Songs from the 80s make a great lis­ten


FOR­MER Rochdale school teacher and mu­si­cian Colin Lever is re­vis­it­ing some of the songs he co–wrote 40 years ago with my All Across the Arts col­league Nor­man War­wick.

I have heard a demo au­dio file with an eclec­tic mix of styles and vo­cal nu­ances, which would be ap­pre­ci­ated by any dis­cern­ing au­di­ence.

Whilst the kin­ship of these tal­ented song­writ­ers, born in the folk clubs of Hey­wood as Len­dan­ear in the 1980s, is clearly ev­i­denced by their easy col­lab­o­ra­tion on these songs, it has not stopped singer/ com­poser Colin from tak­ing side­tracks and de­tours with his musical in­ter­pre­ta­tions.

The most ob­vi­ous one is the tra­di­tional Fishes and Coal, which on first lis­ten­ing seems wildly at odds with its poignantly worded nar­ra­tive.

The up­beat, some­what perky de­liv­ery is cer­tainly un­ex­pected, but the truth is that it works, hook­ing the lis­tener into singing along heartily with its cho­rus. It’s a re­fresh­ing and per­fectly en­joy­able take on a some­what pre­dictable, som­bre tale.

Last Boat Home, how­ever, is tra­di­tional folk at its finest.

With haunt­ingly beau­ti­ful lyrics and ghostly chants, the duo has cre­ated a song with huge com­mer­cial ap­peal.

The ad­di­tional gui­tarist on this ar­range­ment, Steve Roberts from Nor­den, brings an added depth which might ben­e­fit fur­ther from an ac­cor­dion or a chanter.

The theme of loss per­me­ates this en­tire al­bum yet Nor­man is never at a loss for words, which will come as no sur­prise to those who know him.

Last Year’s Blonde (which would make a great book ti­tle), with its gen­tle nod to Barry Manilow’s Lola, is the story of a fad­ing barfly whose com­pe­ti­tion just hap­pens to be next year’s blonde.

De­spite the song’s ob­vi­ous pathos, Nor­man’s wry wit shines through and Colin pro­duces a musical ac­com­pa­ni­ment which is nei­ther overly sen­ti­men­tal nor de­ri­sive.

There re­ally is some­thing for ev­ery­one in these songs. Lyrics may be wordier than most - creat­ing play­ing times in ex­cess of four min­utes on most tracks - but if you love it (and there is a lot to love) then you will not find any hard­ship in this.

Colin is in­tend­ing to record these tracks live onto DVD, to pro­mote work with The Jersey Song­writer’s So­ci­ety.

Fishes and Coal and One More for the Road are the only pre­vi­ously recorded Len­dan­ear tracks and there are de­but record­ings for Care­less Dancer, Chil­dren of The Night, Roll Slowly, The Last Pri­est and One Way Ticket Blues.

Len­dan­ear in the 1980s, with Nor­man War­wick (left) and Colin Lever (right)

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