The great outdoors

“Getting back to nature” was a craze that gripped the sixties generation, as living in the city got too hot for comfort and rich rock stars headed to the lower field to make music.  From a technical standpoint one of the most interesting relics of the pastoral era is the two albums recorded by folkies Heron – outdoors!  Yes, after unsuccessful attempts to capture their sound in the studio, the band relocated to a meadow by the Thames to tape their first album in 1970.  The second, a double set, was laid down in the garden of a Devon cottage in 1971.  This begs various questions:

The analogue equipment of the time was pretty hefty, who paid to hire and cart it all down there?

How many takes were written off when the wind picked up?

The summer of ’71 was pretty awful by accounts, was there a wet weather alternative?

Why didn’t this catch on?

The last one is rhetorical, I’m aware of very few authentic al-fresco recordings (the Small Faces ‘The Universal’ perhaps, but that was overdubbed in the studio) so these two albums are unique.  Regardless of your disposition towards the mellow hippy acoustics of the music, its fascinating to hear the ambient soundstage, and the warmth and clarity of the ensemble playing.  Here’s the producer and engineer.

UPDATE: It’s been pointed out to me that John Martyn’s album One World, a prog-folk affair from 1977 was at least partially recorded outside at Chris Blackwell’s country retreat and features geese honking in the background.  I sit corrected.


One Response to “The great outdoors”

  1. Michiel Lagae Says:

    They are still playing!
    Checkout their website at :

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