It was towards the end of her time with Apple after she made what she describes as the best album of her career, Earth Song Ocean Song she decided to go in a different direction music wise. In November 1971 she had married her record producer Tony Visconti and through him met, and was able to work with 'folk singers' whom she had admired from a child. It was during 1972 that she toured Australia and New Zealand with the American folk singer............TOM PAXTON, she received varied reviews from fantastic to having beer cans hurled at her at an open air festival in Adelaide, although I hasten to add this was because of a delay in appearing on stage due to technical difficulties and not her performance!
Her final appearance in Britiain was on May 20th 1972 at the Royal Festival Hall London, as support to RALPH McTELL, I was fortunate enough to have been there. I was, and still am obviously biased, as I think her voice is wonderful, but I have never heard her sing as beautifully as she did that night. Her choice of songs too, was enlightening. Remember to date she had been releasing records of the sort that would not have gone down to well with a Ralph Mctell audience. She was helped on stage by The Pop Arts String Quartet, Danny Thompson on bass, and Brian Willoughby on guitar, Tony Visconti conducted,played guitar and sang backing vocals. For once Ralph Mctell did not have to sing Streets of London as Mary performed this herself along with Folk Classics such as Dona Dona,Silver Dagger, Gallagher and Lyle's International and Sparrow, she dueted with Tony on Lennon and McCartney's If I Fell, also included were Morning has Broken, Ocean Song, Earth Song, Boths sides Now and of course Those Were The Days,
Towards the end of 72 she released a single on REGAL ZONOPHONE called MARY HAD A BABY / CHERRY TREE CAROL, this was very apt as her first child Delaney Jay was born in November 1972 ( it was later released in December 73 with a slightly different lyric and tempo).
From this period on her work was mainly as backing vocals on Tony Visconti's various productions. They also released a single under the name of HOBBY HORSE called SUMMERTIME SUMMERTIME / SWEET AND LOW this was on the BELL label. Neither did well in the UK chart wise (but it did do very well in Japan) although Summertime received a lot of air play, and on certain radio stations can still be heard today.
As I mentioned earlier she performed lots of backing vocals for artists as varied as BERT JANSCH to THIN LIZZY, and else where on this site I have listed those Albums and performances. Click HERE for details
Between 73 and 76 she made a few TV appearances (again full listings of tv appearances from 68 to present day can be found on this site click HERE ) but recording wise nothing until 76 when she started working on her husbands record label GOOD EARTH PRODUCTIONS, her first recording was a beautiful version of Edith Piafs 'IF YOU LOVE ME' her singing style had changed and most notably the b side of the record 'TELL ME NOW' was one of her own compositions, showing even at this early stage the direction she wished to take.
The next release on GOOD EARTH was a song called 'WRAP ME IN YOUR ARMS' / 'JUST A DREAMER' I'm a big 'fan' as you can tell and this record sorely tested me but the b side gave hope and promised much, as again it was written by the lady herself, the hope that an album full of her own compositions on the Good Earth label may materialise kept me going but I was to be disappointed as this was the last release on that label. But other things emerged .......
The King of Elflands Daughter
Two members of STEELEYE SPAN 'Bob Johnson' and 'Peter Knight' wrote orchestrated and produced the first distinctively English, rock-folk classical 'concept album'. They said of it at the time "we cast the album very carefully, rather than just grabbing a load of good singers to appear, we knew that to do it right the characters had to be real, have real emotions and sing songs with strong melodies.'' There were singers and songs that fell by the wayside said Peter ''but we knew these ones were right''. So there is MARY HOPKIN as the princess Lirazel (''pristine,untouchable, but a girl next door'') contrasted strongly with FRANKIE MILLER as Alveric. Also on the album ALEXIS KORNER, DEREK BRIMSTONE, CHRIS FARLOWE, P.P ARNOLD and CHRISTOPHER LEE.
