Third Ear Band

Third Ear Band was an English free-folk band that released the 1969–70 albums Alchemy and Third Ear Band and the 1972 soundtrack Music from Macbeth on Harvest.

Members: Glen Sweeney (percussion), Paul Minns (oboe, recorder, 1968-88), Richard Coff (violin, 1968-70, 1971), Mel Davis (cello, 1968-69), Ursula Smith (cello, 1969-70, 1988-89), Paul Buckmaster (cello, bass, 1969, 1971-72), Denim Bridges (guitar, 1970-72), Simon House (violin, 1971-73), Mick Carter (guitar, 1976-93), Allen Samuel (violin, 1988-89), Lyn Dobson (saxophone, flute, 1989-90, 1991-93), Neil Black (violin, 1989-93)


Background

Third Ear Band evolved from Giant Sun Trolley, a free music act assembled by reedist–violinist Dave Tomlin for after-hours improv sessions at the UFO Club, London’s main psychedelic haunt.


National-Balkan Ensemble

In 1968, a lineup comprised of cellist Benjamin Cartland, percussionist Glen Sweeney, oboist Paul Minns, and violinist Richard Coff recorded three songs as the National-Balkan Ensemble for one side of the multi-artist album Comedy Links and Bridges, released in 1970 on the Standard Music Library label.

1. “Cosmic Trip” (5:45)
2. “Jason’s Trip” (6:17)
3. “Devil Weed” (3:41)

Carltand cleared for People Band pipist–cellist Mel Davis.


Alchemy

Third Ear Band released their debut album, Alchemy, in June 1969 on Harvest. It features seven tracks joint-composed by Coff, Minns, and Sweeney and one (“Lark Rise”) by Dave Tomlin.

1. “Mosaic” (6:31)
2. “Ghetto Raga” (10:32)
3. “Druid One” (3:49)
4. “Stone Circle” (3:28)
5. “Egyptian Book of the Dead” (8:55)
6. “Area Three” (8:33)
7. “Dragon Lines” (5:33)
8. “Lark Rise” (2:46)

Paul Minns – oboe, recorder
Mel Davis – cello, pipe
Glen Sweeney – chimes, drums, tabla, wind chimes, hand drums
Richard Coff – violin, viola

with:
Dave Tomlin – violin on “Lark Rise”
John Peel – harmonica, Jew’s harp on “Area Three”

Technical
Producer Peter Jenner
Ken Scott, Peter Mew – engineer
Dave Loxley – design, artwork
Ray Stevenson – photography

On July 5, Third Ear Band played the Hyde Park Festival, a free concert event at London’s Hyde Park with sets by Battered Ornaments, Family, King Crimson, Roy Harper, and The Rolling Stones.

In late August, Third Ear Band played the second Isle of Wight Festival, a three-day weekend event (29–31) with sets by Blodwyn Pig, Blonde on Blonde, Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band, Edgar Broughton Band, Joe Cocker, Aynsley Dunbar, Eclection, Fat Mattress, Gary Farr, Free, Gypsy, Heaven, Marsha Hunt, Marsupilami, Mighty Baby, The Moody Blues, The Nice, Pentangle, The Pretty Things, and The Who.


Third Ear Band

Third Ear Band released their self-titled second album in June 1970 on Harvest.

1. “Air” (10:30)
2. “Earth” (9:53)
3. “Fire” (9:19)
4. “Water” (7:04)

Paul Minns – oboe
Glen Sweeney – percussion
Ursula Smith – cello
Richard Coff – violin and viola

Producer Andrew King

“Water” appears on the 1970 Harvest compilation Picnic – A Breath of Fresh Air, a multi-artist double album with cuts by Bakerloo, Barclay James Harvest, Deep Purple, Forest, Kevin Ayers, The Greatest Show On Earth, Michael Chapman, Pink Floyd, Quatermass, Syd Barrett, Tea & Symphony, and Pete Brown & Piblokto!


Music From Macbeth

In 1971, Third Ear Band recorded soundtrack music for Roman Polanski’s Macbeth, a historical drama based on Shakespeare’s The Tragedy of Macbeth. The soundtrack album appeared in March 1972 on Harvest.

1. “Overture” (4:20)
2. “The Beach” (1:54)
3. “Lady Macbeth” (1:47)
4. “Inverness: Macbeth’s Return/The Preparation/Fanfare/Duncan’s Arrival” (5:00)
5. “The Banquet” (1:21)
6. “Dagger and Death” (2:49)
7. “At the Well/The Princes’s Escape/Coronation/Come Sealing Night” (3:03)
8. “Court Dance” (2:28)
9. “Fleance” (4:02)
10. “Grooms’ Dance” (4:21)
11. “Bear Baiting” (1:10)
12. “Ambush/Banquo’s Ghost” (2:27)
13. “Going to Bed/Blind Man’s Buff/Requiescant/Sere and Yellow Leaf” (3:04)
14. “The Cauldron” (2:39)
15. “Prophesies” (1:53)
16. “Wicca Way” (1:24)

Studio Air Studios, London
Producer Andrew King, Third Ear Band

Paul Minns — oboe and recorder
Glen Sweeney — drums
Paul Buckmaster — cello and bass guitar
Simon House — violin and VCS3
Denim Bridges — guitars

The cover was originally painted by Roger Dean


Necromances of the Drifting West

Third Ear Band recorded a soundtrack to Abelard and Helois, an animated film by Herbert Fuchs. Sessions took place on July 2–3, 1970, in Munich. The music went unreleased until the 1997 CD Necromances of the Drifting West by archivists Sonic Book.

1. Untitled (13:42)
2. Untitled (4:39)
3. Untitled (3:21)
4. Untitled (3:18)
5. Untitled (4:12)
6. Untitled (7:42)

Glenn Sweeney — drums
Paul Minns — oboe
Richard Coff — violin, viola
Ursula Smith — cello


The Magus

In late 1972, Third Ear Band recorded a followup album to the Macbeth soundtrack but Harvest rejected the effort. In 2004, archivists Angel Air Records issued the lost album as The Magus.

1. “The Key” (5:35)
2. “Cosmic Wheel” (6:24)
3. “The Hierophant” (4:38)
4. “The Magus” (8:13)
5. “New Horizon” (6:13)
6. “The Phoenix” (3:57)
7. “Kozmik Wheel” (3:49)

Bass Guitar, Liner Notes – Dave Tomlin
Drums – Glen Sweeney
Guitar, Vocals – Mike Marchant
Oboe, Recorder, Hammond Organ – Paul Minns
Synthesizer [Vcs3], Violin, Sitar, Piano, Liner Notes – Simon House

Percussion, Doom Piano – Ron Kort

Producer, Engineer, Mixed By, Mastered By – Ron Kort
Songwriter – Third Ear Band (5, 6)
Words By, Music By – Mike Marchant (1-4, 7)
Liner Notes – Steve Barker


Discography:

  • Alchemy (1969)
  • Third Ear Band (1970)
  • Music From Macbeth (OST, 1972)
  • Necromances of the Drifting West (TV, 1997; recorded 1970)
  • The Magus (2004, recorded 1972)

Sources:

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