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LINDISFARNE "Here Comes The Neighbourhood" Park PRKCD47

Lindisfarne's comeback had sidestepped me till now. "Fog On The Tyne" was compulsory listening for schoolboy folkrockers in 1972, but to add to those memories I knew only that the band had survived some sticky patches, had headlined at the latest Beverley Festival, and were on Mike Harding's string of top sausages.

Lyrically, the nine songs on this 44-minute album are a lucky dip. The opening and closing tracks, Billy Mitchell's "Born At The Right Time" and Marty Craggs' "Driftin' Through", are anthems to middle-aged slobbing. In between, founder member Rod Clements' songs are edgier - sometimes maddeningly underdone, always interesting. Escape and survival are strong themes. In the excellent "Jubilee Corner" a man envies the street drinkers. A hard-hat expat dreams of "Working My Way Back Home". The "Devil Of the North", not that steel Angel, is the North East's spirit of resilience. In "One Day" a man walks hometown streets and yearns for a better time and place. And the mystery man in the classy "Unmarked Car"? Maybe he's the one we all want to get away from.

This multi-skilled band has enough kit to slip any roadie's disc. The trademark mandolin, harmonica and leisurely back beat are all there to roll away the years, but the subtle guitar, flute and keyboards also demand attention. Good changes of pace between the rockers (some Shearer-strong, others formulaic and geezerish) and the reflective numbers. The two instrumentals, "Wejibileng" and "Uncle Henry" are disappointingly short mood pieces. Like the painting and photographs in the casing and liner notes, they might reflect the calming influence of Ardgour in Scotland, where the album was recorded in spring and summer of '98. The midgies can't have been biting too hard.

File under ...? I heard echoes of Dire Straits and even REM, but none of the tradition until the last bars on the last track. That's a sadness to me, but the fans who have stuck with the band down all the days won't care, and nor will the new fans from last year's marquees and halls. Howway the lads, there's plenty to play for yet!

Tony Hendry

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This album was reviewed in Issue 33 of The Living Tradition magazine.