Holyground Records - one of the most collectable labels in the world
track by track

oohs and ahhs corrections, amendments and omissions
cover art
the songs, musicians, the times and memories
other CDs in "Holyground the Works" series

this page is to accompany HOLYGROUND : THE WORKS CD VOLUME 3
the contents of this page includes opinion, memories and recollections which may not be completely accurate
the opinions expressed are not necessarily those of Holyground

OOHS & AHHS corrections, amendments and omissions
please send other corrections to : mike@holyground
  • none noticed so far!

by Mike Levon / Brian Calvert

sweet charade, dancing girl
sighs so fast, legs so pearl
can't you see the sadness in her eyes?
I took home nice dancing girl
showed her honey made her world so
sweet charade would last her lifetime through

sad eagle, spread eagle, coat me with jam
I'm all alone wrapped up in a man
beaten down sea whose lashing waves
sexy me and make me feel a
glad eagle glad he could bring me on down
I'm all alone wanting badly my crown
so as I prophesied cruel is the man
I'm all alone smashed up in the sand
and smoothed in the sea of lashing waves
that sexy me and make me feel brave

hear you talk dancing girl, speak of strange, speak of bird
what is it that grips your mind so tight?
sweet charade kissing girl, shake of fur, feathers whirl
can't you see the sadness in her eyes?
can't you see the sadness of her life?

by Mike Levon / Brian Calvert

with the new moon Judy of the Lake
is turning her money around, in her white plimsolls
chewing a nice juicy bone is her Afghan hound
red sky at night Judy is delighted
to be on the merry-go-round
come hunting the piglet (you know) she says
bowl the skittles to the ground
clitter-clap to the ground

hunting for slippers getting much warmer
it's nine says the clock with a laugh
she dons her white plimsolls
gulps a hot cup and a bun as she pulls on her scarf
walks up the high-road merrily singing
and joining her friends for a half
later relaxing she's listening to music
sitting cross-legged by the hearth

Mike says: "I was pleased with this song, the first I wrote for Austr. I was consciously trying to write in a non-Dylanish style - and I reckon I got there!"

Judy (Pitt-Plaidy) was the centre of this song which looked at luck, old wisdom and what would today be called the 'new age'. She married Norfolk Jim, (Richard Smith), and both live happily in Devon.

by Mike Levon / Brian Calvert
Moanin' Mini she stand on her own
you never find a sexy man to touch her
but she moan and moan and groan moan
Moaning Mini gooseflesh on the bone
takes her swinging lovers
with her moan moan and groan moan

Mini wears such tiny clothes though she's a big, big girl
and when her boyfriend's through he breathes
boy I'm glad to be back home

Moanin' Mini had a king on the throne
to satisfy her every need
she made it moan moan and groan moan
her dentist cracked and fled in fear
her doctor took to drugs
she dropped her shares on the stock exchange
and the whole Royal Mint went bust

she's a chaser, all you see is her own
you’ll never find a nest so feathered
or a grown girl so well-honed


by Chris Coombs

by Chris Coombs
deep in the heart of Thumbquake Vale
many a mortal is tell-tale
whitened and frightened, innocently pale
your face is a mask that you borrow

patience and virtue all around the rim
under a grey mask of teardim
lips that are mouthing 'after I'm let in
cold is the colour of Earthscrew'

by Chris Coombs

by Chris Coombs
between the road to where you gone
in your condition that's quite small
under my sun under me
and I feel a siren's rather cold
specially for an eighteen-year-old
what a way to spend a day in Austr
I crossed her

across the wheel I saw you at
mistaken for an eye-set cat
was not too slow for our meet
and I wandered out of control
as I saw enough of your soul
I went head-over-heels over you - cachoo!

I'm written in a little book
in Austr's sacred marum crook
only down here it's in black
what a way to get in a whirl
over such a one, one-time girl
I don't like my motor bike no more
yes I'm sure

by Brian Calvert
hula hula hula hula hu Ia hoo
ooh my oo my big big toe
by Mike Levon / Brian Calvert
day so bright, speed is not essential
with my eyes look down the road
day's ok, sleep in the morning

'cause it's alright, fits alright on me
yeah babe and it's alright with me

morning sun drifting through the window
coloured dreams upon the wall
looking up and smiling at the eaves

morning mists, clouding over grassland
winter eyes look from their doors
room so warm relaxed we're very cool
Cathy came and brought us all a present
stayed for coffee and a smoke
drew a smile on the heavy eyes of evening
rolling in the night, throughout the streets

day spins by inside the silver window
seeming to take no time at all
evening came we closed the shutter doors

Mike says: "I was trying to capture a particularly easy calm day at Cass Yard - the windows were plate glass and actually did seem silvery in the sunlight. You could sit at the window, on the first floor, and look up and down Kirkgate. What I didn't realise at the time just how much I had the hippy 'peace, man' ethic taped here - the chorus is a hoot of relaxed (stoned) contentment!"

