plainsong in 1972, the orignal line up.
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Plainsong were the closest the UK ever came to producing a rival to the Flying Burrito Brothers and Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young, a gloriously harmonic marriage of olde English folk, Appalachian gospel and dustbowl travelogues.

link Andy's Solo Career

Plainsong 1972-ish

Amelia sticker which came with the publicity pack

PLainsong as a duo in 2001

Plainsong at Birmingham's MAC in 2003

Andy Roberts and Iain Matthews playing at Queens College Bristol in 2001

Andy, Iain, Julian and Andy Metcalfe during recording for Pangolins

Andy and Iain


Amelia album

  • Side One
1 For the Second Time (Matthews)
2 Yo Yo Man (Cunha, Cooper)
3 Louise (Siebel)
4 Call the Tune (Matthews)
5 Diesel on my Tail (Fagin)
6 Amelia Earhart's Last Flight (McEnery)
  • Side Two
1 I'll Fly Away (Brumley)
2 True Story of Amelia Earhart (Matthews)
3 Even the Guiding Light (Matthews)
4 Side Roads (Matthews)
5 Raider (Yester, Henskee)
Andy Roberts
Iain Matthews
Dave Richards
Bob Ronga
Timi Donald
Dave Mattacks
Martin Jenkins
Sandy Roberton

The Story of how Amelia Earhart came into Plainsong's life

Way back in the late 1960s, I was introduced by Adrian (Henri) to his friend Bernard Stone, who had a bookshop in Kensington Church Walk, called Turret Books. Bernard published lavish limited editions of poetry, art and music. All on hand-made paper and signed by the writers, etc. He also sold books, mainly second-hand, and put on readings in the shop as well. I played there with Adrian several times. The shop ran like a club! You walked in (and this went for anyone!), and within 5 minutes you had a glass of wine (which became several within half an hour) and Bernard was enthusing madly about someone or something he wanted to put on the map. He was brilliant!!

Regular liggers in the shop were Reginald Bosanquet (ITN newscaster), Ralph Steadman (illustrator), Frank Dickens (cartoonist - Bristow, etc), Adrian when he was in London, actually loads of the great and good in literature. I loved it.

One day, browsing the shelves, I found a row of books on aviation. The Search For Amelia Earhart by Frederick Goerner was on that shelf. I browsed it and bought it for next to nothing, maybe 2 shillings (2/-). Once I read it, I became obsessed with the story it contained, passed it on to Iain who devoured it, then to David and Bobby. We started telling the outline story to the audiences at our early gigs, then Ian wrote his True Story and we were away. When we made the first album we all instinctively knew that Amelia's story, and particularly the Fred Goerner theory, was the identity that would work for us. You have to admit it was a good one - people remember it. Seabrook Graves Aslitt did that wonderful sleeve design, and something timeless was born.

I remember that when we launched the record Bernard Stone got us a box of the books for the press. He must have found about 20 copies for us! I gave mine away endlessly, got it back, gave it away again.

Then in 1995 when I was doing Mad Love for Disney, I found 2 copies in a bookshop in Burbank. Hardbacks, one signed by Fred Goerner ($30) and one not ($6). I bought the cheap one! The hardback has more pictures than the paperback. I will never give it away again.

In time Turret Books moved to Covent Garden, then the Grays Inn Road. I last saw Bernard at the Chelsea Arts Club, about 7 years ago. Business was never easy for him, and I think eventually the shop folded, but he was responsible for a great thing in my life, the whole Amelia Earhart passion that has never left us, and I honour him for it.


Early Reviews

At last, Ian Matthews has found the band he has been looking for all this time.  I mean no disrespect to his ex-colleagues of Southern Comfort when I say that, at the first gig on Saturday night at Croydon Tech of the new band he has formed with Andy Roberts, I suddenly realised what he has been striving for, and why hitherto I have found him in states of such deep depression after what had been, on the face of it, more than satisfactory performances.

What he has got together now is, quite simply and without any hype, a supergroup.  I know that despite Ian’s chart success neither he nor any of the other three guys are all that well known outside the ranks of their fellow musicians, who hold them in deep respect.  But I’m not using the word in that sense.  The band is acoustic in its emphasis, even when Bob Ronga plays electric guitar so tastily.  But both he and bassist Dave Richards are no mean practitioners on the acoustic guitar.

Vocally, the band is very strong, for not only are Ian and Andy sole singers in their own right, but the two other musicians join them to give their four-part harmonies a punch.

Their programming could be improved, I think, and the addition of one or two real stompers would have given their set a climax to work towards.  As it was, though, each individual song was perfection.

Supporting them, Carol Grimes’ Uncle Dog boogled along quite nicely as if to prove that somewhere, there, there’s quite a good rock and roll band straining, rather too hard, to get out. – KARL DALLAS


“In search of Amelia Earhart” (Elektra).

Why are Plainsong so concerned with the true facts behind Amelia Earhart, first lady of the air, it might be asked.  Why indeed.  Whatever the reason the result is that two songs, the sleeve design and a quantity of additional leaflets are devoted to the controversial fate of Amelia Earhart.  Was she really on a circumnavigating flight with Captain Frederick Noonan when she disappeared in July 1937, or is the truth that Amelia and Fred were captured by the Japs while on a secret mission for the U.S. Government?  As the first album from Plainsong – Ian Matthews, Andy Roberts, Dave Richards and Bobby Ronga – it conforms to expectations.  The musicianship is precise and sensitive, and the sound quality crisp.  A similar dose of perfection accompanies the vocal harmonies.  It would be extraordinary if any project associated with Ian Matthews wasn’t strong vocally.  Since his Fairport Convention days he’s been renowned for just that.  The style of playing – the harmonies linked with tight rhythm and almost country guitar breaks – gives an American flavour to the album, and it’s not hard to see why Elektra became interested in them. – A.M.

Live gig at QEH: 29 October 1972