I found this four track wonder one magical day in  Sister Ray on Berwick Street all the way back in 1997. More commonly known as the fag end of Britpop. While other bands lurched to cocaine induced meltdowns and hubristic, bombastic albums of varying quality (sound familiar 2007/2008?) – !Free Arthur Lee! lasts a mere 2.02  – and is one of the most striking songs you’ll ever hear.  The title is no misprint – this feels like it could have been a long lost studio cut off Da Capo – and as the (sadly departed) Arthur Lee was in jail at the time for discharging a loaded gun, it comes across as the sweetest, saddest and most beautiful protest song ever. Big bass starts it, a tight little snare roll keeps the song building, the vocals hit the big time when the first harmonies roll ever so softly in. As the beautiful String Quartet crank into high gear on the chorus, the song takes a bittersweet turn, the lyrics defeated, and the love lost, and then it’s over, the quartet fading off into the distance.

What makes this Beneath the Apple Tree more remarkable (and frustrating) is the fact that these guys were NEVER heard from again. No gigs, no follow ups, no news, NOTHING.  Just a piss poor website and an email. (and this) I’m torn between solving this mystery, and just letting it be.

Beneath the Apple Tree is one of the true lost albums of any decade. It introduced me to the world of Love, led me to the magic of the Millenium, and countless other bands whose heart was made of harmonies and sunshine. It sounds as striking today as it did the first time I heard it, and remains my most treasured piece of music.

Hopkirk & Lee – !Free Arthur Lee!

  1. […] The next forgotten genius is one who truly has been left on the shelf. Unlike say Mark Eric or Hopkirk & Lee, the music of Lewis Taylor was released commercially (via Island Records and then his own label […]

  2. Jeff says: February 28, 20103:31 PM

    can you upload the whole ep?

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