In fact, experiencing Chateau de Bertangles became the inspiration for Angus' song, “Summer Weekend of a Lifetime”.
After returning from France the band was back in the studio again, this time at the BBC's Playhouse Theatre, where they recorded three songs for Radio 1's “Sounds of the 70s” broadcast on the 15th of June. Recently, a cassette recording of the broadcast was rediscovered.
Orchestral elements were added to several album cuts on 11th September at Wessex, the studio where “Cressida” was recorded. Graeme Hall wrote the arrangements and conducted the orchestra on the tracks, which included solos from Harold McNair, a brilliant and respected jazz flautist. His superb fills on “Lisa” earned him a credit on the album sleeve. However, contrary to what has been written, he was never a member of Cressida, but simply a session player brought in for one song. Similarly, the credits listed Paul Layton on acoustic guitar. Paul was a friend of both Ossie and the band, and had loaned Angus a guitar for some of the songs but he, too, was never a band member.
During the “Asylum” sessions, Cressida continued to perform at clubs and colleges, both around London and further afield in Northampton, Blackpool, Sheffield. In July they appeared for the first time at Mothers Club in Birmingham. The audience was so enthusiastic that the promoter immediately rebooked the group to return in August and September.
At the end of September, the band travelled to Switzerland for a concert before moving on to Holland to start a major tour that Vertigo had put together featuring Black Sabbath, Cressida, and May Blitz. From 27th September to 5th October they performed in Rotterdam, Liege, Charleroi, Ghent (where Manfred Mann's Chapter 3 replaced May Blitz), Brussels and Koln in Germany.
Following the tour, the mood within the Cressida camp had grown increasingly despondent. Although the first album had been well-received by the critics, and had sold in sufficient numbers for Vertigo to give the go-ahead for “Asylum”, manager Ossie Byrne had failed to secure a sufficient amount of regular bookings to sustain the band's operation.
The band members went their separate ways in November of 1970, and the brief career of Cressida came to an end. Ironically, their second album was released in 1971 several months after the band broke up. In many ways “Asylum” was critically received even more positively than the first album-who knows what the group might have achieved had they remained together.
Angus and Iain remained close friends, living at one point at the same village in the Scottish Highlands. After concerted efforts to contact their former band mates to give them royalties collected on their behalf from Cressida's CD re-issues, they finally made contact with them all. From his home near Los Angeles, California, Kevin had been trying to get back in touch with everyone for years, finally hiring a private detective on the Internet who found Angus. Peter was in London and John Heyworth had moved to Portland, Oregon. Sadly, John passed away in January 2010, but one of the last things he did was locate John Culley and put him in touch with the rest of the guys too.
Within a short time Iain joined Uriah Heep, Kevin became a member of Tranquility and John C. moved on to Black Widow. With the breakup of the band, Cressida became a footnote in the history of British rock music, until a new generation of “prog-rock” fans heard their songs and realized what fine music they had made.
At the end of May, Cressida went to France to play at a formal Ball, to be held in the grounds of the Chateau de Bertangles near Amiens. They stayed at the imposing estate for a couple of days as guests of the owners, before playing in a massive marquee erected especially for the event.
Vertigo was pleased with the reaction to the band's first album and agreed that they should record a follow-up. The band began rehearsing songs for a new album, and at the end of June, 1970 checked into IBC Studios to start work on their second album, “Asylum”. Angus was now writing most of Cressida's material, but Peter contributed to provide what was to become one of the most memorable tracks on the album, “Munich”. With their increasing confidence in the studio environment, the group played a more significant role in the production of “Asylum”. Additionally, they began to move away from the short 3 or 4-minute song format that characterised much of the first album, experimenting with song structures that featured unique movements and imaginative tempo changes.
The band's decision to incorporate a small orchestra into the arrangements of “Munich” and “Lisa” was evidence of an emerging versatility in Cressida's music. The highlight of the album in many people's view was the final track, “Let Them Come When They Will”. Written by John Heyworth, the song had been a tour de force for the group onstage for a long time, and they were keen to record it. With its diverse progressions, extended guitar and organ solos and percussion sequence, “Let Them Come When They Will” was nearly 12 minutes long. In contrast, the LP included short, quirky songs like “Goodbye GPO Tower” and “Survivor”-as well as an Oscar Peterson-style instrumental from Peter called “Reprieved”.
The Cressida Story
In 2007, Angus, Peter and Kevin reunited briefly in London during a short visit by Kevin. Reminiscences were traded and old photographs shared and possibilities discussed. Many thought this was the end of a story, but in 2011 a whole new chapter began.
In 2004, in an on-line interview, Mikael Akerfeldt, vocalist/guitarist with famed Swedish Grammy award winning band Opeth, was asked to list five albums of his favourite bands. Amongst them he listed Cressida saying, " I mention them because they were so incredibly good, and not just another obscure band with rare albums.". Since then he has gone on in countless interviews to namecheck Cressida as a major influence on his writing for his band Opeth. His role in bringing Cressida to the attention of a new generation of progressive music fans has been considerable.