Year of Release: 1971
If you saw this record in the racks of your local second-hand record store, it's possible you'd look at the band's name, then casually dismiss it as some obscure bubblegum record and walk away. What a terrible error that would be, though - for, in a true lesson of never judging a book by its cover (or a band by their ridiculous name) "The Hanging Tree" is a actually a brilliant piece of atmospheric, epic folk rock.
Taking the usual anthemic folk route - much beloved by the Fleet Foxes among many others - of describing a long-forgotten tragedy involving death and destruction and turning it into a howling, close harmony campfire sing-a-long, "The Hanging Tree" is a shocking omission from the list of late sixties and early seventies collectibles. Even the great bible on such matters, "The Tapestry of Delights", fails to list the band. Still, copies do appear to be relatively thin on the ground, and to make up for years of being ignored the track was recently compiled on to the "Mixed Up Minds" series of compilations. This means it's now commercially available on iTunes and Amazon and therefore outside our remit, but I've included a brief excerpt below for you to get a feel of the track - though the edit does no justice to the swelling, expanding arrangement. Go and buy it - it's worth your time and money, and sounds absurdly current for a flop track from 1971... although this may be indicative of how musical trends tend to cycle, rather than proving that Oo Bang Jiggly Jang were prophets without honour.
The flipside "1000 Leagues" is less interesting, being a straightforward acoustic track, but still showcases a band who were far more able than a great deal of the folkies who had piles of low-selling vinyl released around this period. So who were they and what became of them? I'm guessing the songwriting credits for J. Roper and P. Bramall refer to members of the band - but searching for other work by those two isn't getting me any further. It seems as if this may have been their only vinyl outing. If anyone knows who they might be, please let me know. On the basis of this one single, it seems an enormous pity they weren't given other chances.