Review: Stunning tales of 60s by Harrogate beatnik poet

Memorable musical journey - Harrogate beatnik poet Heath Common.
Memorable musical journey - Harrogate beatnik poet Heath Common.
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Heath Common: Tales of A Young Life in Halifax & Notting Hill Gate (album), Hi4Head Records

On his latest wonderful collection of songs and tales, Harrogate beatnik poet Heath Common uses dialogue, poetry and music to turn his all-seeing eye on a classic era, an era he lived through, one whose echoes resonate to this day not only in his own life but British culture as a whole.

Stunning songs - Harrogate beatnik poet Heath Common.

Stunning songs - Harrogate beatnik poet Heath Common.

Based on his own personal journey from his roots in Halifax to his artistic flowering in Notting Hill, this inveteriate traveller and inspirational figure offers an honest and quietly perceptive first-hand account of what the 60s and 70s were really like at a time when counter-culture was king.

Accompanied on vocals by Patrick Wise, the artist responsible for the impressively colourful paintings on the sleeve and accompanying booklet, and, occasionally, Karen Thewlis, Heath’s gentre-hopping, free-wheeling songs blend dialogue and poetry with rootsy 70s pop and psychedelic rock, 80s and 90s world music, European folk and dub and rave.

It’s a rich musical palette which lightens up the strong melodies of memorable tracks such as Halifax Gala Queen, Jack Brown, Satori in the Sky, Basquiat and Warhol and Anita Pallenberg.

But it’s the words that matter and Heath Common’s own deeply honest and commanding baritone voice which carries the most weight across all ten of these tracks which travel from Yorkshire to London.

Whether windswept or wistful, upbeat or melancholic, gritty or sentimental, quietly conventional or a little way-out, Heath’s blunt wisdom is convincing at all times because it is based on the certainty that in the ordinary and every day lies the deepest meanings of all.