REVIEW

 

BRIDGET ST JOHN
Top Gear Singles 1969-1973 [bootleg 1CD]
Tks 1-4 live on BBC's Top Gear 1969. Tk 5-11 are A-B sides of singles long since forgotten. With Kevin Ayers. Ex FM stereo.

One of the most in-demand session/guest vocalists of the early 1970s, Bridget St John's solo career never took off with the power it deserved to, and that despite the support of some very powerful friends - Kevin Ayers, Mike Oldfield and DJ John Peel, who not only featured her in session on his BBC show, he also signed her to his Dandelion label, for three excellent albums between 1969-1972. (Her debut, Ask Me No Questions, was the label's maiden release.)

This package rounds up some of the rarer of St John's rarities, including four of the songs that she recorded for Top Gear on August 24, 1969 - "Night In The City" and "Lazarus" are among her most haunting compositions. Elsewhere, we pick up the 1970 single "If You've Got Money," cut with a very prominent Kevin Ayers on backing vocals, and its lavishly orchestrated flip "Yep Fly High"; 1972's jaunty "There's A Place To Go" and her (admittedly slightly redundant) cover of Leonard Cohen's "Suzanne"…compare it with her take on "Passing Through," later on the disc, and wonder why a similar arrangement could not have been used the first time around.

With a vocal that is faintly reminiscent of Nico, and a vision that is certainly on the downbeat side of somber, St John remains one of the most haunting British singers of the age, and one who is desperately in need of rediscovery. This modest little set should go a long way towards facilitating that. - Dave Thompson

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