Monday, 29 February 2016

Lindisfarne: Solo/Live/Rarities/Compilations Part Two: 1988-2014

Alan Hull "Another Little Adventure"

(Black Crow Records, June 1988)

Drinking Song/Money Game/United States Of Mind/Dan The Plan/Treat Me Kindly/Fly Away/Malvinas Melody//One More Bottle Of Wine/Poor Old Ireland/Evening/January Song/All Fall Down/Marshall Riley's Army/Heroes

"One more drink before we go, I've never met such fine and friendly folk you know"

Alan Hull live late 1980s style, returning to his solo catalogue (lots from 'Pipedream', plus a bit from 'Squire' and 'On The Other Side') and a handful of unexpected Lindisfarne songs (none of the hits but one lesser known tune from 'Fog On The Tyne', three songs from 'Dingly Dell'  and a song apiece from 'Back and Fourth' 'The News' and 'Dance Your Life Away'). The concert features Hull in his favoured combo as a duo, with fellow guitarist Ian McCallum. Ian wasn't that well known at the time and this was really 'Uncle Hull' with his 'talent scout' hat on giving a young whippersnapper he liked a chance, but McCallum has gone to maybe even eclipse Hull's fame after joining the band Stiff Little Fingers - he'll stay in touch with Hull and go on to write the 1994 single 'We Can Make It' together. Canny operator as he was, Hull was probably looking to capitalise on the recent fuss surrounding Lindisfarne's CD re-issue series in1988 in the cheapest way possible, although this is more cosy and intimate than purely 'low budget' with some moving performances of lots of old friends, though perhaps not quite up to the power of the similar 'Back To Basics' record to come. The album cover certainly wasn't low budget either, with Alan appearing at an airfield in front of a Avro Vulcan jetfighter about to take his head off! (Ironic then really that this concert was recorded down the road in Darlington - so not much of an adventure really!) There is just one new song, the rather average opener 'Drinking Song' (of which a band outtake can be heard on 'BT3') which is another slab of Alan Hull injustice, the magistrate locking away a desperate poor criminal stealing food while tucking into a banquet, although it doesn't quite have the bite of most Hull songs on the same subject and needs a stronger melody line to truly lodge in the brain. Not an essential purchase maybe, but a fun little concert with some great songs delivered by a cooking partnership. This Alan Hull sounds like one to watch...

Bert Jansch/Rod Clements "Leather Laundrette"

(Black Crow Records, March 1989)

Strolling Down The Highway/Sweet Rosie/Brafferton/Ain't No More Cane/Why Me?//Sundown Station/Knight's Move/Brownsville/Bogie's Bonnie Belle/Leather Laundrette/Been On The Road So Long

"Don'[t say goodbye because you know that I'm just a stranger, blown about by the wind"

Bert and Rod resumed their friendship in time for this loikeable if rather anonymous set of pure folk, with Clements getting co-billing this time though it's still very much Bert's show. Rod wrote one of the album's better tracks, 'Sundown Station', which will go on to be one of the highlights of Lindisfarne's 'unplugged' phase - a sweet song about being restless and moving on even though the life is hard (it's kind of a prologue to 'Winter Song', a hobo leaving the cares of the world behind without quite realsiing what he's in for yet). He also co-wrote two tracks with Bert, the rather oddball title track and the rather lovely instrumental 'Knight's Move' as well as arranbging a couple of folk songs. Rod also enlists the help of Marty, who adds some nice harmonies to many of the songs. It's nice to hear Rod playing acoustic and this album will prove a major stepping stone in Rod's decision to take the band in this direction in a few years, although it's a bit of an inconsistent record without reaching the peaks of either man during the best of their careers. Matters probably wereb't helped by Bert's admission years later that this was the period when he gave up drinking  - and became so crabby that only true friends like Rod had the patience to work with him! You can tell that he's not at his best, although there are sparks of his previous form still there and Rod isn't quite in the strong position to help him out yet. Still the album is far from a failure and includes plenty of interesting things from both men. It's a shame that the duo didn't do more together as they clearly had a rapport and it would have been great to see Bert and Rod at their peak working together. Bert stayed friends with Rod though and for a short time Clements was even in the reformed Pentangle (with Bert and vocalist Jacqui McShee the only founder members) before his Lindisfarne commitments got in the way - apart from his occaisonal trademark customary melodic adventurous bass, though, there's no real sign of Rod on the only album they made together, though, 'So Early In The Spring' (released later the same year) and Rod doesn't get any writing credits on the album. 

"The Best Of Lindisfarne: Sixteen Classic Tracks"

(Virgin, '1989')

Meet Me On The Corner/Lady Eleanor/All Fall Down/We Can Swing Together/Fog On The Tyne/Road To Kingdom Come/Scarecrow Song/Winter Song//Clear White Light/January Song/Down/Wake Up Little Sister/Together Forever/Alright On The Night/Go Back/Don't Ask Me

"As the day goes on and the lifts are few, we think it might take us a day or two"

While goodness knows there's still room for improvement, the original 'Best Of Lindisfarne' (the one with the rather off-putting picture of old fogeys drinking in a bar - not the 2003 set with the floral border) remains the single best one-CD guide to Lindisfarne. It only covers the Charisma era (so it's missing 'Run For Home' and all the tracks that followed) and it's still a few tracks down on perfection (where the heck is 'City Song' yet again, while I'd still personally include 'The Things I Should Have Said' and 'Poor Old Ireland' on any best-of these years) but the general mix of hits and history is better here than any other set. Like all the other compilations on Charisma the fact that the band only have three studio albums to draw on actually works in the band's favour, allowing more songs to be re-worked from each record than some compilations can afford to and showing the breadth and depth of the Lindi canon. This time there are six songs from 'Nicely Out Of Tune', six from 'Fog On The Tyne' and three from 'Dingly Dell', which is a pretty fair mixture (although I'd still have added a couple from the under-rated last set). There are no 'Lindisfarne Live' recordings this time around, but then again there's no 'Mandolin King' so it's not all bad. The result is a compilation that - the horribly generic cover aside - gives a good overview as to what Lindisfarne were all about and is a disc that deserves house-room a bit more than the compilations to follow, though it is getting a bit old now _ i'll be the first in the queue to swap it if Charisma and the label that bought them (Virgin) could get around to actually releasing a properly decent compilation with a full 80 minute timing.  Oh and a black mark for mis-spelling Simons' name as 'Si Lowe' throughout the booklet and even in the writing credits! I've learnt to always beware of compilations where fans know more than the people putting the set together do...

"Access All Areas" (CD/DVD)

(Edsel, Recorded 1990, Released March 2015)

Court In The Act/Everything Changes/Any Way The Wind Blows/Roll On That Day/Walk In The Sea/Lady Eleanor/Knacker's Yard Blues/I Want You To Be My Baby/Winning The Game/Meet Me On The Corner/Fog On The Tyne/Clear White Light (Part Two)

"You don't need a partner, just boogie, it's rock and roll from here to the end!"

One of the last concerts with the original line-up before Jacka left the band, this is a show that was recorded as a TV special made in Nottingham for ITV in 1990 but one that was abandoned. Released as a twin CD and DVD, it's a welcome souvenir of the last chance to see the band properly together on stage (and from the brief period when Steve Cunningham played with the band, mainly on bass so that Rod can add some guitar), although it's not the best gig Lindisfarne ever played by a big margin. The track listing is a little heavily weighted towards the band's last album 'Amigos' (which does at least offer a chance to hear material that's a bit more unusual to be heard live - a Mexican-style 'Everything Changes' sounds particularly good) and is low on the band's classic material. That said there a few interesting things worth having here: a neat 'Winning The Game' that packs a punch even without the studio effects of the studio version with Jacka on top form, a chaotic revival of 'Knacker's Yard Blues' that hasn't been heard in nearly two decades, a gorgeously fragile 'Walk In The Sea' (revived from Alan's 'Phantoms' album and not played by the full band before this tour) and one song exclusive to this set 'I Want You To Be My Baby', a rather noisy but fun cover of a blues song by Jon Hendricks with Jacka tackling the tongue-twisting lyrics at speed. Only a disco-fied that's mainly an excuse for Jacka to read out everybody's names falls flat on it's face, a re-arrangement too far that's close to the 'C'mon Everybody' version than the original, yet far worse (it's about the only Lindisfarne song that doesn't suit an 'everybody boogie' refrain!) Though good, it's all far from essential and there are far between live CDs and even DVDs of Lindisfarne out there, but it's nicely made with some nice packaging and a few interviews undertaken especially for the set so fans of this particular period will find much to enjoy. 

"Buried Treasure Volume I"

(Virgin, '1992')

Red Square Dance/Their Finest Hour/Together Forever/Together Crack (Speech)/Happy Or Sad/Way Behind You/Behind Crack (Speech)/Old Peculiar Feeling/True Love/Love Crack (Speech)/City Song/Rock and Roll Town/Swiss Maid/Sporting Life Blues/Karen Marie/From My Window/Window Crack (Speech)/Run Jimmy Run/Malvinas Melody/Let's Dance

"You could be my finest hour, my crowning glory, my reason to be"

With Lindisfarne in something of a lull post 'Amigos', they were unable to quite give Virgin - the new label that had bought up the rights to all of Charisma's old bands - the new product they asked for. Having already released no end of best-ofs recently somebody (nobody can quite remember who) hit upon the idea of a sort of 'alternate' best-of, full of all the bits and pieces that had fallen through the cracks in the band's career. The whole band went away to look in drawers and in cupboards and old studio catalogues were consulted to draw up a list of what exactly was out there - the result was a massive pile of demos, studio outtakes, live recordings of rare one-off songs and more pre-fame recordings from both Brethren and Alan Hull than would fit on a box set. Instead of being a one-off, the archive set ran and ran, eventually turning into three jam=packed volumes, with a fourth continually threatened by the band (and only really delayed due to the licensing rights from Lindisfarne's tricky back catalogue history - which is also why so many of the 'reunion' era tracks are here - because Lindisfarne 'owned' more of them than the 'classic' years).

This wasn't the first time a band had released a set of outtakes, but before 'Buried Treasures' most albums had tended to be collection fillers, put together by labels sour at their old bands for leaving them or made in a hurry to write off a contract so a singer could get on with something else. 'Buried Treasures' might not have seemed as if it was causing many ripples, with the band all but forgotten except by the faithful when these sets were released, but they were well praised amongst collectors who could see that Lindisfarne had done something a bit more than just rummage in a box and throw stuff together. All the songs are well annotated, with audio 'memories' linking all three albums which sounds like exactly what it is - old friends chatting over a pint - and is just the right shade of informal. There's also a fun cover shoot that was held specially for the CD where the band were dressed up as pirates (and Alan finally had the chance to hold a sword up to Si's throat in a menacing manner - it was just like the old days all over again!)

Now, like many a rarities set incoming fans might wonder what on earth all the fuss is all about - what with the weird dusty demos, oddball live recordings and confusing instrumentals, some of this treasure probably deserved to be buried again despite the large amount of vetting that had gone on behind the scenes. It's a shame, too, that so much of these discs are taken up with BBC sessions - which will be released complete in a few years anyway. However, for fans these albums are packed full of delights - and especially this first volume. 'Finest Hour' is a pretty Alan Hull song  from the early 1980s that seems to have been named for the band's first compilation album; 'Happy Or Sad' is a pretty Jacka and Charlie Harcourt collaboration from the 'Run For Home' era that would have made a nice cosy addition to that LP; Si's 'Way Behind You' is a bonkers blues that sounds impossible to play from the Brethren years with Jacka on lead; 'True Love' is an Alan Hull song that's no classic but beats almost all of the 'Dance Your Life Away' album for which it was taped; Rod and Marty's 'Rock and Roll Town' is as close to fellow Geordies Dire Straits as Lindisfarne ever came with a nostalgic lyric and a retro 50s rock riff; 'Karen Marie' is a cute Alan and Marty collaboration and a rare 'character song' from the Amigos period; 'Sleepless Nights' outtake 'Run Jimmy Run' wouldn't have fitted on that album but is a very revealing Pete Townshend-style tale of paranoia and rock and roll; there's a gorgeous is echoey band version of 'Malvinas Melody' recorded live on the 'Sleepless Nights' party that's tough and vulnerable all at the same time and best of all is Rod's gorgeous 'Nicely Out Of Tune' outtake 'From My Window' which has the same folk picking as 'The Things I Should Have Said' with the power of 'Road To Kingdom Come' and some great two-way vocals from Jacka and Si. Yes the rest of the album pales by comparison and a chance to hear this stuff in order would surely have been a better way to handle things, but this is still a highly impressive strike rate for a set of outtakes and there's an awful lot here that more than deserved to find its way out on albums at the time they were recorded.

"Buried Treasure Volume II"

(Virgin, '1992')

Save Our Ales/Ale Crack (Speech)/Golden Apples/Apple Crack (Speech)/Try Giving Everything/Nothing's Gonna Stop Us Now/January Song/Living On A Baseline/On My Own I Built A Bridge/Bridge Crack/Roll On That Day/Loving Around The Clock/Reunion/Reunion Crack (Speech)/Friday Girl/Tomorrow, If I'm Hungry/Hugry Crack (Speech)/Fog On The Tyne ('Pudding' Mix)/Peter Gunn Theme-Winning The Game (Live)/Run For Home (Live)

"I was in a very Yeats phase then...probably because I was drinking!..."

