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David Bedford

Crossover Prog

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David Bedford Nurses Songs with Elephants album cover
2.79 | 19 ratings | 3 reviews | 16% 5 stars

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Studio Album, released in 1972

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. It's Easier Than It Looks (3:09)
2. Nurses Song with Elephants (15:50)
3. Some Bright Stars for Queens College (3:25)
4. Trona (11:54)
5. Sad and Lonely Faces (7:19)

Total Time 41:37

Line-up / Musicians

- David Bedford
- Kevin Ayers (5)

- Instrumentation could not be verified at this time. If you have information, please contact the site.

Releases information

Vinyl LP Dandelion 2310165
CD Air Mail AIRAC-1423

Thanks to zafreth for the addition
and to projeKct for the last updates
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Buy DAVID BEDFORD Nurses Songs with Elephants Music

DAVID BEDFORD Nurses Songs with Elephants ratings distribution

(19 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(16%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(5%)
Good, but non-essential (26%)
Collectors/fans only (42%)
Poor. Only for completionists (11%)

DAVID BEDFORD Nurses Songs with Elephants reviews

Showing all collaborators reviews and last reviews preview | Show all reviews/ratings

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Sean Trane
3 stars Debut solo album from one of England's most surrealist composer, and this bizarrerie came out after a spell in Kevin Ayers' Whole World and helping Kevin reach an entirely different dimension than his usual quirky pop songs with the very strange Shooting At The Moon. But Bedford's works are in an entirely different realm as well and if progressive music it is, it's anything but pop or rock music. Indeed, his songwriting has more to do with unclassifiable contemporary avant-garde music or minimalism (not exactly either, because it's not really repetitive enough to qualify as such), often being disjointed and dissonant, but it's definitely still accessible to reasonably open progheads, because NSWE is a mix of both difficult instrumental passages and much easier sung songs. The album's lunar landscape-like artwork is actually somewhat representative of the un-earthly music, but it might also (mis-)lead a few unsuspecting progheads into error.

Some of the music is played or created by Bedford himself, and while there are many un- credited musicians and singers (on melodicas, recorders, guitars and vocals), but he gets some help from buddies like Kevin and Mike Oldfield, and more surprising DJ John Peel, who released on his own Dandelion label. After the short and dissonant Easier Than It Looks, played with 8 recorders and 8 melodicas (droning in the background), the album veers towards the more accessible (well sort of) guitar realm. Some ten acoustic guitars (The Omega Players) are indeed interlocking and fighting it out, sometimes in gently, sometimes much more indigestibly, but overall it goes down fairly well, especially in the second phase, just before the Elephants passage from hands sliding down the guitar necks; and somewhat later down the track, the sung folk passage over a W Blake poem seems like a welcome, but unrepresentative of the album, resting passage.

Across the slice of wax, some 80 female voices fight it out in the short Some Bright Stars, where space sounds are overwhelmed by 2001-like chitter-chatters from chickens and hens. The 12-mins Trone track is more like totally dissonant contemporary musique concrete (played by the Sebastian Bell Ensemble) and can sound like Stockhausen's followers or something of the genre. The closing Sad And Lonely Faces opens on some difficult piano before Ayers come in for a short poem, softening the piano's propos and Kevin singing to some grandiose classical music ending, which is mostly unrepresentative of the album's general feel.

A good deal of this music was apparently created before Bedford's membership in Kevin's Whole Word, and the least we can say is that it was a lot more "serious" music than Bedford seems to care to remember in the liner notes from the Voiceprint CD reissue. This musical medical treatment is best indicated to avant-prog fans and contemporary music fans, rather to anyone who wants to listen to some prog-light rock. Be warned and this is valid for the following Star's End.

Review by baz91
3 stars When I was 15, we were taught about experimental music in school. We were given examples of experimental musicians, such as John Cage, and got to hear clips of their music, where all manner of things were allowed. These artists would write scores using non-standard notation, but rather lines, symbols, text and even pictures. The musicians involved would play their instruments in an unconventional way, e.g. drumming on a piano or using a violin bow on a guitar string. These pieces would invariably be dissonant and jarring, and at such a young age I was put right off by the genre. Yet here I am, writing a review of an album which fits perfectly within the genre I've just described. Given that I've had to become extremely open-minded about my music since listening to progressive rock, how do I feel about the genre now?

The first track It's Easier Than It Looks is a relatively brief track for eight recorders and eight melodicas. This track was written for young people to perform, but here Bedford has played all sixteen parts. It sounds like an interesting piece, and the eerie feel of the track fits right in with the otherworldly front cover, but without being able to see sixteen people play this together, this number loses a lot of its original appeal.

Just shy of 16 minutes, the longest piece is the title track Nurses Song With Elephants. Written for ten acoustic guitars, this piece goes through many different sections. You may be wondering how the title was chosen. It turns out that the 'elephants' in the song are represented by the rubbing of moist thumbs along the body of the guitar, whilst the 'Nurses Song' refers to the poem by William Blake which is recited towards the end of the piece, when the guitarists start playing more tunefully. It feels like Bedford is rewarding you for your patience, and as an extra treat, Mike Oldfield joins in on bass at the end. However, 16 minutes is still quite long, and one can't help but think that there are better things to be doing with one's time.

The most intriguing track on the record is Some Bright Stars for Queen's College, written for eighty girls' voices and twenty seven plastic pipe twirlers. At 3' minutes, this is another brief eerie track. The girls voices create a liquid sound, and the pipe twirlers in the back (apparently including John Peel) create a spooky backdrop. To those who have seen '2001: A Space Odyssey', this track is very similar to the music played over the coloured light sequence. A very effective piece indeed Mr. Bedford!

At 12 minutes, Trona is simply too long and lacks creativity. The liner notes reveal that the instruments used are a flute, oboe, bassoon, two trumpets, clarinet, two trombones, two violins, viola and a cello. The staccato figure heard near the beginning is heard nearly all the way through the track and gets old very quickly. However, this piece is the closest that I can come to working out what the score looks like, and for that it is interesting.

The final track, Sad and Lonely Faces is the only one written for the record itself. This is easily my favourite for a number of reasons. The structure of the song is an experimental piano piece followed by a symphonic ending with Kevin Ayers reading a poem over the top. His baritone voice sounds amazing here, and he leads the piece and album out beautifully. Strangely enough, an ending as lovely as this seems to make listening to this record absolutely worth it.

To answer my question posed at the beginning of this review: it's been an eye opener. With a fresh mind free of prejudice, I've been able to appreciate this genre more than I ever expected to. However, the parts of this record I enjoy the most are where Bedford isn't being experimental at all, which shows that I've not exactly been converted. If you're willing to try something completely new and different, I'd definitely recommend this album, but if not, you might want to save your money for something closer to home.

Latest members reviews

2 stars This is probably the most experimental of all Bedford albums, as it features not only avantgardistic writing but also unusual instrumentation. For his first album, Bedford compiled some of his previously written compositions from the 60s; only the final track was specifically written for this alb ... (read more)

Report this review (#184309) | Posted by splyu | Wednesday, October 1, 2008 | Review Permanlink

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