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STONE PREMONITIONS

Stone Premonitions operates out of the Stone Studio in Stanley, Co. Durham. Most of the releases are by in-house bands The Rabbit's Hat, Mr Quimby's Beard and Body Full Of Stars, or various solo projects of people out of these bands. I've written about various Stone Prem releases before in Aq but there's some new ones out now that you need to know about. Mr Quimby's Beard have two new CDs, The Unsolved Mysteries Of Mr Quimby's Beard and The Definitive Unsolved Mysteries Of Mr Quimby's Beard. Some tracks appear on both CDs, either in the same name or another name, but there are tracks on both CDs that aren't on the other one. The band play 70s style spacerock with hints of Gong and Hawkwind, although they definitely have a sound of their own. As well as core members Ray, Kidd, Hardy and Gaz, these albums have guest appearances from Tim Jones and Terri B from The Rabbit's Hat, and there's a voice-over on one of the tracks from Lord Litter, who is one of the most prominent personalities in the worldwide tapes underground, known for his radioshow and his own music.

The Rabbit's Hat have always had songs I've liked but their Year Of The Rabbit album contains some of my absolute favourite songs of theirs. Tracks like Anytime Anyplace Anywhere, Don't Knock It, Feed Your Head, Forest, Man On A Train and Sara Jane are absolutely brilliant! The music is very professional sounding rock/pop which sounds fairly mainstream on occasions, whilst not jumping on any bandwagons or bowing down to current fads/trends. These songs have the ability to make The Rabbit's Hat famous just because they are so good, full stop. Great, timeless, tuneful music is what The Rabbit's Hat do and this particular album says the most about what they're capable of, out of everything I've heard by them so far. If you're new to this band then I recommend this as an ideal place to start.

Tim Jones and Terri B are also in Body Full Of Stars, whose Welcome! CD is out now. This has different tracks to the tape of the same name that appeared earlier on Stone Premonitions; the majority of this is new stuff. The music is classy and melodic - anyone who likes The Rabbit's Hat will probably like this too. Anytime Anyplace Anywhere (yes, a version of the same song that was on Year Of The Rabbit) was written in 1978 and is fairly punky but is a million miles away from standard punk and is much more tuneful too. This is one of my favourite tracks here, along with End Of The World which is a much poppier track. This album is musically diverse but the musicianship is consistently impressive throughout.

Tim Jones has a solo album out now, 666+1. This is another diverse collection of music, ranging from 70s-ish rock and prog-punk to quirkiness and downright surrealism. Like Rabbit's Hat and Body Full Of Stars albums, fairly normal songs (eg Stevie, which sounds quite commercial) can be found alongside totally wacky stuff (eg A Delicate Talking Mechanism, which is dedicated to Salvador Dali, say no more!) Lots of brilliant songs here, the first five are my particular favourites.

Slide Away by Paul Rose is a mostly instrumental album, and like every Stone Premonitions release, is very professional sounding and includes a wide range of musical styles. This has jazz-blues, pop, rock and spacey soundscapes - whilst there are some fairly underground sounding tracks here (mainly the soundscape stuff) the emphasis is on lightweight pop that makes even the most mainstream-friendly Rabbit's Hat song sound way-out. Mostly a bit too much on the tame side for me but there are a handful of tracks that stand out.

Flesh And Nail is another new one from The Rabbit's Hat, but with a difference as this isn't their own songs - this is a Nick Drake tribute album. I've been meaning to listen to some more Nick Drake as there's lots of bands/songwriters I like who have been compared to him (eg Frank Peck, Ways Of Stephen, the more laid back stuff by Delta). I've heard some Nick Drake songs but I don't recognise any of the ones on Flesh And Nail. These versions do appear to be pretty much in the style of Nick Drake, from what I've previously heard from him; they're not trying to reinvent the songs, making them sound like a totally different style of music. This album, and the few actual Nick Drake songs I've heard, don't convince me that Frank Peck, Ways Of Stephen or Delta sound like Nick Drake, but even so, I like much of what I've heard and would be interested to hear more.

So to sum up - Stone Prem is one of my favourite labels around at the moment, I have a lot of respect for what they do. Even the more mainstream sounding songs have a certain something about them - I just get the feeling that the bands' hearts are in the music, no matter what style they're choosing to do at the time, rather than it being a case of just sounding mainstream to get famous and rich. The fact that Stone Prem bands can have soul and pop on the same release as quirky theatrical prog songs and strange surreal stuff says a lot - it says they're being themselves, rather than forcing themselves to just be one (fashionable) style so they can be easily pigeonholed.

Stone Premonitions have gone from the address I originally printed. You can now contact them at stonepremonitions@fsmail.net

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