The Mermaid Of Zennor

The Mermaid Of Zennor

It being St Piran’s Day this Friday (The National Day of Cornwall) I thought I’d share with you a song I wrote called The Mermaid Of Zennor. The story is an old Cornish folk tale that I remember my mother telling me as a child. Also we visited the church in Zennor on one of Dad’s legendary “mystery trips” where a rather ancient mermaid is carved into one of the pews. I returned as an adult, and the mermaid was less disappointing –  the church is lovely and the coastline stunning. It is every bit as beautifully Cornish as you can get. Way out in the wild windy west.

The reason for writing this story as a song was that I couldn’t find any versions of the many Cornish folk tales I heard as a child done as songs, and felt that it would be a fun project to make an album of said stories. I do love a story in a song – and there are some great stories in the myths and legends of Cornwall. So I began writing the songs and now have an album worth of Cornish myths and legends ready to record and release…

This then is a preview.

The story tells of a mermaid who falls in love with a man who sings in the church at Zennor, and comes ashore to hear him. He inevitably falls in love with her and vanishes into the sea with her never to be seen again. But they say that if you listen closely when standing on the headland you can hear him singing to this day…go there and listen. It’s worth it.

Beasts Of Burden

I may have mentioned Ed’s notebook before.

It was the one he wrote the story for The Frozen Lake in.

He wrote ideas in this notebook for an album’s worth of folky songs and tunes…some were well-formed ideas, others just titles. After I wrote “The Frozen Lake” a couple of years went by before I looked at the scan I’d done of the notebook.

It was during the first Covid-19 lockdown in 2020. I had time on my hands and looked at my photo of a page of the notebook. There was an idea for a song called “Beasts of Burden” and a list of animals.

It said “heavy blues with hammond”…but as soon as I started playing around with it it morphed into a more strummy Neil Young kind of vibe. So I stuck with that. Sorry Ed. Well, now the lyrics are there so we can always do a bluesy version another day!

The animals included are by and large those from the notebook, although I think I added the mule and left out a bison.

Ed is doing amazing stuff that you should check out HERE and HERE

On this recording I play my Martin HD28V guitar, Musicman Stingray Bass, Fender Stratocaster through virtual amps in logic and a virtual Hammond organ (a mix of organs from the Logic standard midi library put through a Leslie simulators). Recorded at Avalon as ever and mastered at 6 Bit Deep by Joel Krozer.


 

And the words are:

On a mountain side no turning back
Gales around us give no slack
If we were carrying our pack
no further could we roam
Bearing our wares on its back
Ever strong our trusty Yak
Onward down the rocky track
We make it safely home

Beasts of burden – Carry our load
Horse and mule ox and buffalo
in the mines the fields on the canals and down the dusty road
Carry our load
Beasts of burden

In the desert endless sand
Rocks and stones scattered across the land
A thirst that could kill a man
With goods to sell so far away
The camel in this climate stands
Making few demands
In a place where no other can
Take the cold of night and heat of day

In the corn fields of England
The might shire horse used to stand
And pull the plough across the land
With strength and pride
These giants gentle broad and grand
Could not keep up with modern man
Will beasts of burden understand
The turning tide

Caledonia

Caledonia is one of those amazing songs that becomes a folk music classic within years of being written (like Green Fields of France, Crazy Man Michael, Fiddler’s Green and Fields of Athenry). It was written by Dougie MacLean in 1977, I believe, and released in 1979 on the album of the same title. It was barely out of nappies before everyone and their piper were performing it.  For 2 reasons:  It’s a fantastic melody; and it has a genuine feeling of longing to the lyrics.  An authenticity that cuts to the heart.

I came to the song quite late.  I’d heard it performed by many people, and loved it, but didn’t have it on my list of “must sing” numbers…mostly because I felt I had enough Scottish repertoire, and more songs about Scottish people missing Scotland were low priority – particularly as I was mostly performing upbeat stuff for pub audiences or else rock-based covers and originals.  I finally learned it about 4 years ago, and coincidently just before I got together with a group of musicians from my local area of Fyn in Denmark.

