"Linda’s Farm Are Gonna Be Big"
from Melody Maker April 8th, 1972 - discovered by Michael Clayton

Lindisfarne’s Alan Hull reports on the band’s first US tour ...

They say Alan Hull arrived in New York with a suitcase containing a bottle of Guinness and a change of underpants. Somebody in the Lindisfarne camp muttered  that after a week, Hull began to smell a bit. Funny, but after a week Lindisfarne began to swing a bit, and a couple of days later they were being toasted in some enviably high New York circles. Somebody asked me if I’d ever heard of Linda’s Farm. This American then reassured me that Linda’s Farm were going to be big, big, big. A lot of us already knew that, but it was enjoyable to be told by an American. 

“America is a canny place. America is crazy,” says Hull with a fair amount of arrogance. I’d traced him to a Holiday Inn. Los Angeles. It was a couple of  hours before the band were due to make their debut at the city’s Troubador Club and Hull was muttering something about sabotaging the gear of Don McLean,  who was topping the bill. 

“What amazes me,” said Hull, “is that we’ve all managed to keep sane. We’ve been over here a long while now, and it’s beginning to tell a bit. Home certainly seems a delightful place to think about. Listen, there’s another police siren, they never stop, do they? They never stop.” Lindisfarne haven’t stopped either. Not only has their first American tour turned out to be successful but it’s also been a non-stopper. They toured with The Kinks, then they toured with Fairport Convention, then they toured with Seatrain. Then they played with Tim Buckley. 

Despite promises of pre-publicity from Charisma’s American label, they arrived at each gig unknown and unheralded. Sometimes they were third on the bill. And that’s a hard one. “It’s been varied as far as reception,” said Hull. “Take Cleveland, where they really freaked over us. Then take San Francisco, where we played with Buckley. We came on stage, had a blow, and the audience just sat there and stared, but I found that interesting – they weren’t baffled, they were just in a state of having to listen. We know we’ve got to sow the seeds, and we know we’ve got to put up with this.”

Ray Jackson’s mouth harp extravaganza still includes ‘Theme From Z Cars’ and ‘Blaydon Races,’ but recent additions like ‘Deep In The Heart Of Texas’ have struck gold with American hearts. Jacka has in fact become some minor people’s hero, especially on the East Coast. There the band got an enormous selection of “rave” reviews, and Jacka was THE working class hero. 

But the news from Los Angeles was that the band was “skint.” Success had come with the making of friends. It couldn’t really have been expected that Lindisfarne would make all that much bread. Money, America, and English bands tend to have been blown out into some sort of myth. In Frisco they were paid about £250 for a week’s work. When it came to the end of the residence the club manager told them that they owed him about £40. They had in fact drunk their way through their fee. He told them they’d drunk more beer than he usually sold in a year. In fact they’d get through 13 jugs of ale an evening and approximately 18 carafes of wine a night too. Well, that isn’t bad. [check the interview with Simon Nicol & Dave Pegg about that memoriable week. RG].

The drinking crunch came at a smallish city in Texas, which turned out to be totally “dry.” The Lindisfarne camp searched, and searched for ale. None was found, and for possibly the first time in their history the Newcastle lads took to the stage as sober as the legendary judge. 

“It’s funny how some people have taken to our humour. Americans themselves I find to have a canny sense of humour. You know, strange,” said Hull.“But we are now finding that audiences are obviously listening to us fully. There have been gigs where we have known damned well that the club has just been a meeting place. Nobody wanted to know about music.”

The never ending rush of experiences, that America churns up looks like producing a new rash of Hull songs. “I haven’t had time to lay any down as yet, but Christ, I’ve got a million ideas in my head. I can feel them building up, and well, when I get back I know I’m going to say I’m glad America happened.” 

“I know we all feel a bit strange being over here when ‘Fog On The Tyne’ and ‘Meet Me On The Corner’ are doing grand business. We’ve never experience basking on glory, and now that glory has come, here we are in America. And everyone says Lindis-Who? Yes, we’re beginning to miss things. Christ, I even missed seeing our Top Of The Pops. You know, it was a life’s ambition to see myself on Top Of The Pops. Did it look good? Just wait till we get back.”

Maybe Hull is after a change of clothes. Well, just maybe.They’ll find a lot happening. For a start they’ll find that they’re topping the bill at the Paris Olympia on June 5. And that’s going places.

        Roy Hollingworth