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10 Nov 2016

Dulcimer “And I Turned As I Had Turned As A Boy” 1971 UK Prog Folk

Dulcimer “And I Turned As I Had Turned As A Boy” 1971 UK  Prog Folk
Well seriously, with a name like Dulcimer and an album cover like this one, you really should know what you’re getting into without even listening to this record. And your preformed impressions would be dead-on correct for the most part: acoustic folk, mostly languid, and full of little fantasy vignettes and a slightly bawdy tale or two. The instrumentation is stock of the trade as well with 6- and 12-string guitars and bass, but also glockenspiel, harmonica, mandolin and even a couple songs with a dulcimer. There’s even a few passages of ominous-sounding and stiff-lipped British spoken-word passages courtesy of the Richard Wood (aka Baron Holderness? Not sure. If so he is also the late Richard Wood, and a war hero to boot). 
But there are enough little dalliances with humor and fantasy and the occasional charming lyrical turn or arrangement to place these guys within at least the past half-century musically. On “Ghost of the Wondering Minstrel Boy” for example, a dead lad’s spirit wanders from a Tudor manor to an Eskimo igloo in a fruitless search of someone who will trade him a spot at their warm fire in exchange for one of his tales. In the end he is seen passing through the vacuum of space past a couple of chess-playing astronauts in their ship who refuse him admittance as well. Weird stuff, delivered with soft acoustic guitar strumming and a bleating harmonica. 

But much of the album is pretty much stock folk, including the staid “Gloucester City”, the mandolin- laden “Starlight”, and the lithe love ditty “Lisa’s Song”. 

Most of the songs here are a scant two or three minutes, pretty much in keeping with most traditional folk music of the period. The band does manage one extended track, the eight-minute “Caravan” that features lengthy dulcimer, mandolin and glockenspiel passages and more of Sir Wood’s spoken-word baritone in the vein of Richard Burton on Jeff Wayne’s ‘War of the Worlds’ but a bit less dramatic. This is the song that gives the album its title, coming from a passage of the now aged lad in this tale of world travels who looks back from whence he came at the end of a lifelong journey. A bit corny today, but solid stuff nearly forty years ago. 

I don’t know that this is much of a progressive album strictly speaking, but the band would do better on some of their subsequent recordings. This one is underdeveloped and not particularly ambitious, but then again it comes from a time when everything pretty much fit that description so accommodations have to be made for the period in which it was recorded I suppose. And extra kudos for the excellent album artwork and tastefully arranged liner notes. You don’t see that kind of attention paid to album art these days thanks to digital wizardry which can render something like this in minutes as opposed to the likely days or even weeks that were spent in creating it by hand so many years ago. 

This is a solid three star album, not four but one that will likely appeal to many prog folk fans as well as those who just enjoy British folk music in general. Recommended if that describes you……by ClemofNazareth….. 

There’s a flood of UK folk-rock available, most of it largely unknown in the States. That said, like any commodity, much of it is over-hyped and not particularly impressive. Here’s one of the rare exceptions. 

Dulcimer consisted of singer/guitarists Dave Eaves and Pete Hodges and bassist Jem North. The trio apparently began working together in 1966 - 67 (see interesting email below) attracting some local attention before relocating to London where they found a mentor in actor Richard Todd who seems to have helped them score a contract with the small UK Nepentha Records. (For some bizarre reason Mercury Records subsequently deciding to acquire American distribution rights.) Released in 1970, the oddly titled “And I Turned As I Had As a Boy” found the group teamed with producer Larry Page (best known for his work with garage rock acts like The Troggs). Similar to early Fairport Convention, Steeleye Span, or a score of other early-1970s UK bands, this was best described as classic English acoustic folk-rock. At the same time these guys differed from their competition in several ways. Whereas Fairport and others were big on updating traditional folks songs, Dulcimer’s LP featured all-original material. Hodge and Eaves-penned material such as ‘Pilgrim from the City’, 'Morman’s Casket’ and 'Fruit of the Musical Tree’ was full of pretty melodies and a weird series of medieval and mythological lyrics (check out the bizarre Dylan-esque 'Ghost of the Wandering Minstrel Boy’), but North’s busy electric bass gave many of the songs an unexpected heft and kept the group from becoming too precious and fey. To give you some frame of reference, to my ears much of the set recalled early Al Stewart though without some of the upper crust pomposity. Highlights include the pretty ballads 'Gloucester City’ and 'Starlight’ (the latter again showcasing North’s bass). Mind you the album wasn’t perfect. Perhaps intended as a 'payback’ for helping them score their recording deal, Todd recited some hackneyed and instantly forgettable poetry on the opener 'Sonnet To the Fall’ and 'Caravan’. (Perhaps another attempt at payback, unlike the rest of the band Todd’s picture appeared on the inner sleeve.) In spite of his efforts, North wasn’t able to salvage everything - 'Dulcimer’ sounded like a bad Donovan outtake, while 'Lisa’s Song’ came off as bad Simon and Garfunkel with an overdose of wimpiness and self-absorption - c'mon guys get over the woman, hopefully you let her drag her sorry her butt back to South California. Though nothing here was particularly original, the set was never less than pleasant and enjoyable and for a guy not really into UK folk this one’s always been a guilty pleasure……. RDTEN1……. 

21st century. And much of the music successfully melds archaic and progressive influences within an acoustic instrument framework, reminiscent in some respects of the bolder work of Amazing Blondel, but with a greater emphasis on lyricism. The simple beauty of the music is almost overwhelmed at times by too-elaborate production, though the presence of actor Richard Todd as narrator on “Sonnet to the Fall” and “Caravan” isn’t nearly as jarring today as it seemed in the early ’70s. He sounds too much like Richard Burton, but “Caravan,” the track on which he is most prominent, holds together well as a piece of faux-medieval folk-rock…….. 

Dulcimer is an English mythical folk band in traditional English manor, which offers a pleasant and exceptional style. 
The beautiful and magical farout fairyland songs are filled with mandolins, dulcimers, banjo and lush keyboards. Also features the British actor Richard Todd reading evocative poetry over two of the tracks. 
Finding a mentor in the form of producer manager Larry Page (yes, the guy who was behind The Troggs), 1971 found the trio signed by the small UK Nepentha Records (Mercury acquiring American distribution rights). Produced by Page, the trio debuted with 1970’s oddly titled “And I Turned As I Had As a Boy”. Hodge and Eaves-penned material such as “Pilgrim from the City”, “Morman’s Casket” and “Fruit of the Musical Tree” is full of pretty melodies and a weird series of mideaval and mythological lyrics (check out the bizarre “Ghost of the Wandering Minstrel Boy”). 
Highlights include the pretty ballads “Glochester City” and “Starlight” (the latter featuring some nice electric bass from North). All told, the set’s pleasant and never less than enjoyable…….. 


Line-up / Musicians 

- Dave Eaves / acoustic guitars, woodwinds, vocals 
- Pete Hodge / acoustic guitars, mandolin, dulcimer, vocals 
- Jem North / bass, assorted percussion 

Songs / Tracks Listing 

1. Sonnett to the Fall 
2. Pilgrim from the City 
3. Morman’s Casket 
4. Ghost of the Wandering Minstrel Boy 
5. Glochester City 
6. Starlight 
7. Caravan 
8. Lisa’s Song 
9. Time Is My Life 
10. Fruit of the Musical Tree 
11. While It Lasted 
12. Suzanne

johnkatsmc5, welcome music..





Cassete Deck

Cassete Deck