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VINE VOICEon 12 November 2005
I arrived at this album by a circuitous route. Several years ago I bought a compilation of acoustic recordings which contained Browne's sole hit, "Journey". It was the first time I'd heard of him, but this year I spotted his 2-CD anthology and couldn't resist the prospect of investigating further. About half of this album was included and it was clear that he was making some great music at the start of his recording career, better, in my opinion, than "Journey".
And the problem with anthologies is that they tend to collate material that doesn't fit together. Despite the insistence of the anthology sleeve notes to the contrary, Browne's output declined gradually in quality and became more mainstream over his twenty-five years of recording. It doesn't do justice to the "Give Me Take You" recordings to include it with later material. So, when I saw that this album was available on Amazon I had to buy it.
The dozen album tracks and five bonuses are marked out by Browne's gentle, but fine vocal delivery, his distinctive but simple acoustic guitar rhythms and the string quartet (I think) backing that attracts the "baroque pop" label. All of the tracks are high in quality, but some stand out that little bit more. The title track features a breathtaking multi-track vocal arrangement and "The Death Of Neil" an other-worldly blend of harmonies. "Alfred Bell" meanwhile is a classic singer/guitarist unaccompanied tale that stays with you. The melodies are fine throughout and Browne's images are vividly related. For those lucky enough to discover this album, it's essential.
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There are several elements that make. Duncan Browne's 1968 debut album "Give Me Take You" stand out. One is that Browne's lyricist David Bretton is a legitimate poet, which gives these songs a dimension usually missing in folk and folk-rock music on either side of the Atlantic. Additionally, Browne has a superb singing voice that matches well against any other singer-songwriter from that period. Browne's work also introduces elements of classical music into the fusion of folk, rock, and pop that are covered by these songs, that gives several of these songs a most distinctive sound. Unfortunately because the label he recorded for was going down for the count, Browne's debut album was not the commercial success it should have been; only one single, "On the Bombsite" was released and Andrew Loog Oldham cut short the recording sessions. The result was that it five years before Browne released his next album, a self-titled work that is just as good; but it is difficult not to think on what Browne might have done during that period in the studio.
"Give Me Take You" is a melancholy collection of introspective songs (e.g., "I Was You Weren't," "Alfred Bell"), and while I came across Browne's work because I was trying to get beyond the work of Sandy Dennis, Richard Thompson, and other luminaries of the British folk-rock scene, the classical elements make it unique. There is a simple innocence, if not a naïveté to these songs, that give Browne his own niche in this genre. As is often the case with these remastered and reissued albums from the 1960s and 1970s, there are five bonus tracks, including the Mono Single Versions of "On the Bombsite" and "Alfred Bell," along with the demo version of the former, and a pair of previously unreleased tracks, "Resurrection Joe" and "Final Asylum." David Bretton does the liner notes, a necessity forced by the death of Browne in 1993. There are a lot of excellent albums from this period in British folk-rock music waiting to be rediscovered by new generations on this side of the pond, and Duncan Browne's "Give Me Take You" is one of them. One of the nice things is that most of the reviews of this album will lend you to more such gems for you to track down.
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VINE VOICEon 5 August 2005
I can only echo the recommendations of the reviewers below and convey my delight at having found this little gem. There are numerous albums from this period about which you could roll out the old cliche " they don't make 'em like that anymore " , but it certainly applies here ... it's like a glimpse into a bygone bubble. The comparisons to other artists like Donovan are certainly useful, but on reflection this music doesn't really bring anything else to mind. The combination of winsome lyrics, some nifty acoustic guitar work and delicate string and choral arrangements make this album really quite unique and really quite lovely.
Give it a try, I'm sure it won't disappoint !
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on 3 July 2004
This man was an unknown to me until so very recently -so if you stumble into this page by those strange turns of internet life, you have a companion in me ... I guess.
Now, as I'm sure you experienced many a time, the newness of one's encounter with something beautiful does not preclude the depth of one's experience, nor the value of what one has seen.
Duncan Browne, musically speaking, is a younger brother to Donovan Leitch, a childhood friend of Vashti Bunyan's, and a soft-spoken cousin to the Incredible String Band.
