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Unicorn: Blue Pine Trees

Produced by Pink Floyd's own David Gilmour, Blue Pine Trees was the second release from British folk/country rock act Unicorn (though self-titled here in the US upon its release on Capitol Records) back in 1974. Though the album, nor the band, made much of an impact back in the day, thanks to a reissue campaign from Renaissance Records &, the Unicorn catalog is now available once again in remastered format.

Hard to believe that these guys escaped the public eye, given the popularity of such bands in the early 70's like The Eagles, Poco, Crosby Still Nash & Young, Buffalo Springfield, and the Byrds. Listening to Blue Pine Tree, I think the real reason Unicorn probably didn't catch on was due to the fact that their music was a little darker than their contemporaries, had more going on instrumentally, and lacked some of the pop elements. There's much more of a folk thing going on here, even some complex bluegrass elements, making for challenging, enjoyable music, but probably not something you'd expect to hear on the radio. "Autumn Wine" is a perfect example of this, a moody, mysterious number with lush vocals, layers of instrumentation, including some wonderful pedal steel guitar; intoxicating, but not a song that would instantly catch your ear. "Rat Race" though has a certain Alan Parsons Project feel to it, complete with some nifty electric piano and crisp guitar licks, and "Holland" is an uptempo Eagles styled country rocker with one of the best hooks on the album. Fans of folky material will dig "Nightingale Crescent", which has some Beatles-ish harmonies to go along with plenty of alluring acoustic guitars, and more of that supercharged, funky rock returns on "In the Gym". One thing I need to mention is the smooth, silky bass playing from Pat Martin, who is way up in the mix and adds a huge amount of groove to these otherwise guitar, mandolin, pedal steel, and keyboard driven songs.

There's really a lot going on here musically and vocally, as Blue Pine Trees is much more than your average country-rock release. It's no wonder that David Gilmour decided to work with Unicorn, given the obvious talents of the band. While it didn't quite have the pop sensibility to drive itself up the charts back in 1974, those who look back on challenging and interesting releases from that era that kind of fell off the radar would be well advised to look into this one.

Track Listing
1. Electric Night
2. Sleep Song
3. Autumn Wine
4. Rat Race
5. Just Wanna Hold You
6. Holland
7. Nightingale Crescent
8. The Farmer
9. In the Gym
10. Blue Pine Trees
11. Ooh! Mother
12. Take It Easy (bonus track)

Added: December 30th 2009
Reviewer: Pete Pardo
Related Link:
Hits: 9871
Language: english

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» Reader Comments:

Unicorn: Blue Pine Trees
Posted by Don Muggeridge on 2010-04-25 18:14:37
My Score:

The guys voice is wonderful,love thre songs,the playing and the sound.You can hear the American influence but the words are so English.

Unicorn: Blue Pine Trees
Posted by Paul Patterson on 2010-01-03 12:28:47
My Score:

Excellent,what a find,how did I miss this first time ? doesn't sound the least bit dated.There's some obvious Gilmour bits but great all round playing,singing,songs and feel.

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