REVIEW FROM www.livingtradition.co.uk
- Say Hello To The Band DEC 730704
of the recent release of the double CD Parabola Road album, we have this
surprise. Decameron were, for those of you born since the Sixties, the
really hot folk band that burned like a meteor through the British Folk
Scene for the first half of the Seventies, and then by 1976 had burned
out and gone.
Now, Parabola Road basically consisted of the total output of albums 2-4.
Why this CD is a "surprise", is because I wrote the following in my recent
review of their anthology album: "It is great to hear Decameron again.
Alas their first album, Say Hello To The Band is out of bounds for this
anthology: apparently - according to veteran music journalist Paul Weir
(responsible for much of the liner booklet) - the tapes are 'lurking undiscovered
in a vault somewhere'".
Well, the ink was hardly dry on my sentence when lo and behold this CD
turned up. Methinks a clever marketing ploy was at work. But whatever,
how does the first album square up to scrutiny after all these years?
Especially since it was their second album that won all the critical plaudits.
Well, it holds up quite well. It opens with Say Hello To The Band, which
I seem to remember they used to open their sets with: and it is an energising
number that does the intended and whets the appetite. But what follows
is a bit uneven. There is the engaging Shine Away (which perhaps if I
had to choose ONE song that encapsulated the Bell/Coppin philosophy and
melodic feel, then this would be it), and the life-enhancing Stoat's Grope.
But there is also the lamentable The Moon's In A, written after the 1969
Moon Landing: it is enough to make me sign up with those who subscribe
to the hoax conspiracy.
Would I have recommended you buy this re-issue? Probably no, had it not
been for the fact they throw in no less than nine additions (mainly studio
out-takes). One of them is a strong ballad called The Englishman, part
of an abandoned Bell/Coppin project on the First World War. The best song
on the CD. And these 9 bonus tracks contain other nuggets: one is Dik
Cadbury singing the sort of counter-tenor that made Johnny Coppin seem
a basso profundo! And then very movingly, a track that featured their
five dads singing a ghostly chorus: "moving" because four of the five
are virtual "ghosts" now, having departed this life.
And the commendable liner notes pay fitting tribute.