Caedmon “A Chicken to Hug”
It has been over 3 decades, but like Vashti Bunyan a few years back, a classic seventies UK psyche-folk-rock band has come out with a second studio release. I had the pleasure earlier this year of visiting Edinburgh and seeing the band’s two reunion shows (their first shows since 1978!). They did a marvelous job with the brilliant songs off of their one record and were also successful mixing in many new songs which they were recording at the time. And now, the results are here. A new Caedmon album with all five original members. The sound is different, but not radically so. In fact, the band have been a bit amused with the various attempts to categorize their music into folk, rock, psychedelic, acid folk, progressive and Christian labels (and the exponential combinations thereof). So now, there is a more mature sound that still contains exquisite and delicate folk starting with the vocals and acoustic instruments mixed with the rock elements of electric guitar and bass. There are some real drums this time as well. But you can also add a few more genres: African folk and light jazz-rock. But no matter how you want to categorize it, the major point is that the songs are eclectic, varied and effectively creative. This album has less jarring moments than the debut and is not quite as mystical, but each song has its own personality and strength. And when I compare it to the post reunion newer songs from some of my other favorites like Vashti Bunyan, the Incredible String Band, Roky Erickson and the Stooges, I find this one is the most successful (along with the Bunyan release perhaps, but much better than the rest). There is enough quality here, that even if you are not already a fan (like someone I met at the shows earlier this year who had not heard of them, but thought they sounded like fun), you would find a lot of great music to enjoy.
Songs to try:
Peace in the Fire – They begin with a song they wrote for their final show and performed it that one time in 1978 prior to reunion shows. This classic fits right in with their older material and begins this album in a magical way.
Still Here – A nice theme to continue the album with and bring a bit of updated rock sound into the mix.
Bonnie Boy – A newer folk song with great dual vocals that does remind one of the older days.
Four Winds – An interesting song that reminds me of older rock/singer-songwriter style.
Childless – Of their modern material, this simultaneously sounds like classic Caedmon and something totally new. A great psychedelic vibe on a touching little song.
Elephant in the Chatroom – Nice rocker with a decidedly UK folk feeling present.