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Caedmon
Artist: Caedmon
Label: Kissing Spell [U.K.]
 
Though not the timeliest review ever run here, understand the circumstances. English folk rock reissue specialist label Kissing Spell Records made the lone album by Scottish Christian acid folkies' available on CD in 1994. But the original LP was a 1978 release. The vinyl has become the kind of collectors' item that fetches hundreds of dollars, if not topping over the four-digit mark. 
 
Add to all the above that most of the original band has reformed and intends to record new material, and you have the relevance of reviewing a 15 year-old, via 31 years, album.

Oh, and it's really good. On and off throughout the '70s, U.S. CCM labels were more or less dumbing down British folk rock for consumption on this side of the Atlantic; witness the remix for the States given to The Water Into Wind Band's Hill Climbing For Beginners and Nutshell only getting widespread distribution to us Yanks as the group got to its softest. Contemporaneously, Caedmon had soaked up general market forebears such as Steeleye Span and Fairport Convention and adding electric guitar and an eclectic sense of world beat-iness that would have made Peter Gabriel want to snap them up for one of his WOMAD tours. 

Vocalist Angela Naylor sings with the ethereal delicacy of sister by whom Renaissance's Annie Halsam and that gal from The Revolutionary Army Of the Infant Jesus  hypothetically share a parent (sadly, Naylor is not among the reunited Caedmon...yet?). Jim Bisset's electric guitar goes from crazed fuzztones to purer jazz tones and plunges headlong into loungey funk. Acoustic and electric keyboards, mandolin and other instruments round out a an airy, complex sound that would have been well served by an American label home. But for more context, '78 was also the year of The Resurrection Band's first major label album, and if bluesy metal from somewhere around 1972 was stretching the bounds of Christian retail's record racks, this troupe of hippie folkies would have seemed positively out of bounds.

The group's experimental streak and rough production edge seemingly indifferent to commercial considerations -i.e., Yes, nor even Hoselips-holds up well over three decades on. That their lyrical inclinations were broad enough to cover Jesus parables ("Ten Maidens Fair"), latter day literary faith allegory ("Aslan"), metaphor of their own ("Sea Song") and Christian history within their geographical proximity ("Columba's Song") makes their slim catalog age all the better. 

Don't let Kissing Spell's disavowal of Christianity (a statement opposing "all forms of mysticism/religion" adorns the back insert...though the same isn't written on the one Water Into Wine Band  reissue I have on the label; hmmm?) dissuade you from adding these psychedelicized foklie-proggies' work to your collection. If you especially like current Celtic prog folk rockers Iona, you're likely to enjoy Caedmon.

And getting this will prepare you for their new material. Maybe they can finally land a label deal over here this time, too.
 
Jamie Lee Rake 

 
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