No, I am not evoking "Disasters" to equate with my sausage-fingered ramblings, that's your job*, but as a sign of my gratitude to Uberdude Darius for pointing out I could sift through the leavings of years other than this. Clearly I remain somewhat of a newbie in these parts, so the choice offered thereby is immense, with all the posts I wished I could have done, before sneaking up the gangplank, now available. Indeed I may multi-post this fortnight. Be warned.
(*This is as good a time as any to hitch some link to the asterisk, pointing your eyes to the upper right of this page. If you are sick of the same old, same old, jump in and jump on. Could do better? Do it then. Can't be that hard, eh?)
OK, then, disasters...... I love a good disaster, me. No, not really, I am not taking pleasure from the world of natural, but the songsmithery, particularly in days gone by, can really hold the mind and have you there.Bear in mind, before newsprint was ubiquitous, and before video feeding killed it, the broadsheet ballad was how the news was transmitted. None of your tweets and sky news e-mail updates, if it was the top of the moment action you needed to hear about, it was down to the tavern and listen to the troubadour de jour.
Now it is true I am a bit of an unreconstructed folkie. I'm keen on ye olde folke rocke. (You've noticed?) Yeah, yeah, not everybodys cup of tea, and I try to be a little varied. But on this one I can't. This is my favourite long and drawn out dirge ever. The Albion Band were the warhorse of ex-Fairport and ex-Steeleye "Godfather" Ashley Hutchings, a varied compendium of styles and strummers over at least a couple of decades, being sometimes a bijou accoustic quartet, and at others a rumbustuous 11 piece electric storm of modern and medieval mixed. "Rise Up Like the Sun" was, for me, their tour de force, and was produced in 1978. I was also lucky enough to see this incarnation on a couple of occasions, in a London slowly coming to terms with punk rock. 2 drummers, 2 guitarists, keyboards, a horn section (including crumhorns), girlie singers and electric fiddle for starters. And the Albion Morris Men to dance onstage. Perhaps the switch to a smaller and less eclectic line-up was inevitable. The album had numerous guest vocalists,as amply demonstrated within this song, despite already having, in John Tams, one of the soundest traditional and warming voices in the genre. It is him in the later verses, with Martin Carthy, the harshly angular doyen of the male folk vocal style, in the openers. The fiddle is by Ric Sanders, long, long ahead of his part in Fairport Convention. In these days he was contemporaneously in Soft Machine. (Yes, I said Soft Machine) Guitars are Simon Nicol, never that far away from any of his old Fairport cohorts, and Graeme Taylor, late of odd chamber folk outfit, Gryphon. Also tucked into the mix is a certain Phil Pickett, on ancient reeds and brass, the afrementioned crumhorn, curtals and shawms, daylighting from his other job as leader of the New London Consort, a respected orchestra of renaissance musics on original instrumentation. Drums were Michael Gregory and the best drummer in the world, in my humble, the estimable Dave Mattacks. Yes, another deportee from Fairport, but whose session history, from Mary Chapin Carpenter, through Elton John, to Paul McCartney, makes stellar reading. Go see
I implore you to take the time and listen to the whole of the song, even if you find the bare harmonium a bit hymnal, and the vocals a bit too, um, specialist. It builds from this relatively simple beginning, through a Coltrane inspired wah-wah fiddle frenzy, thence into some guitar pyrotechnic, before returning to the baseline (bassline?) melody. I love it. You may not, but give it a try. Surprise yourself. It won't be a disaster. (I should add that, because it is a "long track", the good folk at A***** won't supply it outside the whole LP. Dare you???)