A long time ago, in another time dimension (1970 to be exact) I had shoulder length hair and was into psychedelic folk rock and the like. Around that time I bought an album by a duo called Trader Horne, British folk-rock with an Olde English, fairy-tale air. The Album had a Nothern Ireland connection in that one of the duo was none other than our own Jackie McAuley from Them.
Here is the story of that short lived duo.
Judy Dyble was the lead singer with the original Fairport Convention in 1967. She left a year later in 1968 and put a “musician Wanted” ad in Melody maker
When Peter Giles responded by telephone, the call was answered by Judy`s then-boyfriend Ian McDonald. This led to both of them working with Giles, Giles and Fripp, the ensemble which was to mutate into King Crimson.
However, a month later Judy and Ian’s relationship was over and she left.
In 1969 Judy was sharing a flat with an old school friend, and the guitarist Martin Quittenton. Martin`s friend Pete Sears had been jamming with Jackie McAuley.
Jackie McAuley had been organist and guitarist with Them during their “Angry Young Them” period, and when Van Morrison had split the band some of them including Jackie and his drummer brother Pat had kept going, attracting the attention of Los Angeles producer Kim Fowley. He christened them the Belfast Gypsies and recorded with them a spirited rewrite of Gloria called “Gloria’s Dream”, as well as the psych beat track “People! Let’s Freak Out” which they released under the pseudonym the Freaks Of Nature. Then Jackie had briefly formed a band with Paul Brady in Dublin, called Cult, and travelled across Europe and Morocco widening his musical horizons.
Judy, Pete and Jackie rehearsed some songs together with the intention of performing them as a three piece with Judy up front. Then Pete disappeared (he was very much in demand and went to America to form Silver Metre with Leigh Stevens, and then on to join Hot Tuna and Jefferson Starship and just about every other good band in the known universe) leaving Jackie and Judy to form Trader Horne.
The name came from the late John Peel who said it was his nanny Florence`s name (Florence Horne). She was known as Trader Horne, a reference to the explorer and ivory trader, Alfred Trader Horn…. It was John Peel who had encouraged the duo to continue to perform together.
The duo signed to Dawn (a subsidiary of Pye Records) releasing one album “Morning Way”and two now highly collectable vinyl singles “Sheena” and “Here comes the rain”
Trader Horne then set off on the road. Judy takes up the story here….
“And what a road it was. We seemed to be careering from one side of the country to another, then up and down with not a lot of breaks in between. I seem to remember being really tired and as for Jack – well he was doing a lot of the driving as well as playing. At one time we were appearing on a lot of those local TV magazine shows, the ones that followed the six o’clock news. We did travel to Belfast, it was in the middle of the dreadful times there. It looked forlorn in the rain with all the barbed wire. But the welcome at the TV station was warming.
We recruited a couple of extra musicians to play with us, Hugh Thomas on Guitar and Ian Gumblefinger (I do believe that was not his real name) on bass and xylophone. Hugh also helped with the driving, so I guess we must have acquired a van from somewhere, perhaps it was Hugh’s.
One nice memory of Trader Horne. Appearing on a Grampian TV music programme along with Cat Stevens amongst others. The flight back from Aberdeen was delayed by fog, so Jack and I listened to ‘Tea for the Tillerman’ being virtually written in front of our ears, and singing along with it. That was magical.“
A single was released called “Sheena”, with a Judy Dyble song on the flipside, “Morning Way”, which became the title track of their only album. It was quite unlike anything either had done before, ethereal and whimsical and imbued with childlike wonder, with Tolkeinesque lyrics and a soundscape fleshed out with flutes, harpsichords, auto-harps and celeste. Assisting on the album were Ray Elliott, on alto flute and bass clarinet, bass-guitarist John Godfrey who arranged much of the album, and Andy White on drums.
Most of the songs were written by Jackie McAuley, whose original intention had been to write a children’s album, but Judy Dyble contributes both “Morning Way” and the beautiful “Velvet To Atone”, which she wrote with Martin Quittenton from Steamhammer. There is also a version of Bessie Smith’s “Nobody Knows You When You’re Down And Out” (here titled “Down And Out Blues”), and all the tracks are knitted together with a recurring instrumental theme.
Another single followed the album: “Here Comes The Rain” backed with “Goodbye Mercy Kelly”.
Trader Horne were due to be launched at a festival set up specifically for the purpose, the Hollywood Music Festival in Newcastle-under-Lyme. Typically, though, Judy had broken up the band (in what she called a “tantrum”) shortly before and went off to get married to Simon Stable. The festival launched Mungo Jerry instead.
The biggest waste of two talented musicians.
Here`s Judy again….
“Anyway, Jackie and I made the ‘Morning Way’ album, (Brian Patten wrote the sleeve notes) and released a single and then I don’t know what happened. We were supposed to play at the Hollywood Festival but I had some sort of tantrum/brainstorm and ran away from everything. I was living with my husband to be at the time, Simon Stable, DJ and music writer extraordinaire. I left everyone in the lurch and I hereby now apologise to all. So that was the end of that.“
Trader Horne continued briefly with Saffron Summerfield replacing Judy, before Jackie McAuley embarked on a solo career. It is hard to imagine an album like this being made today, though at the time it could have sat in your album rack alongside Donovan, Trees, Vashti Bunyan or Keith Relf’s Renaissance. The song Morning Way was included on a retrospective anthology called Paisley Pop, an umbrella title for a genre unrecognised at the time. Listen to this album and time travel to an unrecognisable world.
The pure voice of Judy Dyble can be heard also in the first Fairport convention album and the first version of king crimson’s “I talked to the wind”.
As a postscript to this story, there was a Trader Horne reunion in late 2015 when Jackie and Judy got together to perform the “Morning Way” album after 45 years.
They played to an audience of 300 people in The Bush Hall in London where they were joined by Jackie`s brother Brendan plus a band of friends and musicians.