Mawkin – Crow

Two years after the much fêted Mawkin:Causley collaboration disbanded, Mawkin are back with a new melodeon player, Nick Cooke, and drummer, Lee Richardson. The reinvigorated five-piece stride forth boldly with this latest release, putting together a heady concoction of traditional and contemporary material, that sounds as fresh as the proverbial daisy.

Mawkin play with a flamboyance that at times feels distinctly theatrical, and the lads certainly put in an entertaining performance that is both endearing and captivating. They pack quite a punch, often resembling a pocket-sized Bellowhead, yet possessing an agility that a more bloated ensemble might not attain.

There is a worldly spirit that permeates the album, with influences from across the globe melding joyously to present a wide-ranging palette of rhythm and melody that flits between raucous energy and timeless elegance. There are also moments that sound wonderfully and archetypically English, but for very different reasons: the sprightly politeness of “Gerry The Frog / The Three Firs” contrasts markedly with the rugged vernacular of Ray Davies’ “Harry Rag.”

Tracks like “Diogenes” are brimming with effervescence, hurried along by a racing bass line, whilst “Andro / Lang Stayed Away” sets out at a more leisurely pace, juxtaposing traditional concertina melodies over jazz-soaked electric guitar and ambling bass. “Easter Thursday” contains some alluring, effortless Django-esque guitar riffs, demonstrating perfectly the band’s versatility at traversing genres.

The tone changes on a number of occasions to accommodate some special guest vocalists: Steve Knightley gives a typically uncompromising reading of his song “It’s All Quiet Here,” whilst it turns deliciously camp when Eliza Carthy joins in on the sultry “Bad Girls Lament.” Former collaborator Jim Causley also returns to the fold with a poised delivery of “Bellringers.”

Crow is something of a musical kaleidoscope, and the more you listen to it, the more it reveals its varied and fascinating motifs. Mike Wilson

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Artist web link: http://www.mawkin.co.uk/

PETER NARDINI – Hug (Temple Records COMD2105)

The last time I saw a photo like that depicted on the sleeve of Peter Nardini’s “Hug” CD was one of James Bond (in “Diamonds Are Forever” now you ask) before he was about to kill the character Peter Franks…thought you might be interested in that snippet of trivia. Now, some might find tracks like “Bum” a bit questionable in taste but it’s obvious Nardini couldn’t give a jot and as he proffers his thoughts in scatter-gun style it becomes a blatant case of who gives a toss…take it or leave it. In a way it’s a refreshing philosophy but one that is becoming more prevalent in today’s society and particularly on the ‘acoustic’ scene. Given free reign to spread his wings Battlefield Band’s Mike Katz takes on the role of producer (he also adds guitar, bass, bouzouki, piano, ebow, mandolin, whistles and melodica…please someone stop me before I run out of breath) joined by Ewen Henderson (backing vocals), Ken Donaldson (additional guitar) and the soaring harmonica/percussion of Mike Whellans and fiddler Alasdair White. There, I hope I’ve conjured an image of something to whet your appetite. As you can possibly tell from this scribbling, this is an interesting recording including the drunk’s whispered words of wisdom “A Wish A Wis A Pigeon” with its Lindisfarne styled arrangement and the equally quirky “The Best In Me” with its kind of positive solution to what some (Nardini) would consider awkward questions (a bit like Alistair Campbell on a good day) he seems to at least put the world to rights. This, for those of you wondering is a ‘love song’ of sorts and although a bit skewed is good-time enough to give The Proclaimers a run for their money. An interesting album that won’t be to everyone’s taste but ultimately rewarding if you enjoy a sly look through your own thoughts but didn’t know how to express them [how many times can I use the word ‘interesting’ before it gets boring?].

