Sunday, March 7, 2010

California Nightmare: Our Lives In Cliffs Notes

California Nightmare was a British folk rock band with traditional influences. The original band was active in the late 1960s and early 1970s and a later version during the late 1980s until the early 2000s. The band was known for songs with controversial lyrics that often resulted in their music being banned from radio play.

The original line-up, which was unchanged throughout the band's first incarnation (1967–1973), was: Marcy Woodcock, vocals; Albert Gross, guitar; Benny Coates, guitar; Allistair Bean, double bass; and Kuwana Mutabi, drums. A new group featuring Woodcock, Coates, Bean and two uncredited musicians was formed in 1987. In 1998, Woodcock quit the band and was replaced by Eurovision finalist Ellen Caan.

The name California Nightmare was chosen by the band as a swipe at American folk rock group The Mamas & the Papas, who recorded the hit song California Dreamin' in 1965. The band felt that the pop sound of the American group was not authentic and worthy of derision. However, California Nightmare never achieved the success of the group they ridiculed.

In 2007, the original members of the band were reunited to receive a Lifetime Achievement award at the BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards and to record a short concert that was broadcast on BBC radio. In June 2008, the band, comprising all five original members, embarked on a twelve date UK tour. Tragically, their small plane crashed on approach to Gatwick Airport and all aboard were killed.

In 2009, Our Lives In Cliffs Notes, a box set of California Nightmare's recordings from 1967 to 1998, was released. Recordings featuring the vocals of Ellen Caan were not included in the collection. This was controversial due to the fact that Cliffs Notes, the only one of the band's songs to chart in the United States, was originally recorded by Caan in 1999.
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