Monday 15 July 2024


Newsletter SIGNUP

spiral earth
Monday 15 July 2024

Share This:

Brand New Day. The Mercury Years 1978/1979 – Lindisfarne.

Jun 16, 2024

It’s somewhat true to say that these albums, which gave a boost to Lindisfarne’s career have largely been overlooked, even forgotten. Yet you could make a case for them also handing the band a fresh audience, one who’d not known or appreciated their rough hewn, boozy, good time repertoire of the early 70s. By 1978 they got round to realising that the disputes and anger following the original severing of the classic line up (1973) was better viewed as water under the bridge; they’d already played Newcastle City Hall reunion gigs and found the original quintet still had a lot to say and achieve.

‘Magic In The Air’ is a record of those shows and everything that the earlier ‘Lindisfarne Live’ cut and paste job wasn’t. ‘Live’ was put together without proper clearance from the band, had studio audience added and was really a cash in by their previous label. Here fresh from years apart the band kick in with a fine set which shows what sheer joy a Lindisfarne concert could be for both musicians and their faithful. Okay, so it’s a home town gig and it is Christmas, but there is undeniable spirit and a unique communality which only Lindisfarne could generate. The disc opens with ‘Lady Eleanor,’ and rattles through at frieght train pace, a whole list of stomp along, clap along, sing along numbers, including ‘Meet Me On The Corner,’ closer ‘Clear White Light,’ almost takes the roof off.

Single ‘Run For Home’ not only returned them to the charts and Top Of the Pops but also spoke volumes about their attitude and feelings at once having been forced away from their own back yard. Listen to the lyrics and they spell out quite starkly the weariness and sapping of creativity the band had experienced living in the capital. “Run as fast as I can,” informs the chorus, Alan Hull’s in no doubt where his muse lies. The 45 also signalled a new studio album ‘Back & Fourth,’ which held some cracking songs, ‘Kings Cross Blues,’ ‘Marshall Riley’s Army,’ ‘Only Alone,’ among them. Gus Dudgeon, Elton John’s producer, was behind the desk adding a smoothness which propelled the LP into the Top 30. It was the first Lindisfarne album that sounded produced, yes, maybe commercial. Selling like hot cakes, a younger hipper set latched on to the band. Mercury Records who’d waved a contract based on the potential of the reunion shows in Newcastle were well pleased. The band toured extensively, significantly taking their Christmas party around the Apollos and other large venues at the closing of the year.

Third in this set is ‘The News.’ Hugh Murphy now in the producer’s chair, he’d worked with off shoot Jack The Lad during the mid 70s and understood the acoustic/electric balance that the band needed. Something was missing though, it’s hard to say exactly what it is. The material was fine, ‘Easy & Free,’ ‘Dedicated Hound,’ ‘This Has Got To End,’ ‘Miracles,’ spread the composition credits across  the band which was a good thing, Rod Clements’ ‘When Friday Comes Along,’ a gleeful bounce of a track, translated well when played live but quite what Alan Hull was thinking when he penned ‘Good to Be Here,’ wasn’t clear.  ‘Dingly Dell’ may have been lurking in the background when he wrote the wandering, overlong, dream based closer which despite all its allusions to roving never really goes anywhere. Needless to say the band rarely performed it. ‘The News’ after all this time still sounds different. Appeneded as bonus material is part of the 1979 Christmas show, where all the elements are in place and over eight songs Lindisfarne prove their effectiveness once again.

Entering the 80s the band learned the value of the DIY ethic, with their destiny very much in their own hands. Happily they’re still out there spreading the good word, entertaining crowds forty five years on and in two varying forms, a Clements led five piece and Ray Laidlaw/Billy Mitche’ll’s Lindisfarne Story, both excellent, showing the variety and eclectic faces of our Tyneside heroes. ‘Brand New Day’ gives the chance to stop, think and reappraise. Revision is healthy, there are some gems here, but more importantly these are the LPs that returned Lindisfarne to us. For that alone they deserve to be restored to the catalogue.

Simon Jones.




Spiral Earth rating

uk festival directory