If Unicorn had come from California rather than Surrey their entry in the musical history books would have been substantially fatter.
Chiefly remembered now through their association with Pink Floyd‘s David Gilmour – who produced their second and third albums – Unicorn could and should have been as big as The Eagles – or Poco at the very least.
Based around the songwriting of Ken Baker, Unicorn’s songs drew from both rock and country, with a sound not miles away from what another British group, Brinsley Schwarz, was making.
After years of effort under other names – they were The Late Edition as far back as 1968 and toured Britain as backing band to Billy J Kramer – the group released their debut LP Uphill All The Way in 1971, paying homage to some of the best songwriters of the era, such as Jimmy Webb, Joe Cocker, Neil Young and Gerry Rafferty.
Trevor Mee left the band to move to Guernsey and was replaced by Kevin Smith. The group then began touring Europe – playing in Italy, Sweden and the Netherlands.
Their second album, Blue Pine Trees (1974), revealed a band in thrall to the keening, glittering textures of the Clarence White-era Byrds (Sleep Song and the title track), the stoical melancholia of Fairport Convention (Autumn Wine) and the communal warmth of Lindisfarne (Electric Night).
Just Wanna Hold You, meanwhile, was as bruised and pretty as anything on the first Big Star album.
Too Many Crooks (1976) presented a superior set of Ken Baker songs of the calibre of Disco Dancer, the title track and No Way Out Of Here, which Gilmour thought highly enough of to cover on his first solo album in 1978.
Another album, One More Tomorrow, was released in 1977, with Muff Winwood taking the producer role on a number of tracks.
But by mid-1977 the emergence of punk rock spelt the kiss of death for their soft rock/country-rock sound – with their popularity on the wane they eventually decided to call it a day.
Guitar, keyboards, vocals
Bass, guitar, vocals
Guitar, mandolin, vocals