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Lindisfarne - Nicely Out Of Tune

Review: 201
Date: 5 Nov 04

 


Rating: 5 Stars

Musicians:
Rod Clements - Electric Bass, Organ, Piano, Guitars, and Vocals
Alan Hull - Vocals, Acoustic Guitar, 12 String Guitar, Organ, Piano, Electric Piano
Ray Jackson - Vocals, Mandolin, Harmonica, Flatulette
Simon Cowe - Lead, Acoustic, and 12 string Guitars, Mandolin, Banjo, and Vocals
Ray Laidlaw - Drums, Percussion, and anything else you can hit with a stick

Tracks Listing:
Lady Eleanor
Road To Kingdom come
Winter Song
Turn A Deaf Ear
Clear White Light-Part Two
We Can Swing Together
Alan In The River With Flowers
Down
The Things I Should Have Said
Jack Hammer Blues
Scarecrow Song
Knackers Yard Blues

 


Newcastle upon Tyne, England, over the years has given us some of the greats of the rock world, 'The Animals', 'The Police', and 'Geordie' to name but a few (well, perhaps Geordie weren't as great, but they did give us Brian Johnston, lead singer with AC/DC today). None of these bands were greater than 'Lindisfarne’ especially in the early seventies. In fact, in the polls carried out in 1972 by the leading English musical paper Melody Maker they were the number one band in Britain, with the Rolling Stones coming second, and Pink Floyd third.

Lindisfarne's rise to fame was as spectacular as their falling back to the ranks of the second division. It all started in 1969, in the folk clubs of Newcastle, when the very talented folk music singer/songwriter Alan Hull decided to try a few of his songs with a backing band. So he called upon his pals in a band called Bretheren (that is the correct spelling) for a few gigs and to record an album which was finally released under the marvelous moniker "Take Off Your Head And Listen".

But a re-think was in order and they re-christened to ‘Lindisfarne’. They made their debut at Newcastle City Hall in July 1970, and then, before the end of the year, released this album plus single 'Lady Eleanor' (a song that sounds like a love song, but is actually about a certain lady vampire) on the newly formed Charisma record label, along with other such upstarts at the time like 'Steamhammer', 'Van Der Graf Generator', 'Audience ', and a little theatrical rock band called 'Genesis'. Some of these bands became household names; some are now just a distant memory.

At first, sales were limited to the north-east of England, but that all changed the following year when the band started non-stop touring. By the summer they were playing at all the major festivals. They had released their second album ‘Fog on the Tyne’, which debuted on the U.K chart at number one, and had a number five hit single with the Rod Clements penned 'Meet Me On The Corner', on the strength of which Charisma rush-re-released 'Lady Eleanor'. This time it roared up the charts and was quickly followed by a re-appearance of ‘Nicely Out Of Tune’ in the album charts. But it is still 'Nicely Out Of Tune' that was their finest hour.

Of the eleven songs that were put on the original album, nine were written by Alan Hull. Songs Alan had been singing on the folk club circuit for years, but now had been given extra sharpness and clarity by his Geordie mates gathered around him. We also get one song from Rod Clements and one from band mate Rab Noakes. All of Lindisfarne were multi instrumentalists, so there was always plenty of swapping of instruments on stage.

There are protest songs mixed in with love songs, ballads, and kick up your heels barn dances. But through it all there is a feeling of fun and kindred spirit. Alan Hull singing 'The Winter Song' would send shivers down any spine. 'Clear White Light Part Two' is the first song Lindisfarne ever played together, and was the final encore when they once and for all called it a day at their final concert November 1st, 2003 - naturally at the Newcastle City Hall.

Listening to it today, it still sounds as fresh as it did thirty five years ago. 'We Can Swing Together', although written by Alan Hull, is a showcase for the voice and harmonica playing of Ray Jackson. You cannot help but sway to the rhythm, sing along with the chorus, all the time punching your fist in the air. In concert 'We Can Swing Together' would be spread out to over twenty minutes of zany musical madness.

Rod Clements only contributes one song to the original collection, a song of unrequited love, 'The Things I Should Of Said'. Fortunately one of Rod's songs that was used as a B-side to a single has been included here as a bonus track. 'Knackers Yard Blues', a song on the misery of getting older, which includes the lines:

"I bought some pictures to hang on my wall,
but like a changin' so I moved them all,
but nothing ever changes in the human race,
I can get another mirror, but it's still the same old face."

Lindisfarne's time at the top of the rock 'n' roll tree was limited. In fact, one more album after 'Fog On The Tyne', 'Dingly Dell', the band split in two in 1973. Alan Hull and Ray Jackson recruited new musicians and carried on with the Lindisfarne name, while Rod Clements, Ray Laidlaw, and Simon Cowe formed the aptly named 'Jack The Lad'. They later reformed, but the initial magic was gone. Anyway, by then Charisma were taking a bit more interest of those chaps in Genesis.

However, for English folk/rock at its absolute best, look no further than this Lindisfarne's first album.

 

Swung by Mott the Dog
Re-stepped by Ella Crew

E-mail: review@mott-the-dog.com


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