Bread Love and Dreams

Bread Love and Dreams were a Scottish folk trio that released a self-titled album on Decca in 1969. After the departure of bassist Carolyn Davis, singing guitarists David McNiven and Angie Rew continued as a duo and recorded a double album that was split into the 1970/71 albums The Strange Tale of Captain Shannon and the Hunchback from Gigha and Amaryllis.

Members: David McNiven (vocals, guitar, organ, flute, harmonica), Angie Rew (vocals, guitar, organ, percussion), Carolyn Davis (vocals, guitar, bass, tambourine)


Bread Love and Dreams formed when aspiring songwriter David McNiven encountered an unsigned folk duo, Angie & Carolyn, at the 1968 Edinburgh Fringe Festival.

McNiven was born in Dennistoun in 1945, the only child of a pianist and bagpipe player. He attended school in Glasgow and wrote songs from a young age on his grandmother’s banjo. As a teenager, he busked with future actor Bill Patterson, playing clarinet and saxophone. During the mid-’60s, he played in a sequence of R&B/beat groups and took up organ.

Inspired by the Incredible String Band, McNiven hit the Edinburgh folk circuit between shifts as a bingo caller. On one such night, he performed right before the duo of Angie Rew and Carolyn Davis. Their manager invited him to their upcoming demo session, where they clicked as a trio. They translated their name from the 1953 Italian romantic comedy Pane, amore e fantasia.

They gigged relentlessly on both sides of the North Sea. Producer Ray Horricks, who saw their performance at the Fringe, secured them a deal with Decca.

1969: Bread Love and Dreams

Bread Love and Dreams released their self-titled debut album in October 1969 on Decca (UK) and London Records (US). It features 11 originals, including “Mirrors,” “Virgin Kiss,” “The Least Said,” “Poet’s Song,” “Until She Needs You,” and “Falling Over Backwards.” Through group-credited, most of the songs were written by either McNiven or Rew/Davis prior to their meeting. The one cover, “Artificial Light (of All the Living Lies),” was written by Andy Badale and Estelle Levitt.

Horricks produced Bread Love and Dreams with engineers Arthur Bannister and Robert Sibbald. Conductor Ian Green (Rosetta Hightower, Madeline Bell) arranged strings on select passages. In addition to their usual instruments, exotic items are heard by each member, including Shepherd’s pipe (McNiven), African drums (Rew), and buzz-horn (Davis).

Photographer Alexander Marshall took the cover shot: a sepia-tinted image of the band posed on a stairway in 18th century rural attire. The blue-tinted group profile on back was photographed by Graham Falconer.

Decca paired “Virgin Kiss” and “Switch Out the Sun” onto a 7″ single in promo (white label) and general release (blue label) versions.

Bread Love and Dreams toured the album on bills with Tyrannosaurus Rex, Magna Carta, and Thunderclap Newman. Davis left the group to work on a solo album that never materialized. McNiven and Rew, now a couple, continued as a duo.

1970: The Strange Tale of Captain Shannon and the Hunchback from Gigha

Inspired by ISB’s 1968 release Wee Tam & The Big Huge, McNiven and Rew wanted their second album to be a two-record set. The idea was vetoed by Decca, which partitioned the first half of their new collection as The Strange Tale of Captain Shannon and the Hunchback from Gigha, released in November 1970. The album received generous airplay in Belgium, where the duo premiered the songs live at a church in Antwerp.

The album contains nine songs, including the McNiven numbers “Masquerade,” “He Who Knows All,” “Hymn for Sylvia,” “Sucking on a Cigarette,” and the title track. On “The Lobster Quadrille,” he utilized lyrics by 19th century author Lewis Carroll. Rew contributed “Butterflyland” and “Sing Me a Song.” Davis appears with one contribution, “Purple Hazy Melancholy.”

Horricks, who wrote the liner notes, produced The Strange Tale with engineers Derek Varnals (Moody Blues, Keef Hartley Band, East of Eden, Kathe Green) and David Grinsted (Ashkan, Caravan, Kayak, Gryphon). Select passages feature orchestration by Graeme Robertson, conducted by Robert Cornford (Scott Walker). Musical guests include drummer Terry Cox (Pentangle), bassist Dave Richmond (Manfred Mann, Elton John, Olivia Newton-John, Labi Siffre), keyboardist Alan Trajan, and an uncredited appearance by saxophonist Dick Heckstall-Smith (Colosseum).

Artist Yvonne Hughes designed the cover, which depicts the sights and mental images of the titular character from the Scottish Isle of Gigha.

The Strange Tale and the second album of material were recorded during one week in the summer of 1970 at Decca’s West Hampstead studio. Concurrently, Horricks produced the sole album by Scottish rockers Human Beast, Volume One, which features three co-writes by McNiven, who played clarinet on the opening track “Mystic Man.”

1971: Amaryllis

The remaining half of the summer 1970 sessions were collected on Amaryllis, released in July 1971. They named the album in honor of actress Amaryllis Garnett after the working title, Mother Earth, was scrapped to avoid confusion with the namesake American band.

Side one consists of the 22-minute title suite, divided into three parts. McNiven wrote that and the side two numbers “Time’s the Thief” and “Circles of Night” (also recorded by Human Beast). He co-wrote “My Stair-Cupboard at 3 A.M.” with poet Lindsay Levy. Rew contributed the penultimate track, “Brother John.”

Bread Love and Dreams toured Amaryllis in Scandinavia, France, Spain, and Benelux; all receptive markets to their sound. In their final weeks, Human Beast drummer John Ramsay supplemented the duo on stage.

Later Activity

McNiven and Rew married and had a family. They both performed on the 1981 release Unofficial Action by Wild Stage Productions (aka Wildcat), a Scottish touring musical theatre company. The album also features keyboardist Peter John Vettese, who joined Jethro Tull for their 1982–84 albums Broadsword and the Beast and Under Wraps. McNiven also wrote theme music for the TV programs Rab C. Nesbitt, Naked Video, and Happy Families.

In 2008, they reformed Bread Love and Dreams for Angie’s 60th birthday.

McNiven died in December 2015 at age 70.


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