Song of the Day, November 29: Pain and Paradise by the Albion Band

AlbionP&)Today’s song is Pain and Paradise by the Albion Band. After co-founding and leaving Fairport Convention and Steeleye Span, bassist and music historian Ashley Hutchings created the Albion Band as studio support for his wife, folk singer Shirley Collins. The band took on a life of its own and began recording. As with the other two bands, it had a fluctuating lineup; it also suffered the occasional identity crisis, known on some discs as the Albion Dance Band. Primarily focusing on traditional songs, it also featured a few modern folk compositions.

The band’s most lauded album is 1978’s Rise Up Like the Sun, featuring over a dozen band members and guests. Hutchings cedes bandleader duties to new member John Tams, a talented and well-respected singer and musician. Tams wrote this song inspired by the sea shanty Riding a Donkey. It’s a wonderful exploration of fate and fortune, pondering the role our own actions and desires have on shaping them. The lyric clearly says “pain or paradise” but the Albion version changes the conjunction to “and.” Later versions, including a remarkable cover by June Tabor and the Oyster Band, correct the title to match the lyric.

Some you lose and some you gain
You take a chance and play the game
Is it paradise or pain, when I see you smile
Fortune teller do you see
What the future holds for me?
Happiness or misery
Pain or paradise?

Enjoy this great song today.

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About Robert Hulshof-Schmidt
Freelance writer, researcher, online comic vendor, and project manager. Fan of a wide range of music -- especially folk and 80s pop -- vintage comics, British TV, and LGBT fiction.

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