We drank coffee on Tuesday mornings and played folk music.  Folk music is a broad term, and – as we came from very different musical backgrounds –  we took material and inspiration from everything from Americana to Irish trad and from blues to ballads.  Suddenly there was a place that Caledonia belonged, and I can’t remember who suggested it.  But I had been playing it the same as Douglie MacLean’s original: in open C tuning, but with a capo on the 6th fret (as opposed to Dougie’s 4th) so that I was singing in G.

Doing it this way in a band set up meant either tuning the guitar or having an extra guitar handy, and that was too much effort, so I made a version in standard tuning, with captures the essence of the song (hopefully) though without those lovely open string timbres.  This has become my “go to” version, as it means I can seamlessly throw the song in at solo gigs without a major retune before and after…and this is then the version I have played on the following video.

Comments Off on Caledonia

Albums that formed me: Selling England By The Pound

Selling England By the Pound

The first music I ever owned was Pinapple Poll – the music of Arthur Sullivan (Of Gilbert and Sullivan fame) on an LP.  I played it on my sister’s Philip’s Stereogram with it’s auto-change function and 4 speeds (16, 33, 45 and 78) that was passed down from my music-loving grandpa.  This and my 2nd LP (The Wombles – Mike Batt’s novelty project and still a great album to this day!) were presents from my sister (I’m guessing I was 6 and 8 years old).  I would sit in her room and listen to these and some of her records (Leo Sayer, David Essex, Abba…and stuff handed down like Pinky and Perky – thank heaven for the 16RPM button which played Pinky and Perky at the speed it was recorded…ah…google it!)

From the room next door (or when I was in my room, the room upstairs) came a very different sound:  Genesis, Yes, King Crimson, Caravan, David Bowie, Jethro Tull and much more.  My brother was (is) a music enthusiast and appreciates music and lyrics with depth and quality.  It was him who introduced me to the music that would soundtrack my life…starting with The Beatles (he gave me a cassette player and Beatles tape when I was 8) and then a year or so later another 2 tapes:  Genesis Live with David Bowie’s Space Oddity on the other side and Nursery Cryme with Selling England By The Pound.

I know these 4 albums inside out and upside down.  A short while later he gave me his entire cassette collection…many many amazing albums, a lot of which I still listen to (though not on cassette!).  I will always be grateful.

Selling England was made when Genesis were at their absolute peak.  The 3rd album with Steve Hackett on guitar and Phil Collins on drums, and when the band was really creative and still enjoying what they were doing.  When I briefly worked with Steve Hackett in the early 90’s he said it was his favourite Genesis album and that he enjoyed making it…his playing is absolutely sublime on it.

It starts with Peter Gabriel’s voice a cappello – like an unaccompanied folk song: “Can you tell me where my country lies?”…Dancing Out With The Moonlit Knight is a perfect example of how Genesis in those days played with words – something that has profoundly influenced my songwriting.  Here too is a way of describing the disintegration of England and the infiltration of American culture in a way that is both tragic and fun.  Uplifting even.  The complexity of the composition and the stunning guitar solo – more a composition than a solo – are the epitome of mid 70’s Genesis.

Next comes the sound of a lawnmower.  Genesis up to this point had never had a single in the charts.  Since the awful Jonathan King production of the first album they had become an album band – most songs were too long to get on radio anyway.  “I Know What I Like (in your wardrobe)” became their first “hit”…something I’ve always struggled to understand.  Not the hottest track on the album, but it is pleasant and quirky.  And it’s hard to say “it’s one o’clock” without saying “and time for lunch umdidumdidum”.

Firth of Fifth is one of the best things Genesis ever did in my opinion.  The classical piano intro is a work of art in itself, but the way it explodes to life when the band come in, dips, dives and develops, as if following the river it describes is fascinating and symphonic.  Then there’s the guitar solo…possibly Hackett’s finest?  Tony Banks said he wasn’t happy with the lyrics, but I think it’s a beautiful piece of poetry.

