The Strange Tale Of Captain Shannon And The Hunchback From Gigha
01. Hymn for Sylvia (5:43)
02. Masquerade (4:52)
03. Sucking on a Cigarette (3:30)
04. Ho Who Knows All (4:50)
05. The Lobster Quadrille (2:42)
06. Butterfly Land (5:06)
07. Purple Haze Helancholy (3:48)
08. Sing Me a Song (2:12)
09. The Strange Tale of Captain Shannon and the Hunchback from Gigha (6:56)
David McNiven / guitars, keyboards and vocals
Angie Rew / vocals , flute
Terry Cox / Drums
Allan Trajan / Keyboards
Danny Thompson / Bass
Beyond those similarities there are some distinct differences between the albums, beginning with that Carolyn Davis tune “Purple Hazy Melancholy”, a haunting and appropriately named, mellow-yet-tense folk hymn with lazily strummed acoustic guitar, imperceptible bass and a keyboard-driven orchestral-like arrangement. Coming in the middle of the album, this one makes for an abrupt and somber mood shift sandwiched between the more fluid “Butterflyland” and “Sing Me a Song”, both with harmonized vocals from Rew and McNiven along with a playful tempo and stilting organ bleats courtesy the understated Trajan. The album also opens with an almost beat-folk sounding tune in “Hymn for Sylvia”, and closes with the traveling-bard title track, so in that respect there is more variety than on either of their other two studio releases.
One thing about this album, and with acid folk music like it from the same period, is that the sense of wandering, travel and discovery is thick in both the lyrics and the innocent openness of the music itself. In the modern world of high fuel prices, recession and regional strife the idea of traveling via thumb and backpack around the world to meet fellow travelers and see what’s around the bend to discover is something that seems a world away. For folk artists like these guys it was a way of life, and the easy gait and generally positive attitude in their music reflect a simpler and more visceral life experience than what many of us experience today. After a stressful and unrewarding week this is just the sort of record that fits with a fading sunset, a gentle breeze and the warmth of the latter strands of summer.
Timing is everything I suppose; I first heard this album about a year ago during the winter and it had a completely different effect on me. It seemed dated, trite and a little bland. Time and temperament seem to have changed that – today this feels like the perfect soundtrack to the approaching evening.
Bread Love & Dreams were never much of a memorable band, and their albums would be totally unavailable were they not reissued on CD several years ago. And despite my current benevolent mood, this album doesn’t deserve to be hailed a masterpiece by any means. But the guitar playing has an easy gait, Rew and McNiven have voices that blend comfortably, and Allan Trajan has a way with keyboards that fits folk music quite well (when he decides to join in, at least). An easy three stars for ‘Strange Tale…’, and landing somewhere between the band’s debut and the more well-known ‘Amaryllis’, which by coincidence is exactly the order in which it was released. Enjoy it if you come across it.