Dance Your Life Away
An Album Review by Alan Robson
Alan Robson, Metro & Tees Night Owl and the Hot 'n' Heavy Express's Flashing Blade
It's been four years since the last Lindisfarne album and yet the lads have always remained well in the publie eye.
The spirit of this mad mob was summed up for me by the Bob Dylan and Santana show at St. James Park. I was compere for the day and this means that most of your time you're trying backstage not to get in anyone's way. The members of Santana and even Bob Dylan were taking full advantage of the toilet facilities, everyone was terrified until you reached the Lindisfarne camp, all lying in the sun relaxing with a glass of the amber nectar, soaking up the atmosphere.
So after such a gap in recording I was very worried as to whether they could still so it (I'd spoken to their wives and girlfriends who said they still could, but only on a Saturday night !). As soon as the first track 'Shine On' oozed into my ears it was like honey off biscuits, the kind of harmonies that only Lindisfarne can achieve, and with some nice work from Steve Daggett (who is known for his organ) he plays keyboards too. It's the kind if record that everyone loves to hear around Christmas time !
Rod Clements wrote the next cut 'Love On The Run' and it's an up-front rock song with some superb violin and interplay between Jacka on vocals and a moody, haunting chorus. Yet the violin makes it jaunty and memorable, this is probably my favourite from the album. To do this one live, Rod who plays bass and violin will be as busy as a one legged man in a forest fire. It has that unique Lindisfarne feel.
Most people who know Alan Hull will be aware that he's a political animal (he's been called worse), well his song 'Heroes' tells us about how it's a constant battle between the 'man and the street' and the politician or rich. The people who are always willing to lay down your life for their country. The typical politician will do anything for the workers, except work with them. This song is a bit of a rallying song for those folk who dare to speak their mind and don't just whine that there's something wrong, but rolls up their sleeves and does something about it. Alan sings how isde by side it's the people that can do what the politicians can't do, stop the burglars and muggers, get decent income - the people who stand up and be counted are the real heroes. Marty Craggs provides a lovely sax break.
After a meaty song the next tune 'All In The Same Boat' was exactly what I wanted. A lilting, lazy and downright relaxing song, the sort you love to hear on a day out. Ray Jackson adds some neat mouth organ. In the 'North' we are all in the same boat, and this is the type of lullaby that soothes the soul. (Remembering your soul is the only part of you that you can't rub germolene on).
'Dance Your Life Away' the title track has a 'John Lennon' feel, a quirky and powerful song with great lyrics summing up what is often the case. Strangely, this is my least favourite track because it may be too near the truth to suit me. At scholl you're told study and you'll do well, having studied there's not enough jobs to go around. It seems especially for the North it's always a promise of what will happen tomorrow never what can be done today. The vitriol in Alan Hull's voice puts across the point (either that or he's spilled his beer). Perhaps the people who will identify with this song most, will be those folk who are born into hard to do areas and find the cards stacked against them. Alan spent most of his childhood in Suttons Dwellings, Benwell and as a coincidence has it I was born and bred in the next street along. Hugh Gardens. It's the spirit of the bred in the North who always suceed in overcoming all of the burdons of life with a grin on their chin. It's at times like this you discover that two can live as cheaply as one ... but only for half as long.
Challenging four your album favourite 'Beautiful Day' has to be up there. Ray Laidlaws solid drum sound over a keyboard bed gives the song a warm and full feel. It's a love song - when you're in love nothing can upset you. Ray Jackson should know he's seen more lovemaking than a policemans torch. The harmonies are fabulous and you'll find yourself singing this around the house, or if you haven't fixed that lock yet in the toilet.
It didn't surprise me to see 'Broken Doll' on the album. Alan Hull was bound to name one song after a pub, and Broken Doll does have a better ring than, 'The Duke of Wellington'. I loved the 'oldy worldy' beginning between harmonica and accordian [actually it was an 'ordinary' keyboard; see 'the story behind the "Dance-songs" '; R.G.], a mix of styles that fuses rock, pop and folk. Surprisingly it's a love song, a song of heartache, I can identify with this. I've been turned down more than page 262 of the Kama Sutra. With my luck when my boat comes in I'll be at the airport. This is a solid album track and can see it being a concert favourite too.
'One Hundred Miles to Liverpool' provides some of the most devastating harmonies and musical interplay I've heard in years. Simple playing from Si Cowe that helps set the scene, Alan Hull's lyrics are superb. He can read what he sees and interprets it in his very own brand of musical rock poetry. This is Alan at his best, the magic is back and this song is one of the classiest examples of that. No one can create that Northern flavour better than Lindisfarne.
Just when you thought you'd sampled the full range of Lindisfarnes wares in comes 'Take Your Time' that seems to pick up a vocal style where the Beatles left off. It's another simple song to get you swaying, as if the lads need anything apart from a good brew to achieve that. This song features 'Chorus Interuptus' and can lead to a squint and hair on the palms of your hands.
To wrap up what I think it is a fabulous album another classic 'Song For A Stranger' what Lindisfarne go out with all guns blazing. This is what they do - tight harmonies, natural warmth, strong lyrics, harmonica and mandolin guitar sound and even a trick ending.
I may sound over the top about this album, but I honestly think it's that good.