I used to "think" I knew what that unpronounceable guy in Artch also known as Erik Hawk was on about in the song "Power To The Man," but now I'm sure I know! If there is a woman who gives life and love instead of taking it away and leaving a trail of wreckage, sorrow, and destruction in this world my guess is she's either black, Indian, or Jinx Dawson from Coven and I'd probably go with Jinx. Jinx is a witch and she is trained at it. She also is a formidable singer/writer or was. I'm sure like the Wilson sisters Anne and Nancy in Heart, Joplin, the good women, the rock and roll ones, was taken for a big mighty long and bad ride, but she never became somebody who sounded cynical and the malicious nature of Coven grew more tongue in cheek as it went on. However, having said that Coven were no joke. They really were Satanists and they pursued their interests outside of music gradually more than in their music. They also had other visions which brings me to a certain David Lewis from Northern Ireland.
-An Introduction To A Brilliant Man And His Band Who Made The Best Music In The World-
One of the first really freaky and scary looking covers to catch my eye was the cover of the 2nd Andwella's Dream record where the band became simply Andwella called WORLDS END. This bleak picture of a dead face (it's Jesus Christ) with long hair really flipped me out on first seeing it as it looked like an album cover in a dream I'd recently had (shades of Artch and The O Band again). I hesitated to buy it and when I did eventually buy it I was 16 years old and didn't know what the fuck the music was all about- it just seemed like a whole bunch of different things and now I consider it one of the great records- up there with the known classics by both famous and obscure bands alike. I found out Andwella were formerly called Andwella's Dream and that album was a big ticket psychedelic acid rock monster. Well, it is, and WORLD'S END which followed it and then the shockingly different take on PEOPLES PEOPLE make for a perfect trilogy of unmatchable greatness that just flows over with feeling, character, and a really soulful power that grabs you and won't let go. Throughout their career there was one mainstay who wrote all the songs and had a powerful vision or I could say many visions and his name is David Lewis. David Lewis and the original line up of him on vocals/guitars/keyboards, Nigel Smith on bass, and Gordon Barton on drums came from Northern Ireland and were previously known as The Method. Northern Ireland is not a place I think highly of, but I'm beginning to wonder if hidden beneath all the Republican Sectarian muck there isn't some great gem and even holy power I'm missing. Have I ever met an Irishman I didn't like? No. I think the women are bitches most of them, but that's Irish Americans for you where a lot of the men are bastards. When it comes to the actual Irish I have never had an experience that was even mediocre with one- they have all been great and very warm people. One of my best friends was Irish and we had many great times with each other- he's a person I think of sometimes when I think lowly of humans as I often do.
David Lewis comes across as a man with a vision and not just another singer/guitarist/songwriter. His guitar work sets the first two records ablaze and his voice is even better, even more perfect, than dare I say that Irishman I've heard is a pretty nasty idiot, but an absolutely amazing genius Van Morrison. I love Van Morrison. I love David Lewis even more, though. There are similarities, but where Van goes more into Irish concerns and soul influences David Lewis doesn't need the influences because HE IS SOUL! I'd put his voice up there with Van's, but I would compare him more to Gary Brooker in Procol Harum than Van Morrison both as a singer and for the kind of music he plays/sings. He seems to have an interest in Satanism and the occult at times and at other times he comes off disillusioned with humans or else very gentle and loving so this is a man of many different feelings and emotions.
I would like to know more about Mr. David Lewis. Beneath a common name lurks a very uncommon person. His distaste for religion actually went as far as writing a song about a witch whose name is Andwella on the first album LOVE AND POETRY. If you're looking for the best psychedelic album ever made that goes off into progressive and hard rock territory look no further. It wasn't gonna stop there. WORLD'S END under the new name Andwella instead of Andwella's Dream gained an international release as did the follow up PEOPLES PEOPLE, but all 3 records were commercial flops at the time. I find that unfathomable. This is some of the most powerful music I've ever heard in my whole life. I have no idea how they managed to make one masterpiece after another without huge sales and the kind of popularity that made for the really big names of the era. Whilst sales wise the albums did nothing they speak volumes about all kinds of things and demolish many hugely successful bands like The Grateful Dead, Jefferson Airplane, Savoy Brown, Family (after the first album), and the increasingly over time inconsistent Traffic just to name a few examples. The influences on Andwella's Dream/Andwella's records are as varied as it gets with on the the first two albums the unlikely appearances sometimes all at once of early/great Traffic, The Band, and Jimi Hendrix with PEOPLES PEOPLE leaning more towards Band influenced pastoral folkrock than the full on attack of much of the first two. For all 3 albums David Lewis sings in a passionate and earthy voice that definitely has shades of a lower pitched Steve Winwood and Gary Brooker. I'd like to share my thoughts on each album separately now with you so hold on tight and be patient.
