It’s a sad fact that we’re never again going to hear Nic Jones perform a song with the power and fearlessness he brought to his music in earlier years. Indeed it’s a miracle that he’s still able to occasionally perform after the terrible accident that almost took his life in 1982. Singer/songwriter Sam Carter makes a decent fist of re-creating Jones’s magic, particularly in his excellent guitar work, but somehow all the other versions of this song I’ve ever heard, including Bob Dylan’s, (actually especially Bob Dylan’s) leave me longing for the original.
For some reason, my own lack of insight maybe, or marketing campaigns that seemed to want to sell her to the same crowd that bought Loreena Mckennit records I’ve long avoided listening to Mari Boine. Don’t get me wrong, I like everything about the idea of revitalising traditional music, in this case music from the Sami culture by experimenting with contemporary influences such as jazz and rock. If I’d ever had the chance to see her live I would probably have formed a clearer picture of what it was that she was doing, one in which both the political and Pagan aspects made more sense. Still, better late than never I suppose.
The added bonus in this clip is the polite applause from the audience following the stunning performance. It’s hard to tell whether they’re mystified by the spectacle or had simply arrived at the Opera House expecting to see the Norwegian equivalent of Cilla Black.
Sandpiper Books in Brighton is one of the best independent bookshops in the city and unfailingly has music on the cd player that hooks me every time I manage to find my way there. A few years ago, when the friendly man behind the counter told me that what I was listening to was The Decemberists I went next door, bought “The Hazards of Love” and couldn’t stop playing it for weeks afterwards. Shades of Neil Young, REM, and Liege and Lief era Fairport, with plenty of entirely original weirdness thrown into the melting pot.
They look like quite a strange bunch, a suspicion confirmed if you live with their recordings for any length of time. I have a theory that The Decemberists are the band that Mumford & Sons would like to be if only they could summon up the energy. Gillian Welch adds colour to the vocals in this great clip.