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

this page is to accompany HOLYGROUND : THE WORKS CD VOLUME 2
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
  • On "Yes, You Gotta Walk", Norfolk Jim, (real name Richard Smith), sang the 'Yes You Gotta Gotta Walk' backing vocals as well as Brian - omitted from the sleeve - sorry, Richard!


original sleeve notes written by Moira Jenkins and Alan Dak, 1966


An obscure little building found down a narrow once-cobbled street, a collection-coin flip from Wakefield’s Cathedral, almost hidden in the shadows. Number Nine Bread Street and it’s five-thirty, late afternoon. The five bolts on the door are drawn and and yellow block of light falls onto the pavement. Inside, the glass globes are ablaze and the coal-fire crackle and splutter is the only sound to break this early silence. Soon the newsboy will enter and deflower the pale dunes of deal sawdust lying on the flagged floor - this is an old, old pub clinging to an old tradition.

The setting is peaceful, nothing will disrupt it till six o’clock, six thirty, when the door will again open and Number Nine Bread Street will gradually shrug to life: beer splashing into mugs, struck matches and idle chatter will rouse the ageing walls.

The one long bar with its elbow-rubbed sheen stands the press of customers, more talk and blue curls of tobacco haze drift over all. A banjo glints next to the guitar, a whistle speaks of music and the regular voices tune up with a burst of laughter - the singing begins.

A crowd of likely and unlikely characters range their voices through the rafters - Number Nine Bread Street contains enough truly odd bodies to supply a dozen pubs with local colour. This is another night here, the place resounds with song and local talk, while strangers are bearing lovely ideas away, quietly in odd corners . . .

NUMBER NINE BREAD STREET is a record . . .


Kevin Slater
vocals & guitar

Brian Herbert banjo

A traditional Irish song, often sung in Moodies' sessions - the traditional roots from which this CD was born.

recorded in
Moodies, 1966

by Richard Parfitt

Dave Nuttall vocal Richard Parfitt guitar

I’d give you the moon, but you’ve already got it
I’d give you the sun, but you don’t really need it

but you got rhythm baby
and there’s a fire behind your eyes

you’re a girl for all seasons, and goddess to none
you freeze in the snow as you lie in the sun

though you’re here tomorrow, you’ve still come today
though I’ve been so close to you, you’re still far away

so you go your way and I’ll go my way, it’s thus we agree
though I’m still crying inside when you can’t see me

Mike says: "Still a song I love - very much
the bridge between
traditional folk and
psych folk rock
for me . . . "


Jane Westlake vocal, guitar
Clive Colling organ
Brian Wilson bass,
backing vocal
Mike Levon percussion

Norfolk Jim, (real name Richard Smith), sang the 'Yes You Gotta Gotta Walk' backing vocals in addition to Brian - omitted from the sleeve - sorry, Richard!
recorded 1966 at
63, Jacob’s Well Lane where Clive, Brian, Norfolk Jim, and later on, Mike Levon, all lived.

by Bob Dylan

Ivor Lloyd-Morgan vocal
Nigel Smith guitar
Russ Little string bass

recorded in
Moodies, 1966


    The LP was pre-sold, and receipts given. Below is a photograph of a receipt, hand typed and signed by Bob Hart, one of the early trio which made up Holyground: Mike Levon, Dave Wood & Bob Hart. This receipt was issued to Shirley Levon, Mike's wife. It is dated 7th February 1967, while Bread Street was still being recorded. It appears to be receipt issue number 71 . . . !

    Note the address : Moodies - Shirley and Mike were often to be found there.
    Mike would type Holyground stuff and meet musicians there early in the evening most days.


by Mike Levon
and Bob Hart

Bob Hart vocal, guitar
Ivor Lloyd-Morgan
second vocal
Brian Wilson bass
Clive Colling organ

the room’s getting colder, everybody else had gone home
smoke hurt my eyes, I was hypnotised, I was thrown
she didn’t come, she sent to say
wouldn’t work again that way, I should have known
for the first time I realised, just what it means to be alone

the music was gone: the sound of aloneness instead
is filling my ears, twisting the thoughts in my head
a voice broke it sometimes but it was too much like mine
and nothing was said
apart from one thought all other visions were dead

she stands like a shadow & speaks with the sound of the rain
in a dress of white gold she moves like the dawn like a flame
so sure of herself she needs no one else
she, she makes it plain
and isn’t it funny to think that I once knew her name?

I’m painting a lady who talks like the time long ago
I remember her voice but the words don’t seem like her own
I’m forgetting all the things I once thought I knew
and how it shows
for the lady I speak of has gone, I’m left with a ghost

your face is exciting, but just turn your head to one side
you’ll have to be patient with me till the moment is right
speak softly and clear all I need to hear
oh, but do what you like; the shadows are fading
morning is changing the sky

recorded at 63, Jacob’s Well Lane, 1967

Bob Hart, 1966

Mike Levon, 1966

by Chris Coombs

Chris Coombs
vocals and guitar

Nigel Smith guitar, played with a screwdriver

Angie Gough cello,
backing vocal

Dave Nelson clarinet:
which was flat!

