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21 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One "lost classic" which deserves its reputation, 18 Sep 2003
By 
S. GODFREY "Stuart" (Risca, South Wales) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Swaddling Songs (Audio CD)
Like most people, I'm wary when someone says "Listen to this, you'll love it", but I am grateful to the friend who, knowing my fondness for Incredible String Band/Fairport/Steeleye etc loaned me a copy of "Swaddling Songs". After the first track I had to collect my eyebrows from the ceiling and my jaw from the floor. Forgive the hyperbole, suffice to say before the second track had finished I was online placing an order for my own copy of this terrific album. Its a stunner. It seems amazing to me that an album of such evident quality was largely ignored when it came out in 1972, especially as the aforementioned folk-rock groups were doing such big business back then. The music is tight, with Rush-like precision and drama in many of the instrumental passages. Baroque, folk, mystical and just plain wierd flourishes abound (all of which is fine by me), but the real eye-opener is the quality of the vocals. These two girls sing with individual brilliance and frequently breathtaking harmonies. Among the more gentle, reflective tracks "Reverend Sisters" and "Silver Song" are standouts, while "Dan the Wing", "Buy or Beware" and especially "Boulders on my Grave" are wild uptempo pieces delivered with great flair. The wole album is hugely entertaining, and yes, I do recommend it to anyone with an interest in classic folk-rock.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A cult classic. An all too brief spectral dream., 14 Nov 2003
By 
Jonny Karma (London, England) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Swaddling Songs (Audio CD)
Anyone who ever liked Fairport or The Trees, or even Kate Bush will love this album. This otherworldly Irish folk masterpiece has long been highly valued in collectors circles, vinyl copies changing hands at hundreds of quid. Every now and then its briefly available on CD, and I believe Acme are about to re-issue it again. Don't miss this opportunity next time. Perfect album for when you want to creep under the ivy, or escape into the mist.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Powerful, bewitching and unique, 22 Aug 2010
By 
Kevin O'Keefe (Yorkshire, England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Swaddling Songs ~ Remastered and repackaged (Audio CD)
I'm not sure how I stumbled across this album (probably signposted by Amazon following buying Trees' debut), but am I glad I did: this album is not only superb - it is really quite unique. I should state at this point that I am not a particular fan of folk music (I'm far more at home with the rock genre) which makes my affection for this album all the more remarkable but, as soon as I heard these tunes, I felt I was listening to something quite special. To begin with I was mildly intrigued and was expecting something along the lines of 'The Garden Of Jane Delawney' and was not disappointed. What I was not expecting is just how good these compositions are: they just get better and better with repeated playing - there is a real depth to the songs that still continue to reveal interesting and charming details after many, many plays. While there are tracks on this album that do adhere to a traditional folk 'sound' (particularly vocally e.g. 'The Poet and the Witch') the unusual arrangements and time signatures keep them from being predictable. But for me where this album really takes off is in the tracks that are the least 'folky'. Tracks such as 'Heaven Heath', 'Sheep Season' and 'Silversong' (what an opening salvo!) have a feel and folk-rock dynamism that puts me in mind of Renaissance yet, unlike Renaissance these tracks sound quite literally 'timeless' in that they do not sound dated: it is easy to imagine contemporary artists covering some of the material here without having to update the arrangements or sound. The twin female vocalists deserve special mention as they are simply outstanding - like having two Annie Haslams in the band! The harmonisation between these two is remarkable and their vocal compatibility is seamless (I can see what one reviewer means when comparing them to the girls from Abba). Satisfyingly the album has been produced to best exploit this to devastating affect by complete stereo separation in certain tracks - listen to 'Vile Excesses' on headphones to be blown away by this technique (incidentally one of the vocalists, Alison O'Donnell, is still recording and recently added her fabulous voice to The Owl Service's latest album). Another track worthy of particular mention is 'Reverend Sisters'. This track opens with a haunting piano figure that remains musically fragile and unadorned save for the truly awesome siren vocals of the girls. The musical story that develops is nothing short of a devastating commentary of what can only be understood as someone's experience of child abuse in a convent school. It is as shocking as it is beguiling: every time I hear it I am left quite shaken by the understated power it imparts ('Come into our office and I'll show you..' enjoins the Sister. How utterly creepy is that?).

It is completely mystifying why this album has been unavailable for so long. It is easily the equal - probably better in fact - than many albums of the period either of the folk or rock genre. Perhaps it suffered from being 'neither one thing nor 'tother' which is a great shame. Still at least we can enjoy this lost gem of a record in all its glory at long last: the remastering job is first rate - wonderfully rounded and detailed sound. Totally recommended.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Classic folk-prog-rock..., 5 Mar 2010
This review is from: Swaddling Songs ~ Remastered and repackaged (Audio CD)
This is one of those albums that I could have been swept away by at any point in the last 20 years, had I heard it. I had heard positive rumours about Swaddling Songs for a while, and now at long last, I have become one of those lucky people that have a copy. As another reviewer said, take note fans of The Trees and Kate Bush, because this one fits right in. In fact it feels like a link back to the early days of my love of the music of those artists, as if it was there all along, which is rather intriguing.

