Here’s an article that we omitted to flag up in the excitement of May’s concerts and recording sessions.
Caedmon is a band with an untraditional background. Something they will explain more in this interview. They are also working on the follow up to their 1978 album. I caught up with them for this interview. Ken Patterson answered my questions.
Caedmon started out among veterinary students in Edinburgh in 1973. You are veterinaries then. I am actually going for a beauty therapy at my local vet clinic on Monday morning……… But for some reason, they may refuse me service. Anyway, please tell us more about the start up of Caedmon.
For the first few months we were a three piece band: Andy Love, Angela Naylor and Ken Patterson, all vet students in Edinburgh. Our first gig was at Christmas time in 1973. Listening to recordings of the two guitars and female voice you’d note Pentangle as its main influence. The initial repertoire was virtually all from ‘The Jesus Movement’, with fluorescent ‘Jesus Stickers’ on guitar cases as evidence.
Soon Simon Jaquet and Sam Wilson joined the band, Andy left and returned to Aberdeen. We took a big step forward in the development of the band’s sound with the addition of fifth member Jim Bisset, the only Scot of the five, who came with Fender Stratocaster and an amp of his very own.
The first original song we played was written by Lance Stone, a friend of the band with music by Simon Jaquet. This was the next major advance for the band and numerous original songs were penned by the four instrumentalists and by jamming together as a band.
You have so far only released one album in 1978 called Caedmon. Please tell us more about this album because it has an interesting history.
The album represented the majority of the writing we had done together up to that point. It was all original material except for ‘Give me Jesus’, a traditional spiritual.
The album was a milestone for us, marking our time together, with the knowledge that Angela and Ken were both graduating and moving on to other cities. 500 vinyl copies were made and were just in time for the band’s farewell gig (where virtually all were sold).
We were not signed to a label. We recorded twelve over two consecutive Sundays at Barclay Towers Studio in Edinburgh: essentially a live two track recording of instruments playing live and a two track over-lay of vocals.
The sleeve was designed by Ken with sleeve notes and lyrics hand written by Angela and Sam. Whilst the sleeve was away being printed we discovered that the twelve tracks took up too much space for a vinyl album at the time, so tracks 6 and 12 were put on to a single at 45 rpm, which was included in the package.
The album was re-released on CD in 2002. Please tell us more about this re-release.
Out of the blue, Kissing Spell phoned up Simon Jaquet and proposed a re-release. We didn’t know the label. Presumably they had found a copy in an Oxfam shop or similar source. We were flattered and agreed to some Cds being made. We only discovered that the vinyl album was selling for huge prices to collectors (claims of a value of up to £1000 per album) at a later date. We’ve never made any money from the project apart from a modest one off fee for the use of the master tape for making the CD. The Kissing Spell CD has presumably sold well, but we have no notion of how many.
It’s the internet that’s allowed access to underground material like our 1978 one-off album enabled its inclusion in such archives as your own. Acid Folk and Psychedelic Folk are tags that have invented relatively recently to describe our sort of music combining original (not traditional) songs with an acoustic celtic folk leaning melded with the sound of electric guitar and bass.
You were a part of this Jesus movement which was very big in the 1970s, but hardly visible these days. The Jesus movement ran the the marxist-leninists pretty close in activity level and popularity in Scandinavia at that time. Which was a good thing.
Please tell us more about the Jesus movement, the ideology and the music.
We were one of the first bands in the Jesus Movement to write music that had its own integrity: songs that evidenced our faith in subtle and intelligent lyric writing. The pressure from the Jesus Music movement was to write very overt and somewhat facile stuff.
Other artists who blazed this trail of less obvious and more thoughtful music were Bruce Coburn, Steve Butler, Adrian Snell, Ricki Ross. They found their feet at this time, they were Christians but were more subtle and considered in their approach, dwelling upon the quality of their music rather than churning out ditties to please a church going audience.
The now sadly deceased Larry Norman was a ground breaker in the Christian music movement. But you were more in the direction of Fairport Convention, Pentangle and the folk rock scene at that time. Please tell us more about your music and your influences.
Primarily we were influenced by British folk and rock, but found an audience within a Scottish circuit of youth groups, within concerts in church halls and the like. As we matured we played our original material in the Edinburgh Fringe Festival and in pub gigs. The music we enjoyed affected our writing and arranging. Because all four of the instrumentalists composed Caedmon’s music was and is very eclectic and varied picking up on many infuences. As well as folk you would hear the Beatles, The Stones, Alex Harvey, Humble Pie playing in our flat and we were in awe of the slick studio sound of 10cc and Americans Steely Dan. James Taylor, Paul Simon, Bert Jansch shaped my guitar style (Ken) Jimmy Hentrix shaped Jim’s.
You were formed in 1973, toured until 1978 and released the album the same year. What else have you been up to besides of sorting out lambs, dogs and horses ?
Angela is a part time small animal practice vet in the Midlands. Jim designs websites in the NW, Ken is a composer, community musician and film maker based in the NE, Sam is an important boffin in Edinburgh University in computers and Simon ran drugs awareness programmes throughout Scotland and is now a consultant in the Arts and Youth and Community work. Sam and Simon play in ‘Flaming Nora’ and ‘Dave’s New Bike’. Ken plays in ‘The Side Café Orkestar’.
Caedmon are now gathered in Edinburgh again and plotting to give us some more of Caedmon. Please tell us more about what you are plotting and/or your future plans.
On the 7th and 8th May 2010 we performed our first concerts together for 32 years. We got together on the thirtieth anniversary of our farewell concert on the basis that we would write a new album of brand new material reflecting upon the lives we’ve lived over that period.
The album was recorded over seven consecutive days 26th April – 2 May 2010. There are some vocals left to do. Let’s hope that it’s finished and out by Autumn 2010! Working title ‘A Chicken to Hug’.
The rough mixes are sounding exciting. There are themes of family, birth, death, sex, the passage of time, things said and left unsaid. It’s interesting because there are four different writers in the band and further material that emerged from jamming and joint writing. Also, we’re not all Christians any more, and we agreed that we’d express our own individual perspectives in our writing without censoring each other’s ideas, valuing the journey we’ve all taken.
I think that fans will spot that it’s Caedmon straight away, but there are obvious new elements…. primarily the use of a drum kit and accordion….. instrumentation that we didn’t have before….. also each member takes on some lead vocals (it was only Angela and one track from Simon on the first album).
There’s still a bewildering range of rhythms, instrumentation, eclectic mix of styles in influences and we’ve managed to steal a few more days to record the new album so we’re very happy with the musicianship. We’ve also had Steve Butler from ‘Lies Damned Lies’ as producer and he’s got the best out of us.
Just to wrap this interview up; do you have any regrets in your music career ?
Personally (Ken) I have no regrets. I’ve always had a hankering to be in the spotlight and envied contemporaries like Ricky Ross who found big fame…… but I’ve had a good life. Musically I’m rooted in community music where the main goal is to involve anybody who wishes to play or sing in meaningful music-making, music that’s good for the soul.
What is your all time favourite animal patients (species) ?
Chickens to hug.
What is your five all time favourite albums ?
Steely Dan, ‘Can’t Buy a Thrill’, Fairport Convention ‘Unhalfbricking’, Pentangle ‘Reflection’, Bob Fox and Stu Luckley ‘Nowt so Good’ll Pass’, Bruce Cockburn ‘Dancing in the Dragon’s Jaws’
Anything you want to add to this interview ?
We’ll keep you informed with release dates of the new album “A Chicken to Hug” and invite you to review it!
A big thank you to Ken and the band for this interview.