'Kirkgate Blues' lists some of the many pubs on Kirkgate at the time - a kind of bridge from Bread Street and Moodies, to early rock at Cass Yard.


BIRD (excerpt)
by Mike Levon / Brin Calvert
This track, as 'CONTINUUM' doesn't work on CD with the lack of two sides of a record! A shortened section of the original track, 'Bird' is on the CD instead.
Mike's idea here: to re-run Bird without the vocals for the start of side two of the original vinyl release.
she dances

by Mike Levon / Brian Calvert
with your name how do you stay so cool?
crazy legs, every knight he begs for you
with your prize wrapped in your eyes so tight
seeing clear heads of every kneeling knight

Essex Queen with a mantle
in between her chosen words
giving all she dances in her soulful way
Essex Queen she dances for the 13th day
Essex Queen in total green has things to say

softly say you hum a simple tune
'mazing that no-one's seeing something new
before long you win in spite of him
and in the end your handsome friend is learning


dedicated to Shirley Levon

by Brian Calvert
by Brian Calvert

losing you is like being dead
lying round produces black dreams in my head
what can I do? where can I go? feeling so blue
baby put a curse on you

you walked out without a word being said
left me feeling all alone in my bed
I watched you go, never looked back
then I knew I'd have to put a curse on you

now it's so long ago but I still keep hoping
sometimes I long for your touch
but then I remember the wrong that you done
and I don't seem to miss you so much

now I've got the time I just sit and think
too many cigarettes and too much drink
watching the days passing me by nothing to do
baby put a curse on you

can't go on for much longer this way
got to make a decision today
to end it all might be the way-before I do
baby put a curse on you

by Chris Coombs
what did you go? what did you say? uh huh
what were you went? how have I say? uh huh
ah, but I've heard a hum that's higher
than yours, and my ears are drier

how are you been? how have I know? uh huh
that can I say, what did you go? uh huh
ah, but I have put older below you (so much)
that I was too much younger to know you

The highlight of making this track was watching Chris Coombs and Brian Wilson playing one organ in Brian's mother's front room.

You can hear the competition for the limited number of keys near the end!

by Chris Coombs
if I saw you in the sunlight
wouldn't know your burning arrow
so I'd get you by the moonshine
try to catch you like a sparrow
gonna get you by the river with a lover
that you never said before you had

like a ferret with a rabbit
but you're white and I'm tawny
you're invisible, elusive
I suppose you think it's funny
when I find you gonna hold you, gonna keep you
which no-one else has done yet so far as I know

lights! lights! lights! enter haut-boys with flaming flaring torches of bright gold and damask-scented neon signs with blazing plastic tapestries as I sing ever so high to reach you

I once saw you in a nightmare
or perhaps it was a dream
I put out my hand to reach you
and saw you did the same
but I woke up in a cold sweat, washed my pillow
and slipped it in-between two pieces of bread

dark, ever-so-dark and distant rode the knight
heading towards the dawn
over the jam and jumbled hills
and it never came any nearer; nearer, nearer
though 200,000 monarchs sought after you . . .

The first track recorded for Austr, and one of the few still bearing the mark of the original plan to write about King Arthur who lies sleeping with his knights of the Round Table until England needs him.

The additional tracks include It’s Alright, an early mix with Doug Pyle on vocals. Later Chris dubbed vocals and Multiman keyboard, with Steve Channing adding vocals and guitars.

out-takes :
ESSEX QUEEN 1968 version
GRAIL SEARCH 1968 version
JUDY fragment, 1968
IT’S ALRIGHT remixed 2005
early mix Chris Coombs, kazoo solo (Levon-Calvert) - this track is what you hear at the end of the original version of Austr, the backing was completed as Austr was mixed.

A to AUSTR is partly about King Arthur, England’s “once and future king”, and the Knights of the Round Table and their Ladies. An amazing synchronicity was the appearance of a Holy Grail-like chalice on a billboard behind Bill Nelson when the cover photos were being taken, see centre spread of the CD booklet.

© 2005 Holyground and writers

MUSICIANS and others

Most session musicians were from nearby Bretton Hall college. John Perfect, a lecturer there, later appeared in Fleetwood Mac with his sister Christine McVie. A to Austr was also Bill Nelson’s recording debut. Chris Heinitz, (French horn on the Walker Brothers’ The Sun Ain’t Gonna Shine’), supervised the original brass.

