Forever Amber

Forever Amber was an English pop-psych band that self-released the 1969 album The Love Cycle. Keyboardist Christopher Parren surfaced behind Hudson–Ford and teamed with Maggie Bell in Midnight Flyer.

Members: Michael Richardson (vocals), Anthony Mumford (bass, vocals), Richard Lane (lead guitar, vocals), Christopher Jones (rhythm guitar, vocals), Christopher Parren (organ, piano, harpsichord, vocals), Barry Broad (drums), John M. Hudson (piano, electric harpsichord)


Background

They originated in early 1967 as The Country Cousins, a Cambridge pop sextet. As psychedelia loomed, they adopted the name Forever Amber from the 1944 period-romance novel (about a promiscuous social climber in 17th century England) by American author Kathleen Winsor.

Forever Amber recorded their singular album in one nineteen-hour session at Studio Sound, a Hitchin facility owned by engineer Mike Swain, who produced the 1968 pop-psych classic “Phoebe’s Flower Shop” by The Cortinas.


The Love Cycle

Forever Amber released The Love Cycle in 1969 on self-press Advance. It contains sixteen songs spread across eight chapters, which chronicle the cycle of a love affair from introduction to heartbreak.

The band’s seventh wheel, keyboardist–composer John M. Hudson, wrote and co-arranged the material. Musically, The Love Cycle highlights the keyboard work of Christopher Parren, who plays organ, piano, and harpsichord.

The Meeting
A1. “Me Oh My”
A2. “Silly Sunshine”
The Talking
A3. “Bits of Your Life, Bits of My Life”
A4. “For a Very Special Person”
A5. “The Dreamer Flies Back”
A6. “Misunderstood”
A7. “Better Things Are Bound to Come”
The Walk Home
A8. “On a Night In Winter”
The Joy
B1. “On Top of My Own Special Mountain”
B2. “Mary (The Painter)”
B3. “All the Colours of My Book”
The Doubt
B4. “Going Away Again”
The Sorrow
B5. “A Chance to Be Free”
The Scorn
B6. “I See You as You Used to Be”
The Grief
B7. “Letters From Her”
B8. “My Friend”

Swain co-engineered The Love Cycle with Ian Bunting. The pair also engineered the 1970 Studio Sound product Rip’Em Orf I Say by the Peeping Tom Spasm Band.

Forever Amber limited the album to 99 copies due to budget constraints and tax issues. With no industry offers, they quietly disbanded.


Subsequent Activity

Christopher Parren appears on the 1970 RCA International release J.J. Jackson’s Dilemma, the American soul singer’s transatlantic brass-rock project with members of If. Parren plays on Hudson–Ford’s seventies studio albums and joined an eighties version of their parent band, Strawbs. He’s recorded albums with funk-rockers Locust and soul-rockers Midnight Flyer, the latter headed by ex-Stone the Crows front-woman Maggie Bell.

Parren also appears on 1977–79 albums by Jim Capaldi, Judie Tzuke (Welcome to the Cruise), Andy MacKay’s Rock Follies (Rock Follies of ’77), and the Brand X-related Wilding–Bonus (Pleasure Signals). In 1984, he played the keyboard track on “Careless Whisper,” the debut solo single by George Michael (billed stateside as a Wham release).


Legacy

With its instant rarity, The Love Cycle gained valuation in collector’s circles. It remained unavailable until a 1990 vinyl reissue on Swank, the American bootleg label behind the earliest (low quality) re-press of the eponymous 1971 album by English psychsters Complex.

In 1992, Forever Amber reactivated Advance for a limited-edition vinyl reissue of The Love Cycle. That same year, it debuted on CD courtesy of archivists Background (Dulcimer, Gygafo, Ithaca, Tarkus). In 2007, the album reappeared on vinyl (Tenth Planet) and CD (Wooden Hill).

As of November 2023, an original 1969 copy of The Love Cycle last sold through Discogs on June 28, 2017, for $6,172.84.


Discography:


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