Friday, August 15, 2008

On first hearing the lost album

There have been moments of sheer undiluted pleasure, if not joy, over the last few years.

One of those was hearing Parchment's "lost" single You Were on My Mind for the first time. A second was hearing River's You Are There followed one after the other by that band's CDs.

The first hearing of Caedmon and Whitsuntide Easter comes close to this.

As does the unique experience of being privileged to be one of the first people to hear the lost third Parchment album that was never released by Pye.

It's surprising!

But only when you consider each of Parchment's albums had very different styles. Let's face it, they were one of those bands you never knew quite what to expect with each album, especially once you'd heard Light Up the Fire, the album. You'd listen to each one, waiting for the amazing sounds of the original album and not quite hearing them - yet on further listenings they'd be there, the mandolin, the harmonies, the folkie roots, Sue's backing vocals, John Pantry's subtle, clever production techniques.

And by the second listening you are hooked...

At first hearing, it's very country rock. The rhythm guitar is prominent in a way you don't hear in the band's other albums. By the second hearing, you realise it could be another Parchment great - an album which blends their distinctive sound and talents with bold adventures into a particular musical style.

Side 2 (or the second half) is terrific! We're Over Here sounds like an echo of Trinity Folk's folk-club roots. Old Tom Cat is a great prog folk track. And there's a radically different version of People and Places from the one released, sometime later, on Rehearsal for a Reunion. And the final track is amazing - it's just too short and needs a good fade-out.

Side 1 sounds, at first, a little like a pub band. Quite a lot of other people's songs. There's Denomination Blues, re-released on Shamblejam with slightly different production. Imagine too their  version of Ry Cooder's Poor Man.

What I've heard has an unfinished, bootleg feel - for instance not much of an intro to the album, if the track ordering is correct. Most of the tracks are quite short - few pass three minutes and some of the best songs could do with more fade-out.

I understand a copy was found on a cassette tape - so it's still not the master tape that John Pac had been searching for and may affect any decision about releasing it on CD. To my untutored ear it still sounds pretty good.

No doubt there are other issues affecting a release, copyrights, permissions - it could take a while.

My guess is that John must be thinking of a Simply...Parchment Part 2 - use most of these tracks, leave out the least original ones and throw in classics like Working Man, Zip Bam Boo, Golden Game and Shine on Me that were omitted from Simply..Parchment.

Full track-listing to follow and I hope in due course to get the go-ahead to post some samples of the music. The band for this album was John Pac, Sue McClellan, Jeff Crow.

This was the posting which detailed John Pac's original recollections about this album.

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