Duncan Browne

Give Me Take You

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Duncan Browne's melancholy first album, Give Me Take You -- released on music impresario Andrew Loog Oldham's Immediate label in August of 1968 -- is one wonderfully tender album. Many who only discovered it well after its original release compare its dulcet introspective tone to Nick Drake's albums. It does fall into a similar English folk vein, though Browne's arrangements are, on the whole, more Baroque, giving the album a semi-classical, regal feel. Browne charted his own classical arrangements and wrote out vocal charts for a choir, but turned to his art school friend David Bretton for song lyrics. It's Bretton's lovely Pre-Raphaelite-style phrases, used here in the guise of lyrical content, that fans of this album often react strongly to, one way or another. True, there's a youthful innocence and melancholy that come off as somewhat naïve-sounding, mawkish, and awkward in our modern age -- "Better a tear of truth than smiling lies" is one example -- but this is a minor quibble. Immediate issued only one single from the album, "On the Bombsite," but it failed to connect with listeners. At the time of its release, Oldham's Immediate Records was reportedly falling apart. He was in financial ruin and reportedly cut the sessions short to save money. Apart from a hard to find Canadian LP reissue in the mid-'70s (on which the original cover art was reproduced in tinted monochrome against a silver background), Give Me Take You was out of print for over 20 years, until 1991 when Sony Music Special Products issued a CD edition (mastered from three different vinyl sources, owing to a master tape that was missing at the time). It was reissued on CD for the first time in the U.K. by Castle Records, this time from tape sources and with five bonus tracks dating from Browne's early-'70s sessions when he was recording for the Bell label. An expanded reissue, containing rehearsal recordings, demos, and one never-finished song, appeared from Cherry Red's Grapefruit label in May of 2009.

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