Track 5 on Side 2 of the LP (Track 17 on the CD) is an instrumental called “The Hair of the Dogma” [ha ha]. It is a violin/bass based thing, nicely varied, and comprising a series of most pleasant tunes. It is linked by a long pause to the next track, 6, 18 on the CD, another instrumental called “As Bitme”. This starts with some scratchy drums, developing into a really good beat, joined by some subdued violin and same truly stubborn guitar. This elides seamlessly into the last track, so the last three are a sort of joined up whole.
This last track is Track 7 Side 2 of the LP, and Track 19 on the CD, and is the traditional song “John Barleycorn”. This had been the title track of Traffic’s astonishing 1970 “come back” album (of which more later, God Willing), and also featured on Steeleye Span’s 1972 LP ” Below the Salt” [see above]. I was therefore intimately familiar with it by the time I got the record under consideration. Here Simon Nicol takes the lead vocal on what is a technically perfect version of the piece. Again, the bass is much to the fore on this one. There are full, and full-bodied harmonies on all the refrains, and a classic cadence on the last stanza. This makes an excellent finale for this splendid record.
But was it now time to “quit while you’re ahead”, which is by no means an unreasonable thing to do? More of this question in the next few posts.