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LP Feature/ Lucky Luke: "Reynardine"

img  Tobias

The challenges for a band like Lucky Luke are essentially the same facing a classical musician: To become part of a long chain of interpretors while retaining their personality and individuality on the one hand. And to translate a piece to the times we live in while staying true to its roots on the other. Dozens of widely respected singers and groups have performed the two tracks of this vinyl single before, some of them even very recently, but the “well kept secret from Glasgow's west end” perfectly hold their own amidst the premier league of folk.

Title track “Reynardine”, especially, has been a favourite for ages, returning to the general consciousness with Fairport Convention and the British folk revival in the 60s and 70s. Isobel Campbell recorded a version for her latest full-length “Milk White Sheets”, but her ethereal voice, picked up as direct and whispery as possible, as well as the sparse and spaceously reverbed guitar sound, are miles from where Lucky Luke set in.

Their rendition takes the listener back through the ages, to the very mountains and the “leaves so green” the lyrics dwell on. Essentially, “Reynardine” works like a Haiku, its direct language and pure, lyrically descriptive vocabulary working less in a linear, logical storytelling-way, but rather as a vivid, fotographic aural snapshot, its contours appearing as threedimensional as a computerised “total-recall” memory.

The song’s protagonist is a wanderer who whitnesses a mysterious encounter from afar, passing on his experience through the words exchanged between a black-haired, blue eyed girl with “lips as red as wine” and the ominous Reynardine. The doubts as to the truness of Reynardine’s intentions are subcutaneous, our fears as listeners instinctive yet intangible. Merely the use of the word “sly” suggests a mischeivous history lingering behind the beautiful facade.

The band have invited Alex Neilson on drums, who delivers a trudging, brushed performance, which lends a ragged and restless edge to the harmonious interplay between guitar, flute and harmonium: Compared to the sweet and airy Isobel Campbell, Lucky Luke are a squad of vagabonds. The organic production, meanwhile, alludes to the immanent dangers without getting overly concrete and captures the premonitious moment in a sort of dreamlike reality. Flipside “Hori Horo” contains echoes of The Doors’ “The End” in a major key, is more heavenly, a second of wishful thinking and longing frozen in time.

The band manages to reveal the long tradition behind their material, while seemlessly integrating contemporary influences. If Lucky Luke have remained a secret, then this can probably only be explained by the fact that their repertoire demands too much active attention as to fit any wallpaper-oriented radio program.

In the long run, they may well come out victorious: These interpretations will surely stand the test of time and that is still the greatest compliment for folk acts and classical musicians alike.

By Tobias Fischer

Homepage: Wee Black Skelf Records 

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