13 June 2021

The Guild - You Can See The Trees (But Not The Forest)/ Who'd Ever Thought

Eerie folk-rock from feted live act

Label: Philips
Year of Release: 1966

This was the only release from the folk-rock outfit The Guild. While the press were hardly burning up with front page stories and wild praise about their act, 1966 certainly saw complimentary reviews turning up firmly stamping them as "ones to watch". In the 8th October 1966 edition of "Billboard", a September live show of theirs is given a keen nod, noting that they were "excellent", "versatile" and also featured comedy in their set.

The comic aspect sounds intriguing, as the very last thing "You Can See The Trees" sounds like is a barrel of laughs; rather, the track has an eerie, gothic folkiness running through its core, with a string section whining in the background like hornets ready to strike, and a claustrophobic chorus and autumnal air. This, of course, is also why it's highly worthy of a listen - it's folk rock with a damp chill in the air, the smell of backyard bonfires on the breeze, as well as hints of unease in the lyrics. Those who like their folk rock to feel slightly Pagan and have a tight knot at its centre will get a lot out of this (Matt Berry would probably love it).

Billboard once again came out to bat for the group when this single's release date was announced, making it a top pick for the Hot 100. This wasn't an accurate prediction and given how few stock copies of this record seem to be in circulation these days, I'd suggest it actually sold very poorly indeed.

The group consisted of Al Dana on bass guitar and vocals, Connie Harvest on vocals, Lenny Roberts on vocals and guitar and Michael Lobal on keyboards, vocals and guitar. Following the failure of this record, it looks as if Dana moved on to doing session work for educational LPs, Roberts went on to join The Split Level alongside Lobel and (somewhat unexpectedly) The Glenn Miller Orchestra, and Lobel ended up producing the collectible musique concrete LP "The Sound Paintings of Michael Lobel". Connie Harvest's other activities - if there were any - are less easy to trace.

As ever, if anyone knows more about this lot I'd be intrigued to find out. 

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