressing
Matrix / Runout (runout stamped A): TRA 234 A - 1U
Matrix / Runout (runout stamped B): TRA 234 B - 2U

A  -  Sun Symphonica .......................................................................................... 18:58
B1 - Call Of The Wild ........................................................................................... 12:48
B2 - Mice And Rats In The Loft ............................................................................. 8:19

Michael Bairstow – flute, clarinet, saxophonebass, organ
Derek Noy – guitar [acoustic/electric], trumpet, trombone, strings [zelda chord]vocals
Denis Conlan – drums, percussion

JAN DUKES DE GREY is one of the most underrated progressive bands of our time, and only released two albums in their short life span. JAN DUKES DE GREY formed in Leeds, UK in 1969 and were one of the very last prog rock bands to be signed to Decca's prog label. They originally started out as a duo.
Their first album, "Sorcerers" was a typical acid folk album, not particularly adventerous but showcased Derek Noy's and Michael Bairstow's multi-instrumental talents... 
But their greatest work was to come, with the addition of drummer Denis Conlan they recorded their masterpiece "Mice And Rats In The Loft" in 1971. Consisting of three lengthy, psych drenched tracks, It was a lot more free form than their last and had much more progressive leaning. Mindblowing use of a huge assortment of instruments, even utilizing an orchestra.
Sadly the album made little impact, and JAN DUKES DE GREY disbanded after its release. A brilliant recording that never recieved its proper praise. Highly recommended!

_1    This obscure gem of an album could well be considered as a folky version of Van Der Graaf Generator !! Jan Dukes De Grey are unique in every way - from the diverse instrumentation handled by only 3 musicians, the way they utilise strange chords, key changes and varying tempos, to the very personal style of vocal expression. Consisting of 3 lengthy pieces ; Side 1 is taken up by 'Sun Symphonica', a near 19 minute excursion through a variety of moods, textures and colour. Heavily dominated by acoustic instruments, its initial melody suggests a cheerful, sunny vibe, with heavy drums, and some great saxophone. Quickly comes a most unpredictable change of pace, almost psychotic - the drummer starts up a manic beat, and this is built upon by dischordant acoustic guitar and wild sax playing. The singer sounds very shakey in his delivery, but never actually tumbles over the edge. After this section, a lighter movement starts with an orchestral backing, this part is absolutely beautiful. The flute playing adds a quite peaceful and rustic feel to the music. This then merges into a darker part, the core sound of guitar/sax/drums and orchestral strings is embellished by hand percussion, with the singer getting a chance to let loose a bit. The last section features an awesome riff, with weird sounds, horn squawks and off-key harmonica insertions. A vibraphone tinkles away as the song comes to a stop. This is just a basic run-down of this really amazing piece of music actually, there's just so much going on in between. Side 2 track 1 - 'Call Of The Wild' (12.48) starts out very folky, with multi-part vocals, flute and strummed acoustic, quite reminiscent of the Incredible String Band, as is often cited. The tune moves along with stunning guitar play for some minutes, showing off the considerable skills of Derek Noy. He is always playing something different so it never ceases to amaze the listener. A full band sound is achieved when the drums, sax and bass (which is reputed to be a 'cello played like a bass') kick in with some energetic jamming, from which the song is brought to a close with a guitar/sax combination. Title-track 'Mice And Rats In The Loft' (8.19) is a relentless piece of music, driven along by acidic wah-wah guitar and an incessant beat. This one doesn't change much, but doesn't outstay its welcome, either. This is an album which will undoubtedly take a few listens to appreciate and follow, but it is quite a masterpiece within the whole Progressive Folk category - few albums I've heard within this sub-genre reach the inspired heights and creativity of this, special album.       (Review by Tom Ozric / Prog Reviewer)

_2    Wowh! I love this record, first because of his reputation, his style (acid folk), his artwork and it's magical appeal it had on me. Second, after three spins I realised I could never again rate an other album five stars before comparing it to this masterpiece of all masterpieces!
Jan Dukes's sound can be discribed as eclectic prog with lot's of folk and psychedelics. The overall vibe isn't comparable to Jethro Tull, for this is way more real folk. It's more acoustic, it has great use of many many instruments played just by three people. One can hear acoustic and electric guitars, violins, bass, drums, harmonica, organ, trumpet, flute, a lot's of percussion, clarinet and saxophone. Though the band consisted of just three members the album sounds like it's a complete orchestra. The acoustic guitars are played very very aggressively! The vocals of Derek Noy are beautiful and confronting, the lyrics are very dark. The rhythms are or and intelligent interpretation of the folk tradition or inspired by trippy rock music like the Can would play (up-tempo psycho beat). Such an awkward combination, but still a winning formula.
Sun Symphonica is a 19 minute epic that has it all. Some melodic intro-parts with optimistic vocals, some almost gothic-like folk parts (the bombastic, intensive sound is hard to discribe), trippy acid rhythms, orchestral string sections playing accents, vocals as if screaming from the highest mountain and a part with a lot of different solo's on different instruments. This is one my all-time favourite epics.
Call of the Wild continues the atmospheres of side one but this track has particularly aggressive acoustic guitar playing alongside gentle folk parts. The solo guitar parts are very powerful.
Mice and Rats in the Loft has a different vibe. The guitar are electric and the song is heavier and more trippy then the others. This is the true acid part of the album. Really psychedelic!
Conclusion. No need for a conclusion. Everyone should own this, not matter what genre's you prefer. Five stars. One of the best record ever recorded!
(Review by friso / Prog Reviewer)

If you find it, buy this album!


  1. JAN DUKES De GREY – Mice And Rats In The Loft (LP-1971)
    Vinyl Rip/FLAC-96kHz+Atwork (416 MB)


  2. Vitko, thanks a million!!! A criminally underrated album that deserves its place in prog history! The overall feel of the album is very eccentric and unconventional, the band's sound unique and distinct. I agree, a true masterpiece.

  3. Fantastic rip and presentation. In one word, this album is a HUGE !!!
    By the way, a great blog, Vitko...:). Thanks a lot.

  4. Jan Dukes De Grey are a forgotten relic of progressive music. Their brilliant free-from album was the pinnacle of their musical expression, a semi-improvised journey into madness. Many thanks Vitko!

    1. Friendly Dogs? Charming, .......... :)
      Was this the name of your band maybe?

    2. ...from Exeter, don't forget. Yes, we are seriously preparing. Soon, the live performances will come. You will be notified.
      Cheers, Vitko!

    3. I look forward to.
      All the best.

  5. Wow. Thank you, Vitko, for this rare album rip. I think it sounds really good.

    Can I ask why there are white lines in some pictures?

    1. That is my artistical presentation. In that way I enhancing the image dynamics in the unreal space. I construct an apparent movement or levitation. A small design stunt. ... :)

  6. Something I was aware of but never heard for some reason, I expect to love it from the reviews - many thanks Vitko.