For just five years following their formation inPentangle did extraordinary things with traditional songs, adding complex guitar parts up front and varied rhythmic patterns behind. Folk music became something entirely other than the finger-in-the-ear, droning voices, and grudgingly-accepted acoustic guitar of most folk music to that point. LP for me they were the gateway drug, the necessary ear training so that I was ready for what came next. And what came next was Fairport Convention.
Oddly, Pentangle and Fairport were in lockstep in those early years. They both formed inand both released their classic albums, Basket of Light and Liege and Lief in In a way, I bought Liege and Lief because of Basket of Lightbecause Pentangle had shown me how inventive and exciting folk music could be so I was ready to try this other highly praised reinvention of folk.
Liege and Lief was nothing short of a revelation, a pounding, thrilling piece of rock music. A few years later, when I was at university, I got into one of those long, rambling, late night conversations at a party at a house way out in the middle of nowhere outside Portstewart.
I bought Transatlantic samplers, so I was familiar with the work of people like Mr Fox, and I had a few Steeleye Span albums, though other than Below the Salt I got tired of them very quickly.
Pentangle, of course, only lasted a few years, and I got every album they released though I never saw them live when they were reincarnated with different personnel some years later I had no interest in them at all. Fairport I followed for a few years.
I got the two albums that preceded Liege and LiefWhat We Did on Our Holidays which is okay and Unhalfbricking which is excellent, and at one point I even had a copy of their first LP with Judy Dyble on vocals, but she never worked for me as a singer. After Liege and Lief I kept up with them for a while LP their innumerable personnel changes. But the departure of Sandy Denny was something that, so far as I was concerned, they never really recovered from, though the departure of Ashley Hutchings at the same time was no great loss because the addition of Dave Pegg on bass more than made up for it.
Post-Fairport I followed Sandy Denny through Fotheringay and her solo work The North Star Ravens and the Grassman remains for me an absolute classic, though there are songs on each of her other three albums that I keep returning to.
With Richard Thompson, for some reason, it was more hit and miss. I skipped Henry the Human Fly until quite a few years later, but I did get the albums he made with Linda Thompson, of which the first, I Want to See the Bright Lights Tonightand the last, Shoot Out the Lightsan interesting circularity of titles there, given the rise and collapse of their relationship are clearly the best.
And I followed him intermittently into his solo Album) the early compilation, guitar, vocal is essentialbut I missed out on more albums than I ever bought. Even so, I continue to rate Thompson as one of the great guitar geniuses of our age, and a songwriter of rare power. Have I seen him live? I know I have seen his son, Teddy Thompson, in concert, but was he accompanying his father? Must have been, but the picture in my mind is blurred and fuzzy. What follows, a career that has so far lasted another odd years, might generate the usual showbusiness anecdotes, but the story itself was essentially over.
And he is right in that: the story lies in how he got going rather than in what he did when he got there. It is the relatively narrow focus — a period of less than ten years taken from a career of over 50 years, and a life of over 70 years — that makes this book work.
And those ten years contain all the dynamics, the interplay, the discovery, that we want to read about. There are other well-known incidents that acquire a little more detail in the telling here.
We learn that he barely knew the groupie Jeannie Franklyn when she attached herself to him, and after a couple of weeks together he seems to have been on the point of splitting with her when she accompanied them to a gig in Birmingham. The death of Lamble had a far greater effect on Thompson and the rest of the group. Thompson and Swarb were making their first attempt to write songs together.
They had two pieces of music they were working on, one was fast paced and one was slow paced. Clive JamesPete Atkin. To actually lay hands on these imported albums you usually had to have that same friend at the local record shop be willing to special-order it for you, and more often then not you had to drop a deposit or at least pay for the shipping up-front.
And after all that you often had no way of knowing if 1 the album would actually appear, and 2 whether it would be any good. Today albums from artists like the Morrigan on labels like English Garden can be ordered on-line and delivered via UPS in a few days. In fact these guys have some similarities to both of those bands with their blend of Celtic- laced rhythms, traditional English folk influences and more modern arrangements.
