Thursday, 24 November 2016

"Nicely Out Of Tune" by LINDISFARNE (2004 EMI/Virgin/Charisma 'Expanded Edition' CD - Kathy Bryan Remaster) - A Review by Mark Barry...

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"...Alan In The River With Flowers..."

"...It's all right Lady Eleanor..." Well on the evidence presented here - indeed it is. Newcastle's Lindisfarne made a wonderful Folk-Rock sound - similar in many ways to Matthews Southern Comfort, Brinsley Schwarz, Fotheringay and even at times John Martyn.

Re-listening to their November 1970 debut album "Nicely Out Of Tune" in November 2016 (46 years after the event) and you're struck by the accomplished songwriting - the warmth of the melodies - and especially the lovely audio on this 2004 CD Remaster (done at Abbey Road). In fact I'm thinking it's a bit of a lost and forgotten classic. And I love the way this Virgin/Charisma CD reissue has used the 'Pink Scroll Label' variant of 'The Famous Charisma Label' on the CD aping the appearance of the rare November 1970 original British LP (Charisma CAS 1025). Here are the Roads To Kingdom Come...

UK released May 2004 - "Nicely Out Of Tune" by LINDISFARNE on EMI/Virgin/Charisma CASCDR 1025 (Barcode 724357990226) is an 'Expanded Edition' CD Remaster with Two Bonus Tracks and plays out as follows (52:53 minutes):

1. Lady Eleanor
2. Road To Kingdom Come
3. Winter Song
4. Turn A Deaf Ear
5. Clear White Light (Part 2)
6. We Can Swing Together [Side 2]
7. Alan In The River With Flowers
8. Down
9. The Things I Should Have Said
10. Jackhammer Blues
11. Scarecrow Song
Tracks 1 to 11 are their debut studio album "Nicely Out of Tune" - released November 1970 in the UK on Charisma Records CAS 1025 (Pink Scroll Label variant) - Produced by JOHN ANTHONY. It was reissued January 1972 on the Charisma 'Mad Hatter' Label variant with the same catalogue number - this version rose to No. 8 on the UK LP charts.

NOTE: The American LP was belatedly issued late September 1971 on Elektra EKS-74099 and was also called "Nicely Out Of Tune". But it not only featured different 'upgraded' die-cut artwork on the front and rear and a lyric inner bag (no lyrics appeared with the UK issue) - but was reputedly remixed. It also featured an altered Side 2 track list that ran as - "We Can Swing Together", "Float Me Down The River", "Down", "Nothing But The Marvellous" and "Scarecrow Song". "Float Me Down The River" is "Alan In The River With Flowers" under another name and if you use the Bonus Track of "Nothing But The Marvellous Is Beautiful"- you can also sequence that US album variant from this CD. The supposed American remix is still absent from CD - this disc uses UK tapes.

12. Knackers Yard Blues - non-album B-side to "Clear White Light - Part 2" - UK 7" single released September 1970 on Charisma CB 137
13. Nothing But The Marvellous Is Beautiful - non-album B-side to "Lady Eleanor" - UK 7" single released January 1971 on Charisma CB 153

ALAN HULL - Lead Vocals, Acoustic and 12-String Guitar, Piano, Electric Piano and Organ
ROD CLEMENTS - Electric Bass, Organ, Piano, Violin, Guitar and Vocals
RAY JACKSON - Vocals, Mandolin and Harmonica
SIMON COWE - Lead Acoustic, 12-String Guitars, Mandolin, Banjo and Vocals
RAY LAIDLAW - Drums and Percussion

The gatefold slip of paper gives only the basic album details with two black and white photos in the centre spread of our heroes giving it some live welly at some festival somewhere. While the inlay is lo-fi and cheap - the KATHY BRYAN Remaster carried out at Abbey Road is nothing of the sort. This album sounds gorgeous - alive and full of warmth and melody - a superb transfer. Let's get to the music...

Charisma tried "Clear White Light – Part 2" as the band’s debut 45 in September 1970. Charisma CB 137 came with the non-album "Knackers Yard Blues" on the flipside (the first of two bonus tracks presented here) – but it sank without notice. In January 1971 the famous types at Charisma tried again but this time with "Lady Eleanor" backed with another non-LP B-side "Nothing But The Marvellous is Beautiful" (the second bonus track) – but again it initially received no joy. But when Lindisfarne’s second album - October 1971's "Fog On The Tyne" unexpectedly went all the way to No. 1 in the UK on the strength of the "Meet Me On The Corner" 7” single (Charisma CB 173, February 1972) – Charisma resurrected "Lady Eleanor" in May 1972 and were promptly rewarded by a UK No. 3 placing on the Pop charts. What is surprising now is that Joe Public didn’t seem to notice (or perhaps hear) the first time around?

Its writer ALAN HULL also penned six other songs on the 11-cut LP - "Winter Song", "Clear White Light – Part 2", "We Can Swing Together" (another of the album’s anthems), "Alan In The River With Flowers", "Down", "Scarecrow Song" and the B-side "Nothing But The Marvellous Is Beautiful". The other creative force in the band was ROD CLEMENTS who penned the truly lovely "Road To Kingdom Come" – a song so good THE BAND might give it a begrudging nod. On the LP Roderick also contributed "The Things I Should Have Said" and the first non-album B-side – the jaunty "Knackers Yard Blues". The other two LP cuts are cover versions – Rab Noakes for "Turn A Deaf Ear" – a song Noakes wouldn’t release himself until his fourth LP "Never Too Late" on Warner Brothers K 56114 in April 1975 – and Woody Guthrie’s Traditional "Jackhammer Blues".

Highlights are many but the simplicity and beauty of "Winter Song" gets me every time while the speaker-to-speaker panning of "Alan In The River With Flowers" also makes great use of their unique harmonising. I could probably live without the jugband-whomp of Woody's "Jackhammer Blues" – better is the Rod Clements ballad "The Things I Should Have Said" where he meets a new lady but each is waiting for the silence to be broken as the sparks in the campfire start to fade. "We Can Swing Together" has become something of an anthem for the band – Jackson's growl and Harmonica making the 'roll your own' lyrics feel like a shanty-sailor-song – Dutch courage press-ganged kids drunk and pining for home. And that Bass/Mandolin break at the end of "Lady Eleanor" is middle-eight genius.

"Nicely Out Of Tune" has always been in the shadow of its more famous follow-up – 1971's "Fog On The Tyne" – a Number One album back when such things mattered and took serious sales to achieve. But I'm thinking its time to call both albums sweethearts ("Dingly Dell" too for that matter).

"...Didn’t think there could be more..." – Lindisfarne sang on the hypnotic and ethereal "Lady Eleanor" Turns out there is...

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