Victoria – Kings, Queens & Jokers (1971) review
A US group from New Jersey who made one lone private-press album back in 1971. I have to say this is a particularly lovely collection of fantastically dreamy songs, all composed and produced etc by a hugely talented fellow named Greg Ruban. The songs are presented within a kind-of rural, almost homespun-sounding production landscape; not too dissimilar in places (although nowhere near as abrasive sounding) to the sound of the remarkable New Dawn and Summer Sounds combos; beautifully raw and pure.
Much of what’s on offer belongs in a post-psychedelic, progressive realm, with Maureen Deidelbaum, Cherryl Simpson and Sharon Barton’s pleasantly ethereal vocal presence leading the way, lending a wispy-folky atmosphere to some of the corners and edges. The mostly genteel arrangements are also, on occasion, interrupted by some excellent blasts of blisteringly distorted lead guitar, while a few songs have also been embellished with one or two tasty brass / orchestral fanfares. One of the highlights is the lengthy ‘Village Of Etaf’ sojourn, which is easily one of the strangest, and most mystical-sounding cuts on the album.
This latest, extravagant-sounding reissue (the vinyl apparently boasts a red velvet cover) adds to the already magisterial eight-song original set by way of some thoroughly engaging acetate tracks and reel-to-reel demo finds, the best of which includes earlier versions of the two stunning pastoral beauties that open the album, ‘Peace’ and ‘Cumberland’, in addition too we get ‘Wheels’, a glorious, charm-infused number which would’ve been perfect as a 45 outing for them back in 1969. Yeah, I want a copy of this!
– Lenny Helsing
Victoria – “Kings, Queens & Jokers” (Shadoks, 2013)