Lindisfarne – A North-East folk-rock band I first saw (like so many others) at Weeley in 1972. I loved them and sought out their albums and have seen them live a few times. And their debut was a triumph; it came out in 1970 and was called ironically Nicely Out of Tune. It is quite possibly their best album too. The group had been together for a couple of years and had built up a great following. The first track and single was picked out for praise by John Peel, and was a beautiful heady mix of fantasy and passion – ‘Lady Eleanor’. But almost every song on this album is brilliant; the raucous singalong ‘We Can Swing Together; the jaunty old Guthrie tune ‘Jackhammer Blues’ and ethereal ‘Clear White Light’ and the haunting ‘January Song’. But the record sold a mediocre amount despite the great songs and the Media raving about them. It wasn’t until the follow-up the next year Fog On The Tyne, that they really made their breakthrough. Another classic album, although I slightly prefer their debut. The title track was a hoot but my fave tracks are ‘Train in G Major’ and ‘January Song’. Suddenly they were a huge act and I saw them a couple of times in the early Seventies. Their third album though sold poorly – I really don’t know why….it was a bit more experimental. Dingly Dell which came out in 1972 was pretty good in my estimation. But I think the final and title track put people off; ‘Dingly Dell’ was a whimsical dreamy distorted guitar sound followed by a lovely chorus – I loved the track. Most of the rest of the record was more traditional Lindisfarne fare – ‘Court In The Act’ and ‘Mandolin King’ are especially good. I used to have most of Lindisfarne records on vinyl and then taped onto cassettes but I bought a 4 CD box set recently called The Charisma Years and it features a live concert from 1971, which is superb. I suspect this may have originally been broadcast live on BBC Radio as it seems very familiar. No real new tracks but extended versions of songs from their first two records; a real party album. Lindisfarne were famous for their live gigs and I saw them at Weeley and in London. Their fourth album Roll On Ruby (1973) was another slight departure – a more conventional rock sound, slightly country if anything. And although some songs were quite good, the overall feel of the album was a bit tired really. I believe that after the previous album a couple of the original members went off and formed a new band, Jack The Lad. Their replacements meant the sound moving away from their folk origins. Best songs on this their fourth record are ‘North Country Boys’, ‘When The War is Over’ and ‘Roll On River’. Their final album before they (temporarily disbanded the group) was Happy Daze 1974. Not such a bad album, but actually you wouldn’t even recognise it as a Lindisfarne record – and that meant it sold poorly and spelled the end of the band. Only tracks I really like are ‘Nellie’ and ‘Tomorrow’…but all was not lost.
4 years later, after a couple of successful gigs the original line-up got back together again and recorded a new album – Back and Fourth (though this was the sixth under the Lindisfarne name it was the fourth with the original members). And a much better record it was too – so maybe the break did them good. Big hit single ‘Run For Home’ was great but I also love ‘Juke Box Gypsy’ and ‘Warm Feeling’. Well, the band have continued in much the same vein but I have sort-of lost track of them except for the occasional disc I turn up in second hand shops; first of which is Buried Treasure volume 2 , which along with a few rarities has a handful of band commentaries. Best other songs ‘Save Our Ales’ and ‘Golden Apples’. Then there is Caught In The Act – a live set from mid-seventies. Nothing really new, but a great set as usual, Lindisfarne being one of those acts better live than in the studio. Also in my collection is maybe one of my biggest mistakes – or a guilty pleasure. Lindisfarne released an album of old Rock and Roll Classics called Party Doll. Great versions of these famous tunes. It maybe sold quite well. But hardcore Lindisfarners may have been shocked, to say the least. Finally, I have a greatest hits album. Now, I am always in two minds about these; sometimes they are great, more often than not simply collecting stuff you may already have. But this was a delight to hear again all these wonderful Lindisfarne songs.