Lindisfarne's Pregnant Pause
by Rosemary Horide
from Disc '73 - discovered by Michael Clayton

There has been a long silence from Lindisfarne. Not an album since Dingly Dell (unless you count the Lindisfarne Live one) and apart from vague reports of faraway gigs, little else. But the silence is soon to be broken. We are at last to hear some positive proof that Lindisfarne did not die when three of their members left more than a year ago. The proof is an album called Roll On, Ruby. "Unfortunately we had to do it in a rush," Ray Jackson says. "We crammed it inbetween one lot of gigs and another. We're quite pleased with the final result - the only problem is we know it could have been better. When we went back and listened to the tape again there was a lot we thought could be improved. We did go back and do some again. Country Boy for example. That now sounds completely different from the way it was originally recorded. We'd have liked to re-do some more of the stuff but there just isn't a chance if we're going to get the record out on time."

Although the album may not reach the standards of perfection Jacka would like to have achieved, it should be some indication of what the new band's direction will be. There certainly is an audible difference between Ruby and Dingly Dell.

"I think that this band are more technically talented - they have a better musical technique if you like. That's not meant as any sort of an insult to the guys that left - they were very talented in different ways. So I think this album is just more musical than previous Lindisfarne albums have been."

Although the bias is more towards music than lyrics now, Lindisfarne songs have not lost their most important characteristic. The melodic content. The reasons seem to be that although Hull and Jackson are the only original members left, the four newcomers (Charlie Harcourt, Paul Nichols, Kenny Craddock and Tom Duffy) have a similar musical background.

Charlie explains: "We have all known each other for ages - we were all in Geordie bands at home in Newcastle at the same time." "In fact, I always admired Charlie's band," Jacka broke in, "so when we were looking around for members of our new band it seemed only natural to go for people we knew." "The similar background has also helped a lot with the breaking in of new members Most of the teething problems have been overcome and we think the band's sounding really good now. When two thirds of your group are new recruits there are obviously going to be some changes. One, which the band considered, was changing the name. At one point we seriously considered it. But Lindisfarne's a great name, and we found that the old fans didn't seem to mind. The first band built up a good reputation and it would have been rather a waste to throw that all away. After all, Alan and I had quite a lot to do with getting that reputation in the first place. We'd never change it now. Keeping it has worked out just fine - and of course the name reminds us of home."

Home is not a place they're seeing much of at the moment. Work, work and more work has been the order of the last year - to iron out any problems in the best possible way. "And to keep us eating," Charlie added ruefully. "With all the equipment and general expenses of running a band, we're had to keep working to survive. It hasn't been easy."Royalties from the sale of this album should help a bit. And it seems obvious that the atmosphere within the band is good.

"The new blood has also helped with the song writing. It's given Alan new inspiration, and some of the other members of the band are keen to write too. So both musically and as writers we're a better, much stronger band. And it's a much happier environment."

The New Year will see the new Lindisfarne ready and raring to go. the pattern won't be very different - working to re-establish themselves with former fans and gain new ones. That job could take them all over the world - and a hit album behind them would be a great help. They're not striving to recapture the days of Fog on the Tyne, but to create something new. If Roll On, Ruby isn't the definitive statement of where they're at, they hope their second album will be. And the end of '74 could see them regaining their former position. If the new members prove as strong as Hull and Jackson obviously believe them to be.

Well, that goes some way to explaining the US version of NCB and the other tracks. It seems they were disappointed with it before it was even released.