In 1993 Mother Earth were a large part of my life. DJing with them through Japan, trying to get them signed to an American deal in New York’s hottest July on record, and drinking far too much Jack Daniels at an indeterminable number of European festivals. But most of all we were trying to finish this album. We knew that, with the band’s lead singer Matt Deighton developing as a wonderful songwriter, and the unit clicking together, that there was a great one in there. We just weren’t sure if we would find it.
The sleeve notes of this deluxe reissue of the album tell the story, through the recollections of Matt, organist Bryn Barklam, album producer and Acid Jazz label owner Ed Piller, and my own. You can read how a studio-based recording project spiralled outwards into an epic album production – using the finest analogue technology – influenced by Eugene McDaniels, Traffic and Maxayn. How the band developed into an incredible live unit, but lost one of its finest songwriting talents half way through, and how a diminutive keyboardist wrote a brilliant single in a Shephards Bush bath. It is all in there, along with the reasoning behind using renowned Rolling Stones snapper Gerard Mankowitz to create the perfect cover.
However the most important part is the music, which is the ultimate blend of soul and rock influences allied to some fantastic playing and jaw-dropping melodies. Two songs in particular Jesse and Apple Green are incredible works; unheralded classics that if there was any justice would have been big hits. These are songs that you just have to hear. In fact the whole album captures a moment before Brit-pop, where bands were taking interesting influences and blending them to create viable way forward for rock music. Along with Paul Weller’s “Wild Wood” and Primal Scream’s “Give Out But Don’t Give Up” it was a record that was retro in a wide-ranging, mad scientist in the laborartory sort of way, rather than the Beatles, Who, Kinks straight-ahead route that was about to take over.
We have augmented the original album with a disc (+ 1 track) of B-sides, EP tracks, alternate versions, that show the progress of the recording over its extended year and a bit of recording. This allows you to hear beautiful alternate versions of the above two tracks, a mad unreleased funk-rock workout and the template great Life Eternal (Headf**k) rom the band’s follow-up album “You Have Been Watching”.
“People Tree” came out in February 1994 and was a reasonable success, selling well across the world without ever breaking the band in a big way. It should have set them up for the next step up the ladder that never came.
By Dean Rudland