Dear Mr Time
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Dear Mr Time

Once described by The Essex Weekly News as “the brightest star in the local groupconstellation,” ‘Dear Mr. Time’ was at the forefront of Chelmsford prog rock bands ofthe late sixties early seventies and was the first local band ever to have a bona fidealbum release – ‘Grandfather’, by Square/EMI

Formed in September 1969 from members of two other local groups - Chris Bakerand John Clements from the Shoo String Band and Barry Everitt and Dave Sewellfrom the John MacIntyre Collection - the band toured extensively, swiftly gaining areputation for its atmospheric use of instrumentation, including 12 string guitar,glockenspiel, recorder, flute, bowed bass and even an old bellows-operatedharmonium. Germany and France were the band’s primary stomping grounds, wherethey packed out venues like the P.N. Club, Munich, and Paris's Golf Druout. Alongwith the fledgling Wishbone Ash, Dear Mr. Time became one of the two most popularBritish bands playing the French circuit that autumn. During their December tour,gendarmes lined the stage in Lille to keep the crowds back. On that same tour theband appeared on French TV.

Back on the UK circuit, they supported ‘Badfinger’ in January 1970, but, moreimportantly, won the regional heat of the Melody Maker Search contest, an annualevent to unearth new, unsigned talent.

In February, they played the Chelmsford Art Festival, sharing the Civic Theatre billwith Braintree band the ‘Lloyd’ and ‘Spice’ (soon to become Uriah Heep). The EssexChronicle were clearly impressed, describing Dear Mr. Time’s performance as “thehighlight of the concert… with the jazz-orientated ‘Paperback Writer’, withscintillating flute play by Chris Baker and well-balanced harmonies, together with theband's version of ‘A Salty Dog’ worthy of special mention". The Essex Weekly Newsconcurred, saying that Dear Mr. Time were “undoubtedly the highlight” of the show.

A return to France in April was followed by a number of Essex-based appearances,including a mid-May gig in Braintree that saw them share the bill (once again) withthe ‘Lloyd’ and a couple of recent Vertigo label signings, ‘Gracious’ and the nowrenamed ‘Uriah Heep’. It was around this juncture that Dear Mr. Time expanded to afive-piece with the addition of another former Shoo String Band member, JimSturgeon (sax, flute and guitar).

Shortly after, manager Bryan Reeve (another ex-John MacIntyre man), went toLondon to hawk some demos the band had made and bumped into producer, JimmyMiller (Rolling Stones, Traffic, Family, Spooky Tooth etc.). Miller liked what heheard and introduced Brian to his accountant, Mike Weston, who happened to besetting up his own label, Square Records. Weston's clients included a number of musicindustry insiders, among them Island boss Chris Blackwell. With the carrot ofrecording at Island studios, label distribution through EMI and the contacts Mike had,the band signed a recording deal with Square, disqualifying themselves from thenational final of the Melody Maker Search contest at the Lyceum.

Recording began at Island's Basing Street Studios, with Mike Weston producing, and continued in fits and starts all summer, using any downtime available betweensessions for the likes of Led Zeppelin, Free, Traffic and Curved Air.

In keeping with the Spirit of the prog-rock age, the album the band made,Grandfather, was a concept album. Rooted in the First World War, it told the story ofone man’s life from birth to death. The songs were self-penned and featured theband’s usual diverse instrumentation, augmented by a mellotron, a cello and a Frenchhorn. After the final track was laid, in September, Dear Mr. Time returned to the road,supporting ‘Ginger Baker’s Airforce’, before co-headlining at the Marquee with 'Legend'.

When ‘Grandfather’ was released in February 1971 it received good reviews,particularly from the highly influential ‘Melody Maker’, whose reviewer wrote; “Asalbum conceptions become more ambitious, so standards of judgement becomeharsher. This one makes it. It’s an album to listen to. The ideas incorporated in thelyrics are imaginative. The music is carefully stitched into the fibre of the album.Although a large amount of instruments is used, there’s nothing that’s superficial.Most of the songs are written by Chris Baker (lead guitar). His lyrics are simple andeffective.

However, all was not well. Square had no marketing strategy. There was nopromotional tour. Even in the band’s local stronghold, record shops were unaware ofthe album’s release. To cap it all, the vinyl cut was awful, the sound tinny; the recordeven jumped grooves in a couple of places. Nail followed nail until the coffin was sealed, both for the album and for the band.Contractually hamstrung by a company in which they had lost all faith, Dear Mr. Timedisbanded.

Barry Everitt pursued a career in the Poster and Fine Art world, Dave Sewell turned tofarming and Jim Sturgeon to retail. Only Chris Baker and John Clements continued inmusic full time, teaming up again in the mid-seventies to become the mainstays of‘Marty Wilde and the Wildcats’ for the next sixteen years, while Chris also becameinvolved in the business side of music, studio management and production.

However, Dear Mr. Time’s wheel had not stopped turning. By the new millennium original copies of ‘Grandfather’ had become highly sought-after on the psychedelic/progressive rock element of the collectors market, selling for up to $300. Tracks appeared on compilations like the ‘Perfumed Garden’ and ‘Psychedelic Sixties London Underground’. Videos featuring music from Grandfather began appearing on youtube.Pirated CDs followed, at first from Germany, and then worldwide. Then, in 2010, vintage prog. rock label Wooden Hill/Tenth Planet picked up the rights, digitally remastered the album from the original tapes and officially re-released it. A new vinyl version followed in 2012 from German company Mayfair Music.

Buoyed by the renewed interest, three of the original band members, Chris, Barry and John, teamed up again to make a brand new album. The result was ‘Brontosaurs and Bling’, released in 2015. Now they’re close to completing their third album, while, in Japan, ‘Grandfather’ is about to achieve its first ever release.

The band have a website: and a Dear Mr. Time facebook page. Both ‘Grandfather’ and ‘Brontosaurs and Bling’ are available to download from all major sites including itunes, Amazon and Spotify and in CD form from Amazon and other online retailers and on vinyl (Grandfather) from Mayfair Music GmbH.

YouTube -DEAR MR TIME Grandfather 01 Birth The Beginning 02 Out Of Time