CD REVIEW – Ian A Anderson – Please Re-Adjust your Time

First inspired by ancient folk blues records, Ian A Anderson (no, he is NOT not that one!) was caught up in the late 1960s blues boom, mentored by Alexis Korner and supported by radio DJs like John Peel. Following a series of indie-label EPs his first proper album Stereo Death Breakdown came out on Liberty/UA in 1969. But, performing regularly in key venues like London’s celebrated Les Cousins and the Bristol Troubadour, he took a sideways swerve into what now gets called ‘psych folk’. He released 4 solo albums of original songs and tunes, 3 of them on Bristol’s legendary Village Thing label and appeared at the very first Glastonbury festival.

By the mid-’70s he’d returned to folk, blues & roots material, but with his own English accent. His duo Hot Vultures with Maggie Holland toured extensively internationally as well as on the UK college circuit and at early folk festivals such as Cambridge. Even pre-Clash Joe Strummer could be found alongside folk fans in their audiences. Entering the 1980s, he teamed up with some notable English traditional folk musicians in The English Country Blues Band (2 albums), noisy dance band Tiger Moth (2 albums) and its world music influenced big-band recording offshoot Orchestre Super Moth. Then, for most of the ’90s, he took a long break from live performances while he concentrated on broadcasting, producing records by world music artists, and other music-related activities.

Everything changed in the next decade when, in 2004-2006, Tiger Moth re-formed for festivals like WOMAD. Then, Blue Blokes 3, an impromptu trio with PiL’s Lu Edmonds and 3 Mustaphas 3’s Ben Mandelson, were invited to make an album and tour nationally. After this he and Mandelson continued recording and live dates as the duo The False Beards, and in 2016 Hot Vultures re-united.

Re-enthused, in 2017 Ian tried a few solo gigs again for the first time in 45 years, “to scare myself.” They turned out rather well, so he’s continued, including returning to first principles with the entirely solo acoustic release Deathfolk Blues Revisited. 2019’s Onwards!, the first ever compilation to range across his entire musical career, highlighted his startlingly varied recorded output. And in 2019, Ian began an informal double-header gigging partnership with noted Northumbrian traditional musician Alistair Anderson under the banner ‘Not The Anderson Twins’ – an anecdote filled set each and a few things together. This unlikely combination proved very successful and toured in March 2020, finishing just before the pandemic lockdown. Ian’s last CD release in July 2020 was Onwards! Vol 2 – A Crown Of Crows. A second career-spanning volume of 21 tracks, from 1968 to one recorded in the 2020 lockdown. 15 tracks were new to CD and 7 previously unreleased.

Alongside his music career, Ian was founding editor of the popular folk magazine fRoots and a broadcaster who has presented shows on BBC Radio 2, BBC World Service and Jazz FM. Ian currently presents Podwireless – a monthly podcast dedicated to the world of folk, roots and ‘unpop’ music.

So let’s look at the discs in this set:

First issued in 1969, ‘Stereo Death Breakdown’ was credited to Ian Anderson’s Country Blues Band, a moniker which hinted at the music therein. Eleven bonus tracks are drawn from Saydisc EPs (‘Anderson Jones Jackson’, from 1967 and ‘Almost The Country Blues’, 1968) and Saydisc Matchbox albums (‘Blues Like Showers Of Rain’, from 1968 and ‘The Inverted World’, 1969). First thing to say is that this is no ersatz music. It is not someone trying to foist their own version or own imitation. It is as genuine as they come. There is nothing fancy, nothing complicated, just yer basic blues. Stamped all through this stick of rock. The clue’s in the band name.

The self-produced ‘Royal York Crescent’ (1970) album was Ian’s first on his new Village Thing label. Here it’s joined by three extra recordings from 1969, live at Farnham Folk And Blues Festival and from sessions at Chapel Studios, London. Straight away you realise the versatility of this musician. Some excellent guitar picking (‘Goblets & Elms’ or the Harper-esque ‘Internal Combusion Rag’), a more subtle acoustic blues (‘Silent Night No.2), skiffle (‘Working Man’), and the influence-full title trak ‘Please re-adjust your time’ which has a bit of Beatles and Kinks thrown in.

Recorded at Rockfield Studios, ‘A Vulture Is Not A Bird You Can Trust’ (1971) is now swelled with a quartet of additional sides, again from a studio tenure in Chapel Studios back in 1969. Further developments in this album, with more vibrant, fluid arrangements and varied, still with the essence of blues roots at their roots. For me possibly the most appealing record as a result of a clear development of style, ambitious songwriting nature and delightful musical experience.

The fourth and final disc is devoted to Ian’s final Village Thing album, ‘Singer Sleeps On As Blaze Rages’ (1972) plus four extra songs, three of which are previously unreleased Hot Vultures’ demos recorded at Village Thing, Bristol, 1973. This album picks up where the previous left off, a definite more psychedelic folk style but just as fascinatingly listenable as the earlier ones.

Anderson provides very thorough liner notes, and at one point says: “It was a strange little period. I went from being a 65-year-old Mississippi bluesman to a psych-folk twerp in about six months.” This self-confessed schizophrenic artist proves to be a versatile and talented performer and a songwriter with a keen sense of humour. Undoubtedly an album for the completist fan, or a fan of the genre-swapping artist.

Disc One: Stereo Death Breakdown

  1. Get In That Swing
  2. Little Boy Blue
  3. (My Babe She Ain’t Nothing But A Doggone) Crazy Fool Mumble
  4. New Lonesome Day
  5. Short Haired Woman Blues
  6. Hot Times
  7. Stereo Death Breakdown
  8. When I Get To Thinking
  9. Way Up On Your Tree
  10. Break ’Em Down
  11. That’s Alright
  12. Baby Bye You Bye
    Bonus Tracks
  13. Put It In A Frame
  14. Stop And Listen
  15. Louise
  16. Cottonfield Blues
  17. Big Road Blues
  18. Tom Rushen Blues
  19. Friday Evening Blues
  20. Rowdy Blues
  21. West Country Blues
  22. Don’t You Want To Go
  23. The Inverted World

Disc Two: Royal York Crescent

  1. That’s No Way To Get Along
  2. Please Readjust Your Time
  3. Goblets & Elms
  4. Shining Grey
  5. The Worm
  6. Hero
  7. Silent Night No.2
  8. Mr Cornelius
  9. The Maker/ The Man In The High Castle / The Last Conjuring
  10. Ginger Man
  11. Working Man
    Bonus Tracks
  12. Get Back Into Town (Live)
  13. Sleepy Lynne
  14. Internal Combustion Rag

Disc Three: A Vulture Is Not A Bird You Can Trust

  1. One More Chance
  2. Black Uncle Remus
  3. Policeman’s Ball
  4. Edges
  5. The Survivor
  6. Well Alright
  7. Time Is Ripe
  8. Wishing The World Away
  9. One Too Many Mornings
  10. Number 61
    Bonus Tracks
  11. Book Of Changes
  12. Anthem (You Can Go On Forever)
  13. Mouse Hunt
  14. Galactic Wings (And Other Tales)

Disc Four: Singer Sleeps On As Blaze Rages

  1. Hey Space Pilot
  2. Marie Celeste On Down
  3. Spider John
  4. A Sign Of The Times
  5. Paper And Smoke
  6. Paint It, Black
  7. Pretty Peggyo
  8. The Western Wind
  9. Out On The Side
  10. Shirley Temple Meets Hawkwind
    Bonus Tracks
  11. Baby Let Me Dance With You
  12. Dan Scaggs
  13. London Blues
  14. You Can’t Judge A Book By The Cover

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