Caroline, or Change
Bassist Paul Dixon and drummer Tony Clifton are two of the most revered figures in rock and roll since the pre-Rolling Stones era. Both played in the blues-based Colditz, and have gone on to produce, write and front several bands, while their group El Foxtrot were also a big hit in Ireland.
Both have been in Irish rock for about 20 years, though not as frequently as one would think. In fact, Dixon and Clifton were actively promoting the band’s new album before I even knew it existed.
Cheap Spots & NYR who have been playing in Dublin for many years.
Now Paul Dixon and Tony Clifton, Garth Hudson and wife Rene and ten other men, have written a big ballad about a woman in the last days of her life. The album is an emotive read of an Irishwoman’s grief, followed up with some reference to Irish song and legend from itself.
The title track “Caroline, or Change” is a great fitting title for an album that brings to mind PJ Harvey’s 2008 novel. At first all sorts of guess as to why, but after contemplating it, I’ve come to find out why. And it’s at the end of your year of life – it really fits. We tend to believe it’s older women – from Audrey Hepburn to Barbara Windsor – as we wish to include them.
I believe one of the reasons Graham MacCormack left his band the Irish Devils to become Chief Coachman of the Dublin team is because after many years he wanted a break from being a frontman. But this is the next best thing. He’s become a featured singer/songwriter instead.
In his video he tells you he went to songwriting class with his old foe in Colditz. Patrick Barry, who has been compared to Joni Mitchell and Leonard Cohen, and currently writes songs for artists ranging from Norah Jones to CeeLo Green to M.I.A. and Kanye West. Garth Hudson, it’s revealed, is a friend of Barry’s.
The Celtic Pop/R&B CD and videos here present the main characters, but we only see snippets. The lyrics are beautifully written but lack depth.
Nevertheless the song is beautiful. The Celtic elements add some edge and emotions, but it’s most important in the playing as both Paul Dixon and Liam Moore deliver to full capacity. The horns and strings still give it that emotion. Paul uses his guitar on a full blown Celtic Rock version. It’s a special piece.
Rene tells you she was asked to sing on one of the tracks as the “other gender” singer. I won’t say if she wanted it, but had the lead female writer wanted to be a number two, he or she would have actually done it. Not me.
Ry Hagan has this to say about the album:
“There are so many other very fine Irish songwriters doing wonderful work all over the globe today. It’s important for me to remind people that there is such wonderful talent right under our noses… If people in Ireland are hungry for something new they shouldn’t be afraid to try. If they need something to feed their head, they shouldn’t be afraid to seek it out.”
In case you were wondering, Caroilene played in London from 13 February-13 March.
Expect the national tour this spring, in between which, Paul Dixon also has his ‘Oldie Weekends’. He plays the ‘Gaelic Gathering In Manchester’, the Derry Carling Festival, Belfast, Dublin, Waterford and Galway.
You can also catch Paul in the second series of Brian Kavanaugh-Jones and Ronan Gardner’s ‘Here To Stay’, premiering on Friday 13 March at the Druid Theatre, Dublin, on RTÉ 2.