CHRIS COOMBS vocals, guitar, piano, lead guitar, glockenspiel, vox horn, harmonica, organ, recorder, percussion
MIKE LEVON mosquito box, triangle, effects, electronics
BRIAN WILSON bass, vocals, buzz guitar, organ, mandolin harp, glockenspiel, clarinet
BRIAN CALVERT lead guitar, guitar, vocals, lute, vox horns
TED HEPWORTH drums, water drum
helped by:
Bill Nelson guitar, hawaiian guitar Mike Gould trumpet
John Perfect tenor sax Lyn Cavell alto sax
George Mabon flute Gill Green cello
Al Green organ Dave Wood goüd
Yvonne Carrodus vocals, triangle Denise Calvert vocal, piano, harpsichord
Gill Maudsley spoken vocal Cath Wood raspberry saw
Shirley Levon recorder  

original cover screen print Mal Williamson
cover girls Shirley, Gail, Denyse & Yvonne
photography Pete Duce, Shirley Levon, Dave Wood
cover graphic Dave Wood
album design Mike Levon
recorded and produced by Mike Levon



In association with Kissing Spell Records, Holyground has released all the recordings from the '60s and '70's, except for Skybird's Summer Of 73, and Bill Nelson's Northern Dream.

Several of the albums have only ever been released in small vinyl runs : volumes 1, 5, 9, 10 and 11. All have a considerable number of additional tracks. The average running time of each CD is over 60 minutes and often more than 70 minutes.

Mike has scoured his archive and made several surprising finds, especially the
songs "hidden" on the bottom track or other side of the tape - tracks even he didn't know he'd got!

Each CD in the series has:

  • from 60 to 74 minutes of music
  • full colour eight page booklets and inlays
  • renovated and previously unseen photographs and original artwork
  • words to all original songs
  • additional tracks, out-takes, and contemporary tracks (covering just about everything Holyground recorded!)
  • several previously unreleased recordings, and some remixes
  • a special silver label and logo, in a rainbow of colours!
  • background and recording information
  • a special webpage with more information, recollections, photographs and news
  • info, and anecdotes  . . .   the works!

ASTRAL NAVIGATIONS and A TO AUSTR are the most well known albums on the label during its early days from 1966 to 1975. These and nine others make up the "Works" released through KISSING SPELL:

series volume
release date
LAST THING ON MY MIND has never been released since the original 99 vinyl copies made by Mike Levon when he recorded it in 1966. It is an album of folk and early folk rock - the roots from which Holyground grew. There are standout performances from Chris Coombs and others. It's an album of great beauty: if you close your eyes you can see the candles, and feel the dark . . . There are also several out-takes and contemporary recordings never previously released at all!
The first LP to carry the 'Holyground' label. The name comes from an Irish folk song, and was used by Mike to name his flat in Cyprus Street - doesn't everyone name their homes? Recorded partly in Bretton Hall, partly in Jacobswell Lane - Mike's later flat, shared by Norfolk Jim, Brian Wilson and Derby Dick, most of the tracks were made in Moodies Bar. Moodies was a real old-fashioned pub in 1966 - 67. Women had only just been allowed in! - although they were still excluded from the small back room where the recordings were made. In fact, Shirley Levon may have been one of the first women to drink in there during the recording sessions! A mixture of traditional folk and new acoustic songs, with a nod towards early folk-rock, Bread Street sold 243 out of 250 copies made, and still made a loss!
In 1967 Mike Levon moved into his own flat in Cass Yard half-way down Kirkgate. There were two large bedrooms, and one quickly became a studio, allowing Mike to start recording drums and electric guitars. His first electric recording was of Bill Nelson's group 'Global Village' - a good omen for the future! From late 1967, through 1968 and 1969 Mike recorded a variety of people including several commercial records of clubland artistes such as Winston Smith, Joanna Starr, The Method, and even an LP of mood music for a local bingo chain. During this time he started working closely with Chris Coombs, and with existing musicians such as Brian Wilson, augmented by other new people like Al Green, George Mabon, Brian Calvert and Ted Hepworth. The results was the album A to Austr. This dealt with many current themes: from drugs to sex, wisdom to wonder, and resulted in a very varied album of what has become know as psych-rock. It was Holyground's best work to date, and set the scene for the 1970-71 period: a busy, creative time which saw the making of albums like Jumble Lane, Bill Nelson's Northern Dream, Gagalactyca, and above all the seminal 'Astral Navigations'. Austr itself was viewed by some as their favourite album from England: 'they do it all,' said American dealer Greg Breth who was l;ucky enough to find one copy from the 99 made.

