Sunday, 24 July 2016

Daryll-Ann Again

Whilst weekend work is devoted to other ASH related things. The intention is to put two posts each weekend from the archive, leaving the week days free for five new articles.

You can still buy the Daryll-Ann Again Box Sets from Excelsior for the bargain price of 39.99 Euros. Get it while you can, as well as all the studio recordings, there's tons of rarities. You can rush off now to Excelsior to buy it now.

Mick Dillingham provides his thoughts on the excellent Daryll-Ann.  You can also catch up with his Blog Adventures at Art Into Dust

In our thirties we tend to believe that we are now for all intent and purposes grown up and it isn’t until we start to reach our true maturity in our mid forties or so that we realise the folly of this belief. Now to me the average thirty year olds seem like teenagers playing at being adults. Older and wiser certainly but not actually old and wise as yet. Too much noise, too much ego, too many words for word’s sake. 

The wisdom of age comes not from accumulating more and more personal knowledge but instead the ability that comes with age to whittle it all down until we are left with just the knowledge we know to be our truth.  Less is so much more because that less we end up with is mostly real and solid.  We can all look at the music we have accumulated in our lives and think, but what if I only keep the stuff I truly, truly love and ditch the rest? Would that weaken my collection or in reality make it even better?

When we finally become an adult the most apparent change is that we really don’t care that much anymore. But not at all in a negative and world weary cynical way, in fact quite the opposite. We realise the things that are truly worth caring about and only care for those things and we discard the rest. And most importantly we do the same with ourselves. We whittle down our egos and as a result we care more for those around us and less about ourselves. We become less selfish and more selfless in our love. Finally as adults we are the best and most efficient versions of ourselves, free from the empty noise and storms of our later youth.

Everything is clearer and more simple and we can look back on the friendship and relationships we have lost down the years and wonder what the hell were we thinking when we let them become such tangled angry sad messes.  All those things that seemed so important at the time are now viewed as really quite trivial looking back at it. Too many trees obscuring the wood. We focused too much on the ultimately pointless tangents that our egos led us down instead of staying focused on the core, too busy standing up for ourselves when what we should have done is stood back from ourselves. But we were younger, what did we know? Not as much as we like to think that’s for sure. Now, with age, we know better.

Camper Van Beethoven were still relatively young when they dissolved in bitter acrimony back in 1990.  When I first interviewed Jonathan Segel and Victor Krummenacher a few years later they were both producing their own brilliant music but the heartbreak of losing CVB still hung over them like the ghost of a long lost love. 

Then at the start of the next decade, David Lowery, a few years older than the rest of them and still going strong with Cracker had the thought that maybe they were mature enough as people now to bring Campers back to life once more. And he was right, now they saw the wood not just the trees and 13 years on from that return and they are stronger than ever, producing their finest works and live, even more dazzling then they ever were. With the stillness of age comes stability and acceptance of others and what once had become horribly fraught is now effortlessly relaxed.

When a band reforms simply because they are old enough now to put aside all the things that drove them apart originally and instead appreciate what each of them brought to the whole and what the whole inspired in them that they never quite found outside of it, then the results are more often than not excellent. 

Who can argue with the quality of the recent reformed dB’s, Grapes Of Wrath or Wanderlust albums? And if it had happened wouldn’t we all now be praising the new Game Theory album as a wonder to behold. Cotton Mather, The Rain Parade, The Three O’Clock and The Mutton Birds all returned as live bands in recent times and we all hope that they might go on to make new music together, utterly confident that the results will be vital and worthy.

I love Dutch masters Daryll-Ann, they are one of my beloved combos and always will be and the news that they were reforming for a handful of local gigs in support of the long anticipated box set of early works and rarities, cheer me up no end. Not that there’s any chance of me seeing them live again, because there isn’t and not that they are considering recording together again because as yet there is no talk of that and it might be just these few dates and nothing more. 

That’s okay, both Anne Soldaat and Jelle Paulusma have produced solo work of consistent brilliance so its not like they need Daryll-Ann to bring them back to form because they never lost it. What cheered me up was the thought they were finally old enough to rediscover their friendship once more. 

I interviewed both during their Daryll-Ann days and in the years since and when asked both were adamant that they would never work together again. And while I dropped their muted responses to that question from the finished articles I always had the thought that they were just not old enough yet for the stillness to have kicked in. But then over the last few years you could see their friendship slowly wander back into their lives via their casual interactions on Facebook.  

