Lindisfarne – Nicely Out of Tune
For those of a certain age, myself included, the first exposure to Lindisfarne would’ve come post-Italia ’90, with the truly execrable ‘Fog on the Tyne (revisited)’. It featured, a then in the ascendency, Paul Gascoigne pulling off what has to be some of the worst rapping since Dr. Dre accidentally dropped his prized solid brass bust of salad dodging politico, Cyril Smith, on Eazy-E’s foot, during an early take of ‘Fuck Tha Police’.
Needless to say, it was enough to tarnish the public image of Lindesfarne for a generation who’d never before heard of them, myself included.
But exactly twenty years earlier, the original ‘Fog on the Tyne’ had yet to be released, Gazza was yet to stagger home pissed, and Lindesfarne were dipping their collective toe into the album market with this, their 1970 debut Nicely Out of Tune. Released on the Charisma label, it introduced the folk rock stylings of five hairy-arsed Geordies to a public beyond the borders of Tyne and Wear.
Heralding in their particularly earthy and humour-laden brand of electric-folk minstrelling is the quasi-psychedelic classic ‘Lady Eleanor’. With potential single stamped clearly across its bows it’s a nice introduction to the band, featuring a shimmering mandolin, some close harmony chorus, and the occasional strained note.
Sounding as though they’re trying to out-Geordie Leonard Osborne and Dennis Patterson, the five proudly display their working class credentials throughout. There’s no faux mid-Atlantic accents or non-descript vocal deliveries here, nor the corrupted Gaelic nasal whine adopted by some elements of the folk community during the sixties. Lindesfarne sound as though they’ve just stepped off of the terraces at St. James’ Park and don’t give a fig who knows it.
‘Winter Song’ is one of the rarer moments of meditative songwriting amidst the oft-sing-along nature demonstrated elsewhere, and as such is a humbling take on the world’s ills in moments of comfort. ‘Things I Should’ve Said’ is another example of this gentler, yet regret-fuelled, approach, and as such these two songs, along with ‘Lady Eleanor’, are the cream of an altogether generous crop.
Nicely Out of Tune is by no means a perfect album. There are the occasional potholes that threaten to upset the applecart, but forty years on it remains a hugely listenable, and, more importantly, enjoyable experience. Unlike ‘Fog on the Tyne (revisited)’.
If your own opinions of Lindisfarne have been tainted by the reprehensible 1990 idiot remix of that song, give Nicely Out of Tune a listen and in the time it takes to say “Moaty, it’s me, Gazza”, those painful memories will have gone the same way as a Tyneside shipyard under a Tory government.
Haway, ya bugger man.
Nicely Out of Tune by Lindisfarne is available to buy from Amazon.co.uk
Don’t just read and applaud. Subscribe to the rather splendid RSS Feed