Fantasy was an English symphonic-rock band from Kent that released the album Paint a Picture on Polydor in 1973. The following year, the band recorded a second album that was ultimately released in 1992 by Audio Archives.

Members: David Read (bass, vocals), David Metcalfe (keyboards, clarinet, vocals), Peter James (lead guitar, vocals), Jon Webster (percussion, vocals), Geoff Whitehorn (lead guitar), Paul Petley (lead vocals, 1970-71), Brian Chatham (drums), Bob Vann (guitar, 1970), Paul Lawrence (12-string guitar, vocals, 1971-74)


The band formed in 1970 and practiced at the Chapel Farm, the residence in Gravesend, Kent, of singer Paul Petley. The other founding members were bassist David Read, keyboardist David Metcalfe, drummer Brian Chatham, and guitarists Geoff Whitehorn and Bob Vann. In 1971, Vann was killed in a car accident.

With new guitarist Paul Lawrence, they sent their demo tape to Decca and Polydor under the name Firequeen. Signed to Polydor, they changed their name to Fantasy. Chatham made way for percussionist John Webster, who completed the now-five-piece band with James and the songwriting team of Lawrence, Metcalfe, and Read.

Paint a Picture

Fantasy released Paint a Picture on Polydor in 1973. It features five songs per side, including “The Award,” “Young Man’s Fortune,” “Circus,” “Politely Insane,” and “Thank Christ.” The songs are in the 3–5-minute range with two exceptions: “Circus” (6:17) and “Icy River” (5:54).

Paint a Picture was recorded at Chipping Norton Recording Studios in Oxon, the site of recent recordings by Kayak (See See the Sun), Man (Back Into the Future), Caravan (For Girls Who Grow Plump in the Night), Nektar, the Pink Fairies, and Skin Alley. The album was produced by Peter Sames (Metro) and engineered by Dave Grinstead (Ashkan, Galliard, Trapeze, Zakarrias).

The front of Paint a Picture features a surreal image that shows one natural setting (hills, rivers, valleys) over a stone bridge that sits above a waterfall, which leads to another setting (river, forest). The inner-spread shows further watercolor imagery (a master of ceremonies on giant dog-back) with printed lyrics. Both were painted by Larry Learmonth, who later did the cover art for the 1978 eponymous second album by Illusion (the reformed original Renaissance).

“Politely Insane” was lifted as a single, backed with the non-album “I Was Once Aware.” The a-side features brass arrangements by Andrew Pryce Jackman. Graham Preskett conducted cello arrangements on the track “Widow.”

Beyond the Beyond

In July 1974, Fantasy was back at Chipping recording a second album with Sames and Grinstead. They laid seven tracks, plus another two (“Worried Man” and “Winter Rose”) at Polydor Studios, London. However, Polydor annulled the band’s contract. The finished album remained vaulted for 18 years.

In 1992, the lost album was released for the first time (on CD) as Beyond the Beyond on the UK specialty label Audio Archives. It features the aforementioned cuts, plus “Afterthought” and the nine-minute “Alanderie.” In 1999, it was issued again with five bonus tracks that date from the Whitehorn days.

After the 1974 sessions, Fantasy demoed six new songs in 1976. In 1994, Audio Archives released these on the disc Vivariatum, which also includes the pre-Polydor demo material.

Paint a Picture has been the subject of numerous reissues. At least one (Aurora, 2011) adds “I Was Once Aware” as a bonus track.



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