Then comes “More Fool Me”.  I think the less I say about that song the better.  Suffice it to say that I always stop the record before the start.  In retrospect it shows where Genesis were eventually going to head, and makes some of the 80’s material less surprising (particularly Collins’ and Rutherford’s solo material).  Anyway…

Side 2…

I was once asked what my favourite song on the album was, and I replied “The Battle Of Epping Forest” much to the amazement of the questioner.  I wouldn’t give the same answer again – Moonlight Knight, Firth of Fifth or Cinema Show definitely beat it – but the fact is that it is an amazing piece of work.  It tells a story (as many Genesis songs did) about a fight between 2 rival London gangs, and for it Gabriel invented characters and plots and added stacks of humour, whilst the band went full on fusion in one of the most complex arrangements they ever made.  The ending is simultaneously hilarious and poignant.

After the Ordeal is classic Hackett and a beautiful number.  I discovered that the band weren’t keen on including it, but I think it fits perfectly and ties together “Epping Forest” and “Cinema Show”.  Also it kind of signals the emphasis on the folk music element of the album.  And it has great melodies.  Both guitar styles: the acoustic and electric parts have been a huge part of where I come from as a guitarist…although I only gently scratch the surface!

Cinema Show is the archetypal Genesis song of this era.  The 12 string guitars in the soft build up.  The classical mythology references.  The flute link up.  The keyboard solo over 7/8 rhythm – as Prog Rock as you get…but yet very melodic.  The ending was one of the few pieces from the Gabriel era that the band played when I saw them in 1981.

Aisle Of Plenty brings back the themes and melody from the opening song, along with more of the playful puns.  And creates the feeling of a concept album…just in time for “The Lamb Lies Down” to take it all the way.

I never tire of this amazing record, because no matter how many times you hear it, something new pops out.  On top of that it has the vibe of a band that is bursting with creativity and enjoying their first taste of large-scale success…and are keen to remind themselves of their British roots as they conquer the world.  It’s a beautifully English album…in a thatched cottages and cream teas sort of way…and is a “go to” record for me when I want to feel my own roots.

 


Comments Off on Albums that formed me: Selling England By The Pound

Another One Knocking

It’s February!  This time last year I was in Finland having just got back to Europe from the Indian tour…different times huh?

Anyway…It’s a new month, and that means a new single is out.  Nr 6 so far and the penultimate in the series of monthly offerings.  There will be more releases this year but not every month (cash flow!)

Another One Knocking

When I was around 24 years old I moved in with my girlfriend at the time into a flat in Ettingshall near Wolverhampton.  It was a flat she rented from the council, on a housing estate comprised of a great number of “low-rise” blocks of flats.  Each block was 3 stories.  The ground floor was (in our block and many others) uninhabited…except for one very feisty lady who  refused to admit defeat.  The others had boarded up – with steel not wood – windows and doors.  It was the early 90’s, and the United Kingdom was yet to know the optimism (and consequent disillusion) of the Blair government…we were shortly post-Thatcher, and unemployment, inequality, desperation, crime and disrespect for the system were at all time highs.

The next door neighbour had broken into the flat shortly before I moved in…the telly was in their hallway when my girlfriend went round to ask if they’d seen anything.  Burglary was his main business.  As a side-line his wife was on the game.  As were the 2 girls upstairs from us.  A couple of flats away was the local drug dealer.  The song just wrote itself.

At the time I was playing bass in a funky rock band that I think had other names, but that I remember as “Stress”.  It was shortly after the break up of Whirly Blues and I was demotivated…busking alone or with whistle player Geoff was main source of income, but I’d got a gig as singer with a Blues band called “Bogus Dago”.  The guitarist was fantastic – very authentic blues player with a lovely tone, and the drummer was properly groovy…a fan of Greatful Dead.  We did blues covers, mostly stuff no-one else was doing…and at that time there were quite a few blues bands around.  Also quite a lot of gigs for blues bands.  What we hadn’t done was any original songs.  So when I wrote the song about the neighbours I made it a blues based number.

