COB “Spirit of Love”
COB stands for Clive’s Original Band and Spirit of Love was their first album released in 1971 off CBS. Clive Palmer is a well known British folk musician that started out as one of the original Incredible String Band members. Palmer played on their groundbreaking debut lp and shortly left the band thereafter for reasons unknown to me. Palmer spent some time playing with legendary folk-jazz guitarist Wizz Jones then went on to form the Famous Jug Band. This group released one lp with Clive Palmer on board entitled Sunshine Posibilities which came out in 1969. COB found Palmer making some of the best music of his career while teamed up with top flight musicians Ralph McTell and Mickey Bennett.
Spirit of Love has a hymal, rural English vibe that is more folk than folk-rock. Palmer’s vocals are very calm and soothing and this disc is completely acoustic in nature. Tracks like Music of the Ages and Serpent’s Kiss are simply spellbinding, sounding hundreds of years old and only getting better with the passage of time. Some of these songs have exotic instruments like the Harmonium and Dulcitone while the banjo instrumental Banjoland has unexpected ocean wave sound effects. At times, Palmer and company sound completely lost in space, as heard on the excellent Evening Air. But it’s this naive charm and willingness to sound different that makes Spirit of Love such a great, ancient folk album. Other tracks such as the beautiful Wade In The Water and When He Came Home seem to have biblical references within the lyrics and a strong gospel influence.
Although maybe too low-key for some, I feel this is one of the best English folk albums out there. The band effectively hit a rural english country folk-psych sound that’s visionary and highly original, completely different to Palmer’s prior band, The Incredible String Band. This disc was recently reissued on the BGO label though originals are pretty hard to come by. The follow up to Spirit of Love, 72’s Moyshe Mcstiff and the Tartan Lancers of the Sacred Heart is just as good and highly recommended as well
“Music Of Ages”