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Allan Taylor

+ {Cajun Moon}

Initially fusing elements of light medieval folk-rock and Celtic mystique, English troubadour TAYLOR has been treading the musical boards for over 40 years. Born in Brighton, Surrey on 30 September 1945, and leaving school at 16 to run a folk club, he subsequently struck up a friendship with FAIRPORT CONVENTION musicians DAVE SWARBRICK, DAVE PEGG and Dave Mattacks. During the latter band’s halcyon days in ‘69, TAYLOR would support them on tour, culminating in a prestigious spot at the Royal Albert Hall. With Swarby (and Bill Leader) convincing Allan to sign for Liberty Records (home of HAWKWIND, the BONZOs, et al), all three FAIRPORT-ers were invited to back the singer-songwriter on his Tony Cox-produced debut set, SOMETIMES (1971) {*6}.
A combination of self-penned numbers (around half co-written with Miles Wootton, including `The Pied Piper’) and traditional “Tudor”-like cuts such as `Searching For Lambs’, `Our Captain Cried All Hands’ and `Robin Hood’, the album was lauded by many of his folk-star peers. The opening title track and `Song For Kathy’ are very reminiscent of RALPH McTELL or DICK GAUGHAN, while the kiddie-medley `Nursery Tale’ (and `Swallow Swallow’) were pleasant enough without being too cheesy; the closing cue, `The Kiss’, adapted a poem by Robert Herrick.
Without the traditional or collaborative side, THE LADY (1972) {*5} was TAYLOR’s first truly solo LP – bar the IAN MATTHEWS-penned/accompanied finale, `My Lady’. With the latter “Woodstock” man in tow, alongside ANDY ROBERTS, Pete Stanley, Tony Cox and drummer Mattacks, the acoustic balladry was led by `Belfast ‘71’, a BBC-banned track that would see subsequent renditions by The DRANSFIELDS, The FUREYS, among others. The prog-folk-friendly `Cain’ fares somewhat better than the rest of the album, which suffered by way of others like the appropriately-titled `Simple Song’ and `Still He Sings’. Going Stateside, quite literally, THE AMERICAN ALBUM (1973) {*6} was recorded in Nashville and Los Angeles with a plethora of musicians. Staying over for a good two years (and subsequently augmented by fiddler Brian Golbey and pianist Jon Gillaspie), TAYLOR’s next project/album was CAJUN MOON (1976) {*5}, a one-off for Chrysalis Records that expanded his musical horizons to rope in Appalachian, country-folk and, of course, Cajun music.
Problems with his larynx led to an operation and a forced two-year lay-off, but Allan was back in fine fettle for THE TRAVELLER (1978) {*6}, his first of two sets for Rubber Records (with JOHN KIRKPATRICK on accordion and melodeon, plus Colin Ross and Ian Fairbairn), the second being 1980’s ROLL ON THE DAY (1980) {*7}; 1983’s CIRCLE ROUND AGAIN {*5} was an album of outtakes and re-recordings released on Black Crow.
Moving slightly away from the confines of folk and into storyteller song scripts, mature student TAYLOR (who’d just received his BA from Leeds University) completed the first of several albums for his own T Records by way of WIN OR LOSE (1984) {*5}; incidentally, he furthered his twilight education with the acquisition of a MA at Lancaster University, a PhD in Ethnomusicology and, much later, a doctorate from Queens in Belfast.
With his songs ultimately recorded by everyone from FRANKIE MILLER and DON WILLIAMS to his hero ALEX CAMPBELL (`It’s Good To See You’ was one such ditty), Allan still managed to record a series of solo sets from LINES (1988) {*5} and OUT OF TIME (1991) {*5} to SO LONG (1994) {*5} and FADED LIGHT (1995) {*6}; the former saw him cover DYLAN’s `Don’t Think Twice, It’s All Right’, the latter covered DYLAN again by way of `One Too Many Mornings’ plus COODER/HIATT/DICKINSON’s `Across The Borderline’.
With Stockfisch Records taking up TAYLOR’s cause, there have been several CDs since 1997’s LOOKING FOR YOU {*6}, his most recent (before a serious angina attack) being LEAVING AT DAWN (2009) {*7} and 2013’s ALL IS ONE {*7}.
COLOUR TO THE MOON (2001) {*6}, HOTELS & DREAMERS (2003) {*6} and OLD FRIENDS – NEW ROADS (2007) {*5} – the latter featuring sparse piano accompaniment by Ilutz Moller – were also useful. A soon-to-be-released DVD documentary, The Endless Highway, might fill in a few empty spaces in a long 40-year span CV.
© MC Strong 2010/GFD // rev-up MCS Sep2015

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