Lindisfarne - Radio Times (Live at the BBC 1971 - 1990) 2023
An eight disc box-set, featuring over 8hrs of Live recordings of Newcastle's folk-rockers Lindisfarne - what a treat. Charting their rise & fall rise again and sliding into "national treasure" status for a band rightly revered in their home town as much as Dire Straits, The Animals, Sting et cetera, and who's song, the title track of their 2nd album, is as much a Geordie anthem as The Blaydon Races
So, this anthology kicks off as the band's debut album Nicely Out of Tune starts gaining momentum, with songs such as We Can Swing Together, and the growing classic, Winter Song gaining the attention of DKs such as Brian Matthew, Mike raven and of course, John Peel. As 1971 progresses, material from the 2nd album, Fog On The Tyne starts to be aired; January Song, Meet Me On The Corner; (of which several renditions are played in the set); the haunting Lady Eleanor, Train In G major and the albums title track which had every schoolkid sniggering over a certain couplet...
By the time their 3rd album, Dingly Dell came out, the strain was showing within the band and the album wasn't as well recieved. By the end of 1973, the band split and It was agreed that he and Jackson would keep the group name while Cowe, Clements and Laidlaw left to form their own outfit Jack the Lad; while Tommy Duffy (bass guitar), Kenny Craddock (keyboards), Charlie Harcourt (guitar) and Paul Nichols (drums) were brought in to back Alan Hull and Ray Jackson. The new line-up lacked the appeal of the original and with Hull also pursuing a solo career, the band's next two albums Roll on Ruby and Happy Daze and the subsequent singles failed to chart and they disbanded in 1975.
That could very well have been the end of the story, but in 1976, the original line-up reformed for a one-off show at Newcastle's renown City Hall; the reunion was so acclaimed that the band repeated it a year later and decided to get back together on a permanent basis in early 1978, Jack the Lad having disbanded after none of their singles or albums on two different labels made the charts. They continued to perform at Newcastle City Hall every Christmas for many years performing a total of 132 shows at the venue overall. This prompted a new album deal, and their first new album Back and Forth saw them once again riding high in the album charts and single success with Run For Home.
Five more albums were released during the 1980s, and while sales weren't as high as the 1970s peak, they were well received;
The News (1979); Sleepless Nights (1982); Dance Your Life Away (1986); C'Mon Everybody (1987); Amigos (1989). However, it was probably more their legendry Christmas Shows for which the band were mainly noted for; often they ran a 10 might runs over the Christmas and New Year holidays; consistently sold out "parties"; I know, I didn't miss one that decade.... Two discs of this set were recorded at these shows in 1984 & 1986.
In 1990, Ray Jackson left the band and Marty Craggs (who joined a few years earlier on sax, took over his lead vocals, adding piano accordion and tin whistle, as the band gradually rediscovered its acoustic roots. Clements started to play slide guitar and mandolin, his former role as bassist being filled by Steve Cunningham and, later, Ian Thomson.
That's the period covered by this collection, and you can hear the shifts and changes in this great band. They did continue for several years after, though a blow was dealt by the early death of songwriter Alan Hull in 1995. They continued until 2004 when they split again, various members did tour their own way for several year, until the threatened closure of Newcastle's City hall prompted another reunion gig, though not of the original band, and the shows still continue, and while a calendar highlight, they are but an echo.
This set though, is a great reminder of their halcyon days; and I'm saying that, not just because I got it signed by Rod Clements and Ray Laidlaw but because they were part of my musical growing up...
Winter Song (1984 City Hall) - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PsHvFOAGJ8k
When life gives you lemons; don't make lemonade.
Give back the lemons. Why were the lemons free? What's wrong with the lemons?
Do Not trust the lemons...