Accolade was an English folk-rock band that released a self-titled album on Columbia in 1970, followed by a second on Regal Zonophone in 1971. The first album features singer–songwriter Gordon Giltrap, who later charted as an instrumental symphonic-rock musician.
Members: Brian Cresswell (saxophone, flute), Gordon Giltrap (guitar, vocals), Ian Hoyle (drums), Don Partridge (guitar, vocals, vibraphone), Malcolm Pool (double-bass)
Accolade formed in 1969 when acoustic guitarists Don Partridge and Gordon Giltrap, both established singer–songwriters, teamed with reedist Brian Cresswell, bassist Malcolm Pool, and drummer Ian Hoyle.
Partridge (b. 1941, Bournemouth) was a veteran cross-channel busker with a storied past that included teenage burglary and a publicized 1963 bridge-diving incident on homemade wings. In 1966, he partnered with fellow London busker Pat Keene as The Brotherhood. Their album, Singin’ ‘N’ Sole-In’, appeared that year on Fontana.
Shortly thereafter, Partridge re-fashioned himself as a one-man-band, equipped with acoustic guitar plus harnessed mouth instruments, a back-strapped bass drum and percussive sundries. Despite constant fines, he drew crowds and appeared on ITV’s music program The Eamonn Andrews Show.
Partridge signed with Columbia Records and scored back-to-back UK top-two hits with the 1968 singles “Rosie” and “Blue Eyes.” After a slew of high-profile concert appearances with Simon Dupree and the Big Sound (4/5/68: Odeon Theatre, Lewisham) and The Rolling Stones (5/68: Wembley), his eponymous debut solo album appeared in 1969. It features four originals and ten covers, including songs by Otis Redding (“Sitting By the Dock of the Bay”) and Incredible String Band co-head Robbie Williamson (“First Girl I Loved”).
In 1969, Partridge co-headlined an Oxfam charity show at Wembley with Status Quo, Grapefruit, and newcomers Yes. He also arranged the Buskers Concert, held at Royal Albert Hall before 3,700 attendees with fellow buskers Giltrap and Dave Brock, who formed Hawkwind later that year. Fifteen numbers from the Albert Hall show are compiled on the 1969 Columbia release The Buskers. Multiple parties from the event, including Partridge and Giltrap, took the show on a UK tour.
Giltrap (b. 1948, Brenchley, Kent) signed at age 18 to the folk-specialty label Transatlantic Records and issued the 1968/69 albums Gordon Giltrap and Portrait. His virtuosity won him a spot on the 1969 label comp The Contemporary Guitar Sampler, Volume 1. Also that year, he played alongside flutist Cresswell on Show Me a Rainbow, the singular album by singer–songwriter Pauline Filby.
When the buskers tour bus broke down outside Glasgow, Partridge and Giltrap formed Accolade with Cresswell, Poole, and Hoyle.
Pool hailed from R&B/beatsters The Artwoods, which featured organist Jon Lord (later Deep Purple), drummer Keef Hartley (later namesake of the Keef Hartley Band), and singer Art Wood (brother of Faces guitarist Ron Wood). For Accolade, Poole switched from electric to stand-up bass.
Accolade released their self-titled debut album in 1970 on Columbia (UK, US). It features three Giltrap compositions (“Starting All Over,” “Never Ending Solitude,” “Gospel Song”), one Cresswell instrumental (“Prelude to a Dawn”), and a nine-minute rendition of “Nature Boy,” written in 1948 by California bucolic legend eden ahbez. Partridge wrote the remaining four numbers, including “Maiden Flight Eliza,” “Calico,” and the 13-minute “Ulyssees.” In addition to the group’s standard instrumentation, select tracks feature vibes (Partridge) and fiddle (Poole).
Accolade was produced by music mogul Don Paul, an early UK rock performer (in pre-beatsters The Viscounts) who managed Partridge from his early days on Columbia. Paul also produced 1970 folk recordings by Jimmy Campbell, Pete Atkin, and future Rock Follies singer Julie Covington. The engineer on Accolade, Tom Allom, had credits on 1969/70 releases by Black Sabbath (Paranoid), Genesis (From Genesis to Revelation), Michael Chapman, and Paper Bubble.
Photographer Don Troughton took the b&w group shot on the Accolade back cover, which is overlaid with lyrics. US copies include line notes that refer to the band’s music as “a new attitude… a trip through the lush landscape in the unused back rooms of your brain.”
Columbia placed “Prelude to a Dawn” on the back of the non-album a-side “Natural Day,” a Partridge original.
Giltrap left Accolade soon after this album to resume his solo career, starting with the 1971 MCA release A Testament of Time. After the 1973 Philips release Giltrap, he switched to making orchestrated instrumental music with classical acoustic and electric guitar. This brought him UK chart success with three 1976–76 titles on the Electric Record Company: Visionary, Perilous Journey, and Fear of the Dark.
Pool (credited here as “Poole”) sat in on Colosseum during April–May 1970, between the stints of bassists Tony Reeves (later Greenslade) and Louis Cennamo (ex-Renaissance).
1971: Accolade 2
Accolade released their numerically eponymous second album in December 1971 on Regal Zonophone. Partridge composed five numbers, including “Transworld Blues,” “Sector Five Nine,” and “Baby, Take Your Rags Off.” The album’s centerpiece is “Cross Continental Pandemonium Theatre Company,” an 11-minute group-written number. Side two begins with a cover of “Snakes In a Hole,” a track by Made in Sweden from their 1969 Sonet release of the name name.
Accolade 2 also contains “William Taplin,” a Giltrap composition originally found on his 1969 release Portrait. Folk veteran Wizz Jones sings and plays acoustic guitar on four tracks, including “The Spider to the Fly” and his own songwriting contribution, “If Only I’d Known.” Session keyboardist Mike Moran appears on “Baby” and “Long Way to Go.”
Paul produced Accolade 2 just prior to working with ex-Move frontman Carl Wayne on the singer’s only solo album. This is an early credit for Moran, who plays on 1971 albums by John Kongos and Mike d’Abo. The red cover art on Accolade 2 is credited to one David Steele.
Hoyle and Pool played on Jones’ 1972 Columbia release Right Now, which also features UK folk legend John Renbourn.
Partridge resumed busking across the UK on a gypsy caravan and eventually moved to Sweden, where he released the 1974 album Don Partridge and Friends. He then busked in Canada and played at the 1976 Montreal Olympic Games. Back in Stockholm, he issued the 1982 album Street Harvest and continued busking in Scandinavia and Benelux. He died of a heart attack in September 2010 at age 68.
- Accolade (1970)
- Accolade 2 (1971)
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