Band members Related acts
- Dave Eaves -- vocals, guitar
(1967-71 80, 93-)
- none known
Rating: *** (3 stars)
Title: And I Turned As I Had As a Boy
Catalog: SR 61355
Country/State: Cheltenham, UK
Grade (cover/record): VG /VG
Comments: gatefold sleeve; US pressing; cutout hole top left corner
GEMM Catalog ID: 5658
There's a flood of UK folk-rock available, most of it largely unknown in the States. That said, like any commodity, much of it is over-hyped and not particularly impressive. Here's one of the rare exceptions.
Dulcimer consisted of singer/guitarists Dave Eaves and Pete Hodges and bassist Jem North. The trio apparently began working together in 1966 - 67 (see interesting email below) attracting some local attention before relocating to London where they found a mentor in actor Richard Todd who seems to have helped them score a contract with the small UK Nepentha Records. (For some bizarre reason Mercury Records subsequently deciding to acquire American distribution rights.) Released in 1970, the oddly titled "And I Turned As I Had As a Boy" found the group teamed with producer Larry Page (best known for his work with garage rock acts like The Troggs). Similar to early Fairport Convention, Steeleye Span, or a score of other early-1970s UK bands, this was best described as classic English acoustic folk-rock. At the same time these guys differed from their competition in several ways. Whereas Fairport and others were big on updating traditional folks songs, Dulcimer's LP featured all-original material. Hodge and Eaves-penned material such as 'Pilgrim from the City', 'Morman's Casket' and 'Fruit of the Musical Tree' was full of pretty melodies and a weird series of medieval and mythological lyrics (check out the bizarre Dylan-esque 'Ghost of the Wandering Minstrel Boy'), but North's busy electric bass gave many of the songs an unexpected heft and kept the group from becoming too precious and fey. To give you some frame of reference, to my ears much of the set recalled early Al Stewart though without some of the upper crust pomposity. Highlights include the pretty ballads 'Gloucester City' and 'Starlight' (the latter again showcasing North's bass). Mind you the album wasn't perfect. Perhaps intended as a 'payback' for helping them score their recording deal, Todd recited some hackneyed and instantly forgettable poetry on the opener 'Sonnet To the Fall' and 'Caravan'. (Perhaps another attempt at payback, unlike the rest of the band Todd's picture appeared on the inner sleeve.) In spite of his efforts, North wasn't able to salvage everything - 'Dulcimer' sounded like a bad Donovan outtake, while 'Lisa's Song' came off as bad Simon and Garfunkel with an overdose of wimpiness and self-absorption - c'mon guys get over the woman, hopefully you let her drag her sorry her butt back to South California. Though nothing here was particularly original, the set was never less than pleasant and enjoyable and for a guy not really into UK folk this one's always been a guilty pleasure.
not quite sure why (perhaps simply a matter of pressing size), but the UK pressing is
the one collectors look for.
1.) Sonnet To the Fall (Pete Hodge) - 3:48
(Pete Hodge - Dave Eaves) - 8:20
(Pete Hodge - Dave Eaves) - 3:37
While I've never seen or heard them, the trio's released a series of other albums. The band's 1971's follow-up "Room for Thought" was immediately shelved and didn't see a release until 1992 when the small Background label acquired rights to it (Background catalog number HBG-122/6). There's also a self-financed 1980 reunion with British author Fred Archer "A Land Fit for Heroes".
The 1990s saw them record a series of studio sets, though they're quite rare and expensive (even in CD format) and once again, I've never seen or heard any of them.
- 1993's 'When a Child ...' (President Records catalog number PCOM 1129)
"When a Child" track listing:
Indian Prayer (3:00)
- 1995's 'Rob's Garden' (President Records catalog number PCOM 1144)
"Rob's Garden" track listing:
- 1997's 'Into the Light' (President Records catalog number PCOM 1148)
"Into the Light" track listing:
3.) Untimely Mother
4.) Confession (Do It Again)
5.) Christmas Song
6.) Dreams of Art Nouveau
7.) Ship of Fools
8.) See If You Can Find Me
10.) Dance of the Chinese Horsemen
11.) Bridge of Seven Wonders
From time to time someone stumbles across one of my write-ups and has a couple of interesting comments, corrections, or additional information to add.
From time to time I do an internet search for Dulcimer and Pete Hodge and this time I found your site with Dulcimer's first LP with a price of $150 and sold sign up. Did you really obtain that price? You seem like a bit of a music nut and not just a trader so I am emailing to tell you what I know about this band.
I first came across Pete Hodge at the Exmouth Arms Folk Club in Cheltenham in 1966 or 1967. (Cheltenham is in the west of England, about 100 miles from London.) The Exmouth Arms was a pub (that's a bar in American) and there was a weekly meeting of amateur acoustic musicians and a small paying audience in an upstairs room. Pete came along with his guitar and a small clutch of songs and was spellbinding. He looked about 17 going on 13 but he was a quite compelling performer.
I have to say that the Dulcimer album was, and remains, a very serious disappointment, only hinting at the power of his live solo performances. There is only one moment, in 'Caravan' with the lines leading 'I am the eagle's claw', where there is just a glimpse of the power of the musician that I loved. I saw the band only once, at the crypt of St Martin's in the Field, a church in central London, and Hodge and Dulcimer then disappeared completely off the radar.
Dulcimer made some bad career moves. A fading screen actor called Mike Todd, who recited the rather poor poetry on their album, was responsible for securing their record deal and the fact that his photo appears on the album sleeve rather than any pictures of the musicians tells you who he thought was the more important part of their partnership. The arrival of Larry Parnes as manager was also unfortunate because he did not have a great reputation at the time for looking after the best interests of his acts. I am told that their record deal gave them next to no financial reward.
My vinyl album is the victim of a student life and the surface is in poor condition. I was unaware until just recently that there had been a CD reissue. Perhaps I will try to obtain this through E-bay. And I had no idea about the later releases, so thanks for that information.
As it happens, another English folk-rock band emerged from the same folk club at exactly the same time. They were called Decameron and went on to a fairly successful career with four albums. Some former members are even still making music for a living.
Although they fared far better than Pete Hodge and Dulcimer, there is a parallel: Decameron's first album, consisting of material that I saw them perform at the Exmouth Arms, was also much less than it might have been. Some of their best songs were seriously mishandled by producer Sandy Robertson who added a rhythm section which worked against the natural dynamics of their live performance. Three acoustic guitars and a cello were already thrilling and needed nothing more.
Please forgive these ramblings.
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