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Dodson and Fogg - And When the Light Ran Out

  by Malcolm Carter

published: 12 / 4 / 2015

Dodson and Fogg - And When the Light Ran Out
Label: Wisdom Twin Records
Format: CD


Spellbinding seventh album from ambitious but still underrated prog/psychedelic rockers Dodson and Fogg, the project of multi-instrumentalist Chris Wade

When we heard that Chris Wade was going to put his Dodson & Fogg project on hold for a while towards the end of last year after the release of ‘In a Strange Slumber’, disappointment set in for all of three minutes because there was a strong feeling that the multi-instrumentalist who had released six albums at that stage under the Dodson & Fogg banner, would find it impossible to just walk away from it totally. No one could have blamed Wade. Apart from releasing those six albums in two years he had also authored books, ran a successful and highly entertaining website at wisdomtwinsbooks.weebly.com (don’t check it out unless you’ve an hour or two to spare as it’s addictive), started to raise a family and still found time to record other albums such as the ‘Rexford Bedlo’ collaboration with his brother Andy and issue a collection of outtakes from his ‘After the Fall’ album which any other musician would have been proud to release as their latest official set. So, while the overworked Wade obviously deserved some time off, for those who start having withdrawal symptoms (reaching for the last three Tyrannosaurus Rex and the first T.Rex albums, having to listen to the trio of Pink Floyd singles, including the B-sides, on a daily basis, and knowing that you’re not going to make it past lunch time without at least a little of Donovan and the Incredible String Band) when there isn’t a new Dodson & Fogg album every few months the future looked a little bleak. It was also a strange time for Wade to put the project on hold; although all the Dodson & Fogg albums had been highly praised in the online magazines the printed monthlies had, puzzlingly, generally passed Wade by. But, just as ‘In a Strange Slumber’ proved once again that Wade deserved so much more publicity than he was attracting, the wonderful guys at ‘Shindig!’ (who had always rated the Dodson & Fogg albums highly) ran a feature on him that must have helped in raising his profile. Whatever reasons Wade had for moving on from this project have, thankfully, been delayed with the release of ‘And When the Light Ran Out’ an album that, in places, actually touches on subjects as moving on and starting a new chapter. Wade has never been slow in asking for help on his albums from some impressive talents - Alison O’Donnell, Celia Humphris, Scarlet Rivera, Nik Turner and Judy Dyble have all featured somewhere across those six albums. But what made Wade’s unique sound even more complete was the addition of Ricky Romain’s sitar which was introduced on 2013’s ‘The Call’ album and which has been an integral part of every Dodson & Fogg album since. For this latest album, Wade, as usual, plays most of the instruments including a 12-string baby harp and takes all the vocals. The only outside help Wade employs this time is banjo from brother Andy on one track, Georgia Cooke’s flute floating like the most delicate butterfly through ‘Straight to the Sun’ and Ricky Romain once again displaying his talent on the sitar on two tracks. Wade opens the album with ‘We are Going Home’. It’s instantly recognisable as Chris Wade, although his vocals are more prominent in the mix than in some of his previous work that dream-like quality that Wade injects into all his vocal work is still there. The warmth that radiates from the song is comforting, just before the unexpected, short bamboo Jew’s harp solo (Yes, really, this is Chris Wade remember). Wade harmonising with himself here is a catch-your-breath moment. Seven albums in and we know that Wade is always going to throw something in to each song that is totally unexpected but that also totally works, and by opening the album with such a strong and imaginative song Wade sets the bar high for what is to follow. What does follow is ‘Shine’ another example of classic Wade; it’s all there, the Eastern touches, those laid-back dreamlike vocals, all wrapped in yet another catchy Wade creation laden with neat little touches which keep the song interesting even after numerous plays. ‘New Autumn’ is the first of two instrumentals, and the title says it all really. The flute is used effectively again, (this time played by Wade?), and Wade captures the turning of a season perfectly without singing a word. At just two minutes long, it’s far too short yet perfect at the same time. As much as Wade has a unique and attractive singing style, his instrumentals always reach places that his vocal tracks can’t. That’s not a criticism of Wade’s vocals; he’s one of our best and his vocal style does compliment his songwriting, but Wade’s instrumentals really are something else. We’ve said it many times before, but when is this guy going to get the acclaim he so rightly deserves not just for his skill on the guitar but, it would appear, for any instrument he lays his hands on? Even that’s only part of the story; the way Wade constructs his songs, the feel he has for adding some obscure instrument or sound in just the right place is truly remarkable. ‘I Know The Way’, which again has an Eastern influence, is the first track on ‘And When the Light Ran Out’ that features Wade’s distinct electric guitar style even though the track is dominated by acoustic guitar and Andy Wade’s banjo. Wade’s lead is all too short, of course, I’d listen to this guy all day long. At the risk of repeating it yet again, Wade has to be the most underrated guitarist around just now. ‘I Never Want You to Go’ is a prime example of what Bolan was trying to achieve in his transition from acoustic folk elf to electric rock star surely. By fleshing out the sound with various instruments (melodica?), Wade never totally leaves the woodland but colours it so vividly you wouldn’t want to make a hasty retreat anyway. The imagery that Wade brings to songs like this not only with his lyrics and vocal delivery but in his choice and arrangement of the instruments is what makes his work so special. It’s a dream of a song in more ways than one. ‘Down Down (The Rain Will Fall)’ once again displays why Wade should be held in high regard for his lead guitar playing, ‘My World’ is where all the Ray Davies comparisons finally fall into place for this particular listener but, for all those who blame George Harrison for a lifetime’s obsession with the sound of the sitar (and it’s true, we may have moved on to more ‘serious’ pieces but without Harrison’s introduction to the instrument would we have discovered it in the first place? Okay, so Brian Jones looked cool sitting crossed-legged with one, but would that have been enough? Yeah, probably, given our age at the time.), then the final two songs are really going to blow you away. ‘Sister Storm’ is the final instrumental, and, after the sound of rain and thunder fades and the sitar-drenched piece gets underway, it’s not only the music that you marvel at but the scope of Wade’s ability to conjure up such affective music. The track leads into the title song, another featuring Ricky Romain’s sitar, this time at over eight minutes long, maybe Wade’s most ambitious piece of music to date. The trading of the sitar with aggressive stabs of violin makes for a spine-tingling opening, before Wade’s acoustic gently mixes with the sitar and those world-weary vocals take us on another magical mystery tour. The last three minutes of the track is largely instrumental and the haunting use of the instruments makes the song one of the best Wade has ever committed to tape. If this should be the last Dodson & Fogg album Wade has planned for some time, then he’s certainly not only left us with what ranks as some of his best work but also begging for more of the same. As he always does. There are plans for Wade to release albums on his Wisdom Twins label by the Moon Band and Mr. Pine (Kevin Scott) so maybe the time Wade has for his Dodson & Fogg project will be limited in the near future? We can only hope that when Wade is ready he will continue with his music, and that in the meantime the remarkable albums he has released to date will continue to attract the attention they so rightly deserve.

Track Listing:-
1 We Are Going Home
2 Shine
3 New Autumn
4 I Know the Way
5 Straight to the Sun
6 I Never Want You to Go
7 What You Looking For
8 Down Down (The Rain Will Fall)
9 Way Out in the Cold
10 My World
11 Sister Storm
12 And When the Light Ran Out

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