Duncan Browne - Give me take you (1968)

Posted by Amelia Swhizzagers On 5:34 AM

Duncan Browne's "Give Me Take You" is one of those rare albums where humanity, mytholgy, poetry, spirituality and the innocence of childhood somehow all converge into a wondrous work that seems out of place in this world. The beauty of this album is haunting and once you hear it, it is tough to forget the experience. Duncan charted his own classical arrangements and choir and did it with a stark yet amazingly beautiful compactness that works even better than Robert Kirby's work on Nick Drake's "Five Leaves Left."

When Rolling Stone's producer Andrew Loog Oldham signed Duncan to his Immediate Records label (the original label), Oldham knew he had a magic like what Oldham had set to vinyl in songs like "Lady Jane" and "As Tears Go By." But Duncan did not have any lyrics and so on this album Duncan recruited his friend from art school, David Bretton. His poetry is part and parcel of this album. It is the perfect stylistic companion to this recording. Bretton's imagery possesses all of the majesty and power of other British poets of the time -- like Keith Reid with Procol Harum, Peter Sinfield with King Crimson, et al. But where these wordsmiths sometimes wandered into the vague and ponderous, the same can never be said about David Bretton; his only excess is in the sometimes bright innocence of youth -- of which he can be forgiven, especially considering that this album was a product of the Sixties and he was but a lad himself.

The production of this album is both at once beautiful and raw. By the time Andrew Loog Oldham was finished with it, he was tired of it. His company was falling apart, he was in financial ruin and so he cut the sessions short. But that is an asset not a detriment to this album. It left all of the beautiful baroque and other classical embellishments penned by a young Duncan Browne to stand without being buried in over-production. The gorgeously airy choir which joins in from time to time can be overbearing on a track or two but this is by no means a warning to avoid this album. Do so, and you will miss one of the greatest English folk-classical albums ever recorded.

Like I said, if I had to give up every album and get down to just a handful -- this would be one of the last albums in the stack. There are few recordings that I could ever place alongside this one -- let alone, above it.

David Bretton's inside look at the project in this reissue's liner notes make it even more special. (Duncan passed away from cancer in 1993 and David's remembrances are even more appreciated because of Duncan's death.) I give the reissue high marks and would end this by saying that if you love the music of Nick Drake, Sandy Denny, Lindisfarne, The Left Banke's "Walk Away Rene" and the near classical edge of the Stone's songs earlier mentioned -- don't miss this treat. Yes it's a rarety but then you don't find wondrous gemstones laying all about on the ground, do you???
1. Give Me, Take You
2. Ninepence Worth of Walking
3. Dwarf in a Tree (A Cautionary Tale)
4. Ghost Walks
5. Waking You, Pt. 1
6. Chloe in the Garden
7. Waking You, Pt. 2
8. On the Bombsite
9. I Was, You Weren't
10. Gabilan
11. Alfred Bell
12. Death of Neil

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