During 76/77 Mary did some TV and radio to publicise the Good Earth singles. But one performance I regret missing, was at the Cambridge Folk Festival Aug 77 when she came on stage towards the end of Bert Jansch's set, she sang Jansch's 'Ask Your Daddy' with as the Melody Maker reviewed at the time 'Panache,'and a few other numbers with him. Apart from having a new baby (a little girl Jessica) in 76, the rest of the seventies went by with numerous tv and radio appearances but no new recordings, apart from a terrible reissue on Decca of all her old CAMBRIAN recordings in Welsh, they completely ruined the simplicity of the original songs by putting drums and tambourines where there were none needed!.
In her home town she and her husband took part in some good local concerts for charity, both were sort of 'Victorian Extravaganzas' but were great fun and at least we got a chance to hear her sing!
The eighties proved to be her busiest years in 'showbusiness' since the 1960's, with numerous projects undertaken. After the breakdown of her marriage she agreed to take a part in a Christmas show at the Hexagon Theatre in Reading no pantomime this but a musical based on the traditional Christmas Story of the Nativity called 'ROCK NATIVITY'. she played the part of the Virgin Mary, Allan Love played Joseph, an amazing Colm Wilkinson played the part of Herod and Michael Cashman the Angel Gabriel, all in all a superb production.....And speaking strictly for myself the two months of December 1980 and January 1981 were the busiest and most expensive of my life to that date. There were matinees and evening shows almost every day apart from Christmas Day, and as I live in Wales there was a tremendous amount of traveling involved but it was worth it just to hear her voice. And I must not forget to add, I met my future husband Chris at one of the shows, he had travelled from Yorkshire to see her so I wasn't the only mad person at these events!
Around this time Mary met MIKE HURST (former SPRINGFIELD and record producer) at a social event, and at his suggestion joined a new band that he was putting together with MIKE deALBUQUERQUE (former E.L.O.) The band was called SUNDANCE, and in Marys defence it all seemed to start out well, it was to be a close harmony singing group, but they turned into a 'Pebble Mill TV lunchtime show, come cabaret, singing trio' !
The only record they released was on the BRONZE label called 'WHATS LOVE'....not one of her best songs. But again it was just wonderful to hear her voice, and see her regularly on the TV. And one of the bonuses of this project was that they did a great tour of Britain with DR. HOOK and they sounded much better live than they did on the record & Pebble Mill shows! And again it gave me the chance to travel !!
The set opened up with a great song' Lovin up a storm', and finished with' Golden Threads and Silver Needles'/'Never goin back' a superb version, also included were Those were the days (surprise surprise) Island of Dreams (old Springfields number) So sad, Whats love, Dreamlover & Cottonfields.
Unfortunately, it all ended on rather a sour note, Mary had explained to them before it all started that she did not want to return to the 'showbiz' roundabout of cabarets etc, and so she was sacked! there was plenty of newspaper coverage at the time and their record company Bronze said ''she was sacked because of disagreements and her inability to commit herself to planned arrangements''.
So 1982/83 was relatively quiet with just the odd tv apperances, but then 1984 brought another great project, this was OASIS, the original OASIS that is, not these 'pretenders' (only joking). The group consisted of PETER SKELLERN, JULIAN LLOYD-WEBBER, MITCH DALTON, & BILL LOVELADY, and of course Mary Hopkin.
This was a very different musical approach for her, but she seemed to enjoy it and did loads of TV appearances and radio broadcasts to advertise their album called simply OASIS, she described the music in one newspaper interview as ''refreshing, soothing, it might even replace tranquillisers''!....
But again things started to go wrong, the band were due to do a British tour during September 84, a new cellist Audrey Riley was brought in to replace Lloyd-Webber who's solo commitments forced him to leave the band. The tour was advertised in the press and tickets were sold,(and bought). To my amazement for the first time since she toured with Engelbert Humperdink in 1969 she was to appear on stage in Cardiff ( this meant no travelling for me hooray!!) she was taken ill, the tour was cancelled, and the band broke up.
