This review is written by Dai Woosnam, firstname.lastname@example.org, 10/04
Well hot-on-the-heels of the recent release of the double CD
“Parabola Road” album, we have this surprise. Decameron were, for those
of you born since the Sixties, the really hot folk band that burned
like a meteor through the British Folk Scene for the first half of the
Seventies, and then by 1976 had burned-out and gone.
Now, “Parabola Road" basically consisted of the total output of albums 2-4.
Why this CD is a “surprise”, is because I wrote the following
in my recent review of their anthology album: “It is great to hear
Decameron again. Alas their first album “Say Hello To The Band” is out
of bounds for this anthology: apparently - according to veteran music
journalist Paul Weir (responsible for much of the liner booklet)
the tapes are “lurking undiscovered in a vault somewhere”.
Well, the ink was hardly dry on my sentence when lo and behold this CD turned up. Methinks a clever marketing ploy was at work. But whatever, how does the first album square up to scrutiny after all these years?
Especially since it was their second album that won all the critical plaudits.
Well, it holds up quite well. It opens with “Say Hello To The Band”, which I seem to remember they used to open their sets with: and it is an energising number that does the intended and whets the appetite.
But what follows is a bit uneven. There is the engaging “Shine Away” (which perhaps if I had to choose ONE song that encapsulated the Bell/Coppin philosophy and melodic feel, then this would be it), and the life-enhancing “Stoat's Grope”. But there is also the lamentable “The Moon's In A”, written after the 1969 Moon Landing: it is enough to make me sign up with those who subscribe to the hoax conspiracy.
Would I have recommended you buy this re-issue? Probably no, had it not been for the fact they throw in no less than nine additions (mainly studio out-takes).
One of them is a strong ballad called “The Englishman”, part of an abandoned Bell/Coppin project on the First World War. The best song on the CD.
And these 9 bonus tracks contain other nuggets: one is Dik
Cadbury singing the sort of counter-tenor that made Johnny Coppin seem
a basso profundo!
And then very movingly, a track that featured their five dads singing a ghostly chorus: “moving” because four of the five are virtual “ghosts” now, having departed this life.
And the commendable liner notes pay fitting tribute.
Buy it from Red Sky Records: www.redskyrecords.co.uk
SAY HELLO TO THE BAND
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