The crystal-toned original vocalist from Fairport Convention and the keyboard player from Them (perhaps Britain’s toughest R&B band) certainly made for an unconventional pairing. But the album which Judy Dyble and Jackie McAuley recorded as Trader Horne stands as one of the most charming and enjoyable products ever to emerge from the English folk underground.
McAuley had struggled to escape Them’s shadow, releasing a self-titled album with The Belfast Gypsies in 1967 before turning his interests towards folk and writing a number of whimsical, unusual songs.
Naming themselves Trader Horne after both an obscure sea captain and John Peel‘s nanny, their sole LP (Morning Way) combined naive nursery rhyme-flavoured ditties (Jenny May, Sheena) with oddly morose ballads (Morning Way, The Mutant) and upbeat pop (The Mixed-Up Kind, Better Than Today) to considerable effect.
Though the whole record was beautifully arranged, played and sung, its most atmospheric feature is perhaps the disembodied, echo-laden piano that drifts in and out between tracks, lending the proceedings a disconcertingly dreamy effect.
Following the album’s release on Dawn (Pye’s underground subsidiary), the duo toured relentlessly, but neither the album nor their two singles caught on, and eventually, Dyble departed.
She was replaced by Saffron Summerfield, though that line-up did not record anything.
The following year, McAuley released a jazzy solo LP, also on Dawn, but it too failed to find a wide audience.
McAuley continues to write and teach music, while Judy Dyble drifted out of the music industry for decades until she returned in 2004 with her first album in 34 years, Enchanted Garden. She recorded three more limited-release albums, Spindle, The Whorl and Talking With Strangers.
Judy Dyble passed away on 12 July 2020 at the age of 71. She had lung cancer in the years leading up to her death and revealed the diagnosis in November 2019 when she began chemotherapy.
Vocals, electric autoharp, piano
Vocals, guitar, harpsichord, organ, piano, flute, congas, celesta