-THE BEGINNING: ANDWELLA'S DREAM'S OF LOVE AND POETRY-
Released in 1969 when psychedelic rock was beginning to turn into progressive, hard, folk, and country rock there is a lot of all of the above and a lot of psychedelic mind frying going on on the first album. It may be the best place for psych fans to start off. David Lewis penned all of the songs which range from the scathing fuzz guitar attacks on "The Days Grew Longer For Love," "Shades Of Grey," "Andwella," and the Hendrix inspired mania of "Sunday" to the beautifully haunting psychedelic number "Felix" to the tuneful singalong country rock of "Man Without A Name." You can hear the beginning of Thin Lizzy and at times even a little Jethro Tull, but that's probably because of the blues influences and some of the guitar passages. "Take My Road" is another great song, a really great song. CBS did nothing for Andwella's Dream. The Troubles in Northern Ireland were at their ugly beginning and I bet Andwella's Dream were glad they'd left for England which was unfortunately the only way to survive for Irish bands at that time. I bet they weren't too happy about CBS pressing the record in very limited quantities and now if you own the original you own a 1500 quid or $2,000 record! That means we should be really glad that both the old bootleg which is in and of itself a collector's item and the legitimate Lightning Tree edition have fantastic sound quality. You have to have this album. I would put every song as a killer in my book here and the lyrics are astonishingly good. It's a snapshot in time of a different time. Unfortunately, it's the songs about prejudice and evil that still ring true today. David Lewis seems like somebody you'd see sitting alone in a corner looking and feeling contented by himself just strumming a guitar and jotting down poetry. I guess I'm saying he comes across rather introverted. He also has an interest in the occult which makes for some intriguing lyrics on all 3 records. Would a worldwide deal change his direction? No. Read on further, but do seek the first one LOVE AND POETRY out first it will blow your mind much more so than any number of hugely successful albums that came out at the same time.
-IS WORLD'S END THE END OF THE WORLD- NO IT MAY EVEN TOP THE FIRST-
WORLD'S END managed to get the newly simplified named Andwella a worldwide deal and came in a dark, creepy, and stunning cover which had songs about everything of importance in its grooves when you put the record on the turntable and cranked it up. "Hold Onto Your Mind" is a natural continuation of the first album with killer melodies, driving Koobas alike piano, and blasting wild ass guitar raging violently out of control at the end. If ever there was a #1 hit that was only a #1 hit to those lucky enough to hear it this song is exactly that. You also as with the debut get a wide range of different genres thrown in which include stabs at Gospel/soul influences in "I'm Happy Just To See You Get Her," beautiful ballads like the tender and charming "Lady Love" about a woman who is loveliness personified, and stark haunting numbers like the title track and the powerfully creepy tour de force "Shadow Of The Night." There's even a progressive rock instrumental number in "Michael Fitzhenry" that excels at exactly what Traffic were failing miserably at after a great first album. Andwella and David Lewis weren't gonna cave in and turn into bullshit rock like Family or to a lesser extent Traffic after an amazing first album- they were gonna move and groove and develop their solid musical ideas into something that might be even more impressive if that's something I can even imagine- wow! Look no further for perfection- here it is! David Lewis I hope is still with us and I hope that for the whole band. I don't know just how poor the sales were of their albums, but most certainly they weren't good. An American label should have made them huge, but unfortunately that just didn't transpire. I don't think David Lewis was going to get perturbed by the public's indifference. He may have seen his songs as something private from his heart he was revealing and maybe he wasn't too unhappy when he had to keep his secrets secrets. However, as personified in "The Road" he was developing an obsession with The Band and olde timey handicrafts and this would lead to a personnel upheaval and huge musical change on PEOPLES PEOPLE. Now we reach that album. Album #3.
-PEOPLES PEOPLE THE HUGE HIT DOESN'T COME, BUT A GREAT ALBUM DOES-
Now things weren't too good for Andwella. Two albums of musical brilliance have been recorded and released with miserable sales and clearly something was gonna change and the musical climate was changing anyway. David Lewis on PEOPLES PEOPLE is the only member besides the band's keyboard player who himself was an addition who is left on the third and last album. The guitar flies out the window. So do dark progressive influences and psychedelic brain blasters. A friendly, pastoral, melodic, and song based album of very pleasant music and great lyrics is what lies in store for you on PEOPLES PEOPLE. Right off the album starts with one of their best songs in the soul influenced "She Taught Me To Love" and there's not one weak track on the album, but I miss the soaring smashing guitar pyrotechnics and energy of the first two making the third a very different listening experience. Some songs sound like attempts at a hit single, but none of the emotional power is thrown out this is just the most introverted and most commercial of the three albums. It has to be heard like the first two albums, but the audience they couldn't reach on the first two still wasn't reached on the third album. I can't believe it didn't work out better for the brilliant songs of David Lewis. He'd written three albums worth of greats and classics, but the record sales were poor again. Not surprisingly it was the last album. I feel very sad for Andwella. This album is beautiful. it isn't quite as good as the first two or maybe it is I leave that for my mood swings to decide. When I want to smile and relax I put PEOPLES PEOPLE on. When I want to fly out into a completely different world I put the first two on, but one thing can't be denied- there's a vision here and it's a powerful one. You need to get all 3 albums and don't worry about the American pressings sounding not-so-hot like many times happens they actually sound fantastic. We should be glad that Andwella came out in America, but their albums have vanished making them only available for the most part on the internet and I strongly urge you to track them down through discogs or musicstack. If you walk into a record store and see WORLD'S END or PEOPLES PEOPLE grab them and your life may take on a whole new path. I am increasingly removing myself from society and becoming an introvert. I would like to thank my friends in England who have been so supportive and my friends who care here, but introversion seems to be the way to go in a life that unless I fill it with music becomes more and more questionable for how much pleasure can be in it when there is such a huge amount of sadness and anger. I feel that I've been taken for a ride. I suspect that David Lewis felt the same way. I've found someone to connect with in him and I love his music. I would be overjoyed if he would write to me if he happens to read this blog entry. Feel free to send any of your comments (positive ONLY!) my way and I'm going into my Andwella world very soon again tonight! And you should too.