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Whistler, Chaucer, Detroit And Greenhill

Although Whistler, Chaucer, Detroit & Greenhill were indeed a quartet, no one in the band actually went by any of those names. Instead, their eclectic, whimsical psychedelic-influenced 1968 LP, The Unwritten Works of Geoffrey, Etc., was recorded by David Bullock (guitar, bass, vocals), Scott Fraser (guitar, keyboards, bass, vocals), Eddie Lively (guitar, vocals), and Phil White (bass, keyboards, vocals), with John Carrick adding guitar and vocals, and a young T-Bone Burnett producing. Bullock, Fraser, Lively, and Burnett all wrote material on the album, a low-key but ever-shifting mixture that defied an easy label. Some songs ("The Viper [What John Rance Had to Tell]," "House of Collection") sounded rather like an oblique take on early, rustic Neil Young, though it's highly unlikely Young was a direct influence. Others offered accomplished country-rock ("Just Me and Her"), stirring folk-rock with touches of hard psychedelic rock guitar ("Ready to Move"), pastoral Renaissance-flavored orchestrated folk that sounded very much like some of the most baroque pieces recorded in the late '60s by the Beau Brummels ("Upon Waking from the Nap," "Tribute to Sundance"), and a haunting cabaret-like number laced with violin and disembodied backing vocals ("Street in Paris").

The group formed in Fort Worth, TX, where Fraser and Lively had been in the band the Mods. After picking up the other members, they began recording in a basement studio of a local radio station, coming to the attention of Burnett. Guy Clark, later to become a rootsy singer/songwriter of some renown, was also associated with the group and did the LP's cover design and photography. The record, however, was barely noticed upon its initial release. After Fraser, Bullock, and White hooked up with drummer Brett Wilson in Austin, they changed their name to Space Opera, recording more polished (though often still folk-rock-influenced) sounds for a self-titled album on Columbia in the early '70s. The Unwritten Works of Geoffrey, Etc. was reissued on CD with historical liner notes in 2006. ~ Richie Unterberger, Rovi
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