Taking their name from an Anglo-Saxon poet/monk of the 7th Century, CAEDMON were formed in December 1973 by three Edinburgh University veterinarian students (Andy Love, Ken Patterson and Angela Naylor). In the following few years, they expanded to a quartet, and then a quintet with the respective addition of linguist Simon Jaquet and engineer Sam Wilson; however, sole Scotsman Andy (from Aberdeen) was replaced by fellow countryman Jim Bisset.
Christian baroque-folk was never going to be big business (special Christmas/festive albums apart), but CAEDMON were a little different to “Gaudete” band STEELEYE SPAN or PENTANGLE.
Years of singing together brought little success, so to mark a kind of amicable farewell split, the quintet recorded an LP (500 copies pressed), CAEDMON (1978) {*7} – the LP (including a free single, `Give Me Jesus’) was subsequently worth over £500 mint. With inspiration from parts of the bible (Matthew chapters for `Ten Maidens Fair’ and `Beyond The Second Mile’), Patterson, Bisset or Jaquet each had a hand in creating the group’s spiritual, medieval sound.
Singer Angela was arguably in the mould of early folkie JULIE COVINGTON, while the harmonies were very MELLOW CANDLE or MADDY PRIOR. The PENTANGLE-esque `Maker Man’ was exotically cool or indeed a precursor to indie-jazzateers YOUNG MARBLE GIANTS, although most of the others were folk-rock. Highlights included the delightful `Sea Song’ (think WISHBONE ASH in shanty mode!), while `Aslan’ (with rock guitar lead by Bisset) put a touch of Narnian mysticism to the fore. The Age Of Aquarius gets into the act by way of poppy `Living In The Sunshine’, while `Smile On Your Face’ was a folk mantra harking back to the 60s – “Tambourine Dream” anyone? If prog-folk be your bag, the YES-like `Storm’ was a must-hear, and one could understand why freak-folk acolytes go crazy when the title track is in full swing.
As a postscript to their undeniable appeal, CD re-issue specialists Kissing Spell also unearthed a “LIVE” (2002) {*5} set, featuring some of their best cuts recorded between 1977 and 1978. In October 2008, CAEDMON re-formed with long-time vet Angela (now Angela Webb), Jim, Ken, Simon and Sam; they released an mp3 in 2010: A CHICKEN TO HUG {*6}. Although decidedly renaissance and retro with touches of jazz, gospel and world folk, the light-weight and easy-listening cues come off best; check out the charming `Time Flies’, `Peace In The Fire’, `Childless’ and `Still Here’.
© MC Strong 2002-2010/GSM-GFD // rev-up MCS Oct2015

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