We did a recording of it – along with an album’s worth of stuff – in Guildford.  Whole album recorded in a night.  I don’t think I ever heard the finished recording.  I got a day job at a heat-treatment factory and had to drop out of the band…in the worst possible way.  I couldn’t make it to a gig one night as I couldn’t get off work.  They played without me and I never played with them again.

The Bogus Dago version may have had some other verses.  I know I wrote one about Jehovah’s Witnesses coming round.  I think the lady on the ground floor had a verse too.  But nowadays I keep it short and sweet…I didn’t play it for about 20 years so it was a bit like starting from scratch.  Anyway, here’s what we ended up with.


 

I’m playing:

Martin HD28V acoustic guitar

Musicman Stingray bass (DI’ed)

Fender Stratocaster through Vox AC30 (no effects)

Harmonica (not sure which one I used on this)

It’s recorded at Avalon (Denmark) and mastered (as everything since “Kettle” has been) by Joel at 6BitDeep.

 

Lyrics go….

The girl upstairs she works through the night – see the fellas stop at the shade of her light

Between her and her girlfriend they get through six or maybe more

As soon as one man leaves another one is knocking at the door.

The lady next door – her brown eyes blue – her drunken hubby beats her but there’s nothing we can do

He’s out robbing houses, won’t be back til half past four

As soon as he leaves another man’s knocking at the door.

There’s another one knocking (another one knocking)

There’s another one knocking (another one knocking)

There’s another one knocking – another one knocking at the door

This guy 3 doors down’s got all kinds of gear.  Everyone knows what they want they can get it here

Punks and skins and hippies come round to see what they can score

As soon as one leaves another one’s knocking at the door

There’s another one knocking (another one knocking)

There’s another one knocking (another one knocking)

There’s another one knocking – another one knocking at the door

Comments Off on Another One Knocking

Stitches

Stitches reclines upon the top of the boiler – the warmest place in the workshop.  Her un-feline friendliness and ratting abilities are her insurance policy against a second bout of homelessness.  Her first eviction was doubtless caused by her eating disorder (which has thus far only banished her from the kitchen here at Avalon) though maybe an occasional tendency to pee in places pee should never be. Therefore she is either in the workshop or outside, never in the house (not legitimately anyway). We didn’t know when we went to the cat rescue.  It didn’t matter – she chose us.  As soon as we walked in she jumped up to us and clung on.  “Come on, let’s go home”.

She’s not magazine material, but all who come this way fall in love with her.  As soon as you’re seated, she’s seated. On you.  Purr.

Those occasions when she makes a successful dash to the kitchen she heads instinctively for the ice-cream tub we use to store waste destined for the chickens…she knows this is the most likely place to get a meal.  And this instinct has saved many meals that have lain unnoticed (and uncleared) on the stove or work-surface.

Sometimes the dog will fetch me to deal with her and I’ll find her with her head in the sugar bowl…

…or making unpleasant a pheasant breast that was out to thaw…

Then comes the banishing ceremony.  Picked up with one hand – doors being opened with the other.  Out she flies.  Landing on her feet.  Scowling at me.  As if it’s me who’s the thief.

The extent of her eating disorder is such that we hardly need to feed her.  She catches so many rats, moles, mice and voles and eats them whole.  Starting at the nose.  Until the tip of the tail finally slips into her mouth.  With the scraps she steals from the chickens and her bounteous daily catch of rodents she hardly needs the handful of cat pills we tempt her in with in the morning and out with at night.

