Mother Earth are those purveyors of Hammond organ grinding, mixed with Curtis Mayfield sounding vocals and a rhythm section to die for, which blended to perfection on their classic album The People Tree recently reissued by Acid Jazz records. Matt Mead reviews the 25th anniversary vinyl reissue plus he has news of a Mother Earth reformation, of sorts.
Seemingly taking a leaf or 2 out of The Small Faces, Tom Hardin and Nick Drakes rock/acoustic book People Tree finds Matt Deighton (vocals/lead guitar), Bryn Barklam (Hammond organ), Chris White (drums) and Neil Corcoran (bass guitar) going all out to make a record of substance, one that would last the years and decades to come, which is exactly why we are seeing a well overdue re-release.
At a time when Blur were singing about Girls and Boys and Oasis were singing about Living Forever The People Tree showcased Mother Earth at the peak of their powers. The band had been releasing a batch of groove based tunes under the well-known Acid Jazz label for a number of years before they planted a seed or 2 to record one of the underrated albums of 1994.
The front cover is enough to evoke memories of great record sleeves such as Between The Buttons, There Are But Four Small Faces and Pet Sounds. The photos were actually taken by famed photographer Jill Furmanovsky who had previously taken well known pictures of Oasis and The Rolling Stones, lending a portion legendary status to the album.
The music contained within the album has a mixture all out sing along favourites (Find It In The End, Mr Freedom, the latter featuring backing vocals from Paul Weller), folk acoustic ballads (Apple Green, Illusions), plus we are treated to cuts of soul and rock ballads similar in tone to the likes of Traffic in the late 1960’s. Further guests on the album include Dee C Lee (The Style Council) and Simon Bartholomew (Brand New Heavies). With the added delight of the album being mastered from hi-res transfers of the first generation master tapes, the sound is as you can imagine, the very best that has been re-released so far.
Housed in a limited edition green vinyl with a pristine crisp looking sleeve design, staying true to the original design but wiping away some of the cobwebs after 25 years of standing idle, this release will get those Acid Jazz cats of the 90’s to pull out their well-worn John Smedley polo shirts and Clarks deserts boots for the newer cats about town to dig these classic songs for a new generation of purring pop purveyors.
Finally, news. After speaking to Matt regarding his solo career he briefly informed me that Mother Earth have reformed, with gigs lined up and new music afoot. The line is different to the original line up, due to logistical reason, but rest assured, the new line up is something special, of which, more will be announced in the coming weeks and months ahead. Stay tuned pop pickers!
The album can be purchased directly from the Acid Jazz website.
All words by Matt Mead. Further articles by Matt can be found via the Louder Than War author archive pages.