Friday, November 21, 2008

Sound Vision in Concert

This 1970 live album is the only live recording I've been able to trace of Trinity Folk or Parchment in concert. In spite of regular appearances at major events over the next eight years, the band were never again captured live on vinyl. Trinity Folk, at the time a four piece, played Working Man and Laugh ("I want you all to laugh") and also feature providing backing vocals and music to compere Judy MacKenzie.

A live album was made of a similar Sound Vision concert a year earlier in 1969 called Alive!. That featured a young Graham Kendrick performing in his beat band Whispers of Truth.

Aside from Trinity Folk (pictured here), the 1970 album has other interesting features, as I discovered when I ripped it to mp3 and listened to it a few times. Among the performers was a young folk trio called Carol, John & Aubrey, who sang folk harmonies, rather like Peter, Paul and Mary. When I first obtained the album in the early 70s I used to think their mid-60s style was rather dated but listening again, their songs have become interesting, if only for the lyrics. I've been unable to find out any more about this trio - perhaps they will stand up and identify themselves!

Their first song Sunday Morning is striking in itself - "He's the man in pinstripe trousers, never goes in public houses...goes to church on Sunday morning". The song describes a middle-aged man of impeccable virtue, especially by modern standards, but "deep inside there's something missing, something he can't explain."

On the face of it it's straightforward evangelicalism - going to church does not make you a Christian. But look at the youth of the performers and listen to it again. It's also a generational challenge from the young to the old. Listen to it now and you realise it is equally a challenge to that self-same generation, now middle-aged, still going to church but have they lost their First Love, their youthful zeal? How have they survived four decades? And where is the modern generation of youth challenging its elders?

Then there's their third song Hands. Here are the lyrics. The song is attributed jointly to the band and Doug Barnett:

Whose hands are these so fragile and white,
playing on Mary's cheek on this cold, lonely night?
These are the hands that flung stars into space,
made mighty oaks, gave the eagle its grace.

Whose hands are these?

Whose hands are these in compassion and care
stretched to the leper bound down with despair?
These are the hands that made all things good;
these hands can feel where no other hands could.

Whose hands are these ripped open by nails,
bound to a cross while the mid-day sun fails?
These are the hands that bought sin and set free,
bring to your life God's true liberty.

Note the third line. 12 years later it was "sampled" by Graham Kendrick (who played backing guitar at this concert) for his popular and evocative song Servant King. A quick google reveals that Kendrick's line "hands that flung stars into space to cruel nails surrendered" is now regarded as one of the most poetic phrases to emerge from modern Christian music. If indeed this is the original source of this striking phrase, it  has never been attributed.

There's a full tracklisting on Sound Vision now posted on the archive pages here.