Her official title in the Kingdom of Avalon is:

HRH Princess Stitches, Duchess Of The Workshop, Slayer of Wee Beasties and Cuddler in Chief

Comments Off on Stitches

Black is the Colour

Black is the Colour is one of my favourite folk songs, with it’s haunting melody and sense of longing…and Strong Ale recorded it (with a lovely slide guitar part from Brian Armstrong) on the “The Beaten Track” album. When I was playing duo gigs with Jim Fox, this was a song that he used to sing, and it was inspired by Jim’s version that I decided to learn it. I have been introducing it for years as a “Scottish love song” – and usually I do a deal of research before committing to folk songs – it tends to be quite an interesting pastime for a nerd like me…for some reason I didn’t research this one very thoroughly until now.

It turns out that it IS of Scottish origin – I always thought it was based on a Burns poem but that isn’t so, and I’ve no idea where I got that from – but that when collected by Cecil Sharp it was in America, presumably brought over by Scottish immigrants (although Sharp has it as part of his collection of English folk songs of the Southern Appalachians).  The first version I remember hearing is the Nina Simone one – a very different  melody from the one I sing.  This American melody was introduced to the song by John Jacob Niles in 1941 (or at least, that is when it was first released), and is the melody that all the jazz versions and the many country versions have stuck to.

The other melody – the one I sing – I know through Christy Moore, who in turn learned it from Hamish Imlach.  Hamish’s version is the earliest released version of this tune that I know of.  If anyone knows more about its origins I’d love to hear.  I assume that this is the traditional tune that predates Niles’ American version.

The words are sweet but without being cheesy (apart from maybe the line “I love the ground whereupon she stands”).  Songs about missing those one loves somehow seem to resonate better than most romantic composition…this one gets me every time:

Here’s me performing it..

.

and here’s Strong Ale’s version (on Spotify)

 

The lyrics as I sing them are:

Black is the colour of my true love’s hair,

Her lips are like some roses fair,

She’s the sweetest smile, And the tenderest hands,

I love the ground, Whereon she stands.

I love my love and well she knows,

I love the ground, whereon she goes,

I hope the day, it won’t be long,

Til she & I could be as one.

I’ll go to the Clyde and I mourn and weep,

For satisfied, I ne’er can be,

I wrote a letter, just a few short lines,

And suffer death, a thousand times.

Black is the colour of my true love’s hair,

Her lips are like some roses fair,

She’s the sweetest smile, And the gentlest hands,

I love the ground, Whereon she stands.

Comments Off on Black is the Colour

The Frozen Lake

I’ve been releasing a song every month for half a year soon, and the reason is quite simply that I have a huge backlog of material that I don’t know what to do with…albums are expensive to produce and there is not a huge market in them.  So rather than allow these songs (there’s hundreds of them) to gather dust, I thought some of you might like to hear them.

This year I will also try and give you the background to them…starting with January’s single…the nearly 7 minute long The Frozen Lake

About 8 years ago I did a weekend of gigs in Denmark with my old pal Ed Conway.  Those who don’t know him can see what he does here.  Ed and I used to play together in a band called Rumpus…we were fairly popular in the late 90’s and made a living out of a comedy/chaos/folk/rock/riot act involving stuffed toys, cucumbers, numerous hats and “death defying feats”.  It was probably the most fun time of my life.  On the way back to the airport that weekend we stopped for lunch by a frozen lake (it was winter).  This became the inspiration for a story that Ed wrote down in a little notebook.  A classic British folk song sort of tale with a Romeo and Juliet twist.

A while later Ed showed me the notebook which had a bunch of other ideas for songs (though none quite as detailed as The Frozen Lake) and said I should take the ideas and write the songs for a folk album called “The Anonymous Folkie”…So I started with the Frozen Lake.  One of the other songs listed was last month’s single “Beasts of Burden”…so I’ve so far managed 2!

Originally I thought it should be very British Folk style in a Fairport sort of arrangement, but the more I played with it the more I felt it lending itself to a Peter Gabriel era Genesis interpretation.  So I picked up my 12-string and there was no going back.  One day I may well do a more traditionally folk version (same with Beasts of Burden) as I still think The Anonymous Folkie would be a fun project.  But for now it’s turned into a Prog Rock sort of thing, and I quite like it like that.

