It's always a treat finding a completely unheard-of record in a favorite genre. This happened recently when reading a thread on British folk rock at the Steve Hoffman Music Forums, in which an album by a group called Marian Segal with Silver Jade -- or, in its U.K. appellation, just Jade -- was mentioned enough times to get me curious.
After doing a bit of digging, I learned the album Fly on Strangewings has been reissued in both England and Japan in the last decade, including an LP version, under the correct band name of Jade. The LP reissue is far less expensive than the fairly rare U.K. original. But more diligent online searching revealed that the most cost-effective way of picking up the album was actually via the original U.S. issue under the more unwieldy band moniker. When piling up a collection on a budget, the Internet can be the record hunter's friend.
Fly on Strangewings was issued on DJM in the U.K. and, surprisingly, in the U.S., as part of what must have been a short-lived association with the Bell label. (DJM would resurface in America again as a record label in the mid-'70s.) The album jacket provides good information as to the players, who included future Starship bassist Pete Sears, Pentangle drummer/percussionist Terry Cox and Rod Stewart drummer Mick Waller. However, other than Segal, the U.S. jacket actually leaves off the surnames of the two male band members pictured on the cover!
As it turns out, I didn't have to dig very far for some good information on Jade, as Marianne Segal has some very detailed online biographies. The trio pictured on the albums' cover -- Dave Waite, Marian(ne) Segal and Rod Edwards -- were the "official" members of Jade; according to Segal's biographical notes, they became a group during the recording sessions because the label wanted someone to play live and promote it. Prior to Jade, Waite and Segal had worked together as a duo.
Musically, Jade lands on the pop-oriented end of 1960s and '70s British folk rock, with the whole album written by Segal. It doesn't sound as overtly traditional as some of the group's contemporaries. Segal's voice and singing style on Fly on Strangewings is quite reminiscent of Sandy Denny (then of Fairport Convention), and the album is definitely not afraid to aim for a Fairport-esque sound overall -- if somewhat less rootsy than the U.K. scene leaders. That Jade mostly reaches that high standard is notable, considering the album wasn't recorded with a set, working band. Segal's songwriting helps keep the sound consistent despite the varied players involved in the recording and the fact the band itself essentially came together in the studio. (The rock solid bassist Sears does play on the whole album, which probably also helps.)
As a group, Jade was quite short lived; the album was recorded in March 1970, and the band splintered prior to a planned second American tour in fall 1971. Waite and Segal carried on playing gigs in a couple different musical incarnations through the mid-'70s. And Marianne Segal (the slight change in her first name happened in late 1989, according to her own bio), has continued writing songs and playing music ever since. (DJM/Bell 9100, 1971)