Songwriter, Singer & Musician
story of Julian Mount's 1973 LP record album "Unsung Lies"
UNSUNG LIES, credited to WEASELSNOUT, is a stunning intimate folk album pressed by the famous Deroy label and released in 1973. Amazingly, despite its obvious musical qualities, it has yet to see a reissue. The man behind Weaselsnout was JULIAN MOUNT who spoke to AUSTIN MATTHEWS about his creation.
Julian was born in Hampstead "some years ago" and grew up in Watford, Hertfordshire. His first forays into music came through a familiar route, “I was sent to piano lessons in the ‘60s by my parents. I didn’t keep up the piano but I’m always grateful that it taught me about music, how to make it and how to read it. A friend got an acoustic guitar one day, I had a go and I was hooked! I liked simple arrangements of great songs. It was always the song that mattered to me rather than the performer. That’s still true for me now.”
Julian played in a number of bands in the late ‘60s and early ‘70s, variously called Glass Bird, The Smallest Show On Earth and Helix. He predominantly played in folk clubs however, “There were many more folk clubs in those days and I played in a great number of them in London and the South East even when I was in bands. I always played original material. I wrote my first song in 1968.”
In 1972 Julian decided to start recording a selection of his material, “The album Unsung Lies was recorded in 1972/3. I wanted to produce an album, which represented what I did in folk clubs at the time. I used a professional UHER open-reel tape machine, which I borrowed from where I worked. The album was recorded in my bedroom! There was just enough room in there for me, the recording stuff, and any “guest musicians” for specific tracks. My parents (and pets) were either out during the recording session or asked nicely to keep quiet!” Guest musicians on the album were David Barnett (lead guitar), Mike Woolley (rhythm guitar), Steven Kerridge (twelve string guitar) and Gary Richardson (percussion). Julian provided vocals, six and twelve string guitars and wrote all the words and music.
Taking it upon himself to get his music on vinyl, Julian hunted for a company that could fulfil his wishes, “At the time there weren’t many places that offered small run LP pressings. I used one of the two I could find. They were called Deroy Sound Service in Carnforth, Lancashire. I paid Ł1.50 for each album pressed and handled the promotion and distribution of the album too.” The album was credited to Cartoon King Enterprises (named after a song on the album) and each copy had its own reference number that started with the prefix WUS (Weaselsnout Unsung Lies). Deroy obsessives will be pleased to know that less than 100 copies were pressed and the matrix numbers on the LP are ADM 854A and ADM 854B.
The album is a wonderful document of melodic material married to deep and heartfelt lyrics delivered with gravitas and conviction. In terms of influences, Julian comments, “I was in my teens when I conceived and recorded the Unsung Lies album and full of teenage angst. All of the original songs on the album were written from my own experiences. I didn’t want to be compared to ANYONE so I made an effort to make the songs and style unique. But, despite that, my style was compared to Jake Thackray, Fred Wedlock and other singer-songwriters of the time. All of the songs on the album were original compositions (except ‘Nottamun Town’). The songs I liked best were ‘Unsung Harmonies’, ‘Ladybird’, ‘Lady Of The Water’ and ‘China Doll’.
Once completed, a friend provided the surreal black and white cover design and Julian designed the labels of the records himself. In terms of the reach of the LP, Julian recalls, “I marketed the album to friends, relations and sold them at gigs too. It was unheard of at that time for someone who didn’t have a recording contract to have an album for sale. Then, as now, record companies (aside from a very few) weren’t interested in music of my genre unless produced by well-know artistes. I sent copies to a few radio DJs. The great John Peel was kind enough to write me a nice letter wishing me well. It’s still in my scrapbook!”
That may have been the end of the story, but the album has gained the interest of record collectors and now fetches an exorbitant sum whenever auctioned. Julian comments, “I was very surprised when I first found someone selling a copy of Unsung Lies on eBay. I was even more surprised to find out the eventual price it sold for (over Ł1,000). Unsung Lies was a VERY early example of a British independent LP. I like to think listeners still like the songs on the album but I fear its main attraction is for record collectors as a rare example of an early independent LP album release.”
Julian’s fears are unfounded however, as the few who have heard the LP have given universally positive reviews. The album featured in Hans Pokora’s 4001 Record Collector Dreams book, where, as well as the 5 disc rating for rarity, it achieved the special mark denoting particular musical quality. In addition, three tracks have been posted to YouTube and have drawn appreciative comments.
Thankfully Julian’s musical career didn’t end with Unsung Lies. He comments, “In the ‘80s I released three albums on tape cassette named Standing On My Head, Face In The Darkness and Maid Du Hors D'Oeuvre. Since 2009, I have recorded and released three CDs of my songs They Used To Call Me Superman, 42 and my current CD, Julian Mount LIVE at The Watford Folk Club. In 2007, I was asked to write an ‘Anthem for Clowns”’ by the chairman of Clowns International. The resulting song ‘Big Red Noses’ is now sung by Clowns around the world!”
Still highly active today, Julian plays live whenever possible, “Even today, all these years later, playing music and writing songs is my life. I play at folk clubs (often as the guest artiste), festivals, council events, country fairs, schools, house parties and cabaret. I live alone (in a sleepy Hertfordshire village) with four acoustic guitars. I help to organise local folk clubs and open mics, local music events and other events as they arise. I’m fairly well-known on the folk music and “singer/songwriter” scene in the home counties around London.”
Of course, collectors everywhere would love to see a reissue of the Weaselsnout album and hopefully this should become a reality one day soon. Julian concludes, “Several people over the years have offered to reissue the Unsung Lies album. To date, no one has come up with an offer that I liked. I believe that some unscrupulous individuals have “pirated” the album onto CD already. I do NOT approve! I am still open to offers and I’ve recently located the master-tape!”
Julian Mount talked to Austin Matthews who originally intended this
Songwriter, Singer & Musician
Julian Mount is
available for bookings at Folk Clubs, Festivals,
House Parties, Cabaret and similar events and venues.
(Based in Hertfordshire, UK)
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