C.O.B. (Clive Palmer far right)

Seems appropriate today, on the Day of the Dead, to post something from Clive Palmer’s C.O.B. band. This is another English neo-folk group which was continuing the show of strength this new genre had. Their hymnal sound was heavily indebted to the polyglot of influences early Judeo-Christian music had absorbed from Moorish culture and Easter or Arabic tradition.

In a way, this ex- original Incredible String Band member was trying to harken back to a divine time, when all sorts of wonderment, especially the belief in romance and love should hold a much more essential province in the hearts of man than gold, bread, and land. How do we remember our dearly departed the best other than sacrificing some of our living day to remember them? That’s a point made exquisitely clear in this gorgeous neo-folk anthem…

Choosing to record with the barest of folk instruments: acoustic guitar, dulcitar, piano, cello, organ and banjo to let their unique harmonization shine through C.O.B. was indicative of the modest trajectory Clive chose to take. Before this album he had lived and played in India and Afghanistan for a good sojourn, came back to Cornwall to record an album of reverential, brilliant banjo music, worked as woodworking teacher in between a failed jug band revival, finally discovering a band that fit something he had been hiding back then, the influence his search for spirituality and music had taken him everywhere but his own space.

Spirit of Love album cover.

His own space was this very authentic Crusades-type of music far from the mighty reverential one commonly thought of it being, more in tune with the melancholy, and searching hybridization of thought those early explorers must have been struggling with to comprehend. Joining him were fine players from Ralph McTell all the way through Ursula Smith from the Third Ear Band, making for a thoroughly engaging listen. For now let’s just bask in some of the ethereal beauty he soaked in, the track of the day was the beginning of the album, this was the end…

Listen to the whole album at Youtube.