The Fossil Records
So far on this blog, we've covered artists ranging from hugely successful (T. Rex, Roy Wood) to very niche but still sufficiently well known to warrant their own Wikipedia pages (Rote Kapelle, The Flock). For the next couple of posts though, we'll be venturing into truly obscure territory.
The folk group Archaeopteryx released one album in 1976, First Flight - A Collection of Songs About Birds. It was released as a 12 inch vinyl record by a well-known UK charity, the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB), with some nice artwork of the early fossil bird Archaeopteryx by Peter Martin (an artist about whom I have not been able to find out anything) on the front and rear covers of the sleeve. Archaeopteryx is of course famous as it has generally been considered the oldest known bird, hence the name First Flight (ignoring, of course, that pterosaurs actually took to the skies more than 50 million years before birds, and that the flight abilities of Archaeopteryx are the subject of much debate).
I assume that the record was intended as a fundraiser for the RSPB, although there's no information available online to confirm this. The album features classically-influenced folk versions of traditional songs about British birds, ranging from the nightingale to the turtle dove, recorded in a church in Buckinghamshire. The songs are interspersed with snippets of bird song from the BBC Sound Archives. There are no songs about fossil birds, so the link to Archaeopteryx is unclear.
If all that sounds like it might be unlikely to be up my street, you'd be correct: as much as I like some British folk music of this era, this is just too traditional and too folk for me. If you want to listen to it yourself then you'll have to buy a copy, because as far as I can tell, no-one has digitised it and made it available. It is a nice sleeve that will frame up well, and copies are available quite cheaply on Discogs and eBay. If anyone knows more about the back story to this record I'd love to hear it.
I actually donated a framed copy of this record to the 2017 SVPCA auction, the aim of which is to raise money to support attendance at the conference for those with limited funding resources. I felt slightly guilty when the bidding spiralled out of control, and one of our conference attendees ended up paying £60 for it, but at least the money went to a worthy cause. If the person who bought it is by chance reading this, please let me know what you make of the record...