More of the same on volume two, which continues the good work of volume one though with perhaps a little more filler in terms of lesser live tracks and BBC recordings. There's a playful late 1980s Alan Hull protest song 'Save Our Ales' released in 1988 (trust Lindisfarne to protest over the closure of their local brewery!); the funky Hull outtake 'Golden Apples' from 'Sleepless Nights' with a great bass riff; early 1980s Hull pop ballad 'Try Giving Everything'; the sublime 'On My Own I Built A Bridge' from the 'Nicely' sessions - and easily the best and most suitable of the three Rab Noakes covers the band performed, with Alan on a wobbly lead before being joined by Jacka and Si; 'Reunion', a fun calypso-style jig fittingly enough from the reunion sessions that's unique in being credited to the whole band (though chiefly to Si); the best of the many live recordings on these sets, a 'Winning The Game' with a lengthy sax-driven intro that veers off into the Henry Mancini instrumental 'Peter Gunn's Gunn' and best of all the pre-fame Hull demo 'Tomorrow If I'm Hungry' - an early version of 'January Song'  with the exact same tune but very different lyrics, with a sarcastic text where the narrator is experiencing poverty first hand not mulling on it from afar. That still leaves rather a lot of filler - BBC recordings and some truly awful live renditions of 'Fog On The Tyne' and 'Run For Home' which seem to be here primarily to sell as many copies as possible by including songs people remember. Forget that though - this album will never appeal as much to 'outsiders' as it will to us Lindisfan brethren who can appreciate the stepping stones here on the way to the greatness that was to come and the subtle differences in some of the early work. Not to mention the humour - with more speech on this set than on Volume One you really get a feel for the band's interaction which is often hilarious (Jacka on Alan's poverty-laced 'Tomorrow If I'm Hungry' - 'This song for me sums you up exactly the way you were when I first knew you, I'd never heard anything quite like it before - or since for that matter!' Hulls' reply 'Oh dear!') Though less essential than Volume One, it's still highly revealing and having been out of catalogue for round about twenty years desperately deserves a re-issue sometime soon.

Alan Hull "Back To Basics"

(Mooncrest Records, '1994')

United States Of Mind/Poor Old Ireland/All Fall Down/Lady Eleanor/Winter Song/Walk In The Sea/Mother Russia/This Heart Of Mine/Mr Inbetween/January Song/Breakfast/Day Of The Jackal/O No Not Again/Run For Home/Fog On The Tyne

"I like to be on me own - work things out in my own mind"

Chances are neither Hully or his accompanist Kenny Craddock thought too long or hard about this simple live recording, which was made in a hurry between the 'Elvis' Lindisfarne tour and what was planned to be Hull's big comeback with 'Statues and Liberties'. However as circumstances turned out this ended up becoming Hull's last hurrah, his last released recording in his lifetime and fans have taken a shine to it since that would probably have surprised the makers who thought they were only releasing a collection filler. Setting the tone for most of the Lindisfarne sounds to come, this is effectively an 'unplugged' album with Hull's acoustic and Kenny's piano the only colours in the mix - no mandolins, bass, drums or even electric guitar. It's a rather good 'unplugged' album though, taking Hull back to the essence of his craft and where he began singing solo in friends' living rooms, returning to many of his earliest songs including a few he'd never really played live (and even the ones he had had never sounded quite like this before).

The result was a revelation with a near-perfect set-list full of friends old and new, tried and true, from a band and solo hue: 'Lady Eleanor' may be in a much more low-key dress but her beauty still shines through; an achingly gorgeous 'United States Of Mind' that's older and slower than the original may beat even the version of 'Pipedream' for being Hull's prettiest moment; a 'Poor Old Ireland' played in the middle of the 1990s Sinn Fein troubles with accordion is gorgeous and deeply moving; a sparking 'Walk In The Sea' glitters with a far better performance than Hull ever managed in the 1970s with some delightful Craddock backing vocals; a mocking 'All Fall Down' revisited some thirty years after the town planning monstrosities that went up is sung with a weary 'told you so' resignation; then contemporary song 'Mother Russia' sounds so much better without the production excess of 'Elvis Lives on The Moon' with Hull at his vocal best; new song 'This Heart Of Mine' from the forthcoming 'Statues' record is prettier than anything Hull got around to doing in the studio before he died; a 'Breakfast' stripped of the 'alien' soundscape sounds almost too poignant to bear. Only a rather over-sung  'Run For Home' and thrown-away 'Fog On The Tyne' let the side down right at the end.  There's even a 'new' song exclusive to this set, actually a cover song of sorts though Hull extensively re-wrote the words to a delicate ballad by an unknown writer named Kevin Phillipson titled 'This Heart Of Mine'. It suits Hull's voice well, a simple pledge of emotion and love that sounds all the better for the simple backing.

Taken as a whole this is an excellent set and something Hull should have done a long time ago - just imagine how much better the 'Mark II' years or the 'Radiator' era (both with Craddock along) might have been had they sounded more like this, returned to their essence as great songs that need nothing more to make them live than an on-form Alan and perhaps his most empathetic, natural  musical partner from across his career. Good as Lindisfarne's own 'Untapped and Acoustic record (inspired by this album) is, this record is the winner and remains one of the true gems of the Lindisfarne back catalogue. What a tragedy that there's just one half-finished album to go after this, just as Hull was beginning to receive the recognition he'd so richly deserved for all those years.

"The Cropredy Concert"

(**, Recorded August 1994, Released 1997)

Road To Kingdom Come/All Fall Down/Elvis Lives On The Moon/City Song/Lady Eleanor/Evening/Day Of The Jackal/We Can Make It/Train In G major/Walk In The Sea/Drinking Song/Meet Me On The Corner/Run For Home/Clear White Light

"We 'll see him looking back now with a smile on his face, just thinking about all them good 'ol days"

Lindisfarne's last big show was at the Croperdy folk festival in 1994, just over a year before Alan Hull's passing. Though never intended for release at the time, the band agreed to put it out in 1997 as one of a series of tributes to their fallen comrade and it's another interesting if not altogether listenable set from Hull's final years with the band. Having only recently recovered from a throat infection that left him unable to sing (and with the band having to revert to an 'acoustic' format for the first time to accommodate this) Hull is slightly the worse for wear across this concert, with most of the lead vocals being handled by Marty. Given Craggs' rock and roll leanings this gives the set a much louder, noisier, aggressive feel than usual and despite this being a folk festival the band sound mighty pleased to be playing loud again and seem to be in a competition to see who can make the most noise! That's a shame because it rather spoils a nicely chosen track selection including some old friends who hadn't been heard for a while - though most don't sound too comfortable in their new surroundings (a heavy metal 'Kingdom Come' is torture, while 'All Fall Down' turns from witty lament into overblown prog rocker and this version of 'Evening' is only the idea of a romantic time if you're Jack The Ripper). It's not all bad news though: tonight features a particularly pretty 'Lady Eleanor' with some gorgeous echo draped over Hull's voice, while a stripped-down 'Day Of The Jackal' pounces like a, well, jackal (as opposed to the over-fed, fat little creature on the 'Elvis' album). There's also a welcome rare airing for Alan's 'Drinking Song' first heard on the 'Another Little Adventure' album which sounds like Jethro Tull in their folk-heavy metal hybrid phase and the only live recording around of their last Hull-sanctioned single 'We Can Make It' (which sounds more like 'We Can't Make It' the way it's played to be honest!) Oh dear. No, this is surely not Lindisfarne's greatest moment by any means and is easily the weakest of their live releases out there, but even on a bad day Lindisfarne had a strong enough back catalogue to get them out of trouble and this remains an interesting hint at what the band might have gone on to do on their next album had Hull not died so tragically young.



Rod Clements "One Track Mind"

(Siren, '1994')

Hard Travellin'/The Train That Carried My Girl From Town/Bourgeois Blues/Train In G Major/Ain't No More Cane/Down In The Flood/Road To Kingdom Come/Evil Hearted Woman/Meet Me On The Corner/Leather Laundrette/No Turning Back/Sneaky Suspension/Piston Broke Again/Long Vehicle

"So now you've gone and left me on my own"

Forget the title - never before has a record shown off just how multi-talented Lindisfarne's quiet bass player was and is. Predominantly acoustic, this is a sparse record that mainly features the composer singing in a nicely smoky voice to his own guitar parts and features Rod re-recording almost all of his old Lindisfarne favourites ('Meet Me On The Corner' of course, but also a nice acoustic version of  'Road To Kingdom Come' and a slow and bluesy 'Train In G Major'), some Lindisfarne outtakes Rod hadn't got round to recording yet (including album highlight, the plaintive 'Blues For A Dying Season' that would have slotted nicely onto the folkier 'It's Jack The Lad' debut), folk covers (Doc Watson's 'The Train That Carried My Girl To Town', Leadbelly's 'Bourgeouis Blues', Bob Dylan's 'Down In The Flood' , Oscar Woods' 'Evil Hearted  Woman' and a rare Lindisfarne return to Woody Guthrie with 'Hard Travelling' a - much more suitable song than 'Jackhammer Blues'!),  re-recordings of recent solo tracks (including 'Leather Laundrette' from the Bert Jansch collaboration) and a handful of new pieces. 'A Dream Within A Dream' is arguably the best of these, a charming sea shanty that features some terrific guitar-picking. That said, everything on this album is of a pretty high standard and the acoustic setting and folk edges make this record sound like the second Jack The Lad album that might have been. Though the amount of cover versions is a bit of a shame - Rod is a better creator than interpreter, this is still an excellent set that should please anyone who enjoyed the 'acoustic and bare' tours of later years.

Alas for Rod, this album perhaps came at the wrong time though: back in 1994 Rod might as well make a solo album because with Alan writing so much (yep - it must be an 'Alan' thing to write lots of words!) he was unlikely to ever get a chance with Lindisfarne. That all changed of course just a year later when Alan died, leaving Rod in need of strong material like this in a hurry. Had the 'new' parts of this record been recorded as a 'band' album it might have been even better than 'Here Comes The Neighbourhood', which has a similarly slightly despairing and sombre acoustic tone to this work. Largely forgotten at the time of release and only ever issued on cassette not CD, the record won a new lease of life in 2001 when it finally made it to compact disc with a series of bonus tracks that mainly featured Rod's guitar backing tracks without his vocals. The album proved so successful for starved Lindisfans that it was re-issued again in 2008 with a couple of excellent outtakes. 

"Another Fine Mess"

(, Recorded July 1995)

Clear White Light/Squire/Lady Eleanor/Meet Me On The Corner/Evening/City Song/One World/All Fall Down/Winter Song/This Heart Of Mine/We Can Make It/Road To Kingdom Come/Money/Run For Home/Fog On The Tyne

"It'll be oh so good, we'll do everything that we know we should"

What was intended as a celebration - Lindisfarne's 25th anniversary gig performed in July 1995 in front of a specially packed crowd of friends and fans at Newcastle City Hall, turned into poignant tribute shortly after release with Alan's fatal heart attack. At the time it seemed a bit of a self-indulgence having yet another Lindisfarne live album out in the shops and many thought the band had released a record of the 'wrong' tour, with the one that followed Jacka and Si's departures rather than a band with everyone still in it. However it's a useful document of how the band had changed in the post-'Elvis' years when there were some radical changes in the sound. With Jacka gone Alan is now effectively the front man, reclaiming a number of his old songs and adding a few from his solo career to spice the setlist up a bit, with Marty taking on the 'Rod' songs that Jacka used to do. Rod himself has now moved to guitar to better cover Si's absence, with backing from new boys Dave Denholm on guitar and  Ian Thomson on bass. This gig saw several guests taking part as well including old friends like Billy Mitchell, Rab Noakes, Ian McCallum and even Geordie actors Tim Healy and Kevin Whately (both from Geordie builders comedy 'Auf Wiedersen Pet', with Kevin then at his peak of fame as Inspector Morse's number two Lewis).It's a subtly different dynamic all round, with Hull now very much the main attraction and while not as major an addition to the Lindisfarne pantheon it's a welcome document of the period. The band are in a celebratory mood throughout so it's great to hear them have fun (especially on current single 'We Can Make It'), although that said there's still a slight unease underneath all this, as if the band are still finding out whether they can put on a full gig without Jacka there and there's a much higher quota of serious songs like 'Evening' and 'This Heart Of Mine'  alongside the comic 'drinking' songs like finale 'Fog On The Tyne'. Notably the band have given up performing the long songs so there are no lengthy versions of 'Clear White Light' or 'We Can Swing Together' without Jacka there to play on them, although 'Light' now works rather well moved from its traditional closing spot to a triumphant singalong opener. It's not a great show but it's a good show, with something eerily 'final' about it somehow - though not the last Lindisfarne played (they toured through most of the Autumn as well) it draws a line under the 'Hull' years and the shift in musicians is already paving the way for the 'Clements' era.

Alan Hull "Statues and Liberties"

(Castle, Recorded 1995 Released 1996)

Statues and Liberties/Walk A Crooked Mile/Cardboard Christmas Boxes/Treat Me Kindly/100 Miles To Liverpool/Money/This Heart Of Mine/Long Way From Home/When The Gun Goes Down/Hoi Poloi/Save Yourself/Drug Song

"Put on your uniform - you got to fight to be free!"

