New Affinity CD opens window to the past

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Finding an undiscovered gem is an exciting moment, but for it to be such a quality item is even more of a rarity.
This new release on Esoteric/CherryRed is a rare thing of beauty.
Affinity were a jazz/rock/prog band from the classic 1969-72 era. They were fronted by assertive vocalist Linda Hoyle and powered by a talented band featuring the soaring organ of Lynton Naiff.
They sadly only produced one album at the time, but there is plenty of extra material here to enjoy. And buyers have the choice of the single CD version (effectively their debut LP) or the 4 CD boxset.
Affinity were clearly a touring band, and that strength comes through immediately in CD 1, with tracks like Night Flight and I Am And So Are You. The wonderful interplay between guitarist Mike Jopp and bassist Mo Foster confirm that maturity.
They are supported by class drummer Grant Serpell, but also by Led Zepp’s John Paul Jones with intriguing brass & string arrangements! They then let their hair down to attack Dylan/Hendrix classic All Along The Watchtower.
But it is Linda Hoyle’s vocals that hold your attention, strong yet subtle, deep yet light. At a time when there were so few women vocalists in this genre, it’s reassuring that Linda is clearly no shrinking violet.
[It is worth pointing out here that one gig Linda & the boys are sometimes remembered for is the Shredded Wheat advert “There are two men in my life!”:
For Hoyle fans there are a set of unreleased tracks featuring Linda, but the 2nd CD is instrumentals recorded when she was out of action (with singers’ nodes!). They are a fascinating collection mainly recorded live at Ronnie Scott’s.
CD3 is mainly early jazz pre-dating Affinity. This is the local interest moment as one track was recorded at nearby Keele University by a TV company in 1966!!
CD4 is probably of most interest to Affinity fans (I confess I’d not heard them before!) as it is effectively an unreleased albums-worth of material from 1972 with new and equally gifted vocalist Vivienne McAuliffe. This even features a couple of tracks written by a then unknown BA Robertson!
So, whether you buy the single CD or the boxset, this window to the past is definitely worth a pilgrimage!
(News story from Disc & Music Echo Feb 1971:)