Chapter 6: A Second Album
At the end of May 1970 Cressida went back to France, this time to play at a formal ball held in the grounds of a chateau near Amiens. The Chateau de Bertangles was an imposing estate and the band stayed as guests of the owners for a couple of days, before playing in a huge marquee in the grounds.
Angus: “The Chateau was beautiful and set in stunning gardens. I can recall taking long walks on the grounds in perfect weather. It was such a peaceful place.”
It was Angus’s experience at the chateau that was the inspiration for his song, Summer Weekend of a Lifetime.
After returning from France the band went back into the studio again, this time at the BBC’s Playhouse Theatre, where, on the 15th of June, they recorded two songs for Radio 1’s Sounds of the 70s broadcast. For many years, the only copy of this broadcast was on a cassette tape.
Iain: “I found it fascinating to hear that broadcast again, although the sound quality of the tape is rather poor. It was broadcast on the David Symonds Show and we were probably at our best as a band. We played Depression, and Winter Is Coming Again on the show.”
Many years later, a BBC Transcription disc of the broadcast came to light. Around 100 copies of these discs were pressed and sent out to BBC radio stations around the world. The three Cressida tracks from this BBC session were later included on the Cressida Anthology CD released by Esoteric Records.
Meanwhile, Vertigo was pleased with the reaction to the band’s first album and quickly agreed to the recording of a second one. The band began rehearsing songs for a new album, and at the end of June 1970 went into IBC Studios in Portland Place, London to start work on it.
Although Angus was now writing most of Cressida’s material himself, Peter was also writing, ultimately contributing one of the most memorable tracks, Munich to the album. With their increasing confidence in the studio environment, the group played a larger role in the production of the album, which was titled Asylum. Cressida had also begun to move away from the short three to four-minute song format that characterised much of the first album. Instead they were experimenting with song structures, incorporating different movements and tempo changes.
The decision to incorporate a full orchestra on several of the album tracks was a departure for the band. Graeme Hall was brought in as musical director, scoring the arrangements and conducting the orchestra during the recordings that took place in September back at Wessex Studios, where the first album was recorded.
The orchestra particularly enhanced songs such as Munich and Lisa, which included instrumental contributions from the brilliant and respected jazz flautist Harold McNair, whose superb solo fills on Lisa earned him a credit on the album. However, contrary to what has been written elsewhere, he was never a member of Cressida, but brought in as a session man for a few tracks. Similarly, some websites credit Paul Layton on acoustic guitar. Paul was a friend of Ossie and he loaned Angus his acoustic guitar but he too was never a member of the band. He later went on to be a member of the New Seekers.