There was a new swing in Alan Hull's step across 1994 and 1995 with a whole raft of new releases lined up for him, with the songwriter promising in private to his loyal fans that there would be a 'big push' for his work towards the millennium. Though Lindisfarne were slowing down, Hull had found a new creative wind and was taking to middle age (he turned fifty-three in February 1995) and everything that came with it as a real source of inspiration. He'd also found the sparring partner he'd always dreamed of in Dave Denholm newly promoted to the Lindisfarne front line alongside him and who had recently got married to his youngest daughter Francesca, inspiring yet more warm family-orientated songs on an album he was already thinking of as a sequel to the family-centred 'Pipedream' (it was even set to include lots of old songs re-recorded - though in the end only two, Pipedream's 'Drug Song' and 'Dance Your Life Away's 'One Hundred Miles To Liverpool' were recorded). Hull had never felt that the world had taken him seriously enough or treated with him as much respect as he'd have liked - the Lindisfarne split, the fall-out from 'Dingly Dell' and the frustrations behind the 'Mark II' band had still lingered in the minds of many. However, the 1990s vogue for nostalgia and the re-issue of all the old Lindisfarne albums on CD had brought the band a new audience and as one of the few bands from the North-East still going with such a pedigree the future looked bright. 'Statues and Liberties' was planned as the first in a series of instalments based around the dozens of new songs that Hull was feeling coming to him, with a planned release date loosely set for early 1996. However, cruelly, the album Hull was working on feverishly as his comeback wasn't to be a launching pad but instead a eulogy.
Hull's bandmates have all said since that they were worried about him during the band's last tour together. It wasn't as if Hull was outwardly sick - he died suddenly of a heart attack on November 17th 1995 after only a few hours of feeling unwell, having spent most of the night having a great time celebrating Rod's 50th birthday and chatting away to band and friends how great his album was coming along and collapsing after going out to eat shortly afterwards. It was more that Hull had been under the weather - they worried about him working so hard when he'd seemed to fragile and for the past year had been suffering from all sorts of ailments (including the chest cold that wouldn't go away and led to the hastily assembled 'unplugged' format in 1994). The end was still a shock though that few saw coming and one that seemed to come at the cruellest time, right on the eve of Hull finishing up his fifth studio solo album. Though unfinished, Hull had got far enough through 'Statues and Liberties' for a version to be finished, which was tidied up by a heartbroken Dave Denholm with Alan's widow Pat's blessing and ever so nearly made the early 1996 deadline after all.

Reviewers paid glowing tribute for the man rather than the album and fans bought it to ease their sense of despair but 'Statues and Liberties' never turned into the strong seller it deserved to have been, mainly because Alan wasn't around to promote it. It was a final cruel twist of fate to a man who had finally worked out a way of establishing his own sound outside the band and this record  is easily Hull's best since 'Pipedream'. There's an almost eerie sense of fatality across this record, of having learnt everything that life can offer, of seeing through all the lies and smokescreens the world covers things up with and of coming back down to the only things that mattered back on that first record - family, love and children - albeit with even more confidence this time around. Though Hull was always a poetical lyric writer, he'd somehow lost part of his gift for putting big ideas into words across the 1980s and early 1990s - but that's corrected here in a series of songs that are as much of a delight to read as they are to here. The melodies too are frequently gorgeous and properly heard for once, Hull having learnt from his 'Back To Basics' tour how to give songs added depth and power by leaving bits out rather than throwing too much in and it's a very different LP to the over-layered density of 'Elvis Lives On The Moon'. Denholm proves to be an able number two, pleased to be there but not overawed and the in-laws clearly have a special bond. Only a few of the performances don't quite live up to the song's potential - though that's understandable given that some recordings were merely rehearsal takes not intended to be heard in this state; you hope too that Hull would either have re-done his pair of re-recordings or dropped the idea altogether for the final album running order (though the starker  'Liverpool' is still a big improvement  on the synth city version on 'Dance Your Life Away'). By and large though this is top drawer stuff, with the anger and passion of youth not dulled by age so much as shaped by it, turned into a series of parables and life-lessons that draw what was being said before into sharper contrast and yet still with the strength to yell at all the right people.

Title track 'Statues and Liberties' is one of Hully's greatest songs. His version of his idol John Lennon's 'Working Class Hero' crossed with 'Power To The People' it tells it like it is: that only certain people will ever be allowed to succeed in life and that they spend their time patronising the 'rest' of us. 'Tough luck if you're black, hard cheese if you're poor - well done if you've got a stack of it!' he sneers, before telling the audience that freedom always comes at a price - looking and acting like 'one of them' while being bombarded with so many false messages that his own mother won't listen to him and is instead busy 'eyeing the Prince of Wales'. A classic rock tune unfolds during the song, starting off slow and building to a crescendo as Hull urges the people that they've 'gotta fight to be free!' It's a classic moment that like all the best Lindisfarne moments makes you feel both part of something special and indignant you're being kept away from something.

'Walk A Crooked Mile' is a pretty folk song, one of the last Alan ever wrote and revived by Lindisfarne after Hull's death even though stylistically it sounds more like a track from Hull's second and most class-conscious record 'Squire'. He may have intended it for the band anyway, what with all the lyrical references to old times: Kenny (Craddock? Or Hull himself?) banging a drum down 'The Road To Kingdom Come' and to all intents and purposes in 'hell' - the sort of place that millionaires look down their noses at and feel pity for. But Kenny knows he's part of something, a brotherhood, even if he can't see them and that there are millions of people just like him. Though the road he walks is crooked, and the people at the top making money out of them are crooked, they'll never know what it's like to be part of a community the way he does. Though a bit repetitive and a verse short of 'classic' status this is another classy song from a writer at the top of his game.

'Cardboard Christmas Boxes' is one of the album's lesser spots, a re-telling of the Nativity that reflects on the commercialisation of Christmas when the most Christian thing to do would be to give money to the poor and homeless instead. The man who once sided with tramps on 'Winter Song' points out that just because it's Christmas doesn't mean there's goodwill to all men - some are more fortunate than others. Alas a worthy sentiment gets rather lost on an anonymous melodyline.

'Treat Me Kindly' finally sees Hull record a decent version of one of his better songs from the late 1980s (as heard first on his live CD 'Another Little Adventure') Hull's enjoying himself doing nothing much, just 'writing nonsensical words without meaning and returns to his pre-Lindisfarne song 'Doctor Of Love' for a chorus that suggests that all he needs to put him right is a bit of love. Sung solo, to just an acoustic guitar, it's a pretty song that's nicely performed and recalls 'Country Gentleman's Wife', though again not up to the best here.

The re-recording of 'One Hundred Miles To Liverpool' comes next, a piano-based version of the song wrapped with fiddles and harmonicas and sounds much like an 'Elvis' outtake. It's much better than the band version in 1986 but it's still not the best song ever wrote.

'Money' is a sequel of sorts to 'Money Game' , where everyone thinks they're fighting for 'democracy' but the capitalist system is so uneven they're really fighting for 'hypocrisy'. Money talks and money burns because it can get you anything - and everybody wants it. But money isn't what life is all about. Another powerful emotive track.

The lovely 'This Heart Of Mine' was premiered on 'Back To Basics' and is a re-write Hull made of a song he loved by aspiring writer Kevin Phillipson, a Sunderland local lad (Hull always kept a close eye on local talent). Hull effectively changed the lyrics, widening the piece from a solely romantic song into a tale of visionaries being driven by something they don't quite understand. Hull is really singing about faith, not love, although the two are linked - Columbus believing in something before setting sail and again referring to Mother Russia treating her children so badly yet with so many people clinging to their belief in her. Hull is fed up of being told he's merely 'chasing rainbows', that world is a cruel and evil place and he'd better get on with it - he's all ready to give up and agree when sometimes out of nowhere 'the most beautiful thing in the world' will make him realise he's right. It's a hauntingly beautiful wise old song this one, Hull again at his very best.

'Long Way From Home' is a mid-paced song that has Hull reflecting on his life as a 'wanderer', travelling the world and making music. Hull widens the song out to a metaphor: he never feels where he should be and feels 'lost' - 'not weak or strong, not right or wrong' just in a place that feels alien to him. As with the last track, it's only the look of love that makes him feel at 'home'. This song isn't quite as strong as the last track but still makes a good point well. And a voodoo how do you do to you too!

Hull urges us to 'think with our hearts and not with our heads' on 'When The Gun Goes Down' in which he confesses to writing the same sort of political theme of inequality  since '1969'. This time he has the Irish troubles in his sights and makes references to his brothers in Belfast caught up in a struggle that wasn't of their making. Like 'When The War Is Over' it asks everyone to imagine peace and how much better life would be if we all put our guns down - it would in fact seem so good it would make us pout our guns down. Heavier than most on the album but just as powerful.

'Hoi Poloi' returns to the class warfare of the title track, Hull joking that 'though I'm out of work I'm not retired' and reliving his early days on the breadline and less, wondering why it has to be so hard for people to survive then and now. The Hoi Poloi seem to be having such fun doing nothing on TV everyday - but they dare to look down on what people today would call the 'scroungers' they imagine have a great life on benefits doing nothing, when the reality is actually hell. Hull at his sarcastic best.

'Save Yourself' is a curious song in context though. After an album and by and large a career urging us to get mad and pout things right, here Hull tells us to be careful. 'Don't make waves - leave it to the sea' he sings, before getting back into character by telling us to stay 'wide-eyed and free', making our own decisions instead of believing what we're told - 'It's only way to survive in a world that's crazy'. Sadly Hull's re-write of John Lennon's 'Whatever Gets You Thru The Night' isn't as powerful as others from this album.

The album then ends with a re-recording of a song that Alan always considered one of his best 'Drug Song' (from 'Pipedream'). carefully written so as not to be especially pro or anti drugs but simply about the power they have over you, it sounds here like an old man looking over his wayward youth with a laugh. This version is slower and more gentile, which is a shame actually, although Hull's vocal is less treated with artificial effects this time round. It's something of an anti-climatic end to be honest.

Even so, 'Statues and Liberties' is a powerful album that reflects many of the strengths of Hull's songwriting without as many of the weaknesses as we'd seen creep in across the 1980s. Freed of the Lindisfarne mantle, this is Hull at his most honest, powerful and committed and while not free from filler there are ore 'classic' songs here than there had been on a Lindisfarne-related album in years. No wonder Hull was so proud and excited about the effort - and the albums he had in the pipe(dream?)line to follow; this would have been a record that would have taken something extra special to beat. Sadly we would never get the chance to find out - instead 'Statues' remains a wonderful album from a great songwriter who at last was back to telling the truth the way he saw it, no matter how many feathers he ruffled while doing it. Alan Hull was one of a kind and apart from 'Pipedream' this is the full Hull experience, without the dilution for record company tastes or half an eye on what the wider world is listening to. Put your uniform and buy a copy to fight to be free.

"Lindisfarne On Tap: A Barrel Full Of Hits"

(Essential, July 1996)

Run For Home/Lady Eleanor/Meet Me On The Corner/We Can Make It/All Fall Down/Warm Feeling/Winter Song/Road To Kingdom Come/Fog On The Tyne/Miracles/No More Time To Lose/Running Man/Elvis Lives On The Moon/Juke Box Gypsy/Dance Your Life Away/Evening/Roll On That Day/Clear White Light

"Presently we'll have a pint or two together - everybody do their thing!"

Hic! Hello dear readers! You'remybeshtesestreadersinthewholewideworld, hic! I'm just, erm, partaking (teeheehee!) of the delights (and how - hic!) of the 1990s version of the oldoldoldoldold Lindisfarne repackaged best-of (waheeeey!) It's (sob!) not as good as some of the others and only pays vague heed to the post-split years when Lindisfarne were recording some of their best material (boohoohoo!) Quite frankly whoever pout this set must have been drunk themselves if they thought that adding the 50s cover 'Running Man' from 'C'mon Everybody' (generally considered a bad idea by most people), the deeply suspect 'Jukebox Gypsy'  and the title track of 'Elvis Lives On The Moon' represented the beshtehst songs Lindisfarne had to offer. Despite the title these songs don't necessarily represent the boozier, partier side of Lindisfarne's output either ('All Fall Down' and 'Winter Song' are enough to cause a hangover without the alcohol consumption - where the heck are 'I Must Stop Going To Parties' and 'Gin and Tonxi All Round' then eh?!) However (hic!) there are some things in this album's favour. For a start this is more than just the usual 'Fog On The Tyne with a couple of songs added' best-of fans usually got and covers quite a lot of ground outside the more normal songs, with extra specially special marks for including the rare single 'We Can Make It'. The clever title and album cover (A Lindisfarne beer keg) are also genuinely funny and fitting for a band for whom we had to occasionally re-name our long-standing newsletter 'News, Booze and Music' (ta daaaa!) Caught somewhere between party night out and next morning doldrums, 'On Tap' is better than some Lindisfarne best-ofs out there but not as good as it might have been - there doesn't really seem much to say. No you hang up first, No you. Oh go on then, just carry on reading....Hic!