As with all the singles released so far I play all the instruments, sing, produced and engineered the whole thing.  This one has a lot more instrumentation than the previous offerings…so here’s a quick run down of what was used:

Vocals (recorded with U87  microphone going through Focusrite Liquid Channel emulating a classic Neve desk)

Martin HD 28V acoustic guitar

Guild GAD 12 string guitar

Musicman Stingray bass guitar

Fender Stratocaster going through Vox AC30

Roland RD300 stage piano (for midi keys)

Djembe

Drum Samples

Trombone

 

The lyrics are:

On a cold clear winter’s night stars reflect in the lake

Tears for her sweetheart filled her eyes

Till they could no longer hold the salt water drops

That drip ripples on the watery skies

It was tomorrow she was to wed but no bride will she be

The press gang took her fiancee away

To fight for king and country on some far off shore

With but a promise to return again one day

Each day she sits on the shore of the lake

Where as a child she had played

Staring at the other side where her true love had lived

And she longs to return to those days

Through the winter she could cross the frozen lake

To her love who lived on the other side

When the birds return and the ice begins to break

in the spring he shall make her his bride

She senses the bad news before it is spoke

In battle he drew his last breath

His body could not found but they all saw him go down

Sounds the news of his untimely death

Quite beside herself she walked into the lake

Walked on til the current pulled her down

And the icy cold water swallowed her pain

And in the dark depths she was drowned

A layer of ice formed on the waters that night

The coldest night we ever saw

And for a whole year winter cast a shroud across the land

12 months and the lake didn’t thaw

Through the winter she would cross the frozen lake

to her love who lived on the other side

When the birds return and the ice begins to break

in the spring he shall make her his bride

12 months of winter and a soldier appears

Enquiring where his betrothed might be

He is told of her death in the waters so cold

And in tears he is led off to see

He sat on the ice his heart heavy with grief

Salty tears melting the ice

Til underneath he can see the face of his love

And he thinks he hears her desperate cries

He broke through the ice to dive down to his love

Convinced that new life he could bring

And in her arms he drowned and the lake began to thaw

On that very first morning of spring

In the winter she would cross the frozen lake

To her love who lived on the other side

Now the birds return and the ice begins to break

For it is the spring and he shall make her his bride

Comments Off on The Frozen Lake

Albums that formed me – No 1: Al Stewart – Love Chronicles

When I was 20 a friend of mine lent me 2 Al Stewart albums – Bed Sitter Images and Love Chronicles.  We did that kind of thing back then…the culture amongst teenagers was that we’d buy records on a Saturday at HMV or one of the 2 second hand record shops in Wolverhampton, and then we’d play them for each other, or maybe record them on cassette and give them to each other.  Many of us still did this well into our 20’s…I probably would never have stopped if my record collection hadn’t been stolen.

Bed Sitter Images was fantastic – a clear example of a record company investing in a young artist’s debut and it has elaborate orchestration on its many fine songs.  But Love Chronicles I immediately considered a masterpiece.

So with that in mind I’ve decided to use it as the basis of the first of a series of essays on albums that have been hugely influential in my life.  Partly because I enjoy writing and partly because it gives me time to appreciate them and share my joy. You’ll be able to see these on the first Monday of each month here on the MD Blog…

I nearly didn’t get to hear it (Love Chronicles that is)…whilst picking up the 2 records to take them home I dropped and just managed to catch them, prompting Mark’s Dad to say “He’s a big lad, you don’t want to upset him”.  Happily neither disc was harmed.

The album starts in New York city with the tale of the young Englishman observing the comings and goings of the Big Apple natives between the narrative of his romantic exploits with a harmonica-playing astrology student.  His observational skills and his choices of adjectives take the listener straight there.  It’s a fantastic opening number: upbeat and catchy.  In my early days of busking I used to sing “In Brooklyn” and enjoyed it vastly…I think I still know all the words!

Next up comes another observational piece.  “Old Compton Street Blues” has a beautiful haunting melody with a melancholic descending bass that perfectly fits the story of the young, beautiful model who “really did have something that the others never had”, whilst following her decline through destitution, rejection and prostitution into middle age.

