Wednesday, August 30, 2006


Well the growing interest in Shamblejam is creating rarity value.

One vinyl seller now prices it at 149.92 dollars.

Google now lists 90 mentions of it, many of them in groups and blogs over the last twelve months.

For instance has recent mentions praising this album and Light Up the Fire - this on a site which is pretty cynical about the Jesus music scene.

The problem is the Simply Parchment collection is simply not good enough. All four albums were produced as concepts by John Pantry and mixing the tracks up undermines the work of the fourth "member" of the band, John Pantry as producer.

Reputedly the other British Jesus folk band of the period, Water into Wine Band saw the price of their second album Harvesttime reach some 900 dollars on the internet. Somebody then brought it out as a CD, which I have. It is well worth a listen but is not nearly as dynamic as, say, Shamblejam. And where did the name come from? I have never been able to find any clues. It is likely John Pac would tell us if it was reissued.

Thankfully I have Shamblejam on tape so I can listen to it in the car. I do have the vinyl and I'm not selling it. Time for a CD, Kingsway?

Monday, August 28, 2006

British folk

BBC4 have been showing a series called Folk Britannia.

I've only seen one episode about the 60s scene - but that was pretty interesting in terms of Parchment influences

I never thought they should be compared with Steeleye Span or even Fairport, which specialised in using modern instruments to perform traditional songs.

Rather Parchment was one of those bands that used the folk medium as a base for a wider range of music.

The programme identified The Incredible String Band as having pioneered acid folk and that makes sense as Parchment performed Golden Game on Rehearsal for a Reunion. Golden Game is a traditional spiritual but the String Band used their own version of the words - and it was these words that Parchment also used for their highly praised acapella version.

Then on a week or two ago to the Sidmouth Folk Festival for a day as I was in Devon. It was a pleasant enough experience but tended to suggest to me that folk has stultified. It seems to be mainly about recreating the past rather than acting as a vibrant, creative medium in its own right.

I enjoyed watching the Red Square Balalaika and Domra Ensemble, from Devon, performing on the sea front. These are instruments from central Asia and eastern Europe and seem to be part of the mandolin family.


A few months ago I came across and thought I would use it to trace some of the influences on Parchment.

This set me off on a musical journey - exactly as the inventers of hope.

Parchment should be located somewhere in the folk/rock area.

Pandora don't have Parchment yet. They could do - they like to have slightly obscure musicians.

This led me to Sandy Denny, who was originally the mainstay of Fairport Convention before going her own way and dying tragically in the late 70s.

I bought her collected songs CD and enjoyed it. There is a late song called Listen, Listen which relies heavily on the mandolin and may possibly be offering a perspective on the life of Christ. It is about a traveller who has an astonishing impact on the villages he visits. In the song Sandy's voice harmonises amazingly with the surging sound of the mandolin.

I think it is likely to have been written after Parchment emerged and may be a kind of response.

The thing about Parchment is that they were embedded in the folk music scene and in some ways hi-jacked by gospel music. So in way they never gained mainstream folk recognition although they were highly innovative and creative - especially through the production partnership with John Pantry.

As a result of, I'm also enjoying The Innocence Mission who are contemporary American band with Catholic roots.

I've been trying to find a way to create a link to my channel on pandora but am not sure it can be done.