Edwards Hand — “Friday Hill”: Brace for the Obscure (60s rock)! — December 9, 2022


663) Edwards Hand — “Friday Hill”

A delicate, gentle, wistful George Martin-produced baroque/folk/psych pop jewel. Who says producing the White Album doesn’t leave time for any fun? And, just to set the record straight, Johnny Depp was not in this band! It was not Edward Scissorhands. The band members were Rod Edwards and Roger Hand. Get it?! (see #151)

Forced Exposure tells us that:

Rod Edwards and Roger Hand formed this breezy, psychedelic pop outfit after briefly recording as The Picadilly Line. Sadly, this album never made it to a British release as their record label folded, which subsequently took their EMI deal and UK distributor contract away at precisely the wrong time. This is therefore a genuine lost UK ’60s gem that received glowing reviews upon its release in the U.S. . . . Recorded in late ’68, with Geoff Emerick and George Martin during a break in the sporadic White Album sessions, you can hear the benefits from Martin and Emerick’s vast experience, technical skills and orchestral arrangements. There is plenty of swinging London vibes and whimsical vocals here . . . . The Beatles connection is obviously strong, and much of this material is reminiscent of late ’60, early ’70s Paul McCartney as well as Donovan — with its chirpy, evocative lyrics, harmonies and warm arrangements — but there is also a late Small Faces/Kinks vibe in their lyrical descriptions of old London Town.


Freak Emporium adds:

[The album is a] beautiful whimsical record of lush harmony pop rock with progressive/psych tinges. The music can perhaps be compared to the more orchestrated moments of Kaleidoscope [see #154, 336, 552] and Fairfield Parlour and was produced by George Martin during time off from working on the White album. George contributed some stunning string arrangements . . . . An undiscovered treasure of an album. 


And Marios:

[The album has] an English cosy warmth and familiarity that breathes the fresh air of an earlier,  innocent and more carefree musical age.  Sweeping pastoral string arrangements perfectly counterbalance a pop sensibility adding a certain air of mystery and romanticism. . . . [a] blend of pop orchestration and melancholy harmony . . . . 


Richie Unterberger is a bit more skeptical:

[T]he harmonies, melodies, and orchestrations bear some similarity to those heard on the very most pop-oriented of the Beatles’ productions, though in truth there’s a stronger resemblance to the ornate pop-psychedelia of the late-’60s Bee Gees. . . . It’s more something of a combination of Beatles/Bee Gees-lite with poppier, soaring, sometimes fruity orchestral arrangements — most likely Martin’s strongest contribution to the record — and more of a middle of the road/sunshine pop/toytown psychedelic influence . . . . Certainly some of the lyrics make one blanch a bit on the printed page, with their fey references to picture books, kings and queens, bringing flowers in the morning, walking down London’s Charing Cross Road, magic cars, and the like. . . . It has reasonably catchy though not stunning melodies, good duo vocal harmonies, and an ambience that captures something of the most innocuous side of the Swinging London/flower power era.


Marios gives us some background:

In 1968 CBS abandoned the idea of a follow up album for the Picadilly Line and looked instead for commercial success through singles. When the singles also failed to hit the charts CBS started to lose interest in the band . . . . American manager Lennie Poncher . . . offered them a US management deal [and] secured a record contract with CRT records, a new operation set up by the tape manufacturing conglomerate. . . . [T]hrough the force of his personality [he] secured the services of George Martin to produce Rod and Roger’s new album. . . . [T]hey were to be the first group produced by George after the Beatles. . . . [A]s musical director George worked closely with the duo planning, pruning, orchestrating, recording and mixing the material. . . . [T]hey also attracted the cream of the UK session musicians. . . . The reviews were excellent and a buzz was in the air but GRT had moved too soon too fast and they lacked the depth of experience of a major label. They did not have the promotion, the organisation or quite simply the men hitting the radio stations. . . .[A]lthough Edwards Hand’s album garnered critical acclaim in the USA, the GRT label folded almost immediately after release of the album taking the band’s first steps at a career with it.


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