With the temperature beginning to stir it is about time to end this blogging hibernation. And what better way than to trace some wonderful classics as they appear in Trees through the ages. Lets start with that gritty classic, Midnight Special. I’m always a sucker for a song where a new line starts just when you think the singer should be taking a breath, and this is one of the best.
Leadbelly got there early on:
And Odetta sings it how it should be:
So, who in the Trees has done justice to the song?
Not, in my humble opinion, the otherwise fab Spencer Davis Group:
And here is a short take from Journey, who happen to get a whole Tree just to themselves:
Then there’s Ken Colyer’s skiffle version with Alexis Korner:
Luckily we have Van Morrison, to bring it all back home. There’s hope after all:
And if you haven’t had enough yet, here’s Van, with Lonnie and Chris Barber, in a skiffle revival version of 2007.
Down at the Hop Farm in Kent at the weekend. Fantastic line-up. Van Morrison in great form. Some say they caught him smiling for a split second. Some say it was indigestion. Dylan playing numbers you could recognize even before the chorus. Dr John harmoniously growling along. Seasick Steve getting the sound of a raucous six piece out of three strings. The younger crowd singing along both to Mumford and Sons and to Ray Davies. And then a series of fantastic acoustic acts: Laura Marling, Johnny Flynn, and possible future-tree subject, Pete Doherty, charming us all. Add The Magic Numbers, Stornoway, Richard Thompson, Peter Green, Blondie, Devendra Banhart and many more, and you might have to agree with Marcus Mumford that it was the lineup of the summer.
Enjoyable as it was, it would have been even better had it not been for the incessant funk rhythms booming out from the chicken rotisserie concession, just spitting distance (I know, I tried) from the main arena. Is it time for a rock against rotisserie campaign? I mean, I would have liked to have heard the quieter numbers from Laura Marling but it was never going to happen. And don’t get me started on the screams coming from the fairground rides.
Am I alone? Or do others feel that someone should have a quiet word with Vince Power and his mates to remind them what we have come to hear?