Let’s talk about the musicians on this record.  I was a Led Zeppelin fan years before I heard these songs, and both Jimmy Page and John Paul Jones play on the title track (we’ll come to THAT later), but most of the album is played by members of Fairport Convention; Simon Nicol, Richard Thompson, Martin Lamble (recorded before his fatal car crash, though the album was released later that year) and Ashley Hutchings, although under pseudonyms, so they didn’t get in trouble with their record company…this did mean that I was unaware that they were performing on this album until much later…It was around this time that I got really into Fairport and regularly attended their Cropredy Festival but somehow didn’t realise they were on one of my favourite records.

The 3rd track is another song I used to play a lot in my busking days, and performed at my first ever solo gig.  “The Ballad of Mary Foster” is a terrific story of a husband and wife growing apart, but where most songwriters would stick to the relationship, Stewart delves into the whole life stories of both parts…the first part being David Foster’s story, and then we zap over into a completely different rhythm, tempo, mood and tune (which may be familiar to Dylan fans and folk music know-alls).  The band drops out and Mary Foster’s story is told just to an acoustic guitar.  Amazing amounts of detail are listed as her whole life is told.  Always brings a tear to my eye this one!

For me the absolute highlight of the album is “Life and Life Only” – again it’s the descriptive detail and back stories of the characters that make it so powerful.  From sitting on a wall at Bournmouth beach and looking at a few people Stewart manages to imagine every detail of their lives, assert that “sometimes it must get lonely” and then muse “who will I be?”

Side 2 begins with the song that, to me, sounds like the record company said “But we have to have a hit single on this thing!”  You should have listened to Al is that – a good song, but a poppy dancey sort of affair that feels a little out of place in this aural gallery….so for my side 2 always started with…

Love Chronicles.  Ok, I am a sucker for excessively long and complex compositions with lots of guitar solos…and at 18 minutes Love Chronicles fits the bill.  And it’s a story – a true story.  And perfectly told.  With humour, honesty, humility and intimate detail we are taken through the narrator’s love life from “passing sticky sweets under the table” at kindergarten through teenage crushes and crushing heartbreaks to mature relationsh where ”it grew to be less like fucking and more like making love”.   Ending with a big rousing thank you to all the girls he ever knew.  With an almost gospel feeling B3 Hammond to finish off the album on a mega-high.

The album is largely a singer-songwriter affair with an acoustic guitar base and that is absolutely my go to genre…in fact this album generally is the exact blueprint of how I best like music to sound…except for the production.  Unfortunately this was recorded in the days when stereo was new and multi-tracking was in its infancy…though contemporary with some great sounding albums (Led Zeppelin 2 for example), this has a terrible tinny acoustic guitar sound, and the band sounds like it was recorded live in a rehearsal room.  Even the 2007 remastering for digital release doesn’t save it.

What does save it – and more – is the genius of the songwriting combined with a fantastic band who seem to be allowed to just let rip and express the compositions however they see fit.  Most people associate Al Stewart with the classic “Year of the Cat” (great album)…but for me this is his best.  I just love this album.

Note: The digital release of this album as seen below on Spotify has additional tracks (Jackdaw, She Follows and Fantasy).  I HATE when albums are re-released with additional tracks…put them on a new album FFS…so press the stop button after the organ dies out on Love Chronicles for the whole experience!

Comments Off on Albums that formed me – No 1: Al Stewart – Love Chronicles

New Year’s Love Stream

Hi Folks

Hope you all had a good Christmas, Yule, Solstice, Hanukkah or whatever else you might celebrate in these days. 2020 is about to end (I think a few of you may be relieved) and to say “goodbye and good riddance” I’ll be looking back at the year from where I’ve been on the last Love Stream of 2020 on my facebook page

www.facebook.com/martindaledk

See you in 2021…hopefully in real life!

Blessings to you

Comments Off on New Year’s Love Stream