Now finally the friendship has returned and in consequence so has Daryll-Ann. Do we need a new Daryll-Ann album? No. Do we want a new Daryll-Ann album? Oh, but certainly yes please and if they do decide to do a new album as far as I can see there are two ways the dynamic behind it will go. 

Don’t Stop, the last Daryll-Ann album was an attempt to revive the band that failed. Jelle and Anne, who have never written songs together, brought in some songs and with a group of musicians recorded them. But by then their friendship was in tatters, there was too much recent water under the bridge and the atmosphere in the studio was uncomfortable at best.  Despite this adversity the album is superb in its own way but really with such talent involved it was bound to be. Not that is saved the band because inevitably they did not survive the tour in support of the album.

So a decade down the road and with friendships renewed and returned by the salve of maturity they could both bring in songs to be recorded by the band as a whole, this time in a far nicer atmosphere and the results will be great. That would be the easy way.

Weeps is considered to be the band’s masterpiece and I think the reason for this is that it’s the album where the band became greater than the parts and took on a life of its own and truly became Daryll-Ann, a magical entity in its own right. Something beyond the individual talents involved. But then Jelle and Anne got carried away with themselves and somewhat dropped the ball. They did not involve the rhythm section in the recording of Happy Traum and while its another great album, its no Weeps, because it is not really Daryll-Ann anymore, more a Soldaat/Paulusma album. 

They had made the mistake of believing they alone were Daryll-Ann, too busy standing up for themselves instead of standing back and seeing the whole that was greater than the parts. They both walked away from Daryll-Ann after that. Ann was the one to actually leave and in consequence Jelle was the one left with the name.  He mistakenly thought that he now had to be Daryll-Ann, though in reality he had no more chance of making a Daryll-Ann album alone than Ann would have it if had been him left with the name. 

Trailer Tails is a lovely album in itself, but it is a Daryll-Ann album in name only.  Jelle subconsciously knew this and pulled Ann back on board for the live shows that followed and the subsequent last gasp attempt to save the band that was Don’t Stop. It was always doomed to fail because the now broken friendship of Ann and Jelle was a gaping wound at the very heart of the band and both were still not old and mature enough yet to fix it. 

So instead Jelle tried filling that fatal hole by taking control and leadership of the band. At the time it must have seemed the right thing to do but as history shows, for Daryll-Ann it wasn’t. And Jelle at the last knew his mistake and this time it was he that left and relinquished the name and that was the end of Daryll-Ann for now.

But now the classic Weeps line up has returned, maturity and time having renewed friendships and mended bridges, the band are in the perfect place to create Daryll-Ann music as Daryll-Ann once more. The pressure is off, they have nothing to prove and this is not their career but just a part of it. Both Jelle and Ann are hugely creatively successful as solo artists and so neither has any need to bring any of their own outside musical explorations to the table but should instead focus on what Daryll-Ann alone can do.

For most band’s with two equally prolific songwriters it is usually the case that one songwriter is overall better than the other when it comes down to it. With Daryll-Ann this is not the case, they are equally great, so no problem there. There are two unique musical jewels in the band’s crown and they are what above all else make the band so magical. 

Ann Soldaat is a brilliant guitarist, a true great, magnificent beyond words. And the other jewel is Jelle’s voice. While Ann is a perfectly excellent lead singer, as is Jelle’s brother Coen, neither has that extra special natural quality that Jelle’s voice has. That warm honey perfection that can only be gifted by luck and nothing more. While I would not have a problem with Ann electing to sing his own songs on a new Daryll-Ann album, if I could choose then I would want Jelle to sing them all.  Not because Ann’s voice isn’t good but because Jelle’s is sooo good, not just by comparison to Ann’s but by comparison to 99% of all singers out there. It truly is a jewel.

Now just plonk the five down in a studio and say, don’t just make music, become Daryll-Ann again and make the music that only the band can. By all means put yourselves first on your own albums, but always put Daryll-Ann first on a band album. That is how Weeps happened and that is how it could be again if you become less selfish and more selfless in your love for Daryll Ann again. That’s my thoughts on the subject anyway. 


  1. A thoughtful commentary on age and the reunion of a good band.

    Thanks to Mick for writing it, with thanks also to Don for sharing it with the world.

  2. Mick's doing a Luck Of Eden Hall piece for me, looking forward to it, he's a fine writer.