This is bonafide British Folk, the psychedelic variety as it is now know as ... soft melodies, strings caressed rather than strummed, tales of young girls in wondrous places and magical beings, the obligatory harpsichord, tasteful and simple strings, and chorus voices seeming to float in the Summer's air.
Well ... you get the picture -I'm sure- and either you are still reading on suddenly called by your love for this kind of music, or I'm now speaking to myself.
The whole album is a trove of treasures which manage to sound tender, after all these years, rather than naïve and outdated -a remarkable feat in itself for any work over thirty years old.
So, because you are still reading, I must tell you that this album can -must!- be listened from beginning to end. That is how consistently delightful it is, but if I must make some choices I'd choose both versions of "Alfred Bell," pure, sad nectar, the single the never took off -On The Bombsite, studio and demo versions alike- and "Give Me, Take You" which gives this gem its title.
Treat yourself to the sounds of a gentle soul, the kind of young man you may wish your son to become ... or hope you still are.
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Firstly I'm amazed that there is only one other review for this beguiling album. I came across this record via hearing Browne's later album Duncan Browne and decided to take a chance on it. I'm so glad I did. Very much of its time (but none the worse for that) this is an utterly charming album full of often moving, elegiac pop/folk songs. This style is sometimes referred to as 'chamber pop' due to the almost classical arrangements and instrumentation but this would be misleading: the embellishments are actually very restrained and do not overpower Browne's fragile and simple vocal or his (very well played) guitar. Browne's guitar underpins all these songs and can be heard unaccompanied in several of the demos and extras that this remastered and expanded CD provides. If you are a fan of Steve Hackett's more acoustic material I would seriously suggest this CD to be a 'must buy'. But I would also encourage fans of bands as diverse asThe Zombies,Nick Drake and The Incredible String Band to give this a listen also (in fact the title track alone would stand comfortably alongside anything off Odessey and Oracle). That said, despite its period charm listeners who appreciate the simple and pure feel of Kings of Convenience will find much to love here also as might fans of Simon And Garfunkel. Whether you are a fan of pop, rock, folk or simply a sucker for late 60's psychedelia with a pastoral twist then I urge you to give this a try. I believe this album demands much more attention than it seems to be getting (at least on here that is!).
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 29 September 2010
I am a very lucky man. I met Duncan's lyricist whilst researching a book that was never completed and also assisted his widow in sourcing the demos featured here - kindly located by Andrew Loog Oldham. This is a beautiful album, punctuated by whimsical lyrics and Duncan's subtle guitar playing. His vocal style is gentle and quite adorable and very much of its time. As other reviewers point out, the style is 'Baroque'. Bands such as Fleet Foxes owe so much to this man and his work. One day I shall finish that book on Duncan's life, but for now,I shall continue to enjoy his legacy and ponder what he could have achieved had we not been robbed of his talents.
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on 27 January 2001
This is splendid reissue of a lost gem of an album. If you like Nick Drake, the Left Banke, "Odessey and Oracle"-era Zombies, Belle and Sebastian, the Incredible String Band, and the fairy tale-songs of Donovan, you need to add this to your collection. Fragile vocals, fingerstyle guitar, baroque harpsichord and string quartet arrangements, and lyrics about girls in gardens, dwarves in trees, shakespearean stage actors in decline. Compare this album to "Five Leaves Left" by Nick Drake, "One Year" by Colin Blunstone, "songs from a flower to a garden" by Donovan.
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on 26 January 2015
Surprising and rewarding. My first contact was with Streets of Fire and this is very different. Experimental structures and arrangements, virtuoso guitar playing, bravely simple and personal lyrics, wonderful storytelling. This music sets a mood, very English but not simply pastoral. The schoolteacher song Alfred Bell reminds me of Eleanor Rigby and it's just the guitar, Duncan's voice and some samples of schoolkids. The poignancy of people's lives. It's thoughtful, reflective music echoing a quality of life which in our rush towards the future somehow got lost.
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on 11 February 2015
Baroque fun abounds. Gentle tracks throughout. Not for all the time but hits the spot when it is
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on 19 February 2013
Too quiet and folky - even for the 1960's? Pretty bland and boring. Sorry l bought it now but you got to try these Albums or you will never know...................?
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