We Can Swing Together: The Story of Lindisfarne by John Van der Kiste

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We Can Swing Together: The Story of Lindisfarne by John Van der Kiste

Category: Entertainment
Rating: 4.5/5
Reviewer: Sue Magee
Reviewed by Sue Magee
Summary: An indepth look at one of the great bands from the seventies: it's objective and based on a sound knowledge of the wider industry. Recommended.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 176 Date: May 2017
Publisher: Fonthill Media
ISBN: 978-1781555897

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It all began with a group of youngsters in North Shields. Rod Clements, Simon 'Si' Cowe, Ray 'Jacka' Jackson and Ray Laidlaw formed The Downtown Faction, soon changing the name to Brethren when they were joined by singer-songwriter Alan Hull. As a US-based group had a similar name they opted to change the name again - and Lindisfarne (with the name taken from an island off the Northumberland coast) was born. More than forty years on and with numerous changes of personnel the band is still very much around. They might not be touring or producing much in the way of new material, but they still perform, with Rod Clements, one of the original members on his fourth stint with the group.

I've always liked that Lindisfarne have largely kept to their roots, both in folk music and in the north east and author John Van der Kiste does an excellent job of capturing the essence of the group as a whole and of the individual members and how they interacted with each other. He's particularly strong on Alan Hull who largely dominated the band until his death in 1995, having taken just a couple of short breaks since the inception of the group. Hull had a strong social conscience, but was not always the most pleasant person to be around and Van der Kiste is interesting on how the group firstly failed to cope with this - and then accommodated it on their next incarnation.

The group has a formidable and long-lasting back catalogue of music and Van der Kiste provides a full discography at the back of the book as well as discussing individual tracks in the main body of the text. This is particularly useful as Lindisfarne were essentially an album group (rather than 'singles') who wanted to be respected as musicians (and as minstrels for the north east) rather than as pop stars or celebrities and many of the individual tracks were unknown to me.

This is a serious book about the group. Van der Kiste has the dual advantages of being a historian and a musician. He brings the rigour of the historian to his research and writing (there are full endnotes) along with an extensive knowledge of the all round musical scene at the time and the book was a pleasure to read. I'd like to thank the publisher for sending a copy to the Bookbag.

If this book appeals to you then there are more books by John Van der Kiste about this period in musical history:

A Beatles Miscellany: Everything You Always Wanted to Know About the Beatles but Were Afraid to Ask
Electric Light Orchestra: Song by Song
Jeff Lynne: The Electric Light Orchestra - Before and After
Pop Pickers and Music Vendors: David Jacobs, Alan Freeman, John Peel, Tommy Vance and Roger Scott

Buy We Can Swing Together: The Story of Lindisfarne by John Van der Kiste at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy We Can Swing Together: The Story of Lindisfarne by John Van der Kiste at Amazon.co.uk.


Buy We Can Swing Together: The Story of Lindisfarne by John Van der Kiste at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy We Can Swing Together: The Story of Lindisfarne by John Van der Kiste at Amazon.com.


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