Dick’s Picks: An obscure, private press rarity from underground enigma, Agincourt

Fly Away by Agincourt is a very rare and highly sought after limited edition 1970 UK-only private press 13-track vinyl LP on the Merlin imprint. This is an original first press with rough textured blue label and ‘ridge’, complete with die-cut poly patent plain inner sleeve, homemade wraparound picture sleeve and paper lyric insert.

Unlike many privately pressed discoveries made in recent years, this super cult vinyl LP lives up to the hype, blending hazy, pastoral folk vibes and femme-vox [with a hint of psychedelia for good measure!]. Written and produced by two amateur musicians, John Ferdinando and Peter Howell [BBC Radiophonic Workshop], Howell’s budding musical/engineering prowess is put to good use here, putting the pairs newly acquired Revox Tape Machine through its paces resulting in a surprisingly accomplished recording, in fact a much higher standard than usual with privately pressed LPs. Incredibly, Howell and Ferdinando would go on to mastermind five legendary privately pressed albums, all under assumed names: Tomorrow Come Someday, Alice Through the Looking Glass, Ithaca and Friends. All of their recordings were pressed in tiny double-digit quantities [pressing any more than 99 copies made you liable for a tax bill] and were given out to friends and family. It is difficult to know exactly how many of this LP were pressed but it would appear to be around fifty copies only, how many have survived, even less.

The sleeve is made from thin paper stock and is hand-made. The labels are the original blue ‘rough’ textured variety with the ‘ridge’ both sides, confirming first issue. The matrices in the run-outs are machine stamped, reading: HF3 6532A/6532B

All four Ferdinando and Howell privately pressed LPs [Friends only got to acetate stage] sell for around the £1500 upwards mark on the extremely rare occasions they surface for sale. The heavyweight vinyl has been professionally cleaned on a top of the line Matrix machine.

There are said to be only a few surviving copies, and they simply never appear on the market.

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