I actually tried to buy Sunny Memories, Caddick’s second album, laboriously sending off a cheque to Folk News. Instead there came a letter: ‘Sorry, none left. I’ve sent you his latest LP and an extra one.’ The extra was Rough Music, his first; the latest was Reasons briefly. It’s a bargain I’ve never regretted.

Bill was a song-writer when they were scarcer on the folk circuit than today; some clubs even drew a distinction between ‘traditional’ and ‘contemporary’ material. That was the late 1970s; the record appeared in 1979 and I booked him for the university club the year after. He was a song maker, more than song-writer, with a background in street theatre as a member of Taffy Thomas’s Magic Lantern. His material drew from history and literature more than personal experience and self-expression.

He was distinctive looking and sounding: gangly and loose-limbed, with a wild frizz of hair and beard, a cheeky twinkle, and an enduring Wolverhampton accent. He played a 12-string guitar by Framus, a German company that went bust in the mid 1970s, strung with mellow but hard-to-find silk-and-steels.

The thing about Caddick, though: his imagination went places that nobody else thought to visit. First up there’s a lolloping instrumental Holdens Goldens, wonky slide guitar taking the tune. Second the title track, in praise of the health-giving qualities of singing, a setting of words from William Byrde’s 1588 ‘Psalms & Sonnets’ ending with a chorus in Latin. Then Gawain and Ragnell, retelling the same story as Chaucer’s Wife of Bath, followed by Tous les Lendemains, in your actual French. He was cultured, was Bill, and good at languages. Last on side one is the anthemic Send round the fiery cross, a call for the oppressed to rise up against injustice ‘where power is built on colour, race or creed.’  (I had a moment’s unfounded worry that he was endorsing white supremacy and the cross-burning Ku Klux Klan, but the lyrics say just the opposite.)

Caddick’s best known for his more thoughtful songs yet always had comedy up his sleeve, and once the vinyl’s turned over there’s Love her for her personality, a delicious semi-spoken monologue in which an obvious gold-digger protests his honourable intentions as he pursues a succession of wealthy intended brides; and Cut and thrust, a cheeky tale of the Indian Mutiny (with an unfortunate It ain’t half hot mum accent). Uncle Ben and the Pirates celebrates the lost kazoo bands of the 1930s, the sort of loving nostalgia that also featured in Oller Boller on his first album. And finally there’s Reach for Jesus, counterpoint to Fiery Cross, rage ending the first half and love the second, each with a belting good chorus.

The recording was by Bill Leader, with a backing band including Pete and Chris Coe, Roger and Helen Watson, and John Adams. Pedigree. After it, Caddick joined and fronted Home Service; then there was a trio with Peter Bond and Tim Laycock before more solo work, other bands, and a series of collaborations with The National Theatre: a long and varied career. He died in 2018 aged 74.

He’s most obviously remembered for Unicorns, John o’ Dreams, and for several songs recorded by June Tabor: Aqaba, about Lawrence of Arabia; She moves among men, an unsparing look at sex work; Cloud Factory, a poignant essay on bereavement. His later work is more polished, a little less quirky. Reasons briefly is a ramshackle, eccentric record which doesn’t feature any of his best-known compositions (Reach for Jesus is the only one he re-recorded, years later, for his retrospective CD Unicorns). Nor does any of it feature on YouTube. But it’s marvellously eccentric; no-one else could have produced it, which is why I treasure it so much. That, and because it was a bargain.