Year of Release: 1966
It wasn't completely unheard of for English folk artists to cover The Beatles - The Overlanders did just that with "Michelle" and took it all the way to the top spot in the British charts. In fact, by the time the sixties were up, The Beatles had been covered by all and sundry from soul singers to reggae artists to easy listening superstars, so the existence of some gentle acoustic pondering of their finer moments from musicians of a more traditional style should be no real surprise.
"Norwegian Wood" always did have enough of a vaguely mysterious, pastoral feel to it to be a relatively easy fit for any self-respecting folkie, and so it proves - this version is gentle, whimsical and decidedly Autumnal sounding single (enough for it to end up on the "Autumn Almanac" compilation put out by Sanctuary Records a few years ago). It doesn't tear the original to pieces, but the vocals are less nasal and slightly warmer, the close harmonies sounding well suited to the song. It's a record to play whilst lounging around the fireside with a glass of something intoxicating, or perhaps whilst sitting around the three bar fire if you're really stuck.
The flip "Cruel To Be Kind" gives a better impression of what The Frugal Sound could create when away from the Lennon-McCartney songbook, being a heartfelt ballad with a female vocal lead from Rosalind Rankin which knows exactly where to draw the line.
Sadly, nobody seems to have much information on what happened to the Frugal Sound. We know that they hailed from Hampstead in North London, and that they had two singles out on Pye of which this was just one (the other, "Just Outside Your Door", failed in a similar manner), followed by three on RCA, but that appears to have been that. Apparently their other releases showcase a similar stripped down rootsy approach, and at no point do they seem to have gone in a beat or psychedelic direction in search of mainstream sales. Given the nature of the folk scene and its decidedly non-ageist outlook, it's not at all impossible that the performers responsible are still out there on the circuit somewhere as solo artists. However, we'll only find out if somebody tells us - I can find no trace of them.