It seems that the term “pioneer” is the best way to describe the Transatlantic record label’s early successes. They brought blues, jazz, and folk from the States to the UK and created a market for all kinds of music that was otherwise impossible to find. They began recording new British sounds within a year of their 1961 birth and were a leader in the emerging folk and blues movement in the second half of the sixties. The label was fiercely independent and had released records in pop, rock, and even ragtime by 1969. This was Circus’s 1969 debut album. It was their first foray into progressive rock. This rare album, which is highly collectible, has been re-released by Esoteric Recordings. It features extensive liner notes and has been remastered. Under the sombre moniker of Philip Goodhand Tait and Stormsville Shakers, Circus had already enjoyed chart success. The name didn’t even make it to the lips, so they changed it when the late sixties arrived. Mike D’Arbo, Manfred Mann’s vocalist, produced two singles that faded into infamy. Their song “Gone Are The Songs Of Yesterday”, however, was covered by Love Affair. This was the flipside of their hit single “Everlasting Love.” Goodhand-Tait decided to leave to write more material for Love Affair and Circus decided to abandon the singles market in favor of more experimental territory. The band was comprised of Ian Jeffs (vocals and guitar), Chris Burrows (drummer), Kirk Riddle (bass player), and Mel Collins (flute and sax player). It would be impossible for Mel Collins to list all the people he has worked with over the years. You can think of names like Eric Clapton and The Rolling Stones, King Crimson, Eric Clapton, Camel, Caravan. Humble Pie, Uriah Heep. Dire Straits, Bad Company and many others. Circus was busy in 1969 developing a jazz-fusion style. This period saw the rise in popularity of bands like The Nice, Soft Machine and Colosseum. Mel says that the period was “very creative and you were free to experiment.” Transatlantic signed Circus, and the Guildford band found themselves quickly in the studio with Ray Singer, who had previously worked with Ray Sarstedt on Ray Sarstedt’s hit “Where Do You Go to My Lovely.” Singer tried to capture the band’s spirit as best he could in the limited time he had. It was a huge success and is now a highly sought-after collectors’ item. It is best known for two covers songs by The Beatles, “Norwegian Wood” which opens the album and “Monday Monday”, which was a big hit for The Mamas.

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