Russ Little string bass played with a hairbrush, backing vocal

Dave Nelson clarinet

soft night come slowly on your window sill
and on mine and I know that it's time
put on my boots and my coat and my rings
as I order a carriage for nine
pumpkins don't change any more
so I walk round the block with some glass in my hand
for you to try on so you'll come out with me
to the ball at the rusty bandstand

everyday watching a girl who's a Princess
is tough for a man don't you see?
could be a slopsong if written by any
Prince Charming excepting by me
wind blows up and down the road with the gust
and the dust that is making a hill
as curlers in hair and a fag in her mouth
she comes home each day from the mill

Japanese mill girls strike flutters in hearts
that are beating beneath yellow breasts
North Country mill girls put passion in miners
with heavy black hair on their chests
were I a miner all filled with desire
lying down I'd go mining for gold
being as me as I am and will be
her three inch high heels turn me cold

I'll send her a bunch of pink plastic of roses
whose scent with soap fumes fills the air
I'll talk of the waves of the rollers
that lacquer has set in her peroxide hair
I sing of the weals, of the bobbins the callouses
rubbed in her delicate hand
and Satanic mills
that like churches have filled
this pit-covered part of the land

Margaret Duke
(ex-Bretton) wrote:
"Have just found your Holyground site and
all the memory
flood-gates opened . . . Bretton, Kennel Block,
Grasshopper (student hostel), Poppa (the Principal), Bread Street
and most of all

recorded at
Bretton Hall, 1967



by Mike Levon
and Bob Hart

Bob Hart vocals, guitar
Manton Dunville harpsichord

filtered by the leaves, sunlight, shining on the girl
liquid crystals forming on her thighs
floating in her eyes, turning slowly gold
sunlight, as she looks at me, as she looks at me

halo-ed silver down, softly on her arms, glistening
molten summer flaming in her breast
loving opal kiss, ripening in her lips
smiling as she turns to me, as she turns to me
I came softly to her, closer, kneeling down
she said, she said . . .

dream of cooler days, loving as the sunlight fades
dream of longer evenings hand in hand
summer’s gone, mellowing our love with the winds of time

recorded in Moodies
and Bretton Hall
Music Block, 1967


by Chris Coombs

Chris Coombs vocal, guitar
Alan Prince string bass
Nigel Smith guitar

when you're up, turn round
stroke two, sit down
take it in, sit tight
hold your face, act right
no one will, you'll see
catch your eye, not me
and you're clear up high
Charlie boy my friend
Horsey too might end
with bad luck up for air
hot one too, change your hair
but with tea, tea for two
you and me, me and you
we can ride in the sky

recorded in
Moodies, 1967


by Richard Parfitt

Richard Parfitt vocal, guitar

there’s no good reason for me hanging around
I’m easier in the country than I am in town
so when you see me packing
your mind you’ll be wracking
I’ll tender my regrets and I’ll be on my way

I’m not disappointed, don’t think that’s the word
it’s just when I’ve been talking
I don’t think you’ve heard a word
last night I made my mind up, I’ve gotta take the time up
I’ll tender my regrets and I’ll be on my way

well I’ve met a lot of people
I guess you’re just another one
that come in with the moonshine & stay out with the sun
don’t try following my boot-tracks
I’m not using any known maps
I’ll tender my regrets and I’ll be on my way

recorded at
Bretton Hall, 1967

"I'm sure Piff didn't mean
the song to be taken so
widely, but for me",
Mike says, "there's no other song which for me sums
up the feelings an atmosphere of our
last day as college students - leaving
many faces we'd
never see again as
people left Moodies
and made their way
home" . . .


by Gershwin

Ivor Lloyd-Morgan
Nigel Smith guitar
Angie Gough cello

recorded at
Bretton Hall, 1967

The sessions held in Bretton were not photographed. However there were at least
two rolls taken in Moodies back room. All the photos on these film strips are on the
Bread Street photos page (click here).


by Mike Levon
and Bob Hart

Jane Westlake vocals Bob Hart guitar
Richard Smith flute
Brian Wilson bass
Clive Colling organ

the original poem as written by Mike in 1964.

when we were children and played all day into the sun
and our laughter broke the peal of bells
which tumbled from the spires of the church
we were young and we had no cares

when we were lovers through the water and the air
and our time of love was time to spare
happy to laugh and lap up days and dancing in the sea
we were young then and cared for no cares

but when the dark came and left us blind to the moon
and the night owl hooted in our song
then we were as frightened mice ran on and could not stop
for we cared for the span of every hour
when we were children and played all day into the sun
the beautiful strangers were our friends

recorded at 63, Jacob’s Well Lane, 1967


The words for this song were originally a poem written by Mike. This is one of two examples of this. The other is one of the additional tracks on this CD: "The Gold Of The Long Girls"


by Mike Levon and
Bob Hart

Piers Johnson vocal
Bob Hart guitar
Russ Little bass
Nigel Smith guitar

I don’t want to lay you babe just because it’s getting late
I don’t want to lay you babe
just be cause you’re dressed that way
do you expect me to hit the roof
just because you wear black lace?
my reasons are few, it’s for me and for you
and the pleasure

I don’t want to lay you girl just to satisfy my mind
I don’t want to lay you girl just to pass away the time
are you sure you’re not just kissing me
because the conversation’s flat?