Under Milk Wood
The next few years musically were very quiet, until 1988 when she, along with lots of other Welsh performers got together under the leadership of GEORGE MARTIN and produced the most incredible version of DYLAN THOMAS'S UNDER MILK WOOD.
She played the part of Rosie Probert, and along with FREDDIE JONES who played Captain Cat they recorded together a piece called Love Duet. The words of the song are considered by many to be the finest poetry in the play, the lines have been set by George Martin to a piece of music written by himself. The rest of the cast included ANTHONY HOPKINS, JONATHAN PRYCE, WINDSOR DAVIES, RUTH MADOC, BONNIE TYLER, TOM JONES, SIR HARRY SECOMBE, SIAN PHILLIPS, ALED JONES, ANGHARAD REES, and many more. In fact as , RAY SMITH put it at the time ''the whole bl---y Taffia''
There was plenty of publicity, lots of promotional appearances, and a fantastic SOUTH BANK SHOW which had a film of Mary and Freddie Jones's duet. Also a couple of years later in Dec 92 the cast got back together for a tribute to the poet Dylan Thomas. And gave a performance of Under Milk Wood in aid of the Princes Trust Charity, In the presence of Prince Charles.
Plus other collaborations
Towards the end of 1989 she released her first album since Earth Song/Ocean Song back in 1971, when I see that in print I can't help but think what a waste, that through all these years her voice has not been recorded enough. Anyway in my opinion, it was well worth the wait, I suppose......! The album was called SPIRIT, and released on the TRAX LABEL, its a collection of light classical songs but the highlight is definitely a gorgeous version of AVE MARIA the album was produced by BENNY GALLAGHER.
Again in 1990, October to be exact there was another Charity show in Henley, this time to try and save a local Cinema, (George Harrison & his wife had also been campaigning) it was called the Fairly Liquid Show, and a local newspaper gave a great write up to it, Mary was part of the 'super group' which included JOE & VICKI BROWN, MICK RALPHS, JON LORD, IAN PAICE, AND BARRIE BARLOW who called themselves 'The Thames Valley Gang'.
In 1992 a CD came out called BACK to BACH by Julian Colbeck, it included lyrics and vocals from Mary. The piece is called 'Heavens Gate' Julian says in the sleeve notes ''Mary Hopkin's sublime HEAVENS GATE is testament not only to the sensitivity and power of her voice but also to her insight and depth as a lyricist.'' If you can still get hold of a copy this is well worth adding to your collection.
During the early part of the eighties Mary met and worked with Vangelis she recorded a piece for the forthcoming BLADE RUNNER film it did not materialise until 1994 when Rachels Song was included on the CD Blade Runner with other bonus Tracks. Click her more info and a full discography
During 93/94 Mary did some work with Dave Cousins & Brian Willoughby she contributed vocals on tracks that appeared on a CD called the 'Bridge' not so much backing vocals as almost duets, truly a fabulous set of songs why not check this out via the STRAWBS web site or Brians Willoughny's own Website .
It was announced in 1996 by SAIN records that they would be releasing Mary's Cambrian Recordings, and in 1997 'The Early Recordings' was released on CD. It is an excellent package of songs and is still available, click on SAIN to order.
There have been other collaborations with Ralph Mctell and Brian Willoughby, also during May of 1999 a tour with the chieftains see my news pages for information.
Also in August of 1999 Mary teamed up with Benny Gallagher and Jim Diamond to do a concert in Bennys home town of Largs in Scotland...See my reviews page for a write up on what was an incredible concert..
Well as far as new recordings go, there has been nothing since SPIRIT, but I live in hope, especially since these recent concerts she has done with the Chieftains, her voice sounds better than ever...
We are coming across hitherto unknown recordings all the time see my Trivia pages for more information. But it's not the same as having up - to - date material that you know Mary has sanctioned and approves of. So if by any chance Mary you are reading this, there are a lot of people out there that would love to hear an album of your own compositions.... Please?
©1998/2009 Pat Richmond