Thursday, August 22, 2013

Vacation: Day Trip to Bangor

Day Trip to Bangor: Fiddler's Dram


OK, uncertain about this one, vacation, or holiday, as we call them over here. So, I haven't had one for a couple of years, which I could blame entirely on the economy, the 3rd dip of the global crisis, blah, blah, blah, but, in truth, whilst it is true I am broke, this smacks more of circumstantial mayhem in the life of Retro than the bankers and sub-prime. So I can't and won't wax wistfully over my last bijou jaunt, seeking more, as is my wont, to educate and advance. (I should insert an ironic smiley here, but I am uncertain if they are still currency amongst the cerebrality here....) And all this over a song I don't even like.

Don't even like? Jeez, I'd go way further, I hate it, and always did, have and will. It is a travesty of a din, with screechy and shrill vocals and a plodalong dirgy beat, appealing only to the ill and the old. Yet it did very well in the UK charts way back when, as if they were ever an arbiter of taste. So why here? Well, nominally it is a holiday, theme ticked etc, and, topical or what, in line with the economy, not only is/was it a "stay"cation, but began and ended on the same day. How very 2013!! But....

My real purpose here is to show how these apparent no-hopers went on to become much admired practitioners of a credible 21st century political folk fusion, world famous in, well, nowhere really, yet big if not huge in my mind. Even if they have never had a pay cheque quite as large as the song I ask you to dip in to. (Please, worry not if you can't finish, it's the other songs I want you to really explore.)

Fiddler's Dram. Even the name is awful, but from their saccharine remains sprung The Oyster Band, later abbreviated to Oysterband. Go back to the video clip, if you dare, and reappraise the nodding guitarist with the large hair and the fresh faced pre-teen on fiddle. Look ahead to this 2nd clip from last year, and see if you can spot them. And compare and contrast this masterclass in interpretation of ye olde english folke canon with the earlier. OK, to be fair, a lot of the gravitas is gratis Ms. June Tabor, doyenne of the english folksong tradition, who has twice guested on Oysterband recordings, albeit 2 decades apart. But, in the myriad years since "Bangor", it is as if everything they have ever done since has been to make up for it. Do yourselves a favour, search 'em out. And here's a fast one, perhaps truer to the tradition, from a relatively early compilation.

And what of the singer from the first clip? Well, dear reader, even she redeemed herself, going on to become a respected singer in ex-Fairport Convention bassist, Ashley Hutchings', ever evolving Albion Band. I tried to find a decent clip but I'm afraid I couldn't. Still too shrill for my ears.

Could have been worse, tho', my first thought was the Dead Kennedys and Cambodia........ (By the way, the Bangor is unlikely to have been the one in Maine, some argument as to whether it is the one in Northern Ireland or in Wales. I wouldn't bother with either, either.)

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