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Lindisfarne - Radio Times: Live at the BBC

  by Tommy Gunnarsson

published: 25 / 10 / 2023

Lindisfarne - Radio Times: Live at the BBC
Label: Select Label
Format: N/A


Iconic Newcastle folk rock act Lindisfarne recorded lots of lots of music for the BBC during the 70s and 80s, and now all the sessions are compiled on a lovely eight-disc CD box set. Tommy Gunnarsson is certainly intrigued by what he’s hearing.

The first time I remember hearing about Lindisfarne was when they re-recorded their old hit single ‘Fog on the Tyne’ in 1990 with footballer Paul Gascoigne on guest “vocals”. I imagine that the band didn’t think of that as their career peak, but as a quite dismal ending to it. This new eight-disc CD box set containing the band’s complete BBC sessions does indeed end in 1990. Before that, they managed to record lots of lots of songs for the British public service, starting back in 1971. Lindisfarne was formed in Newcastle in 1968 as Brethen, but later took their name from the Viking castle when singer and songwriter Alan Hull joined the band. Lindisfarne would go on to record four successful albums during the 70s, including the debut ‘Nicely Out of Tune’ (1970) and the aforementioned ‘Fog on the Tyne’ (1971). They’re nowadays mostly associated with songs like ‘Lady Eleanore’ and ‘We Can Swing Together’, plus of course the non-Gazza version of the Tyne song. The original band split up in 1975 but reformed a few years later. They kept on releasing records every now and then during the 80s, though few people noticed. Frontman Alan Hull died in 1995, but Lindisfarne kept going with a different line-up until 2004, when the band split up for a second time. Did that mean that Lindisfarne was history? Not at all. Since the early 2010s, different line-ups have toured as Lindisfarne, and they keep touring to this day. Their first BBC session was recorded in February 1971, and mostly featured songs from their debut album, which came out the previous year. During 1971, the band did pay a lot of visits to the BBC, and the first three discs in this box set contains tracks recorded during that year, most of them previously unreleased. As always with these kinds of complete box sets, the same songs feature many times across the eight discs, but that does make for interesting comparisons of the band’s sound and evolution during the almost 20 years covered here. For example, ‘We Can Swing Together’ can be heard on that very first session, for Sounds of the 70s, sounding more or less like the studio version. On the final session, recorded in December 1990 at the Newcastle City Hall, it had transformed into a sort of reggae song. The box set is beautifully curated and the sound quality of the recordings are generally really good, though you have to remember that most of them are more than 50 years old. Along with the eight discs full of music, we are also treated to a nice booklet with an essay by legendary music journalist Chris Charlesworth and lots of photos from the band’s archive. This compilation probably won’t gain the band any new fans – you’re better off starting with some kind of best of compilation – but if you’re already a fan, this is certainly a box set for you.

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Lindisfarne - Radio Times: Live at the BBC

Lindisfarne - Radio Times: Live at the BBC

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