Jan Dukes de Grey was a strange progressive folk-rock outfit who were one of the last acts of their kind signed to England's Decca Records -- not to the Deram imprint, which had started out as a progressive label before getting sidetracked and muddled, but on the Decca Nova line, a short-lived, true progressive rock label. The group started out as a duo of Michael Bairstow and Derek Noy, multi-instrumentalists who stood midway between Tyrannosaurus Rex (the pre-T.Rex Marc Bolan acoustic outfit) and Jethro Tull, doing all original material by Noy, very short all-acoustic songs, some with strange lyrics and highlighted by odd, dissonant flute passages. Their debut album, Sorcerers, was filled with interesting and sometimes memorable melodies, but its sound was so spare, almost minimalist, that there was no hope of getting serious airplay or sales.
For their second album, Mice and Rats in the Loft, recorded for Transatlantic in 1971, Jan Dukes de Grey became a trio with the addition of drummer Dennis Conlan and also assumed a more progressive approach to their work. The album had three extended tracks, all highlighted by flashier playing, but their continued low-wattage approach to progressive music made Jan Dukes de Grey less than competitive against the likes of the Strawbs and other ex-folk outfits. Mice and Rats in the Loft wasn't much more successful than Sorcerers, and Jan Dukes de Grey disappeared during the early '70s. ~ Bruce Eder
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