The first three tracks are my favourites: Heaven Heath with it's harpsichord and intricate tune; Sheep Season - which was my introduction to the band on Early Morning Hush - with it's gorgeous extended instrumental section; and the melancholy Silversong. The three of them are simply breathtaking examples of folk-rock, the singers captured by the stories they weave, they are brimming with the imagery and intrigue of bygone days, epic and elegant. Then the album picks up the pace and the girls really belt out the lyrics on the finest of the up-tempo tracks, the pounding, rampaging The Poet And The Witch, with its screaming gulls and shimmering crashes of cymbals like waves exploding on the cliffs. A highlight of the album, which comes in marked contrast to the tracks surrounding it, is the delicate, heartbreakingly beautiful Reverend Sisters. Buy Or Beware reminds me strongly of Fool by The Trees, but at the same it has quite a pop feel that takes it off in another direction. At the albums close they go out like a raging storm with Boulders On My Grave, this piece doesn't have the special magic of the best tracks on the album, and I do find myself wishing they'd ended with something more akin to Sheep Season, but this is a small complaint.

There are more than enough truly great songs on here to call it a classic, and it is good to see all the glowing reviews here and across the web. It deserves to be considered amongst the very finest albums of the genre. We can only wonder what might have been had Mellow Candle been given the chance to record more albums.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Everything they say is true, 20 Oct 2008
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This review is from: Swaddling Songs ~ Remastered and repackaged (Audio CD)
Everything the other reviewers say about this extraordinary CD is true. Along with the work of Pearls Before Swine (who might almost be their chilled-out twins), this represents the very best of the strange "baroque folk" explosion of the early 1970s that is largely forgotten. Truly wonderful music.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The BEST Folk/Psych album ever made, 27 April 2007
This review is from: Swaddling Songs (Audio CD)
A strong boast I know, but I've yet to hear anything better in the genre. You find other reissue albums being hailed as 'As good as Mellow Candle' but they're really not. This is in a league of its own. The rhythm section is inventive, complimenting rather than complicating the songs. The guitar breaks are equally tasteful. And the dual lead vocals by Alison and Clodagh will make you cry if you have anything resembling a soul. I hear new things everytime I play this album and I've been listening to it for around fifteen years, regrettably only on cd. Somebody please send me their unwanted original vinyl copy - it's only worth a couple of quid, honest.
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15 of 20 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars I have an orginal album, 21 Jun 2005
By 
C. Yates (Hertford UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Swaddling Songs (Audio CD)
I first heard Mellow Candle's Swaddling Songs in Dublin in 1972 and subsequently bought the LP which I still have in pristine condition and it is worth a fortune. I was enthralled by the music which is quite haunting and captivating. It is very much of its era and yet not out of date today. The tracks are intricate and lyrical although the lyrics were probably written under the influence of acid! I would highly recommend this album to anyone who enjoys the complexities of well written, clever, melodic music and definitely an album for any serious collector. A resurgence of interest in Mellow Candle is bringing Swaddling Songs to a wider audience. Buy it and enjoy!
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5.0 out of 5 stars GREAT DERAM ALBUM FRM 72, 17 May 2013
This review is from: Swaddling Songs ~ Remastered and repackaged (Audio CD)
MELLOW CANDLE WERE GREAT FOLK/ROCK GROUP WITG ECHOS OF A SANDY DENNY SENSIBILITY.DERAM HAD SOME VG GROUPS SIGNED AT THE TIME FOR A GREAT SAMPLER OF THIS PERIOD TRY THE 3CD SET STRANGE PLEASURES
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5.0 out of 5 stars Swaddling up to it .., 29 Mar 2013
By 
K. Todd - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Swaddling Songs (Audio CD)
This was the only album made by Irish band Mellow Candle and, sadly, did not set the world on fire. But in the folk-rock millieu, it deserves to be heard more widely as the vocal harmonies of Alison Williams and Clodagh Simonds are a delight and songs like "Reverend Sisters" are as good as anything that better known bands like Trees ever put out. If you have an interest in the folk-rock genre and don't know Mellow Candle, this is an album worth investigating.
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5.0 out of 5 stars brightly burning candle, 9 April 2012
By 
Samuel Pyke (Barcelona) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Swaddling Songs (Audio CD)
Not so mellow, thankfully. A variety of songs beautifully composed, sung and played, some quite soft but others to wake you up and get you thinking. Overall, a well-crafted album which, at its release in 1972, showed that this Irish folk-rock fivesome had been hard at work over the years. Should have kept on burning brightly, but the wind apparently blew out the flame. This album remains a fine testimony to a rather special bunch of folk who believed this tired old world could still become a place worth living in, and threw in their combined talent to make it a little bit better.
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Swaddling Songs ~ Remastered and repackaged
Swaddling Songs ~ Remastered and repackaged by Mellow Candle (Audio CD - 2008)
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