Dando Shaft

Dando Shaft was an English folk-psych band from Coventry that debuted with an album on Young Blood in 1970, followed by two titles on RCA in 1971–72 and a fourth on Rubber Records in 1977.  Guitarist–vocalist Kevin Dempsey and singer Polly Bolton were also part of the 1973 Christian project Blue Aquarius.

Mandocellist Martin Jenkins partook in assorted projects led by Ian Matthews (Southern Comfort, Plainsong) and Bert Jansch (Conundrum). He also backed singer–songwriter Pete Scott and did a two-album stint with folksters Hedgehog Pie.

In 1983, Dempsey cut an album with jazz-rockers Pzazz. He subsequently reteamed with Jenkins in the folk-rock super-combo Whippersnapper. Bolton later sang in the Albion Dance Band.

Members: Martin Jenkins (mandocello, flute, violin, vocals), Kevin Dempsey (guitar, vocals), Ted Kay (percussion), Roger Bullen (bass), Dave Cooper (guitar, vocals), Polly Bolton (vocals)


Formation

Dando Shaft formed in Coventry in 1968 when singing guitarists Dave Cooper (b. 1948) and Kevin Dempsey (b. May 29, 1950) teamed with multi-instrumentalist Martin Jenkins (mandolin, mandocello, flute, violin), bassist Roger Bullen, and percussionist Ted Kay. They took their name from the 1965 satirical novel by Don Calhoun. After two years on the local folk circuit, they signed with Young Blood, a new label headed by music producer Miki Dallon.


An Evening With Dando Shaft

Dando Shaft released their debut album, An Evening With Dando Shaft, in July 1970 on Young Blood. It features eight group-written songs, including the titles “Cold Wind,” “September Wine,” and “Drops of Brandy.” Musically, An Evening crosses contemporary UK folk with bluegrass and Balkan rhythms.

1. “Rain” (5:03)
2. “Cold Wind” (4:12)
3. “September Wine” (3:37)
4. “Cat Song” (2:32)
5. “In the Country” (6:46)
6. “Drops of Brandy” (2:26)
7. “End of the Game” (3:27)
8. “Lazily Slowly” (3:08)

Miki Dallon produced the album in sequence with 1970 Young Blood titles by Elias Hulk and Julian’s Treatment. Dallon’s in-house soundman, Larry Bartlett, co-engineered An Evening With Dando Shaft with Dave Hunt, who worked beforehand on albums by Killing Floor, Mike Cooper, Velvett Fogg, and Woody Kern.

Young Blood lifted “Cold Wind” as a single (b/w “Cat Song”).

Dando Shaft moved to London and added a sixth member, singer Polly Bolton, a recent zoology major at Swansea University who sung beforehand on the Lemington Spa folk scene with a teenage June Tabor. RCA signed Dando Shaft to its new progressive division Neon.


Dando Shaft

Dando Shaft released their self-titled second album in May 1971 on RCA Neon. It features eleven numbers joint-written by the male members. Four songs (“Coming Home to Me,” “River Boat,” “Pass It On,” “Kalyope Driver”) feature writing input by Polly Bolton, who sings lead on everything apart from Martin Jenkins’ “Whispering Ned,” Dave Cooper’s postlude “Prayer,” and the instrumental “Dewet,”  a string interlude between Jenkins and Kevin Dempsey.

A1. “Coming Home to Me” (3:32)
A2. “Sometimes” (3:53)
A3. “Waves Upon the Ether” (4:40)
A4. “River Boat” (4:20)
A5. “Dewet” (1:38)
B1. “Railway” (2:40)
B2. “Whispering Ned” (1:40)
B3. “Pass It On” (3:51)
B4. “Kalyope Driver” (3:02)
B5. “Till the Morning Comes” (1:41)
B6. “Prayer” (0:32)

Miki Dallon produced Dando Shaft in sequence with 1971 albums by Raw, Salamander, and Paintbox, a studio project by Easybeats masterminds George Young and Harry Vanda with Young’s older brother, Alexander (ex-Grapefruit). Returning soundman Dave Hunt also engineered concurrent titles by Pluto and recent King Crimson bassist–singer Gordon Haskell (It Is and It Isn’t).

Dando Shaft appeared in a textured gatefold designed by Keef (aka Keith MacMillan), whose visuals also appear on 1970–71 Neon and Vertigo titles by Affinity, Beggars Opera, Black Sabbath, Cressida, Fresh Maggots, Hannibal, Indian Summer, Manfred Mann Chapter Three, Tonton Macoute, and Warhorse. On the cover, Dando Shaft shows the abandoned remains of a carousel, backed with a color group photo and a tinted monochrome performance shot (inner).


Lantaloon

Dando Shaft released their third album, Lantaloon, in 1972 on RCA Victor.

A1. “Road Song” (3:34)
A2. “Is It Me?” (3:53)
A3. “Down to You, Up to Me” (3:09)
A4. “Melancholic Fervour (It’s Only Us)” (3:44)
A5. “It Was Good” (2:30)
B1. “The Harp Lady I Bombed” (4:51)
B2. “The Black Prince of Paradise” (2:42)
B3. “When I’m Weary” (3:37)
B4. “I Heard Somewhere” (2:39)
B5. “Magnetic Beggar” (4:16)


Discography:

  • An Evening With Dando Shaft (1970)
  • Dando Shaft (1971)
  • Lantaloon (1972)
  • Kingdom (1977)
  • Shadows Across the Moon (1989)

Sources:

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