Friday, 7 August 2015

Greg Brown - Songs of Innocence and of Experience, album review


This is a cute, genuine album from 1986, one that could have been quite pretentious and/or disastrous, but Greg Brown places the poetry of William Blake within simple, delicate folk melodies, or, as with The Echoing Green, jaunty blues which really does add a sweet lightness – especially the harmonica, fiddle and bottle-diddle-lee-do [an approximate translation] vocalisation.

The Tyger gets a swamp-blues presentation, the harmonica and fiddle again dancing provocatively as musical backdrop. It’s not so much threatening as - cool. The warm baritone [now rather grizzled] of Brown’s singing adds warmth to Infant Sorrow; and Ah! Sun-Flower makes an interesting comparison with the version by The Fugs: the latter played to my class in secondary school by a dynamic supply teacher which ignited a teenage interest in poetry, as well as that iconoclastic band/ensemble, and if I was still teaching today I’m sure I’d be in a different classroom armed with both versions. The Little Vagabond has a pretty country folk melody with harmony vocal and is another example of these Blake poems re-presented with Brown’s careful creativity. 

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