Some composers really deserve their reputation as artists whose fame rests on a single work, but with Holst the popularity of The Planets really has obscured the large quantity of good music he wrote in other forms. Part of the problem also stemmed from his daughter, Imogene, who was severely critical of her father's work and whose baleful influence persists to this day. These three choral ballets contain a large measure of delightful and wholly characteristic music. It's crime that we have had to wait until now for a complete recording of them, and fortunately these performances make a strong case for many more.
Goose Creek Symphony found its roots in the Phoenix, AZ, area originally as a countrified side project for Richie Hart & the Heart Beats. Vocalist and guitarist Charles Gearheart (aka Richie Hart) spent his childhood "up Goose Creek Hollow" in Floyd County, KY, and when he put together his good-time country-rock group, he drew upon his home's rich musical heritage as well as its name. In 1970, Gearheart and a group of local studio musicians assembled a handful of songs and presented them to Capitol Records. Capitol signed his project, forcing Gearheart to assemble a touring group. Banjo player and fiddler Fred Weisz was brought in to complement existing guitarists Paul Spradlin (listed as "Paul Howard" on the album), Bob Henke ("Williard"), Mike McFadden (following the breakup of his psychedelic group Superfine Dandelion), as well as a rotating cast of bassists and drummers. With a sound very similar to what the Band was doing at the same time, Goose Creek Symphony were rock & rollers who played a very faithful brand of country music, all the while layering rhythms and harmonies along the same lines as Buffalo Springfield and the Grateful Dead. They released albums through the mid-'70s, with that streak ending in a long hiatus from 1976 to 1990, when the group decided to re-form and record again. Their marriage of earthy instrumentation and easygoing vibes have been able to give the group a certain longevity. Into their third decade, Goose Creek Symphony is drawing strong groups of fans to their summer festival appearances, similar to what the Dead and Jimmy Buffett have known.
If the Grateful Dead had come from Kentucky instead of San Francisco, they might have sounded much like these guys. "This song might sound kinda strange, but it's got more soul than Home on the Range," they accurately sing in "Talk About Goose Creek and Other Important Places," an eight-minute psychedelic showstopper complete with Beatles-style tape tricks. This album is a fun listen that can suck even a city slicker into a stoned, good-time, backhills vibe.