Even with major label promotion I doubt if these guys would ever amass a large enough fan base to get rich or anything, but this is a decent album anyway. This was the first album the band released on an actual label; prior to that they had a couple of releases on cassette that were recorded using mostly amateur equipment that also ended up being pirated to vinyl elsewhere in Europe.
Good thing too since those bootlegs brought the band to the attention of English Garden records, which bankrolled this release and have since reissued the rest of the catalog. Three stars…by ClemofNazareth. Indeed, in many ways the present album would have made more sense as a follow-up to the debut, Spirit Of The Soup, than as a follow-up to Rides Out. A couple of songs on Wreckers actually appeared already on the debut in earlier and different versions.
This is, after all, a more varied and more eclectic album than the debut and the quality of the material and recordings is improved. However, the progressive aspects LP the previous album are much less evident here. Steeleye Span and similar classic British Folk Rock bands still seem to be the primary inspiration, but the symphonic, Camel-like feel of Rides Out is nowhere to be found on Wreckers.
Rather, this is a moderately eclectic mix of traditional British and Celtic Folk, straightforward Rock and some jazzy leanings. Regrettably, they mostly alternate between these different styles rather than fusing them together into something genuinely new and original.
Both songs tell gripping stories. The present version is jazzy and almost funky! When The Rain Comes Down is also a bit funky with its almost reggae-rhythm. Wheels Turning is the only real Rock number of the album, and it is a rather straightforward affair that I find somewhat out of place on the album despite a decent instrumental break. The line-up is filled out by a drummer called Arch, a flautist called Mervyn B.
Again, several of the members provide keyboards and backing vocals. Overall, I find this album less interesting and less consistent than the previous Rides Out and I also think that subsequent albums would be improving over the present one. This is thus not the best place to start you investigation of this unfairly overlooked band. Recommended to all who likes eclectic and unconventional, but not necessarily progressive, Folk Rock….
The band had been in intermittent activity for over a decade at this point, and the band experience is reflected here fully, although there is still the feeling that things could have been improved upon further. Instead here, there is the energy that was lacking on the debut, but conveyed through the Celtic instrumentation of the recorder and a myriad of other folky instruments.
Leading this foray into the Celtic culture is vocalist Cathy Alexander, who has not changed up her act much since the debut, but remains a strong singer that really works for the sound of The Morrigan. No comments:. Newer Post Older Post Home. Subscribe to: Post Comments Atom. Cassette Deck. Crazy with music. Revolver Maps.
Iggy Pop. Bob Dylan. Suzi Quatro. Which is another problem with the book, it is unfocussed, the subject drifts. It may be that those who like Ghost Box will find the final chapters of the book enthralling, but for me they have moved away from the area I was particularly interested in.
Which to my mind makes the book over-long odd pages and rather bitty. Clive JamesPete Atkin. But the curious thing about playing the same songs over and over again is that at first you lose the sense of the words because all of your concentration is on the chords.
Then, suddenly, the words click back into focus and you start to see them in fresh ways. So much so that I think some songs would probably be almost incomprehensible to a modern audience without a gloss.
For anyone half my age? So the resonances in this verse are going to be missed. Bonfire Night is on 5th November or, more commonly, the closest Saturday to that date. This is a pre-Christian festival of light that was adopted to celebrate the arrest of Guy Fawkes and the prevention of the Gunpowder Plot.
The practice was to make a guy, a figure made of old clothes stuffed with straw or something else combustible, which would be burned on top of the bonfire. During the week or two before Bonfire Night, children would take their guy around the neighbourhood collecting pennies for the guy; the pennies would then be used to buy fireworks for the event. That the girl in the song is asking for a shilling 12 penniestwelve times the going rate, Album) therefore a sign of her entrepreneurship.
And that she is asking for money in September places it around a month ahead of the usual time. The girl has probably stolen the hat, and may well, at the end, put it on the head of the guy to be burned.
