Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Trees: Geordie

I had never heard the folk-rock band Trees until recently and that was probably due to their two albums not being released in the United States. Both albums, “The Garden of Jane Delawney” and “On the Shore,” were issued on CBS in the UK in 1970.

There is an obvious comparison to Fairport Convention – a goal for which Trees had striven. Unfortunately, the band received the reputation of being somewhat of a poor man’s Fairport Convention – which was most unfortunate for the furtherance of their corporate career.

They say that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery and guitarist Barry Clarke emulates Richard Thompson to a degree. He’s not RT, but he shows the influence he received from listening to and playing along with the recordings of this British guitar master. I hear early Richard all through his playing. 

Some are highly critical of vocalist Celia Humphris stating that she was no Sandy Denny or Judy Dyble (of Fairport Convention), Jacqui McShee (of Pentangle), or Maddy Prior (of Steeleye Span). Well, duh. There are not many who fill those shoes, but nonetheless, I find her vocals pleasant, expressive, and most importantly in tune.

Today, for our Wooden Wednesday selection, Trees presents their rendition of the traditional ballad “Geordie” from their second and final LP. The protagonist witnesses a lover crying over Geordie’s impending fate. It is a lament about a young man who is about to be hanged for stealing 16 of the royal deer and selling them in Kilkenny, Ireland.

Some versions of the song have the sale occurring in Bohenny – a town that has not been satisfactorily located. As with many folk songs that evolve through the process of oral tradition, there are numerous versions of the song including one that crossed the North Sea to Denmark.

It is a very nice but somber song and is perfect to listen to as one drifts off to sleep. I include both the original recording and the 2008 remix. I’m not sure if I am partial for either one – but if I were forced to chose, I would select the 1970 version as Humphris’ vocals are a little more out front in the mix.  Enjoy.

2008 Reissue Remix

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