I don’t want to lay you lady just so I can tell my friends
or because they expect it of us & this is how it usually ends
I don’t need your well known beauty
as a passport to the set

I don’t want to lay you babe just to find out what it’s like
or because they don’t approve
I don’t want to love you out of spite
well you just left home and you’re a big girl now
but you don’t have to show it this way
my reasons are few, it’s for me and for you
and the pleasure

recorded at
Bretton Hall, 1967

Mike says: "I was really pleased at the fake
fade out and return at
the end - a first I

Ten minutes later, we finished recording and went into the room
next door where the television was on.
It was "Top Of
The Pops" - and there were the Beatles,
playing Strawberry
Fields, with - a fake
fade out & in!"


THE HOLYGROUND (traditional)
This track appeared on an EP of traditional folk songs, mostly unaccompanied vocals, which was Kev Slater's idea. It was called "Kev Slater & The Motley Crew" released in 1966.

The 'Crew' were : Dave Nuttall, Chris Coombs, Dick Bacon, Dick Dodd, Mike Jackson, Alan Cunningham, Bruce Wigham, Mac Noble, Dave Pugh, Dick Smith (in spirit), Angus McIntosh.

It was the track which gave Holyground Records its name. Mike liked the song and used the title for his first flat after leaving college. (If you think that's a bit strange, he called the triangular grass area outside his window "Smoke Farm"!)

THE COBBLER (traditional)
This is one of the 5 tracks on Cross-section. After the success of the live folk evening LP, Mike released this EP. It was a turning point. For the first time Mike was choosing who to record, and assembling tracks on a record for the first time. Some tracks showed early folk-rock leanings. This track was firmly traditional, and featured Kev Slater vocals and hammer!
from the EP Cross-Section, 1965

An instrumental played by John Williams on guitar, aided by the beautiful natural echo of the Adam Room in Bretton Hall College.
from the EP Cross-Section, 1965

sung by Pat Newsham vocal, Ted Flexman vocal, and Russ Little vocal, guitar
from the EP Where It’s At, 1966

Chris Coombs vocal, guitar
not previously released


Chris Coombs vocal,
slide guitar, harmonica

Pete Taylor guitar

not previously released

Mike Levon, Shirley Levon and Dot Nunn
in the Harewood Arms, Kirkgate
Kirkgate was known
for its large number of pubs. There used
to be a custom of
'doing the Kirkgate Run" which involved stopping at each pub and
having a 'half' (a half
pint of beer). Mike's nearest pub was the Harewood Arms
which is mentioned
in this song - Tony
was a retired wrestler.


Chris Coombs vocal, harmonica, feet

Pete Taylor guitars

Pete Taylor, about 1967

This song was written by Pete Taylor. Although Mike remembers Pete from Bretton where he was also a student, he has no memory of Pete coming down to Cass Yard to record. Pete recalls quite clearly
being asked by Brian Herbert to stand in for him - on which song no-one can recall. Pete
says Brian's guitar
was very hard to play, and that his recording was not used.

Mike, Chris and Pete
were impressed by this song, and a re-recorded version is to be found on "In And Out Of Time".


Chris Coombs
vocal, piano

Chris and Mike are fairly sure Chris wrote the words to this, although the original idea came from the cartoon
'Top Cat'
("Hello, Officer Dibble!)


Chris Coombs vocal, treated pianos, guitar

Mike wrote this song - even using manuscript to write out the chords.

It still needed a tweak from Chris though!
MUSICIANS and others

From the back cover of the original :


cover drawing Brian Herbert
sleeve notes Moira Jenkins & Alan Dak
album artwork Mike Levon


NUMBER NINE BREAD STREET was recorded on a 1/2 track Truvox tape recorder (see below) using a mixer Mike Levon built, and mikes ranging from a plastic Truvox to two Film Industries ribbons. Reverb is either natural from Bretton Hall’s Adam Room, or the spring reverb in a Bird amplifier, (also shown below). It was mastered at the renowned Porkies, London.

thanks to

Phil and Brenda Snaith (landlord and landlady of Moodies Bar) / Whitaker’s Brewery / Dave & Gladys Sheard (the previous landlord and landlady of Moodies Bar) / Bretton Hall Student Union / Slyv, Steph & Shirl / Dave Wood / Throb Association Moodies / Brian Herbert / Kevin Slater / Bob Hart

© 2006 Holyground and writers



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.