The Parlour Band

The Parlour Band was an English rustic art-pop band that released the album Is a Friend? on Deram in 1972. Four-fifths of the band continued as A Band Called O and released four albums (alternately billed as The “O” Band or simply “O”) between 1974 and 1977.

Members: Peter Filleul (lead vocals, keyboards, acoustic guitar), Pix [aka Jonathan Pickford] (vocals, guitar), Craig Anders (vocals, guitar), Mark Ashley Anders (vocals, bass), Jerry Robins (drums, percussion)


The Parlour Band formed in 1970 in Jersey, one of the Channel Islands in the English Channel off the French coast of Normandy. They consisted of guitarist Craig Anders and his bassist brother Mark, who both harmonized with guitarist Jon “Pix” Pickford behind the lead vocals of keyboardist and songwriter Peter Filleul.

By 1971, they were based in Leicester, where Pickford and drummer Jerry Robins attended the local polytechnic. The band lived communally in two low-rent houses, where they rehearsed and built their repertoire. Impressed by a demo tape of Filleul originals, Decca Records summoned the band to London.

Is a Friend?

The Parlour Band released their singular album, Is a Friend?, on Deram in May 1972. Filleul wrote all 10 songs, exemplified by rustic harmony numbers (“Pretty Haired Girl,” “Early Morning Eyes”) with occasional forays into melodic whimsy (“Little Goldie”) and heavier fare (“Forgotten Dreams”). Tracks like “Evening” and “To Happiness,” with their abrupt changes and dynamics, encapsulate all extremes. The closing epic “Home” (7:37) is a suite in three parts.

Is a Friend? was recorded at Decca Tollington Park Studios with producer Nick Tauber (Thin Lizzy, Sundance) and engineers Derek Varnals (The Moody Blues, The Web, East of Eden, Keef Hartley Band) and Kevin Fuller (Caravan, Mellow Candle). Filleul plays acoustic rhythm guitar in addition to keyboards and vocals. Anders plays acoustic, electric, and slide guitar.

The album cover — a purple-tinted group photo outside a parlor, framed in white with a purple watercolor streak — was designed by one Helen Dixon.

The Parlour Band plugged Is a Friend? on a string of June triple-bills with Khan and Caravan as part of the latter’s Waterloo Lily tour.

A Band Called “O”

The Parlour Band changed their name to A Band Called O. Robins cleared out for drummer Derek Ballard. This new iteration signed to Epic and released their first album, A Band Called O, in 1974. Of the nine songs, Filleul wrote/co-wrote only three as Pickford and Craig Anders assumed creative control. After their country/boogie-oriented second album Oasis, which features only one Filleul contribution, he left the band.

O hired keyboardist Jeff Bannister — once of the Alan Bown Set and singer Jess Roden‘s subsequent band, Bronco — and continued with two albums on United Artists as The “O” Band. They toured with German funk-rockers Randy Pie and the Welsh acts Man and Sassafras, influences heard on their 1976 release Within Reach, which contains their signature song “A Smile Is Diamond.” After their fourth album, The Knife, The “O” Band disbanded in late 1977.

Parlour Band Reissues

Is a Friend? was first reissued in 1991 on Deram Japan as part of that region’s Glory of British Rock series, which also contains titles by Zakarrias, Black Cat Bones, Spriguns, The Human Beast, Room (Pre-Flight), T2 (It’ll All Work Out in Boomland), Cross & Ross (Bored Civilians), ARC (…At This), Gnidrolog (Lady Lake), and Bread Love and Dreams (Amaryllis).

In 2005, Is a Friend? got a purple vinyl reissue on Si-Wan Records (South Korea). Further CD reissues include Mason Records (Europe, 2006) and Esoteric Recordings (UK, 2010). The latter contains a bonus 11th track, “Runaround.”



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *