By Stan Friedman
CHICAGO, IL (May 31, 2012) – Back in 1974, Geoff Twigg and friend Brian Rodgers were performing in folk clubs around England when they recorded and pressed 250 copies of the album Amalgam.
“That was all we could afford,” says Twigg, worship arts project coordinator for the Evangelical Covenant Church. “In ‘73 and ’74, we were very much the starving artists.
“We got together with an engineer from the British Broadcasting Company and did what was essentially a private album,” he says. The duo, performing under the moniker “Just Others,” sold the record only at their performances and eventually the album sold out.
Although it received rave reviews, the album never caught on – that is, until recently when several of the original albums have sold for between $1,800 and $2,500 on eBay and similar websites.
Twigg says he was shocked after a friend told him about the online auctions. “Ironically,” he adds, “I don’t even own a copy.”
Twigg and Rodgers performed a niche form of folk music. “We were exploring the idea of storytelling from the Middle Ages. There was a movement at the time.” The musicians even used instruments from that period.
One writer opined that the album “boasts a melancholy sense of traditional English whimsy.” Another writes that the songs include “bittersweet lyrics that would befit Simon and Garfunkel comparisons.”
There was no melancholy when Twigg and Rodgers met in a music store. Quite the opposite.
They each were playing very different versions of a folk song called “Angi,” which led to a heated discussion. “We almost came to blows as to who was playing it the right way,” Twigg says, laughing.
The men started performing together the next week. A year later, they disbanded when Rodgers got married and decided not to tour.
Twigg went on to become a fellow at the Trinity College of Music. In 1980, he won the prestigious Royal Philharmonic Society Prize, which honored him as the best young composer in the country.
The words to one of the songs on the Amalgam album – “Where Is He?” – stuck with Twigg. It was the honest question of a young man searching for God. “I had realized while recording the song that it was something I deeply meant,” he says. Asking the question about the reality of God ultimately led Twigg to consider the reality of his faith.
Twigg was 16 when he gave his life “for salvation only” during a major youth event, he says. “But I didn’t follow him as Lord.” As a result, he adds, “I did not experience the reality of God.”
On the night that Twigg received the Royal Philharmonic prize, he drove home knowing there would be media interviews in the coming days. “I knew my life didn’t have much to offer,” he says.
He pulled over to a small church at Crowland Abbey, went inside, and knelt before the altar.
Editor’s note: Digital copies of the record can be found on multiple websites at less cost than the vinyl edition, including an unauthorized Japanese company release of a commemorative CD including a reproduction of the original artwork. A Korean company has begun to release CD copies sold on Barnes & Noble and Amazon. Songs from Amalgam – including “Where is He?” – also can be heard on YouTube.