Thursday, 12 February 2009

“Duncan Browne” by DUNCAN BROWNE [feat Suzi Quatro, Rod Argent, Members of C.C.S. and The Attack] (2002 EMI 'Expanded Edition' CD Remaster) - A Review by Mark Barry...

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"…Moonlight In My Heart…"

UK-born classically trained guitarist DUNCAN BROWNE started his musical career on Andrew Loog Oldham's Immediate label at the age of 21 with his debut album "Give Me Take You". It was released in July 1968 on Immediate IMPS 068 to favourable reviews, but public indifference - and is now a £400 vinyl LP rarity. There's an excellent Sequel label CD from 2000 that covers that LP, the 2 sides of the Bell label 7" single that followed it and a few studio outtakes thrown in as well. Well worth checking out after this.

However this UK released April 2002 CD of "Duncan Browne" by DUNCAN BROWNE on EMI 7243 535623 2 8 (Barcode 724353562328) reissues his 2nd self-titled studio album from 1973 on RAK Records as an 'Expanded Edition' Remaster with Four Bonus Tracks. Here's a detailed breakdown (58:18 minutes):

1. Ragged Rain Life
2. Country Song
3. The Martlet
4. My Only Son
5. Babe Rainbow
6. Journey [Side 2]
7. Cast No Shadow
8. Over The Reef
9. My Old Friends
10. Last Time Around
Tracks 1 to 10 are the album "Duncan Browne" issued in February 1973 on Mickie Most's RAK Records label on SRKA 6754 in the UK (a gatefold sleeve) - not issued in the USA.

11. In A Mist
(Track 11 is the non-album B-side to "Journey" - the 1st and only British 7" single off the album issued 7 July 1972 on RAK Records RAK 135 (it reached 23 in the UK charts). "Journey" was issued in the USA as a Promo-Only release with a Stereo and Mono version on the A&B-sides and circulated to Radio Stations in September 1972 on RAK Records ZS7 4511 - it didn't chart and was never given a stock copy release. 

12. Send Me The Bill For Your Friendship
[Track 12 is the non-album A-side - issued October 1973 as RAK Records RAK 162 with the album track "My Only Son" as its B-side (it didn't chart)]

13. Guitar Piece
14. Mignon
[Tracks 13 and 14 are previously unreleased outtakes from the 1973 album sessions]

The band for the album were:
DUNCAN BROWNE - Spanish & Electric Guitars, Vocals, Piano on "Cast No Shadow"
JOHN "RABBIT" BUNDRICK - Piano, Organ, Synthesizers
JOHN CAMERON (of C.C.S.) - Various Keyboards and Piano on "Babe Rainbow"
JIM RODFORD - Bass Guitar on "Journey" and "Ragged Rain Life"
ROBERT HENRIT  - Drums on "Journey" and "Ragged Rain Life"
(Rodford and Henrit were from ARGENT]

TONY CARR [drummer with C.C.S.], SUZI QUATRO [Vocalist] and KEITH HODGE [ex THE ATTACK] are credited as "Also Appearing" on the LP, but the liner notes don't advise on which song. Browne wrote all songs and the album was produced by Mickie Most.

Remastered by PETER MEW at Abbey Road - this CD has beautiful sound quality - really clean - especially given the acoustic and quiet nature of almost all of the songs. Four relevant bonus tracks bolster up proceedings and it has a short but informative 8-page booklet with liner notes by noted Musicologist SEAN LYONS.

Stylistically - Nick Drake comes to mind (with a Prog twist in the song contructions). Not only was Browne ignored by the buying public - he was sent on tours supporting wildly uncomplimentary acts and on "In A Mist" he even makes guitar-mistakes like Drake did on the outtakes of "Joey". He had a high voice and was meticulous in his crafting of songs. Browne's specialist instrument was the Spanish Guitar - as evidenced on the truly fabulous "Journey" (lyrics above). "Journey" and its seven-minute non-album B-side were recorded first in 1972 and it emerged out of Most insisting on a "hit" - but the momentum of its top twenty placing was lost as the album didn't arrive until many months later - into early 1973. "Duncan Browne" has always been hard to find on LP and at £50 + is a gem worth seeking out - and one that is constantly escalating in price as people catch on to its soft Folk-Prog beauty.

Highlights would include his stark and lovely piano-melody "Cast No Shadow" while "Over The Reef" could easily have been the follow up single. And "My Only Son" (lyrics above) is gorgeous.

He enjoyed success in the late Seventies and early Eighties with the band METRO (their album was on Logo in the UK and Sire in the States - Bowie covered "Criminal World" off it on his 1983 "Let's Dance" album), and further solo projects, but he died relatively young in 1993 (cancer, aged 43). He has a dedicated and ardent fan following still.

At least this lovely, but criminally forgotten Folk/Rock gem survives him.

If you like Cat Stevens, Nick Drake, Bryn Haworth, Brian Protheroe, Donovan - that sort of Seventies ilk - you'll dig this. And a lovely job done by EMI...

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