Cherry Red’s Esoteric Recordings imprint has just rocketed into the orbit of Pink Floyd with the first time expanded U.K. reissue of Round One from the band Principal Edwards. The 1974 Deram album from Belinda Bourquin (keyboard/violin/recorder/vocal), Root Cartwright (guitar/mandolin), Richard Jones (bass/vocals), David Jones (bongos/congas/percussion), Nick Pallet (lead vocals/guitar) and Geoff Nicholls (drums/percussion) was produced by Pink Floyd’s Nick Mason.
Principal Edwards emerged from the ashes of Principal Edwards Magic Theatre, a 14-person artistic collective encompassing music, mime, theatre, poetry and even a light show. When the Magic Theatre split (after having released two albums on John Peel’s Dandelion label including 1971’s Mason-produced The Asmoto Running Band), the streamlined group emerged. Bourquin, Cartwright and David Jones were all members of the Magic Theatre; Richard Jones, Nick Pallett and Geoff Nicholls were recruited for the new endeavor. All of the compositions on Round One were contributed by the band members in various permutations.
The group had many influences. In his new liner notes for Esoteric’s reissue, Malcolm Dome quotes Cartwright as admitting, “I’d say I was influenced by just about everything, except pop music!” That isn’t to say that the music on Principal Edwards doesn’t have accessible moments, however. Pallett cites David Bowie and Frank Zappa as well as classical composers Maurice Ravel and Edvard Grieg as influences. Nick Mason corralled all of the disparate elements as producer, recording at Wembley’s De Lane Lea Studios. The Floyd drummer also was an expert on the use of sound effects, and helped the band utilize a synthesizer for the album. He additionally aided the band in streamlining expansive stage arrangements for a tight, 8-song album (including the closing, five-part suite “The Rise of the Glass-White Gangster”).
Round One, incorporating everything from straight-ahead rock to carnival sounds and classical music, was released in 1974 after two singles hit the market to give a taste of the band. “Captain Lifeboy” was backed with “Nothing,” and then “Weekdaze” was backed with “The Whizzmore Kid.” Though the latter was included on Round One, the other three tracks remained non-LP singles. All three of those tracks have been appended to this reissue. Round One remained the only album completed by Principal Edwards, though demos recorded subsequent to the album were released in 2008 by Cherry Red as The Devon Tapes.
This blend of the progressive and the whimsical has been remastered from the original Deram master tapes by Paschal Byrne. The release contains a 20-page booklet with Dome’s notes (featuring new quotes by band members as well as Nick Mason) and copious illustrations. Principal Edwards’ Round One is available at the links below!
- Average Chap
- Halibut Rock
- Milk and Honeyland
- The Whizzmore Kid
- Dear Mrs. O’Reilly
- The Rise of the Glass-White Gangster (Moody as a Shark on Heat/Lady of Danger/Glass-White Gangster/Sirens/Mechanical Madness)
- Captain Lifeboy (Deram DM 391-A, 1973)
- Nothing (Deram DM 391-B, 1973)
- Weekdaze (Deram DM 398-A, 1973)