Described by one collector as a “deeply evocative and enchanting album which really touches me”, ASTRAL is seminal Holyground. The album has two complementary sides: side one features songs by Mike Levon and Brian Calvert, and by Chris Coombs: acoustic rock with Holyground’s psych edge. The three Chris Coombs tracks also feature Bill Nelson on lead guitar. Side 2 showcases Thundermother, searing guitars in a progressive, acid-rock band featuring David John who had earlier recorded with Joe Meek as David John and the Mood.

GAGALACTYCA has only been released on vinyl. It is a sister album to Astral Navigations. There are two "sets" of music : Chris Coombs and others (Lightyears Away), and Thundermother. Chris and Mike Levon wrote songs for the Light Years Away "side" of the album. Standout tracks are the short though beautiful "That Is What We Need", and "Cold Tired and Hungry" a storming track featuring Bill Nelson on guitar. Thundermother come up with five brilliant tracks, four of them their own songs. Standout tracks are a version of "Woman" by the group, an acid guitar epic in "Come On Home", and the beautiful "Woman In My Life".  
Described accurately by one reviewer as “going through so many unexpected and bizarre changes as to be completely un-categorisable”, JUMBLE LANE was recorded by friends and local students in the summer of 1971. From the delicacy of “The Gallery” and “Blues for Joanne” to the rock of “Frustration: Ends Away” it’s psych rock of the highest calibre. Bonus tracks include songs by Steve Channing who made his debut on JUMBLE LANE.
JUMBLE LANE’s success meant new students at the nearby college would turn to Holyground to record their own albums. Pete Howells and Jim Gordon, as BLUE EPITAPH, made the acoustic, psychedelic whimsy that is ODE - another highly collectable Holyground album. The third group to do this, in 1974, recorded the album “JUNCTION 32”. As an album it was not a success, but there were some fine tracks, and these are included as bonus tracks on this CD. Bonus tracks are the best of the 1974 album “JUNCTION 32” : Third Take / Whiskey In The Jar / Bill Bailey / Prickety Bush / Bold Princess Royal / Ropegate Rag.
During 1972 and 1973 local band GYGAFO recorded a variety of tracks at Holyground. Rock with a psych edge, recorded in true Holyground tradition, the band featured Charlie Speed on lead guitar. Charlie’s lead, with Eddie’s keyboards, makes the album glow. Standout tracks are “Solid Man Song”, and the long, pastoral title track. One bonus track is by a contemporary of the band, Ark; another guitar led band stretching out over a long song.
In 1975 Mike closed down Holyground (temporarily as it turned out) to start a new studio venture in Doncaster. In the last few midsummer weeks he suggested to Steve Channing that some of his songs, plus some Mike and Steve would write later on, should be recorded. Mike asked the members of 'Lazy Days' to join in giving (as he thought before the recording sessions) a line up of Steve on vocal / acoustic guitar; Dave Wilson on electric guitar; Alan Robinson on bass; and John Shepard on drums. None of the band had met Steve on the first day of recording, and to Mike's surprise Lazy Days turned up with a Hammond organ player, Mick Spurr, who also added an early Moog synth to the line-up. The results, even on the first day, were magic - a lively set of songs driven by Steve's vocals and skills on guitar, and backed by a tight and fluid group. The songs, often blued based, were lovely. The atmosphere was electric, and pushed along by the knowledge that Holyground was ending. Steve and Lazy Days had been regulars since the 70's - Steve appearing first on Jumble Lane and Lazy Days had recorded there on several occasions and in different line-ups. This CD captures the end of an era.
volume one
The original Loose Routes double vinyl LP with a large format booklet consisted of many tracks which have been included with other "The Works" reissues, and in the case of Bill Nelson, on "Electrotype". This two CD release is largely unissued material and, with the other "Works" CDs, completes the Holyground recordings. Volume one covers the start of Holyground and the period upto the making of Astral Navigations in 1970/1971.
volume two
Volume two starts with Thundermother and carries Holyground through to the (temporary) end in 1975. The final track is from new Holyground recordings from 1990.
All the Holyground recordings made by Bill Nelson from 1968 to 1972, (excepting Northern Dream - separately available, and Teenage Archangel). The CD has 21 tracks, and covers the period from the start of Global Village up to the early Be Bop De Luxe. 68 minutes from Bill's first ever recording to the days just before signing to EMI to make Axe Victim - all the Global Village and Be Bop De Luxe recordings still in existence.