God bless and preserve David Bedford. As contemporary classical composer/arrangers go, his ability to combine high-minded inventiveness with good-humoured inclusivity puts him out on a rather wonderful limb.
Nurses Song With Elephants was originally released on John Peel’s legendarily unfettered Dandelion label in 1972, by which time Bedford had already made significant inroads into the rock milieu as a member of the briefly extant Kevin Ayers & The Whole World. You’ll struggle to detect anything even approaching rock here, though. It’s Easier Than It Looks, recorded by a multi-tracked Bedford on eight descant recorders and eight alto-melodicas, is a remarkable tumult – the sound you would hear if you lived next door to The Clangers and they started having a domestic when one or more of them came home pissed from the pub. The title track – “for 10 acoustic guitars” – features The Omega Players apparently falling over their instruments, and intermittently polishing them. It’s brave, hilarious and, when William Blake’s poem Nurse’s Song suddenly emerges from the mayhem – at the 12-minute mark! – it’s also rather affecting.
Bedford’s Whole World colleague Mike Oldfield guests here on bass, while Kevin Ayers himself lends his sumptuous chocolate voice to Sad And Lonely Places, reciting a Kenneth Patchen poem.