Appletree Theatre Playback
March 31, 2008
In 1974 I found myself in a record shop in Liverpool. The friend I was with at the time purchased an LP. I didn’t realise then that I would spend the next 30 plus years searching for another copy for myself.
The UK cover.
Originally released in 1968 in the UK, (probably earlier in the USA) “Playback” by “Appletree Theatre” received virtually no advertising or radio play in the UK at the time. (I have a tape recording of John Peel on BBC Radio One enthusing about the LP when it was first released and then ironically proceeding to play the only track on the record that I don’t consider to be a masterpiece.)
Yes, I consider this record (although very much of its time) to be on a par with the Beatle’s “Sgt Pepper”. Back in 1974 I made a tape recording of my friend’s LP with my (t)rusty Philips Open Reel to Reel Tape Recorder, using the well-proven method of dangling the microphone in front of the speakers. (There was no line out/aux connections on our ancient equipment then!)
The USA cover.
This mono tape recording (complete with a background of doors shutting/mumbled voices and the odd cough) was played repeatedly over the next 30 years. It was subsequently transferred to a cassette tape and eventually to a recordable audio CD. Despite visiting umpteen record shops and record fairs over the years I never ever saw another copy of this wonderful record. I never even found any mention of the group in any books on the history of pop music in the 1960s. I watched as every crap LP was given a CD re-issue.. everything except this one!!
John and Terence Boylan.
Even more puzzling to me was the fact that the band never issued a follow up. I concluded that the band members must now be in some super group like the Eagles or something and had airbrushed their first dips into music out of history.
A couple of years ago I contacted one of those adverts in “Record Collector” magazine that offer to find records for you. I didn’t hold out much hope and after 6 months of silence had given up. Then, out of the blue a letter! A copy of this obscurity had been located!!
After 32 years of looking I finally had my own copy and in stereo too. Ironically a few months later I Googled the name of the band and at last got a hit!! The main instigator of “Appletree Theatre”, Terence Boylan, now had his own web site. Not only that, he had re-issued “Playback” on CD himself and he could sell me a copy. You can buy this forgotten gem here. In another 40 years this CD itself will be a sought-after artifact.