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john davies
notes from a small vicar
from a parish
in Liverpool, UK

    Friday, March 14, 2008
    Migrane reducers
     
    Hung over from excess of work, an abandoned day out gave me time, once the migrane subsided, to instead fill my ears with three of the very best vocal sets I'm likely to be privileged to hear:

    Baby Dee: Safe Inside the Day
    "As songs that go forgotten
    Are found, remembered, loved, and sung again;
    The father of all kindness,
    The lover of our souls,
    Will come to find us.
    And if I can remain there,
    And if I can remain there I will stay.
    And I will live another day."
    With that distinctive voice full, strong and deeply passionate, this stirring, replenishing verse opens Baby Dee's latest terrific album. It's equally profound (and camp and madcap and marvellous) throughout. [See him, and if you can you'll be deeply blessed, with David Tibet's Current 93 at the Southbank Centre on 21 April].

    Martyn Bates & Max Eastley: Songs of Transformation
    Folk songs which for various reasons have been 'transformational' for Bates, sung as only he can, with haunting soundscapes supplied by environmental experimenter Eastley. "Sung spells" - fine folk standards, here reborn.
    "This delicate lyric set me in mind of the undercurrents of magic that I felt to be ever-present, thinly-veiled within the Methodism of my youth. Ethel Flanagan, my long gone grandmother, was a staunch Methodist - and she never failed to see all of the gazing souls that floated above the trees at the foot of her garden, looking for her." [Martyn Bates in cd booklet, on The Cherry Tree Carol]
    Billy Bragg: Mr Love & Justice
    Having heard many of these songs live over the past couple of years it was worth the wait to hear their treatment on album. The title is a different take on that old, still valid, BB slogan, a Socialism of the Heart. Mr Love & Justice tells it all afresh - songs about the man's struggle to stay true to his love through the troubling times of a middle-aged relationship reel the listener in with their raw and gentle honesty, so that when he turns his heart outwards to the unloved ones of the world you are cut to the quick and carried along in his keen sense of justice:
    "We sing our songs of freedom and we sing our songs of peace
    We sing about sweet harmony for to make the fighting cease
    Let's sing one song for the folks tonight that are sleeping on the streets
    Come on and sing their souls back home"