Madden And Harris - Fool's Paradise

Year of Release: 2003
Label: M2U Records Korea
Catalog Number: M2U-2001
Format: CD
Total Time: 48:46:00

I have often pointed out that progressive rock and folk sometimes get very close together. Think of The Strawbs, to name just one band that perfectly blended folk and prog, no less thanks to a very young and inspirational "Ricki" Wakeman. When I listened to this wonderful album by the multi-instrumentalist duo Madden & Harris I couldn't help notice that the term Progressive Folk fit the music like a glove. Indeed, the rather short songs are lyrically the perfect example of folk at its best; however, due to the inclusion of nice arrangements with tons of mellotron and other vintage keyboards Fool's Paradise kind of becomes a world within a world. Although drums are added, they don't become heavy in the mix, leaving behind a delicate gentle music with the emphasis on the acoustic nature of it, all spiced up with fragile harmonies.

Privately pressed on their very own Jasmine Records label in no more than 500 copies [in 1975 (RRCS 1725)], it has taken a long, long time before a CD version could be released. Thank god the original tapes were found, so after dusting them off they were prepared for their very first digital appearance, on top of which two bonus tracks were added to make it even more special. The duo in fact consists of the classically trained music teacher Peter Harris and his student Dave Madden. Harris once said of Fool's Paradise: "our music lies halfway between a 16th century chamber sound with light jazzy influenced breaks." It most certainly is a collection of simple yet effective tunes that remind us all of a simpler, more reflective era. In a way the music could be compared to the softer side of the Moody Blues fused with the soft whispering voice of Donovan, the pastoral moments of early King Crimson or even Jade Warrior.

Originally from the eight tracks on the vinyl album, seven were to be found on the A-side, with the entire B-side taken up by the lengthy "Fool's Paradise" suite. Based on a beautiful painting by Australian artist Jane Lerossignol our Sydney based duo most certainly delivers a perfect blend between songs and instrumentals here. At 20:16, this epic both includes happy themes as well as ominous atmospheres. The children's choir right at the very beginning kind of reminds me of the choir on Wakeman's White Rock. The distorted guitar in "Will You Be There" is soon alternating with acoustic simplicity sounding like Sutherland Bros & Quiver in parts. The final part, "End Game" really sounds like the end of the world: all dark and without any future at all. A monotonous bass guitar is backed by eery synth and string sounds before acoustic guitar introduces the end conclusion where personally I would have loved to hear some fragile flute. Instead it's once again the duo's harmonies that are the main attention.

As a bonus to this CD release, both sides of the duo's only single have been added. Released before the album Fool's Paradise both tracks are not to be found on the album, which make them highly welcome on this disc. "Remember Me" is a rather predictable little song that nevertheless includes a fair amount of mellotron as well as some harp, turning it into a joyful whole. The other side of their elusive single, "A Simple Song" sounds like a song by the Mamas & Papas, minus the female vocals (thus only by the Papas!). It's OK to find them as bonus tracks here, but our main attention most certainly has to go towards the entire duration of the full Fool's Paradise album, which indeed is a fine example of progressive folk and, although dated, a wonderful proof that Australia had more to offer other than Sebastian Hardie!

Wishes?/ Fools Paradise Part 2 / The Wind At Eve?/ Margaret O'Grady / I Heard A Man Say / O'Weary Brain / Cool Spetember / Fools Paradise:?(A) A Children Of Ice - (B) Will You Be There - (C) E.I.E.I.O - (D) End Game?/??BONUS TRACKS : Remember Me / A Simple Song

Dave Madden ? guitar
Peter Harris - sax, synthesizer, violin, harp, guitar, mandolin


Paul Baker ? bass
Doug Gallagher ? drums

Fool's Paradise (1975/2003)

Genre: Progressive Folk

Origin UK

Added: April 4th 2004
Reviewer: John "Bobo" Bollenberg

Artist website:
Hits: 1608
Language: english


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