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`Tambourine Days` by Peter Daltrey
Those who recall with affection the 60s prog-rock/psychedelic outfit Kaleidoscope and its later incarnation, Fairfield Parlour, will be delighted that songsmith/vocalist Peter Daltrey is still beavering away at the musical coalface. His latest albums showcase the compositional craftmanship that is his trademark, along with his singularly precise, very English vocal delivery.
Vivid imagery is set to melodies that linger with a pervasively haunting, melancholic quality. `Tambourine Days` is a collection of songs awash with Daltrey's brand of wistful nostalgia, both personal and general. The music and lyrics are an acoustic delicacy that creates an aural landscape shimmering with emotion.
PETER DALTREY 'Tambourine Days' Chelsea Records CRCD
000110 (CD-R) (51m21s) 2000
Another Zabadak favourite returns with a new offering. Since his return to the music business, ex Kaleidoscope/Fairfield Parlour front-man Peter Daltrey has been quietly assembling a body of work which is impressive by anyone's standards. His fifth solo album, 'Tambourine Days' has been on the launch-pad for some time, but thankfully it is now with us and a rich, varied offering it proves to be. Peter's usual nostalgic themes are here in abundance, but in no way is this just a cosy trip down memory lane. Several of the songs have an ominous undertow, a 'where did it all go wrong' outlook which lends an air of melancholy to the album. This is not the place to come for shallow diversions, yet there is a light touch to be found in several of the tracks that prevents the album from drowning in wistful depression.
'Stars And Leaves': The album opens with a tribute to Peter's ex- bandmate, the late and much lamented Steve Clark. It's difficult to avoid being overly sentimental in such circumstances, but Peter has managed to create a lovely, fitting memorial to his friend. ("Friends are like leaves/ The devil's in the wind/ Tossed and torn away/ Friends are everything")
'England': A song of reflection. The lyrics mostly consist of a list with each line beginning (" I am the one who...") This gives the song a strangely powerful, down-beat manner. ("And then they pulled the houses down/ We don't recognise this town/ London Bridge is falling down/ Everything goes round and round...")
"The Waterboy': Another gorgeous Daltrey ballad, with that almost inevitable air of loss and regret. ("l am drowning in my time...")
'St Julien': Probably the most intriguing track on the album. This nine minute epic fully exploits the Daltrey flair for narrative which made works such as 'The Sky Children', 'Emily' and 'White Faced Lady' so special. Peter unfolds another dark tale over a positively subterranean backing - your ears will strain to catch the buried mumbles, whispers and strange noises that permeate the fabric of the track. The instrumental coda is as doom-filled a piece of music as you will ever hear. ("How can we tempt the angels, bring them closer to us in this world of men?").
'Everything's Alright': Light relief after the sturm and drang of 'St Julien'. This peppy little pop song will get your feet tapping and make you feel...well, alright! ("Everything is so good around you/ Everything's alright")
'Have A Nice Day, Charlie': A cool, jazzy electric piano introduces this remarkable track. A portrait of the little man who murdered a big dream. In measured, even tones Peter condemns a monster. ("And then we went to Woodstock with our pockets stashed with dreams/ Above the music I thought / heard somebody scream : Have a nice day, Charlie").
'Lifelines': A medium paced rocker featuring Peter's son Oliver on electric guitar. Once again the prevailing mood is one of detachment. ("l don't know anything about lifelines/ The whole damn thing's a mystery to me").
"Diamonds Everywhere': Ah! Here we are - the best song on the album, and one of the best songs of this, and any other year. Over the top? Maybe, but hell, don't just take my word for it - go and hear this song! This is a spiritual sequel to 'Days In The Rain', one of the highlights of Peter's 'When We Were Indians' album. Instead of the rain of the 1950s, we are transported back to the mid-60s, a time when everything and everyone was beginning to emerge from the dull chrysalis and spread their shining wings. A time when everything sparkled. A time when the snow was deep and glistening. A time when there were indeed 'Diamonds Everywhere'! Swirling, whirling, and yes, kaleidoscopic! This song is brilliant. It's like drowning in the best champagne! It's like winning the lottery! It's like the song of a Nightingale choir! It's Jimmy Stewart in 'It's a Wonderful Life'! It's a cascade of angels! And if Peter happens to read this, I have to tell him that these diamonds are all bigger than the Ritz! ("...and we ran like kids into the heart of winter/ Back then when winters were real/ And diamonds everywhere")
'Country Dance': No point in trying to top the preceding track, so wisely this is something completely different. Once more the words cut a deep furrow. ("Come see me hobbled, cobbled now/ Beneath the cross-lit spire-stepped fields/ The hanging of the crow").
'Tambourine Days': The album closes with the infectious riff of the title track. This song harks back to Peter's youthful days as a Mod in the early 60s as he wonders whatever became of his old friends, his hopes, his dreams, his Tambourine Days ("Wasn't it strange hearing her name?/ It started me thinking about those Tambourine Days").
What are we left with when the music stops? Personally this album always fills me with a sense of loss. Lost youth, lost love, lost dreams, lost friends, lost innocence. I'm probably making it sound as if 'Tambourine Days' rates on the gloominess scale somewhere just below Joy Division, but no...it just subtly stimulates senses and emotions that are usually left well alone in this wide, wondrous world known as 'Pop Music'. It's another very fine collection presented by a master of his trade. It started me thinking.....