So in a few lines we learn an awful lot about the characters in the song and about their milieu, but all in terms that have lost their meaning, their social context, over the nearly 50 years since it was written.
It has to be essential reading for any fan of perhaps the finest songwriting team of the late twentieth century, if only because of the dearth of other material. So here are a few other things about the music of Pete Atkin and Clive James. Their music seems to have been an intimate part of my entire life, and in such circumstances there are no real beginnings. The first album I got was Driving Through Mythical Americawhich I must have picked up back in or 72 soon after it came out.
I only ever saw them perform live once, in so long ago? The songs hold up better than anything else from that era. In interviews, Clive James has said he is prouder of his songwriting than his poetry; I understand the feeling, but what makes the songs so good is that they are written with a poetic rather than a lyrical sensibility. The words were always written first, then Pete Atkin would spend days, sometimes weeks or even longer fitting music to them.
It was only when I started trying to play it on guitar that I realised just how richly complex his music is. They began writing songs as undergraduates at Cambridge, and there is always an edge of undergraduate cleverness about their stuff, but were they too clever? Yet at pretty much the same time Leonard Cohen was being equally clever in his lyrics.
Was it the jazz infusion that Atkin brought into so many of the songs? But Joni Mitchell was being jazzy and popular Album) the same time. They had devoted fans, including people like John Peel, but it never translated into high sales. My own theory was that the mood of the songs was at odds with what people wanted from popular song. The overwhelming mood evoked by their early albums is pathos: they were songs about failure, death, loss, often comic in effect but pathetic nevertheless.
There were, for instance, no straightforward love songs. Another night I bring the flowers and the wine Has slipped away There were only three to dine And two to stay. Apart from the chance of the driver accepting a cheque For crashing his loco so I could be brave in the wreck To boldly encounter this creature was not in my power So my heart mended and broke in the course of an hour.
And it is not just love that is imbued with this fatalistic tone. There are any number of songs about death and defeat:. You spun the crown away into a ditch And saw the water close The army that you fed now feeds the crows A king at nightfall.
He was generally respected, and the proof Was a line of hired Humbers tagging quietly behind A fat Austin Princess with carnations on the roof. When on the outskirts of the town Comes bumping cavernously down Out of the brick gateway From the faded mansion on the hill The out-of-date black Cadillac With the old man crumpled in the back That time has not yet found the time to kill.
But I wish they were as careful transcribing the lyrics. And these people are supposed to be listening carefully to what is going on. Film references constantly crop up in his work, most interestingly, to my ears, in Driving Through Mythical America. America is not a real place, but a melange of film references. The real urgent moral and political purpose that got the four students at Kent State killed is overwhelmed by the pretend America that is created by a diet of Hollywood movies.
Through screens of memory you leave me Smile on the screen behind And then the screen behind the screen behind the screen But nothing alters what has been Nor do my eyes deceive me. The problem with an exercise like this is that there is no limit.
Of course there are problems, one of the things that makes the lyrics so alive is that they are of the moment as much as they are timeless. Would a reference to duty-free allowances in The Prince of Aquitaine —. I have brought them all the plunder of the international jets An envelope of sugar and two hundred cigarettes.
Is a line like this, in A King At Nightfall —. And yet the songs work for me, probably better than any others. They make me laugh, they make me wonder; at times the writing is extraordinarily beautiful, at other times it is delightfully colloquial. I keep playing them over, on my music system, on my guitar, or just in my head. They do what the very best songs are supposed to do.
But the bits that I was interested in are very good indeed. Tags Clive JamesPete Atkin. And one of the most syntactically convoluted sentences in popular song also ends in death: When on the outskirts of the town Comes bumping cavernously down Out of the brick gateway From the faded mansion on the hill The out-of-date black Cadillac With the old man crumpled in the back That time has not yet found the time to kill.
Would a reference to duty-free allowances in The Prince of Aquitaine — I have brought them all the plunder of the international jets An envelope of sugar and two hundred cigarettes — require an explanatory footnote nowadays?
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