a review
by Dave Lain
from Let It Rock, Sept '73
discovered by Michael Clayton

In some ways, Pipedream is a curious collection for Alan Hull to produce now, particularly if we are to assume that this is the kind of stuff his new Lindisfarne will be performing. There are no traces of the more adventurous elements of the final Lindisfarne Mk I record, Dingly Dell, which were pronounced a failure by most critics and some fans who wanted more of the ‘Fog On The Tyne’ stuff.

Well, they’ve got it here. Most of these songs were written while Hull was still a semi professional star turn in the north east folk clubs, and most are satisfying, if unambitious observations on private lives. The titles suggest the range: ‘Breakfast’, ‘Sad Song’, ‘For The Bairns’, ‘United States Of Mind’, ‘Drug Song’. If John Lennon or George Harrison had missed the Beatle boat and stuck around Liverpool cutting grass in the parks and hanging out with Adrian Henri’s gang, they would have been writing stuff like this

But, of course, for a pro musician with a national following, this kind of writing can only be a first stage towards songs that encompass a different range of subjects and experience. Not that it isn’t related: what distinguishes a British rock band from a pop concoction like The Sweet is that necessary process of growth in an interaction with an audience which shares the idiom of the band. On the live Lindisfarne album, recorded in Newcastle in December 1971, the high point of the process is captured as Ray Jackson introduces ‘Fog On The Tyne’: “This is one Jimmy Alan Hull used to sing around the folk clubs in Newcastle…”

The Pipedream songs that belong to stage two are, for me, the most effective on the album. There’s ‘Country Gentleman’s Wife’, a wry tale of being bought off by “an unlimited supply of booze” cast in the form of those trad folk songs about gypsies and high-born ladies. And there’s ‘The Money Game’ which joins ‘All Fall Down’ and ‘Caught In The Act’ (sic) as one of Alan Hull’s magnificent rising up angry songs. It’s full of lines that leap out like shafts of lightning, like the description of the singer’s father: 

  Worked for half a crown
  Five days a week
  Who was too tired in the night
  To speak about the things in his head. 

Some trendy reviewer in London’s Time Out found all this stuff about poverty and protest too boring for words. Well, he can keep his Bowie and Lou Reed. I like Alan Hull because he’s a rebel, and there ain’t enough of them in rock.