Mark Fry - Dreaming With Alice
One of the rarest, (and also the best), LPs in the acid-folk canon is unquestionably Dreaming With Alice by Englishman Mark Fry.
Recorded in Italy in 1971 when he was just 19 years old, Fry lived in Florence studying painting while also working on a batch of songs with no real intention to release them. Through a friend, he was granted an audition with an Italian subsidiary of RCA Records, IT Dischi, who signed him to a 1 album contract on the spot. Though it wouldn’t receive release outside of Italy,Dreaming With Alice is a transcendent listen and absolutely gorgeous front to back. It’s highlighted by Fry’s dreamy acoustic guitar and otherworldly voice as well as spacious production and cosmic texture. Stylistically, Fry takes his cues from the well-known English folk-rock bands of the era such as Fairport Convention, Pentangle as well as John Martyn and Steeleye Span, however Dreaming With Alice exists on a higher plane where the music gets lost among the dark, hazy atmospheres of “A Norman Soldier”, the lush interplay of “Down Narrow Streets” or the twisted, rural freak-out boogie of “Mandolin Man.” The real capper is the title track, which is broken into 8 parts and equally parsed out throughout the LP creating an interweaving, haunting and dizzying effect that solidifies the album into a mysterious and mystical song-cycle.
Fry would go back to the UK and later the US for an attempt to gain traction with a touring band there but ultimately the album’s release in Italy hindered it from being licensed elsewhere. There was even a botched call with George Martin that further led him astray from his musical aspirations. He retreated to painting and would do so for the next 30 years before his re-emergence in the early 2000s following the cult-like status Dreaming With Alice had achieved. He even has new recordings out and has begun touring in recent years.
But it all comes back to Dreaming With Alice; an LP immersed in the sound of pastoral folk and psychedelic rock. You can put this LP right on the level with The Madcap Laughs, Oar, Comus’ First Utterance or Bread, Love & Dreams Amaryllis. It’s simply that good. (Dom)
Check out a track here.