"Untapped and Acoustic"
(**, 1997')
No Time To Lose/Why Can't I Be Satisfied?/Sundown Station/Uncle Sam/Run For Home/Walk A Crooked Mile/Scotch Mist-Bring Down The Government!/Call Of The Wild/Passing Ghosts/United States Of Mind/Lady Eleanor/Winter Song/Dingle Regatta/We Can Swing Together/Clear White Light
Re-Issue Bonus Tracks: 100 Miles To Liverpool/Court In The Act
"It's only passing a little bit of time!"
Lindisfarne felt they still had a job to do and vowed to carry on after Hully's death - Rod movingly recalling how he felt his old friend's presence in the wings every night on their first few gigs, urging them on. Working through the old songs was a way of the band coming to terms with their loss and the new acoustic format that the band had been trying on their last tour with Alan (owing to a throat infection that left unable to sing for a few dates) seemed in retrospect like the perfect balance between the old sound and the new sound, updating fans as to how the band would sound without any of the original front-line up left. Thankfully the band still had Marty and a new/old face in Billy Mitchell, who finally got to take the front lead role after filling in for various singers back in the pre-fame Brethren phase and his stint performing in Jack The Lad. Billy had had a busy couple of decades, though most of it was spent under the radar, performing as half of the comedy/music duo Maxie and Mitch and gigging with Geordie supergroup Pacamax (alongside Rod and Ray when schedules permitted). Billy's voice has got deeper and softer since his Jack The Lad days and it was a neat fit with the mellower folkier acoustic vibe of that final tour. The title is a jokey reference to the Lindisfarne best of 'untapped' - but this time, with so many Lindisfarne live shows out there and so many great songs that never get a look in this one is ;untapped', made specifically with their old fans and friends in mind and to win them over rather than ideas of getting a 'hit'.
The result is an interesting testing the waters set. I'd be lying if I said I didn't miss Jacka, Alan or Si and the harmonies remain the weakest aspect of the modern Lindisfarne. However the band play as well as ever and the acoustic vibe fits a lot of carefully chosen older songs like a glove. There are plenty of lovely surprises in here nestling amongst the hits - an even folkier revival of Rod's Jack The Lad classic 'Why can't I Be Satisfied?', Rod's Bert Jansch collaboration 'Sundown Station' (a sequel of sorts to 'Train In G Major' with Marty on harmonica), a solo guitar version of 'Uncle Sam' sung by Dave even though Si is no longer in the band, one of Hull's last songs 'Walk A Crooked Mile' that's well handled by Mitch, even Dingle blooming Regatta turned into a Jack The Lad style folk strut! The highlights though are still the older material - a multiple acoustic guitar strum version of 'Clear White Light' with Dave on lead, a fragile 'Winter Song' with Dave once again taking the part of his father-in-law, a gorgeous 'Passing Ghosts' (the first ever live version of Hull's song about death, with the tragedy played up and the comedy toned down) and a lovely Jethro Tull-style flute arrangement of 'Lady Eleanor' that's fully in keeping with the past band revivals - new clobber, same hypnotic beauty underneath it all. The set isn't perfect by any means, the biggest problem besides the people missing being that the acoustic folk setting gives the Lindisfarne rhythm section precious little to do and that there are only two rockers here to shake the sound up (a wobbly 'No Time To Lose' at the start and even wobblier 'Court In The Act' to end). There's also no sign of 'Fog On The Tyne' or 'Run For Home' (which were probably considered untouchable so soon after Alan's death) although Rod's 'Meet Me On The Corner' seems a stranger absentee. However this is as good a set as could be expected in the tragic circumstances and a heartbroken Lindisfarne acquit themselves well, proving both how great the past was (with lots of Hull classics movingly performed) and how great the future was yet to be. The album was later repackaged with the following year's studio album 'Here Comes The Neighbourhood' as a double disc set, though neither version of the album sold too well - this is yet another Lindisfarne official set in need of a decent re-issue.

"Blues From The Bothy (EP)"

(**, 1997)

Coming Home To You/Refugees/Knacker's Yard Blues (Revisited)/Ardnamurchan

"I lived the high light in the spotlight and made it all come true"

The humble EP had once been a mainstay of the 1960s, offering fans the ability to own more songs than could be crammed onto a single without going to the expensive of affording a whole LP. The format had seen something of a revival in the late 90s, mainly from older bands whose labels wanted product but didn't necessarily want to pay for great long months in the studio to make an album that sadly probably wouldn't sell anyway. It also provided Lindisfarne with another 'taster' session to see how recording with each other felt in the post Hull months and how their acoustic format would work on their forthcoming records. Like 'Neighbourhood' the EP was recorded in Scotland (up on the motorway it's not far y'kna!) with four carefully chosen tracks to reflect four sides of the band's slit personality. As with the two records to come Rod is the quiet star, nobly taking charge without forcing his way into control, writing the lead two songs and playing some wonderful guitar, although Billy's vocals are much more suited to this new sound than they had been to the old Lindisfarne songbook. In many ways this is the fifth Jack The Lad album, with an emphasis on folk amongst the 'other stuff' (despite the title blues isn't really one of the styles for a change), although you could argue it's also what the second album would have turned out like had Mitch and Rod stayed working together.

'Coming Home To You' returns to Rod's band style of writing, comparing life to a long journey but one where what the narrator has learnt only becomes important once he's safely back home again amongst the ones he loves. It's a sweet gentle song, with Mitch doing a sterling job on a track that celebrates growing older and leaving 'deadlines and headlines' behind. 'Refugees' has Rod reflecting on another Lindis-theme about the outsiders of the world, forced to make a new life for themselves in another land who doesn't act like they want them there in the first place, their 'footprints lost in the sand' as they slowly lose their heritage in becoming native. Hull you sense would have been particularly proud of this political, unfashionable song. As for the new 'Knacker's Yard Blues' it reveals that Lindisfarne don't take themselves too seriously, although it's somehow more of a shock hearing the 'wrong' voices on this track with Mitch, Dave and Marty taking verses, than it is on the live recordings where the band don't have a choice. It still seems out of place too as a comedy blues song that's not quite funny enough or tough enough to be one thing or the other. At least the band sound like they're having fun with it though! Oh and controversially there's a slightly altered chorus, though it's not been tampered with to any great success I'm afraid. Finally 'Ardnamurchan' is a Dave Denholm instrumental that's similar to 'Uncle Henry' from the forthcoming LP, but with more of a 'celtic' feel. The song wasn't planned for the EP but was written during the recording sessions in Scotland (named after the district in Lochaber in the Highlands, where the band were staying) in a moment of inspiration and was considered likeable enough to be a 'bonus' track. It is indeed likeable enough to be a bonus track but it's very un-Lindisfarne (except for 'Scotch Mist' I suppose) and an odd experiment for a band that are meant to be re-defining who they are.

Still, there's plenty of good 'uns here to suggest that there really was life post-Hull and while a bit unsubstantial on its own 'Bothy' is a welcome stepping stone towards the last phase of the band's career. Though a respectable seller at the time, the EP format of this release means that it didn't hang around shops for too long (most chains don't have the space for the full-priced albums they think will sell, never mind cheaper EPs), although it was re-issued for a time in limited edition form with the 'Untapped and Acoustic' show. Even so, today it is one of Lindisfarne's rarest items despite being one of their last - as with so many other examples in this list 'Bothy' is in dire need of a proper re-issue (perhaps on the end - or even at the start of - 'Neighbourhood').

"City Songs"

(**, 1997)

Lady Eleanor/City Song/Train In G MajorFog On The Tyne/Scotch Mist (Bob Harris Session June 1971)/Mandolin King/Poor Old Ireland/Road To Kingdom Come/Lady Eleanor (John Peel Sessions (May 1972)/Drug Song/Country Gentleman's Wife/Passing Ghosts/Turn A Deaf Ear (Bob Harris Session June 1972)/Lady Eleanor/Scarecrow Song/Meet Me On The Corner (Poetry Plus at the Royal Festival Hall May 1972)

"Listen for the sound of magic in the air - and when you do the mandolin king will be there!"

A first bash at releasing a 'Lindisfarne at the BBC' set, this CD has been all but superseded by the double disc 2009 set although it still contains a three-song concert from the Royal Festival Hall that's still exclusive to this disc. Generally speaking acts of Lindisfarne's vintage - the 1970s effectively - didn't really use radio that much as a medium: that was more of a launching pad for introducing acts in the 1960s, whereas 70s rock fans just saw bands as support acts for other groups. However Lindisfarne were always a bit 'old school' and had a special relationship with many DJs, especially Bob Harris who often worked with the band and John Peel, whose first wife had a particular soft spot for the band and often requested their music! Though this set isn't quite as accomplished as some of the best AAA sets out there and Lindisfarne had a habit out of sticking to their stage shows and biggest hits rather than offering something new, they're far more accomplished live inside a studio than they often are on stage, turning in some recordings that are impressively close to the records. Of course the downside to this is that there really isn't an awful lot of point owning this record if you already have all the records, as nothing is particularly better or worse than the originals here and there are few arrangement tweaks. Of the four concerts the second is arguably the best, a four-song set for 'Sounds Of The 70s' in May 1972 that features stripped-down versions of two songs from 'Dingly Dell' alongside a nicely laidback version of 'Road To Kingdom Come' complete with piano part and the loosest of the set's four goes at 'Lady Eleanor' (with some lovely Si Cowe guitar that's on the edge of feedback) - all of which had been released as the very short-running 'Peel Session' CD in 1988 (with the same four tracks as here). 'Passing Ghosts' from the third gig (presented by Bob Harris) wins the award for weirdest performance, with Hull singing his delightful folk parody with the bitter snarl of Dylan and who seems to be a little out of it judging by the loose and ragged harmonies which Jacka desperately tries to keep together...This weeks' alteration on 'Turn A Deaf Ear' is 'A giant poster of 'Steve McQueen' by the way! As for the set's exclusive fourth performance, you're not missing much if you've skipped this set and gone straight to 'Lindisfarne at the BBC', with the Festival Hall an audibly echoey place to play and only middling versions of two much-repeated classics alongside another set highlight, an enjoyable and strangely up 'Scarecrow Song' that's very different to the original from 'Nicely Out Of Tune'. You're still better off with the longer set though even so.

Alan Hull "When War Is Over"

(NMC, '1998')

CD One: Drug Song/Numbers (Travelling Band)/United States Of Mind/When War Is Over/Down On The Underground/Gin and Tonix All Round (Bob Harris Session July 1973)/One More Bottle Of Wine/Dan The Plan/Dealer's Choice/Winter Song (Bob Harris Session November 1973)/One More Bottle Of Wine (John Peel Session May 1975)
CD Two: Peter Brophy Don't Care/The Squire/City Song/Dan The Plan/Money Game/Gin and Tonix All Round/One More Bottle Of Wine/Golden Oldies/Alright On The Night (In Concert May 1975)

"Where are my golden oldies? I wonder what happened to your song"

Released close on the heels of Lindisfarne's own BBC set, 'When War Is Over' is a surprise in that it demonstrates that Hull played the airwaves game at least as often as his parent band and over a shorter period of time. Released three years after Hull's untimely death it's a welcome if slightly repetitive set, with starker 'Back To Basics' style performances of some rarer-than-usual material taken from three separate radio sessions and a full half-hour concert that fills up disc two. The first is probably the most interesting, with Hull fresh from the split of the Mark II band and desperately trying to reclaim their catalogue as his own, revisiting 'When The War Is Over' as a slow sad piano ballad and a fun 'Gin and Tonix All Round' where he does a scarily good impression of a local tuneless drunk (at least I hope that's acting...) There are three versions of 'Pipedream' songs as well which are all pretty without adding anything you couldn't already gets from the records. The second session from four months later is already gearing up for the release of 'Squire' with a raucous sarcastic 'Dan The Plan' the best of a lesser sequence of songs that rather messes up 'Winter Song' but is at least a welcome chance to hear the lovely 'Dealer's Choice' in a new form (even if it sounds much better with a band). The slightly irritating 'One More Bottle Of Wine' will drive you bonkers by the end of the set, though, and features three times including being the only song performed at the third session in May 1975. The concert on disc two is a slight disappointment too, sounding much like disc one with much the same arrangements of much the same songs. However there are some highlights all taken from the glory years of 1970-1972 - a wickedly fun 'Peter Brophy Does Not Care', a sad and weary 'City Song' and a rather rough version of 'Alright On The Night' which see Hull gradually accepting his role as 'an ex member of Lindisfarne'. The rather over-lush songs from 'Squire' sound oddly empty heard without the usual posh backing however. The end result is a nice set to have, but unlike some BBC sets doesn't add an awful lot to your understanding of the man or his catalogue and given that the sessions only take place over a period of a couple of years there's no real sense of growth here.

"BT (Buried Treasure) 3"

(Select, '2000')

Positive Earth/100 Miles To Liverpool (Live)/Money/2 Way Street/Newport Mount Rag/Poor Old Ireland/Corporation Rock/The One and Only/Drinking Song/Heaven Waits/Log On Your Fire/Dragon Of Dreamland/Checkin' On My Baby/January Song/We've Got All Night/Digging Holes/Meet Me On The Corner/(Unlisted Bonus Track) Stage Chat

"In it lies the future, the present and the past"

The third in the instalment of 'Buried Treasures' - nicknamed 'BT3' by Ray Laidlaw and released with a cover looking like it's a 'chemical symbol - is perhaps the weakest of the three rarity sets, lacking the cohesiveness and humour of earlier collections (not to mention Alan, Jacka and Si's collections!) though not without its moments. There was easily enough of worth in Lindisfarne's back catalogue and the drummer along with band biographer Dave Ian Hill were keen to release all the great things that were out there and to keep the band's name alive between albums while they worked on new material. Unfortunately, though, the sheer scale of the record labels Lindisfarne went through (together and apart) meant that their idea of a catch-all set like the first two was scuppered early on - given that Lindisfarne were unlikely to sell millions of copies of this set they just couldn't afford the licensing rights to the juiciest things in their back catalogue. Sadly the most interesting work simply wasn't available and Hull wasn't around to give his blessing this time so the pair put together a collection that featured primarily modern songs from the Billy Mitchell years rather than the 'classic' hey day, with a couple of 1980s recordings and a pair of Brethren demos thrown in. These are clearly the highlights, with the wobbly lead on Si Cowe's Pentangle-style folk tune 'Positive Earth' really showing off the band's unusual blend well, with lots of od Clements fiddle-work on top. The first released recording by the 'Downtown Faction' band (before Alan Hull joined) is also interesting, with Jacka sounding not unlike Shakin' Stevens on the funky 'Checkin' In On My Baby'. Hull is well represented though, even in his absence, with the charming children's song 'Dragon Of Dreamland' that's a close cousin of 'Puff The Magic Dragon' but twice as charming. There's also a great collaboration between Rod and fellow Geordie Dire Straits' 'Mark Knopfler for an ultimately abandoned album - four folky instrumentals were recorded by the pair in 1974 (just after Rod had left Jack The Lad) with 'Newport Mount Rag' the only one of these tunes to be released so far. The rest of the set though seems like an awful lot of filler, with several not-that-different performances of old friends: Alan Hull's rowdy demo version of 1980s song 'Money', a rare but still rowdy band performance of his 1979 solo track 'Corporation Rock', Dave Denholm Hull performing 'Poor Old Ireland' live on stage in the 1990s, an unplugged 'One Hundred Miles To Liverpool' and 'Log On Your Fire' from the Mitchell era live on stage, a slightly less fussy arrangement of 'Heaven Waits' from 'Elvis' that's better but not massively so and most oddly of all actor Tim Healy guesting for a rather odd performance of 'January Song' that's bitter and aggressive, not sarcastic and hopeful. New songs 'The One and Only' from the 'Amigos' era by Alan and Marty, Rod's rather anonymous pop song 'We've Got All Night' and a cover of Julie Matthews' 'Digging Holes' - which doesn't like Lindisfarne at all with so many guest singers - aren't all that great either. Perhaps the best thing here is the 'hidden' unlisted bonus track, consisting of some jovial banter from the Mitchell era band on stage, discussing their old unlikely jobs ('I was a policeman near here once...') Though I'm sympathetic to tales of just how difficult it was getting hard of these songs, it's a real shame that more interesting material couldn't be found and that these songs weren't simply kept for that elusive Lindisfarne box set we never had or as bonus tracks with each particular album - there's not enough her to warrant the release of an entire third album.

"Anthology"

(Essential, May 2000)

CD One (Live): Lady Eleanor/The Road To Kingdom Come/We Can Swing Together/Clear White Light/Meet Me On The Corner/Train In G Major/Fog On The Tyne/All Fall Down/Court In The Act (Studio): Run For Home/Juke Box Gypsy/Marshall Riley's Army/Warm Feeling/(Live): Brand New Day/(Studio): Call Of The Wild/Easy and Free

CD Two (Studio): When Friday Comes Along/Dedicated Hound/Nights/Sunderland Boys/I Must Stop Going To Parties/Shine On/Love On The Run/Heroes/One Hundred Miles To Liverpool/Roll On That Day/Everything Changes/Working For The Man/Strange Affair/Elvis Lives On The Moon/Spoken Like A Man/Soho Square/Day Of The Jackal/We Can Make It

"One hundred miles to go, been down this road in sunshine  - and in snow"

Well, here's a strange one. 'Anthology' is a two-disc best-of the Mercury years divided between live recordings (mainly from 'Magic In The Air' with a single track from 'Lindisfarntastic') and studio recordings. In many ways it's welcome, with some sterling work that always gets forgotten ('Marshall Riley's Army' 'Nights' 'Sunderland Boys' 'Working For The Man' 'Spoken Like A Man') along with the hard-to-find single-only 'We Can Make It' (though alas there's no sign of the even rarer single-only 'Friday Girl'). However this set could have been so much better - the sudden jolt from live into studio recordings could have been better handled (by having only studio recordings here for a start) and many priceless gems are missing ('King's Cross Blues' 'Good To Be Here?' 'Cruising To Disaster' 'Mother Russia' etc). Mercury rather shot themsleves in the foot here too - the set is surely meant to work mainly as a sampler for curious fans who don't know the later years much, but many fans hearing a lot of the worst songs collected together reckoned that if this was as good as it got they ought to stay away, missing out on some real classics. The set seems particularly keen to steer away from the more controversial songs - which is odd given that they then use the 'controversial' cover of the band naked in bed (which is not only out of period given that it was taken in 1972 but very different to the slick, polished, less good-humoured band of the reunion years). Good as it is to see some of the better songs given another hearing, I'd give this one a miss until Mercury get round to chronicling these years properly. 

Rod Clements "Stamping Ground"

(Market Square, September 2000)

Stamping Ground/Whisky Highway/Blue Interior/Hattie McDaniel At The Oscars 1939/Whole Lifestyle Thing/Charity Main/Road Of East Northumberland/Black Rain/We Have To Talk/Cowboy In The Rain/One More Night With You/Old Blue Goose

"I never looked first, I never looked twice, I never thought much about taking advice"

Effectively the 'middle' chapter in the trilogy of Rod Clements albums released right in the middle between 'Neighbourhood' and 'Promenade' (with many tracks written with collaborator Nigel Stonier who also produced the album), this is a much more playful and less sombre record than either of its companions - and might well have become more successful than either band record had it been released under the Lindisfarne banner, having more of the boozy revelries many people (often mistakenly) associate with Lindisfarne. It's very like an album by old friend Bert Jansch in fact, where everything is acoustic and simple and often silly - yet all seems strangely profound with direct confessional performances. Take 'Whisky Highway' for instance, which returns to the theme of a freeway as a metaphor for a life and career and finds Rod enjoying taken 'one more for the road' in an enjoyable drinking hole before he takes off in another direction sighing 'just leave me alone!', one step further down the road to addiction without the chance to turn back! There's also a sense of Rod returning 'home' to his literal 'stamping ground' for this record, with lots of tales about life in the North-East and especially life as it used to be before local industries like the coal mines got closed. Facing the thought that he might need to find a new career and that the band can't last much longer, Rod tapes into the feeling of this amongst the whole of the community in which he was brought up, the sense that their old identity is being re-written into something new and alien against their wishes.After years of sounding a little bit international and even a bit American at times across Lindisfarne's lifetime it's nice to hear Rod go back to being a 'local' (though it's Northumberland that gets the name-check, not Newcastle). There's a sweet tribute to local figure and songwriter Oscar Woods too (Rod had already covered a song on 'One Track Mind') in the form of new original 'Old Blue Goose' which is about as 'folk traditional' as any of Lindisfarne have ever been.

 That said, one of the most interesting and adventurous songs here is set in Hollywood and concerns the first black actress ever to win an academy award - the courageous Hattie McDaniel who shamed her peers into being too good not to get an award as early as 1939 (for 'Gone With The Wind'). Rod also finally releases his own version of the lovely 'Elvis' outtake 'Black Rain', although the Lindisfarne outtake (out on 'Buried Treasures') is slightly the better. Throughout Rod sings well - so much so you'd wish he's been a part of the band's harmonies, especially in the days when they'd lost Alan, Jacka and Si, and old age really suits his deeper, lived-in voice. He nearly performs solo, although he does have the assistance of fellow modern Lindisfarners Ian Thomson on bass and Dave 'Hull' Denholm on guitar at times, alongside our old friend and drummer 10cc's Paul Burgess. This is Rod's sow though performed with his typical style: carefully and with more professionalism than emotion, yet 'Stamping Ground' still manages to pack its fair share of emotional punches too. It's another fine and under-valued Rod Clements record that displays what an overlooked musical talent the multi-instrumentalist is, at least on a par with 'Neighbourhood' and arguably better than band finale  'Promenade' - what a tremendously creative period for Rod this era was.

Title track 'Stamping Ground' is a cute acoustic song that's a bluesier re-write of 'Run For Home' as the narrator gets back in touch with his roots after years of navigating by memories and a 'beat-up road map'. Rod plays some nice slide guitar on this one.

'Whisky Highway' is great, easily the album highlight despite being the only temperance Lindisfarne song in a career of drinking tunes! Once again life is a road but it's one travelled without any control with substance abuse taking us on a one-way ticket we don't want to travel. A classic singalong melody makes this one of Rod's most memorable solo songs.

I'm not very keen on 'Blue Interior' though, a noisy generic blues song with some wretched harmonica playing so false compared to Jacka's own and a noisy very 80s setting. The lyrics find Rod sat in a posh black car with a 'blue interior' that 'suits his mood' as he pretends to act happy and privileged but really feels betrayed and sad. There will be a lot more of this on the next CD...

Rod is a big reader, especially biographies, which is where he got the idea to write a song about Hattie McDaniels, the first ever African-American actress to win as Oscar for her supporting role in 'Gone With The Wind'. In 'Hattie McDaniels At The Oscars 1939' Rod wonders what she must have been thinking, celebrated for playing a stereotypical role and the way the role both re-enforced a stereotype while the success broke it. The song is a curious one that's more dialogue and story-telling than usual but has its charms.

'Whole Lifestyle Thing' makes Rod sound twenty years younger as he finds his inner rock star with a bouncy guitar song very much like early Dire Straits. The lyrics return to Rod's songs on 'Dingly Dell' and 'It's Jack The Lad', poking fun at the ridiculousness of the pop star game as Rod is a success for being who he is, yet has to change to other people's accepted ideals if he wants to stay one.

'Charity Main' is another album highlight, a near-solo acoustic performance where Rod is a miner in a modern world where there are no longer any mines left open, where the coal waste that once used to be so precious is just lying on the ground abandoned. All of the narrator's fuel, his fire and his food come from charity but he still dreams of 'rich pickings' on the other side of a 'slope'. A nicely Alan Hull-styled song which is all the more powerful for its sense of quiet rage.

'Roads Of East Northumberland' is another lovely song, with a more traditional folk feel than most. Rod passes all sorts of abandoned settlements on his route to work and reads the banners of names on monuments but he doesn't know who these mysterious people were who lived their lives so that he could live his. This one is like modern Mark Knopfler, a 'roots' song with a bit of mystery attached.

'Black Rain' is, at last, a solo version of a Rod song attempted at the 'Elvis Lives On The Moon' sessions but abandoned. A shame as it would have suited Marty's yell much better than Rod's gentle folk voice and it needs a Jacka mouthorgan to lift it into the top echelons of composition. Still, it's a good ecological song with Rod despairing of how people are treating the planet and the 'black rain' could be either pollution or oil as well as a metaphor for greedy human hearts.

'We Have To Talk' is more ordinary, a breakup song that wonders why a couple that had so much in common when they met and could never stop talking have run out of things to say to each other. Vocalist Thea Gilmore guests but she's woefully mis-cast, fitting neither Rod's voice or the song.

'Cowboy In The Rain' is a pretty acoustic song that sounds like an episode of Auf Wiedersen Pet' with a group of workers heading off to work in a foreign land, with 'the bright lights of Hollywood' their biggest escapism.

'One More Night With You' sounds ominous in context - Rod doesn't want to but knows he has to leave - there are things he has to do and the time is right. So he bids a teary goodbye to an old friend he wishes he could play one last gig with (Hully?) before 'time touches me on the shoulder' and it's farewell for good. The last Lindisfarne album 'Promenade' was released a mere year after this CD.

The album rounds off on stranger territory though with 'Old Blue Goose', a tribute of sorts to Texas blues singer Oscar Woods who the narrator fittingly meets 'down on the corner', his music now 'just history' yet so alive in Rod's own mind. It's an odd but pretty way to sign the album off.

'Stamping Ground' then is another strong Rod Clements effort, folkier and mellower than his other two records (so far) and can be compared to Mark knopfler's solo releases in its heady mix of the local and international. Rod sings beautifully throughout and the result is an album at least as good as the two latter-day Lindisfarne LPs Rod was 'in charge' of and another solo Lindisfarne record well worth looking out for.

"Back On The Tyne"

(**, April 2003)

CD One: Meet Me On The Corner/Oh Donna/All Fall Down/Rhythm Of The Rain/Run For Home/Clear White Light Part Two/Mother Russia/Speedy Gonzales-Little Darling-Dreamin'-La Bamba/January Song/Keep Your Hands Off My Baby/Breakfast/Fog On The Tyne
Cd Two: Lady Eleanor/We Can Make It/This Heart Of Mine/Warm Feeling/Road To Kingdom Come/Mr In-Between/City Song/Love You More Than I Can Say/Day Of The Jackal/Walk In The Sea/Run For Home

"Please tell me now - does this seem fair?"

So close, but no cigar - well pipe anyway. 'Back On The Tyne' is a two-disc set that for the first time tries to include a little bit of every Lindisfarne era - the Charisma, Phonogram, Mercury and even Stylus years. Had the track listing been a little better from all four then this might have been truly something - the chance to hear studio versions of 'Lady Eleanor'  and 'Run For Homer' together without putting them together yourself! However the set loses one big black mark for it's crazy track listing - who in their right mind would actually listen to the torturous 'Oh Donna' if they didn't have to and why is there a four song medley from 'C'mon Everybody' when one track would have been, well, actually rather more than enough? (The licensing rights must have been dirt cheap!) Why go to all the trouble of licensing Alan Hull's even more chequered solo career in terms of the record labels he was on and then plump for solely 'Breakfast' - even as a fan who loves the song it's a semi-deliberate slap in the face to the listener; why not go with the more obvious  'United States Of Mind' or 'Numbers Game' instead? While the Charisma years are understandably given less depth than some previous sets with more room  and largely get things right (a cheer for including 'City Song' at last! Still no 'Poor Old Ireland' though...) the reunion years are less well dealt with: 'This Heart Of Mine' 'Day Of The Jackal' and the final Hull-era single 'We Can Make It' wouldn't be choice to represent the whole of the Mercury output (ie between 1979 and 1993), nice as both tracks are. Where are 'Good To Be Here?' 'Must Stop Going To Parties' 'Nights' 'Heroes' 'A Hundred Miles To Liverpool' 'Anywhere The Wind Blows'?... What's more, the set loses another black mark for not even putting the things in any sensible order, so that you veer clumsily from the gorgeous pop concoction 'Meet Me On The Corner' to the downright clumsy retro pop concoction 'Oh Donna' and on to the witty sly town planner-baiting 'All Fall Down', prog rock at its finest. It makes no sense. Oh and minus another big black mark for the horrendous packaging - if I want to look at off-colour bridges then I'll buy a flipping geography textbook not a Lindisfarne CD! Bah!

"Acoustic"

(**, 2002)

Walking Back To Blueberry/Workin' My Way Back Home/When Jones Gets Back To Town/Refugees/Happy Birthday Dad/This Too Will Pass/Freedom Square/Remember Tomorrow/Sundown Station/One World/Ghost In Blue Suede Shoes/Train In G Major/Significant Other/Meet Me On The Corner

"Those who still remember come from miles around 'cause miles and years will disappear when you're dancing to that sound"

With the band losing members and the ability to pay for such a big band, Lindisfarne returned to their earlier acoustic format and went back to their folky roots with a pair of live albums featuring lost of their old favourites, more recent songs from 'Promenade' and a few oddities thrown in too. The result split fans who missed the power and rock element Lindisfarne once had and if this pair of albums have a weakness it's that everything tends to sound the same. However, the band can still play very well and for those who love Billy's voice this is another welcome chance to hear him singing old classics usually performed by Jacka or Hully. Most of the 'Promenade' songs actually sound better sung like this without a full band getting in the way and there's definitely an emphasis on Rod and Billy's material across this record - there will be much more Hull and Lindisfarne classics on the second volume (which is slightly the better of the two). Better yet the rather over-cooked and over-produced 1980s songs like 'Workin' My Way Back Home' and 'One World' sound so much better stripped back to the basics and treated with reverence and care, rather than desperation for a top forty hit. Overall, this is a stronger set even than 'Untapped and Acoustic' and sounds like the direction Lindisfarne should have gone in years ago - even if it is a record best heard in 'bits' rather than all in one go (where the differences will stand out more).  

"The Best Of Lindisfarne"

(EMI, September 2003)

Meet Me On The Corner/Lady Eleanor/All Fall Down/We Can Swing Together/Fog On The Tyne/Road To Kingdom Come/Scarecrow Song/Winter Song/Clear White Light Part 2/January Song/Down/Wake Up Little Sister/Together Forever/Alright On The Night/Go Back/Don't Ask Me/No Time To Lose/Dingly Dell/Sleeping/Love In A Cage

"WYou took me for a fool, you took me for a ride - but this is where I get off 'cause I'm going inside"

Another decade, another flawed compilation. Apart from the hits which are all well and proper, few fans would have chosen this as a true reflection of the best of Lindisfarne's Charisma years with a truly bonkers selection of tracks from the band's first three years. There are seven songs from 'Nicely Out Of Tune', six from 'Fog On The Tyne' and four from 'Dingly Dell' plus B-side 'No Time To Lose' - which is at least democratic - but instead of, say, 'City Songs' 'Passing Ghosts' and 'Poor Old Ireland' we get 'Down' 'Together Forever' and 'Go Back'. The big talking point was the addition of two 'new' Alan Hull songs recorded by the band in demo form  sometime in the 1980s - however 'Love In A Cage' had been released in studio form on Alan's solo album 'On The Other Side' and sounds truly awful and out of tune here despite the Jacka harmonica and lead vocal and  'Sleeping' is a real oddball, a strutting music hall style number that's closely modelled on John Lennon's 'I'm Only Sleeping' but without the psychedelia. Neither are worth your while if you own all the other songs and if you don't then there are other Lindisfarne compilations more deserving of your time than this. 

"Acoustic II"

(**, '2004')

City Song/Log On Your Fire/Candlelight/Passing Ghosts/Can't Do Right For Doing Wrong/Peter Brophy Does Not Care/United States Of Mind/Roll On That Day/Old Peculiar Feeling/One More Bottle Of Wine/Rocking Chair/Walk In The Sea

"It's only passing time - only passing a little bit of time!"

The second volume of Lindisfarne unplugged is even better, thanks partly to the fact that the band use a 'fuller' band sound on occasion to break up the monotony (and gives Ray Laidlaw something to do!) and partly because the band dip almost exclusively into their back catalogue for this one. And what a back catalogue it is too - freed of the need to just re-record all the hits again, Lindisfarne dig deep for a whole range of songs that the original band never did on stage - and yet which sound so good you have to ask yourself why they never got round to them. There are highlights galore across this fascinating set: Hull's solo 'United States Of Mind' re-worked from the composer's 'Back To Basics' arrangement with Rod singing a lovely vocal very in keeping with the original in tribute to his old friend; 'Passing Ghosts' is delightful, a very apt choice with its talk about age and death and the harmonies are exquisite, turned into more of a eulogy without losing the original's wit; Jack The Lad highlight 'Why Can't I Be Satisfied?' sounds pretty good as a sort of up tempo blues complete with slide guitar parts; that band's other song here 'Rocking Chair' is an even more apt choice with its tale of looking back over a life well lived and wishing you'd done more with your time; 'Peter Brophy Does Not Care' is gorgeous, slowed down to a scary pace that changes the song from a demented rant to a quiet rage that's even more effective, with Billy at his best; finally, 'Walk In The Sea' is a beautiful closer, with some lovely guitar-work and Rod on vocals again. And those are just the highlights - almost every song on this set is a veritable Lindisfarne classic, with certainly the best song selection of any Lindisfarne live set out there, even if you do still yearn for a bit of pace and power and rock to brighten things up a bit more. These are first-class songs exquisitely played and with a very different ambience compared to the originals, thanks to the twin differences of age and format and the track selection has clearly been chosen with some care. Alas even this low-budget version of Lindisfarne proved too hard to sustain, with fans staying away after Hull's tragic death, and the band don't have many corners left to turn after this - just time for one last nip to the bar lads before it's....

"Time, Gentlemen, Please"

(**, Recorded November 1st 2003, Released '2004')

CD One: No Time To Lose/Rocking Chair/The Guitar Never Lies/Remember Tomorrow/This Too Will Pass/Freedom Square/Ghost In Blue Suede Shoes/Lady Eleanor/Under The Promenade/Rock n Roll Phone/Statues and Liberties/Meet Me On The Corner/Born At The Right Time/Winter Song

CD Two: Can't Do Right For Doing Wrong/January Song/One Day/Road To Kingdom Come/Unmarked Car/Jubilee Corner/Unfinished Business/Whisky Highway/Run For Home/One More Bottle Of Wine/Fog On The Tyne/Devil Of The North/Clear White Light Part Two

"So I'm sitting in my rockin' chair and thinking of the things around me now, searching for a yarn to tell my own grandson...."

And so it ends, after thirty-three odd years (off and on), some twelve studio albums under the Lindisfarne banner and more live recordings than you can shake a mandolin at, the band play a last farewell show on November 1st 2003 at their old stomping ground of Newcastle City Hall, the scene of so many past triumphs. It's not quite a whimper, but it's not exactly a bang either, with standard professional performances of old friends that have the same strengths and weaknesses of the 'Untapped' album (it's good to hear the band trying to re-arrange everything in a new way rather than try and pretend the band are still the same after the departure of Jacka and Si and death of Alan, Billy is a great singer and it's about the best the band could have done in the circumstances - but this doesn't sound like 'Lindisfarne').  The band are sad but professional throughout, enjoying the chance to have one last send-off even if you can tell that none of the band really wants to say goodbye to such a long-running institution (this was a hard decision to say goodbye, caused by financial pressures and losing band members rather than a big row or a desire for a solo career, the way the 'first' Lindisfarne ended).

Though far from the best performance Lindisfarne ever gave, it's nice to have a recording of it and it's all been carefully planned, with a longer and more eclectic setlists than normal. Alan Hull is well represented in his absence and as with the other recent live records the twin joy and horror comes from hearing Billy trying to do his work justice (and largely succeeding it has to be said, though it's still all a bit odd). The band also revive a few rarer songs specially for the fans - the Jack The Lad classic 'Rockin' Chair' (ever more poignant given that the band are now heading towards late age not middle age), the classic posthumous Hull solo song 'Statues and Liberties' and an earlier song 'One More Bottle Of Wine' never performed under the Lindisfarne name before, 'Amigos' highlight 'One Day' which sounds particularly good live, Rod's solo highlight 'Whisky Highway' and the gorgeous 'Unmarked Car' from 'Neighbourhood' that really roars. It's also hard not to shed a tear as the band wave goodbye believing in the clear white light that's going to take us all one day one last time, although it's not as strong as some other versions out there. Not all the material is in such fine health - some of the older material are rather dismissed considering that this is the last time so many of the people who created the music had to sing them -and you'd never consider this live set 'essential' listening, more a 'you had to be there' souvenir. However if the band had to come to an end then it's a welcome chance for fans to see how our beloved Lindisfarne came to an end and it's a satisfactory if not quite spectacular conclusion to a fascinating story.  A DVD was also released of this concert which is a little bit underwhelming to watch actually - the show works better as a soundtrack (although the 'bonus' documentary screened on North-East television channel Tyne TV is an excellent 'bonus' feature with lots of great archive footage that deserved to be broadcast on a main channel). 

Alan Hull "We Can Swing Together: The Anthology 1965-1995"

(Castle, May 2005)

CD One: I Won't Be Around You Anymore (The Chosen Few)/Big City (The Chosen Few)/So Much To Look Forward To (The Chosen Few)/Today Tonight and Tomorrow (The Chosen Few)/Tjis We Shall Explore (Hull and Bifferty)/Schizoid Revolution (Hull and Bifferty)/Where Is My Sixpence?/We Can Swing Together (Early Solo Version)/Obadiah's Grave/Lady Eleanor/Winter Song/Fog On The Tyne/Poor Old Ireland/All Fall Down (Live)/Court In The Act (Live)/Money Game/Justanothersadsong/Taking Care Of Business/Squire/Dan The Plan/I Wish You Well

CD Two: Run For Home/Jukebox Gypsy/Marshall Riley's Army/Call Of The Wild/Shine On/Heroes/100 Miles To Liverpool/Elvis Lives On The Moon/Spoken Like A Man/Soho Square/Day Of The Jackal (Band Version)/We Can Make It/United States Of Mind (Live)/Breakfast (Live)/O No Not Again (Live)/Hoi Poloi/Walk A Crooked Mile/Statues and Liberties/Clear White Light Part Two (Live)

"Just to pass a little bit of time, to play some human games"

Released to cash in on the welcome and entirely appropriate fuss that was being made about Alan Hull ten years on from his death, this anthology was designed to appeal to newer fans intrigued by what they'd seen on the news and who had read about the 'Hull Story' tribute gig with so many big names taking part, although true fans were well catered for as well with a generous handful of unreleased recordings and rarities. Both sides of the two rare Chosen Few singles are here, revealing Hull's R and B roots and his knack for hiding controversial ideas within a hummable tune. There's also an early pre-Lindisfarne demo for the charming 'Where Is My Sixpence?' and a couple of less interesting recording with Hull's folk partner Skip Bifferty. Best of all there's a welcome chance to hear Hull's solo original of 'We Can swing Together' before Lindisfarne re-recorded it for 'Nicely Out Of Tune' - though less carefully sung and lacking the polish and brotherhood of the band version it's a nice piece to hear after all these years, with original B-side 'Obadiah's Grave' another interesting piece of the early Hull jigsaw puzzle, a very Beatley psychedelic song. Once we're onto the Lindisfarne and solo years it's largely business as usual, with the 'Phantoms' recording of 'I Wish You Well' the closest to a rarity and there's a noticeable dearth of songs from 'Pipedream' and 'On The Other Side' here (though the 'Back To Basics' live recordings of both 'Breakfast' and 'United States Of Mind' soften the blow a bit). 

Some of the track choices are debatable too and seem heavily skewed towards the 1980s and 1990s years when Hull was running out of steam a bit - the title track of 'Elvis Lives On The Moon', for instance, is one of his worst songs (I'd gladly swap it for 'Good To Be Here?' or another of the great Hull songs from 'Sleepless Nights') while choosing 'Taking Care Of Business' as the only Hull song from the 'Mark II' years is a tragedy given how many fans might have been introduced to the two under-rated albums through this set (why not release 'River', the song most fans agree is the best of the era?) Even worse there's no sign of many of Hull's classic original material: 'Alan In The River With Flowers' 'January Song' 'City Song' and 'Passing Ghosts' (though full marks for being brave enough to include 'Poor Old Ireland'). Given the many many restrictions on compiling this album though - the licensing rights (Hull changed his record labels as often as he changed his socks) and the pressure to include everything  - it's not bad at all, offering just enough insight into how great a figure Alan Hull was in all his many contradictions and musical styles while adding a couple of shades of colour only the biggest Lindisfarne collector would have heard before this.

"The Best Of Lindisfarne"

(EMI, August 2005)

Lady Eleanor/All Fall Down/Meet Me On The Corner/Fog On The Tyne/Road To Kingdom Come/January Song/Poor Old Ireland/Court In The Act/Train In G Major/Alright On The Night/Scarecrow Song/Winter Song/Clear White Light Part Two/Juke Box Gypsy/Warm Feeling/Ghost In Blue Suede Shoes/Can't Do Right For Doing Wrong/Call Of The Wild/Run For Home

"Think I passed this way before, many moons ago or more, I love you then and I always will..."
The bridges are back for yet another Lindisfarne best-of, which does a rather better job of capturing all eras of the band's sound than 'Back On The Tyne' did. Like the album cover (a bridge etched on wood) this is sturdy if not spectacular, with a neat mixture mainly taken from the 'Charisma' years, although there's a nice run of four songs from the 1978-79 years and a further two highlights from 'Here Comes The Neighbourhood' in 1998. Thankfully there are no 'C'mon Everybody' party tracks here to disrupt the mood this time! You could quibble that this still isn't enough compared to the band's glory years but actually the mixture is about right, especially with probably the single best track selection from the Charisma years. 'Clear White Light' 'Poor Old Ireland' and 'All Fall Down' are in their proper place alongside all four of the band's biggest hits, although perhaps oddly there's no fan favourite 'We Can swing Together' this time around. Even so - and even with the horrendous 'Jukebox Gypsy' popping up near the end - this is one of the superior Lindisfarne compilations around and perhaps your second best bet if you only want to buy one CD by the band, with a bit of everything and a large (though by no means complete) dollop of the good stuff. 

"Meet Me On The Corner - The Best Of"
(Sanctuary, '2006')
CD One: Run For Home/Jukebox Gypsy/Warm Feeling/King's Cross Blues/Get Wise/Marshall Riley's Army/Angels At Eleven/Make Me Want To Stay/Brand New Day/Call Of The Wild/People Say/1983/Easy and Free/When Friday Comes Along/Good To Be Here?/Nights/Winning The Game/Sunderland Boys/Do What I Want/Must Stop Going To Parties/Stormy Weather

CD Two: Shine On/Love On The Run/Heroes/Dance Your Life Away/Beautiful Day/100 Miles To Liverpool/Song For A Stranger/One World/Everything Changes/Working For The Man/Roll On That Day/When The Night Comes Down/Day Of The Jackal/Soho Square/Mother Russia/Elvis Lives On The Moon/Spoken Like A Man/We Can Make It

CD Three (Live): Lady Eleanor/Road To Kingdom Come/Turn A Deaf Ear/January Song/Court In The Act/No Time To Lose/Winter Song/Uncle Sam/Wake Up Little Sister/All Fall Down/Meet Me On The Corner/Bye Bye Birdie/Train In G Major/Scarecrow Song/Dingly Dell/Scotch Mist/We Can Swing Together/Fog On The Tyne/Clear White Light Part Two

"Rolling sands of time slip through your hand"

The good news first of all - with three discs to choose from this set offers far more detail than most compilation albums and unless you're a committed Lindisfanatic who has to own everything it probably owns everything you need to know from the 'reunion years' between 1978 and 1994, even throwing in a rare single in 'We Can Make It' to round off the Alan Hull era. With an average of seven songs per studio album it's nicely generous and the song listing is generally good (although personally I'd still have added 'King's Cross Blues' 'Start Again'  and 'Cruising To Disaster' in there somewhere). Better yet it skips 'C'mon Everybody' in its entirety! But here's the thing - this set only contains the reunion years and doesn't include any of the original recordings from Sanctuary. There really is a world of difference between the two bands and their music which goes from ramshackle to over-posh over-night (well across a six year hiatus). The sleeve-notes don't quite tell you this but the third disc is a live one, a 'highlights' version of 'Magic In The Air' which isn't quite the same if this is the only Lindisfarne compilation you intend to buy. Many a fan and newcomer has been taken in by this collection, which doesn't exactly advertise the fact or add much in the form of sleevenotes. Had Sanctuary called it a 'best of the Mercury Years' or even 'A Collection of Classics' or something or simply resisted naming it after one of the band's biggest hits (which is only here in live form) we'd have been happier.

Rod Clements "Odd Man Out"

(Market Square, February 2007)

All Grown Up and Nowhere To Go/Essentially Yours/Taking The Road Back Home/Dead Man's Karaoke/Odd Man Out/Touch Me Not/Ragtown/New Best Friend/September Sunrise/Morocco Bound

"To me by far the greatest mystery is how we keep being taken in"

Essentially 'Odd Man Out' is what should have been the third post-Hull Lindisfarne album, minus a few Billy Mitchell and Dave Denholm contributions. This time though Rod is largely left on his own to make this record, alongside collaborator Nigel Stonier who helped produce the album for him. It would have been a similar album to 'Promenade' in many ways, with a similar rock and roll retro vibe to 'Rock and Roll Phone' and with the folk stylings of 'Neighbourhood' even more muted. We know of course what a great writer Rod can be so the general quality of the set isn't too much of a surprise, but as with most of the past ten years worth of Clement recordings the revelation is his voice: bluesy, expressive and soulful it seems a waste that he went so long as a non-singing album of the band (truth be told I prefer it to Mitch's or Marty's). It's good to hear Rod go back to his blues and R and B roots at times too, although equally you miss the harmonica that Jacka would have brought to these songs in years gone by. There's a nice theme running across the album though of feeling like an outsider in a changing world - something Lindisfarne had touched on before but never across a whole album as here.  The end result might not perhaps be the best thing Rod has ever done - and in terms of songs it's not quite up to the heights of 'Neighbourhood' and somewhere level with 'Promenade' - but it's another stronger-than-expected album from an artist too long overshadowed in the band he helped found who has more than enough to say to fill out his first full album in years.

Opener 'All Grown Up and Nowhere to Go' is a real 50s style foot-stomper of the sort Rod would have given to Marty in the old days. Feeling like the teenager finding himself alone at the start of a long climb making a name for himself, Rod talks about how his old friends have moved on and Newcastle is dancing to a different beat he doesn't quite understand. Still, even if Rod's the only who knows how being an ageing rocker come home 'feels' at least he's experienced it firsthand unlike the youngster around him scrabbling to make it.

'Existentially Yours' is a full-on blues song raging against modern world, 'turning truth and tolerance into a sin' as do-gooders band harmless fun like Halloween and throw schoolbooks of past generation's hard-learnt lessons onto a fire. Rod 'wakes up screaming' in horror at how some people make their money  and the businessmen who refuse to change their out-of-date ways as Rod gets more and more indignant on a very Alan Hull-ish song that would have done his old colleague proud.

'Taking The Back Road  Home' is a return to Rod's theme of a life being like a long road, talking to an old friend about how far he walked and how far he came, even if it wasn't the highway he expected to swan down. I'm convinced Rod is singing about Alan here and his upset at his relative lack of fame, telling his old friend not to worry because he did good and achieved 'more than most'. It's a sweet acoustic song that's cosy and intimate, fascinating for fans.

'Dead Man's Karaoke' is a Dire Straits-style rocker about people having fun dancing to the sounds they hear coming out of their stereo without quite realising how much the narrator is still in mourning for them. Half of his friends are dead - and the rest are pale parodies of themselves, 'in it for the money or in it for the show'. The song is another promising idea but it needs a bit more variety to keep things interesting.

Title track 'Odd Man Out' is a sea shanty about the outsiders from across history, the unseen unheralded people who push for change when everyone else is safely tucked up home in bed. Kings can topple and empires can fall, but it's the ordinary men who think outside the box who hold the 'real' power. Once again it's a strong lyric but let down by a rather repetitive melody.

'Touch Me Not' is an odd Pentangle-style folk song about a red-haired girl who doesn't want to get close to anybody. The narrator thinks he can change her mind and get close to her, but in a shock twist is shot by the girl and reveals to us that this is just his ghost still wandering around the fields where she died, still wondering how to put things right for her.


'Ragtown' is a return to the Northern working class roots of previous Lindisfarne albums, with a whole town built by a group of underclass builders who deserve better. The narrator is fed up of building projects ion one small town that get abused and abandoned and unused so he vows to travel anywhere for work ('As long as it's not 'Ragtown' I don't care!) It's another blues-based song but less interesting than some.

'New Best Friend' is as fascinating song about jealousy - the narrator  says he doesn't care if his former partner is off playing with another he used to be close to (is it the team-up of Mitch and Ray?!) and is too polite to do anything else except wish them well. However there hurt in this song shines through, Rod singing with an odd technique in his voice that makes him sound like's he way off down the sidelines and singing with a megaphone!

'September Sunrise' is one of the album highlights, a pretty song about changing seasons as Rod realises that Summer has passed without him properly noticing. It's a 'Turning Into Winter' for the ages, with a delightful lead vocal full of loss and bitter-sweetness.

The album ends with 'Morocco Bound', an uptempo song about running away and longing to be somewhere, anywhere but here. It's a sort of 'Working My Way Back Home' in reverse,  a long list of all the experiences the narrator wants to enjoy (best line: 'I might go to Rabat or buy a new hat!')
Overall, then, 'Odd Man Out' is a fascinating sequence of songs all based round the theme of being forgotten or abandoned or betrayed, but it's also an album that comes with a large dollop of hope and escapism thrown in too. It's a lovely little album that would have made a nice sequel to 'Promenade' had it been performed by the band - and yet it might even sound better as a solo album with Rod on top form throughout. The odd man out of the Lindisfarne catalogue is still an essential purchase for fans who still miss their regular doses of Lindisfarne magic, power and beauty.

"At The BBC"

(Market Square, April 2009)

CD One: Lady Eleanor/City Songs/Train In G Major/Fog On The Tyne/Scotch Mist (Sounds Of The 70s June 1971)/City Song/Train In G Major/Lady Eleanor/Fog On The Tyne/Knacker's Yard Blues/We Can Swing Together (John Peel In Concert June 1971)/Together Forever/No Time To Lose/January Song/Lady Eleanor/Meet Me On The Corner/Train In G Major/Fog On The Tyne/Jackhammer Blues (Radio One In Concert December 1971)

CD Two: Mandolin King/Poor Old Ireland/Road To Kingdom Come/Lady Eleanor/Drug Song/Country Gentleman's Wife/Passing Ghosts/Turn A Deaf Ear (Sounds Of The 70s June 1972)/Steppenwolf/No Time To Lose/North Country Boy/Roll On River/Taking Care Of Business/Lady Eleanor/Moonshine/Toe The Line/When War Is Over (Radio One In Concert December 1973)

"Step by step we climb the stairs, in search of something far away, day by day we fade away, and watch each other disappear"

A more thorough version of the 'City Songs' and 'Peel Sessions' releases from a decade earlier, this is a two-disc set releasing the only six Lindisfarne radio sessions through to have survived. The bad news is that five of the shows took place across just twelve calendar months without giving the band much scope to change their material so what we get is one of those repetitive major-fans-only sets that include no less than five 'Lady Eleanors' and three 'Fog On The Tynes'. The good news is that Lindisfarne were such an inventive band that they never played any song the same way twice, so that all versions are subtly different - and 'Eleanor' gets quite a makeover during the last concert session from the 'Mark II' line-up, which with its harder-edged sound, flute solo and quivery backing vocals may well be the loveliest live 'Eleanor' of them all.
The first show, a five-song 'Sound Of The 70s' set from June 1971 (previously released in full on 'City Songs') is as about as tight as I've heard the 'original' Lindisfarne and features several of their best songs with a beautiful, restless 'Lady Eleanor', a bordering-on-out-of-control 'City Song' , a laidback 'Train In G Major', an oddly faithful 'Fog On The Tyne' with Hull doing some Buddy Holly impressions on the 'hiccuping' final verse and a dementedly cheery 'Scotch Mist'. The second show with John Peel from later the same month (also released in full on 'City Songs') is much ropier, with four of the same songs (minus 'Scotch Mist') not quite played as well. The previously unreleased 'In Concert' show - part of a series of half-hour shows broadcast on BBC2 in the early 1970s and featuring many AAA stars though sadly the actual visuals of the performance have never been seen - is the most interesting, an eight song set that features some more unusual performances of unusual songs and is a rather mixed bag. B-side 'Knackery's Yard Blues' and 'Jackhammer Blues' are given eccentric arrangements, an eight minute slightly-too-slow performance of 'We Can Swing Together' tries to get by on sheer communal singing alone and can't quite make it, a delightfully daft 'Together Forever' (previously released on 'Buried Treasures') swings nicely, 'January Song' comes close to falling apart and is sung far too slow, 'Lady Eleanor' sounds rather undressed, 'Meet Me On The Corner' is slightly underpowered and 'Train In G Major' is quicker and hipper than normal. However the highlight is a nicely funky 'No Time To Lose' on which Lindisfarne go for pure rock and roll.

