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Album Review

Although he was part of the Incredible String Band when they recorded their debut album in 1966, Clive Palmer left the group after its release, largely vanishing into obscurity. He did keep recording and performing, however, and in late 1967, he recorded this solo album, produced by Peter Eden (who had been involved in Donovan's early management and production). Eden couldn't find a label to release it, and the material didn't come out until it was rescued for this 2005 CD reissue. Though its archaic, acoustic folk was, as Eden states in the liner notes, "wonderfully at odds with what the rest of the world was preoccupied with at the time," it's a surprisingly good listen. While all of the songs were traditional tunes (sometimes from quite ancient sources), it's not at all a stodgy revivalist exercise. It's hard to finger why this projects more charm and liveliness than many a similar folk revival recording, but it certainly does. There's a droll irreverence to Palmer's arrangements, banjo playing, and dry vocals, even though he apparently didn't bother to change the gender for passages that seem intended to have been sung by women. He also invests some songs, such as "Ma-Koush-La," "I Hear You Calling Me," and "Smiling Through," with an inviting bittersweet melancholy. There are virtually no nods to rock or pop in the production, but it's not solely Palmer and his banjo; Wizz Jones adds guitar occasionally, and "Stories of Jesus," far less expectedly, is graced with a string quartet. While this isn't incredibly similar to the Incredible String Band's work, it should appeal to many ISB fans, and isn't really that far removed from the ISB's more traditional folk-based stuff, which was heard more on the sole album they did with Palmer in the lineup than on anything else they recorded. The CD adds four quite tasty bonus tracks, two of them being country-swing-oriented Palmer-Jones duets from a late-'60s BBC radio program, the others recorded by the pair at Jones' house in late 1967.


Born: London, England

Genre: Vocal

Years Active: '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s

A founding member of the Incredible String Band, Clive Palmer has continued to explore the folk traditions of Scotland as a soloist and with his bands, the Famous Jug Band and Clive's Original Band. In 1999, Palmer reunited with fellow Incredible String Band founder Robin Williamson to tour the United Kingdom and record two duo albums: At the Pure Fountain and Just Like the Ivy. It marked the first time in more than three decades that the two musicians collaborated. Palmer and Williamson first came...
Full Bio
Banjoland, Cliver Palmer
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