Billy Penn’s Brother – Power Blocs / Mustard Seeds

Billy Penn’s Brother
Power Blocs / Mustard Seeds
1990 Torn Curtain Records (RIP C003)
Brixton, England, United Kingdom

Richard Nicholson – Vocals, acoustic guitar, high strung, mouth harp, tambourine, songwriting
Johnny Pacitto – Electric Guitar
Kirsti Reeve – Flute
Dave Markee – Electric bass, bass fiddle

Side 1:

  1. Who Loves You Baby?
  2. Song for Annette
  3. Oh Danny Boy
  4. To Kiss a Fool
  5. A Golden Bell is Chiming
  6. In a Daze

Side 2:

  1. The Ten O’Clock News
  2. O Savage Land
  3. Going Down to Jericho
  4. Death on the Installment Plan
  5. Delusions of Grandeur
  6. You’re Beautiful

Billy Penn’s Brother Returns with a fuller band outing after the one man show of Coals of Fire. Of course, this is still acoustic folk music – the added instruments give it some added depth and cultural connection here and there. Nicholson addresses a wide range of topics, from tragedy to love to politics to culture. You can read about many of these various topics in detail in this review on CrossRhythms. I assume this is his third demo (since this is release RIP C003 and the last one was RIPC002), even though I can’t find what the first one is called. I do know that two years later the band was expanded to Billy Penn’s Brother & The Telephone Church for their 1992 release Ruckus in Real Time. Just not sure what happened after that.

Billy Penn’s Brother – Coals of Fire

Billy Penn’s Brother
Coals of Fire
1988 Torn Curtain Records (RIP C 002)
Brixton, England, United Kingdom

Richard Nicholson – Vocals, guitar, songwriting

Side 1:

  1. England’s Burnin’
  2. Sad House
  3. The Wreck of the Poor Mary Rose
  4. Oh! Margarita
  5. The Great American Nightmare

Side 2:

  1. There is a Farm in the Yonder Blue
  2. Charismatic Man
  3. What’s Up Doc?
  4. Big Boy Now

Another British import, this time acoustic folk music that is just a guitar and vocals. There is not a whole lot of variation from song to song, so this may not be everyone’s thing. The tape also comes with a full fold out sheet of lyrics. To me, it sounds like this leans towards Irish and Scottish folk music – but I am sure that someone from the area could correct me on which one it is. An online interview from few years later indicates that he was influenced by Bob Dylan. Vocally he is much clearer than Dylan, and I am not sure his guitar is Dylan-esque – but I guess that serves as a starting point. There are several other demos under this moniker – which Richard explains the origin of in the interview as well. Eventually it seems he made his way to Sticky Music. Other albums include Power Blocs/Mustard Seeds (also on Torn Curtain Records) and Ruckus in Real Time (on Sticky Music).