Next up on disc two is the four song second 'Sounds Of The 70s' set already released as 'The Peel Sessions' (even though technically that programme didn't exist yet, with Peel a presenter on another show) and on 'City Songs', a set from May 1972 that's most interesting for the  rare performance of 'Poor Old Ireland' that's one of the best things on this set and rivals even the 'Dingly Dell' version for power (though you rather mis the harmonium part). Fifth up is another 'Sounds Of The 70s' set from a month later (again released on 'City Songs') which features a late-period original line-up chaotic version of Rab Noakes cover 'Turn A Deaf Ear' (in which this time the giant poster is of 'Steve McQueen'!) alongside three solo Hull performances - a rather over-sneered 'Passing Ghosts' and previews of two songs released on 'Pipedream' in 'Country Gentleman's Wife' (sounding much the same) and 'Drug Song' which is lacking something without the backing of a full band. Finally and exclusive to this set is a more-enjoyable-than-expected second in concert show featuring the 'Mark II' line-up on a full half hour show. John Peel jokingly announces that the Osmonds won't be appearing ('Little Jimmy Osmond was accidentally converted into a rather attractive picnic set for all the family') and Jacka joins in the fun by mentioning the 'mitigating circumstances' but the audience don't seem to mind and are in mood for fun that the band provide with versions of seven 'Roll On Ruby' tunes that all sound much better live (especially a harmony-drenched brass band-less 'When War Is Over' and a soulful 'Roll On River' with some great Jacka-Kenny harmonies). However it's the two older Lindisfarne classics that still fare the best - that wondrous 'Lady Eleanor' and a much heavier, rockier 'No Time To Lose' than the 'Mark I' band ever played.
Overall, then, there's a lot here you don't really need and the second and third shows especially are a bit ramshackle and doddery compared to what Lindisfarne can manage on a good night. However it's welcome to have the opportunity to pick and choose this for ourselves from everything that survived the BBC purges of the 1970s and the first and last shows especially capture the band on great form, a welcome historical document given how few Lindisfarne shows exist (this is the only one by the 'Mark II' band out there I believe and it's something of a revelation, with the band so much tighter than on the records). It's a likeable set that might not be enough to turn your non-Lindisfarne fans into passionate followers but has more than enough good stuff to satisfy long-term Lindisfans. 

Rod Clements "Live Ghosts"

(Market Square, March 2010)

Stamping Ground/Why Can't I Be Satisfied?/Blue Interior/Charity Main/Roads Of East Northumberland/When Jones Gets Back To Town/Candlelight/Whole Lifestyle Thing/Remember Tomorrow/Can't Do Right For Doing Wrong/Lost Highway/Meet Me On The Corner

"If I seem kind of blue to you it's 'cause I'm not getting through to you"

Rod and his new backing band 'Ghosts Of Electricity' perform some old friends in a live concert setting that's not all that different to how they sounded on the records. Any chance to hear Rod play some of his rarer songs like 'Why Can't I Be Satisfied?' and 'Candlelight' is highly welcome however and there's a strong selection of tracks including most of the best from his last solo album 'Stamping Ground' and the final two Lindisfarne records. Throughout, though, there's a sense of frustration that Rod is here alone instead of with the full Lindisfarne line-up, forced to call it a day through lack of funds and it is perhaps ominous that the only Hull-era Lindisfarne song played the entire night is 'Meet Me On The Corner' (not even 'Passing Ghosts' as the record title implies!) Good as it is, the two Rod studio solo albums are better yet and 'Rendezvous Cafe' offers a much fuller and better performed mix of friends old and new in live form.

Lindisfarne/Alan Hull "The River Sessions"

(Active Distribution, Recorded 1976, 1978 and 1982, Released November 2010)

CD One (Lindisfarne 1982): Start Again/Love Is A Pain/Same Way Down/Only Alone/Bye Bye Birdie/Lady Eleanor/Nights/Make Me Want To Stay/Meet Me On The Corner/Run For Home/Fog On The Tyne/Clear White Light Part Two/Never Miss Your Water/Warm Feeling/Cruising To Disaster/Stormy Weather

CD Two (Alan Hull 1976/1978): Squire/Peter Brophy Does Not Care/Picture A Little Girl/Money Game/Dan The Plan/Golden Oldies/Angels At Eleven

"A brand new story could be happening"

Effectively three concerts across two discs, the first disc consists of the reunion band plugging their 1982 album 'Sleepless Nights'  at Glasgow's Apollo Theatre and two shows from Alan Hull's solo career, from shortly before the band got back together again. The Lindisfarne disc is probably the best, with the better-than-average comeback album 'Sleepless Nights' really suiting the live stage with it's harder, punchier songs and the band offering a well-drilled performance of seven of that record's songs alongside four from 'Back and Fourth' and some older classics (interestingly there's nothing here from 1979's 'The News', their other most recent record). Much tighter than the 'Lindisfarntastic' shows from the same period (though without the 'exclusive' material) if not quite as ramshackly brilliant as 'Magic In The Air' from a few years earlier, it's a shame that this album wasn't released sooner as it's by far LIndisfarne's most polished and accomplished live recording available so far.  'Same Way Down' works particularly well live, while Hull performs 'Never Miss Your Water' and 'Cruisin' To Disaster' far more naturally than he did on record. Of the old songs a relatively compact six minute 'Clear White Light' is the highlight with Lindisfarne's harmonies surprisingly strong here compared to normal and only Jacka's regular concert favourite 'Bye Bye Birdie' slows the performance down a tad. A black mark for not including the obvious song given the circumstances though ('Alan In The River Sessions With Flowers'!) Hull's solo shows lose out from having to re-create so much of the band sound with just one acoustic guitar - though Hully is on top form as a vocalist in 1976 particularly there's less here to catch the ear. That said a charming 90 second fragment of his pre-Lindisfarne song 'Picture A Little Girl' is charming without all the overdubs of 'Squire' and 'Dan The Plan' is nicely vicious and vindictive. Sadly though the piano ballad 'Angels At Eleven' - the only song here from a 1978 radio gig - sounds even worse than it did on 'Back and Fourth'. The Hull disc was later released separately as 'Angels At Eleven' in 2009 which at twenty minutes must stand as the shortest Lindisfarne-related CD and comes with a truly ugly cover (of an angel, possibly at eleven-  there isn't a clock-face). A mixed bag of river songs, then, that's in turns powerful and a bit wet. 
"The Charisma Years 1970-1973"

(EMI, January 2011)

CD One: 'Nicely Out Of Tune' (Tracks 1-11) plus Knacker's Yard Blues/Nothing But The Marvellous Is Beautiful/From My Window/On My Own I Built A Bridge/Lady Eleanor (US Mix)/We Can Swing Together (US Mix)/Scarecrow Song (US Mix)/Meet Me On The Corner (Demo)

CD Two: 'Fog On The Tyne' (Tracks 1-10) plus Scotch Mist/No Time To Lose/January Song (Single Mix)/'Dingly Dell' (Tracks 14-25)

CD Three: Lindisfarne Live (Expanded CD Version)

CD Four: 'Roll On Ruby' (Tracks 1-10)/Taking Care Of Business (US Mix)/North Country Boy (US Mix)/Roll On River (US Mix)

"WOn his own he built a mountain and on his own he climbed it, but when he got to the top he found another hill behind it"

Shockingly Lindisfarne have never been given the full box set treatment - primarily I think because their catalogue is so neatly split between Charisma (now Virgin) and Mercury - two big labels neither of which are likely to budge over track listings except for a few odd licensed tracks on best-ofs. Instead the closest we have to a Lindisfarne box set is this nicely cheap yet not out of tune compilation of every single previously released recording the band made for the Charisma label between 1970 and 1974. Controversially that includes the complete CD version of 'Lindisfarne Live' and the first 'Mark II' album 'Roll On Ruby', even though most fans don't really count either as 'full' releases. The set also includes a whole load of ever-so-marginally-different-you-probably-won't-even-notice American mixes of some songs, which is the equivalent of making art collectors fork out all their money again because someone's found a copy of a painting with one tiny brush stroke missing you can't even notice. That said, there are several good reasons for purchasing this set if you can find it at the right price: sensibly Virgin have licensed the rights to all the relevant period 'Buried Treasure' outtakes released in the 1990s, although sadly there aren't very many of them - just two admittedly charming outtakes from 'Nicely Out Of Tune', in Hull's pretty ballad 'From My Window' and the best Rab Noakes cover of the lot 'On My Own I Built A Bridge' both sung with real conviction by Jacka. There's also a wonderful demo of 'Meet Me On The Corner' that's ever so nearly in shape but is still quite audibly different in places, with the band far less confident of its actually deceptively tricky chord changes. Both 'Nicely' and 'Fog On The Tyne' also contain all the bonus tracks from the last time the two albums were re-issued on CD, which is useful if you haven't updated either record yet. Finally the set also includes the very rare 'Roll On Ruby' set, which rolled over before most fans had had a chance to buy it last time around, although frustratingly the 'BBC Session' tracks of 'Happy Daze' songs curiously added on to the end of the last set (despite dating from a year or so later) are missing from this edition. Overall, then, 'The Charisma Years' isn't perfect - it would have been nice to have filled up the extra half-disc with some pre-Lindisfarne tracks (the Alan Hull demos from 'Happy Daze' or the 'Buries Treasure' tracks would have done) and the packaging leaves much to be desired (the cover is the rather ugly, moody shot of the band in profile in blue and as cardboard cut-outs used for reason best known to the American record label as 'their' edition of the 'Nicely Out Of Tune' album). However if you're new to Lindisfarne and only know the best-ofs then this is the cheapest way of getting all of the truly 'essential' Lindisfarne recordings and lots of other stuff besides. Just remember that some of the 'reunion' material is worth giving a go too...

" The Anthology"

(Renaissance Records, April 2011)

Run For Home/Lady Eleanor/Fog On The Tyne/Juke Box Gypsy/Meet Me On The Corner/Dance Your Life Away/Running Man/No Time To Lose/Warm Feeling/Miracle/Roll On That Day/We Can Make It/Elvis Lives On The Moon/Road To Kingdom Come/All Fall Down/Winter Song/Evening/Clear White Light Part Two/It'll Be Me/Run For Home (Live)

"If you ever have a sleepless night, just count out your money, it'll be alright - won't it?"

The second Lindisfarne Anthology recycles the front cover of 'Back and Fourth' and comes bearing gifts from that and the other Lindisfarne reunion LPs alongside the usual tried and trusted tracks from the Charisma years. Though shorter it marks an improvement on the last time out, with less songs from 'C'mon Everybody' and 'Elvis' though the track listing still isn't quite what I'd call Lindisfarne's greatest material: the title tracks of 'Dance Your Life Away' and 'Elvis Lives On The Moon' are about the two weakest songs the band ever released (though 'Jukebox Gypsy' surely wins - that's here too!), whilst 'Miracle' 'Roll On That Day' and 'Evening' are far from the best songs from their respective albums. Hearing 'Run For Home' twice over (once in studio and once in live form) also seems a shocking waste given the classics missing from this set ('We Can swing Together' and 'City Song' amongst them). A most curious set, which disappeared soon after release and seems to have been deleted in something of a hurry - don't worry too much if you didn't get it as you're not missing much. 

Rod Clements "Rendezvous Cafe"

(,  2014)

Road To Kingdom Come/Train In G Major/Meet Me On The Corner/Don't Ask Me/Why Can't I Be Satisfied?/Plain Dealing/Sunderland Boys/Sundown Station/Roll On That Day/Old Peculiar Feeling/Refugees/Coming Home To You/Working My Way Back Home/Ghost In Blue Suede Shoes/Jubilee Corner/Can't Do Right For Doing Wrong/One Day/Unmarked Car/This Guitar Never Lies/When Jones Gets Back To Town/Candlelight/Unfinished Business/This Too Will Pass/Freedom Square/Remember Tomorrow

"It's been a long time coming but I'm working my way back home!"

Rod's latest at the time of writing is a catch-all as-live studio record gathering together all sorts of old friends, both famous and forgotten. This works particularly well on the songs that originally sounded the most different and there are some lovely acoustic re-workings of electric songs like a much calmer, sober take on 'Road To Kingdom Come', a sweet natured folk-picking 'Meet Me On The Corner' and especially 'Why Can't I Be Satisfied?' (which now sounds like a cowboy song), all performed by Rod's wonderful bluesy vocal (why didn't he sing all those years with the band?) The double-disc set is generous in terms of the songs it offers, which include pretty much every song Rod ever wrote for Lindisfarne or Jack The Lad down the years (though oddly 'When Friday Comes Along' from 'The News' - which would have sounded rather good in 'unplugged' form - 'Heroes' from 'Dance Your Life Away' and 'One More Dance' and 'Home Sweet Home' the two standalone Jack The Lad singles are missing) . However while the glory years when Hull and Jacka were still in the band are well handled (all barring a rather odd take on 'Sunderland Boys' which is nothing with the production powerhouse of the 1982 cut) half the set is all but redundant, with Rod re-cutting acoustic versions of most of the songs from the 'Neighbourhood' and 'Promenade' albums that were acoustic anyway. Nice as it is to hear Rod singing his own classics like 'Can't Do Right For Doing Wrong' and even those Dave Denholm sung on the two albums like 'Candlelight', the versions here really aren't that different. Still, this is a welcome stop-off point in Rod's long career journey and a welcome chance to look back on past roads before something more substantial comes along. 





                                                                          

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