PETE FYFE

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THE ORIGINAL BUSHWACKERS and BULLOCKIES BUSH BAND – The Shearer’s Dream (Storytellers Guide)

There was a time…the early 1970’s…when the world could be counted as priggish in its approach to British ‘folk’ music. That was until it was taken by the scruff of the neck and unceremoniously given a good whipping by a bunch of lads that appeared to be the Australian equivalent of the Murfia. This band; The Original Bushwackers & Bullockies Bush Band were also the most entertaining and energising I have ever experienced. No time to wonder about ‘niceties’, they were to take the UK by storm and give a good kicking to the folk-rock scene of the time. You only have to put on track one “South Australia” to hear the raw energy that emanated from the disk that made you want to slug back a tin of Fosters and party like there was no tomorrow. And those of us lucky enough to get to know them did. But it wasn’t just the songs it was Jan Wositzky’s and Mick Slocum’s tall-tales including “The Swagless Swaggie” that made them all-round entertainers. As if that wasn’t enough they were also damn fine instrumentalists (fiddle, banjo, guitar, accordion etc) who knew the value of a good tune to boost the audience listening pleasure. Noticeable for the inclusion of Dobe Newton’s ‘lagerphone’ they certainly knew (as Ant & Dec would have it) how to rumble and just the thought of it makes me want to break out the old mandolin. If you really want a good time then here’s your starter for ten and, by the way thanks to Jan the whole of the Bushwackers early history is captured magnificently in the handsomely packaged 24 page booklet. A must buy on CD and download for any self-respecting folk-rock enthusiast. PETE FYFE

ALAN REID and ROB VAN SANTE – The Adventures Of John Paul Jones (Red Sands Music RSCD003)

No…not that John Paul Jones…the harmonica playing bluesman (!) but this one is, in nautical terms at least a legend none the less. His omnipresent personality was later to become established as ‘The Father Of The American Navy’ and although an exalted position, how did this gardener’s son from Scotland (a bit like Peter Sellers character Chauncey Gardiner in ‘Being There’ perhaps?) gain such an enviable and at times despised reputation? Well, that dear reader is established from this historical though not over scholarly document that was obviously a labour of love for Reid. To write a whole album’s worth (15 tracks) of material collaboratively with Rob Van Sante joined by various guest musicians based on one character might be regarded as a vanity project but I assure you, if you come along for the ride you’ll be justly rewarded. Much like Vladimir Cosma’s evocative musical score for the 1978 TV series “Kidnapped” Reid weaves an almost magical spell conjuring visions of brooding Scottish vista’s whilst just as easily slipping into a sense of joviality on the track “Landlord” and in my own way (envisaging film clips) I latch onto certain aspects of the storylines to propel the action forward. I can’t think of any better way to capture the mood of the piece other than by utilising predominantly ‘acoustic’ instrumentation including guitar, mandolin, viola, banjo, cello but could I be controversial in suggesting the lads put the lyrics on a page on their website along with a few background notes. I’ve always believed in the use of ‘folk opera’ such as Fairport’s “Babbacombe Lee” and Elecampagne’s “Adventures Of Mr Punch” to tutor the general public without being too heavy handed and if this recording is anything to go by it will sit very comfortably within that genre.

PETE FYFE

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Artist web link: www.reidvansante.com

THE FUREYS and DAVEY ARTHUR – 30 Years On (Global Records GBCD001)

Blimey, a whole 30 seconds of clapping for this celebration of the Fureys’ 30th year together and that was before the band even took to the stage for their opening number Ralph McTell’s “Clare To Here”. In many ways, George and Eddie Furey with long time associate Davey Arthur and the additional skills of Dominic Leech (piano accordion) and Luke Crowley (bass & whistles) epitomise everything the Irish and St Patrick’s Day stands for…rivers of Guinness and a roaring good time! Religion and politics always did play second fiddle alongside a hearty downing of the black stuff and subtlety, it has to be said never was the band’s strong point where they are known in some circles as the fast and fureyous brothers but let’s face it, when you get a lively audience ‘up for the craic’ and the odd bum note who gives a jot? That’s obviously what the audience were enjoying at Vicar Street, Dublin and much like the sadly lamented National Club in Kilburn they were here to push the boat out. Talking of which, “The Lonesome Boatman” and other major International triumphs such as 1981’s “When You Were Sweet Sixteen” which was originally a hit for Al Jolson and the very Dutch sounding “Red Rose Café” written by Pierre Kartner (Father Abraham of The Smurfs fame) with it’s beer glass clinking waltz style sing-along always guaranteed to bring a smile to the most jaded audience.

A great time was had by all as can be witnessed on the Justin Nelson directed separately available DVD of the concert and worth purchasing if only for the feel-good banter and, at times jaw-dropping explosion of digital dexterity. With over two hours performance time on this 2-CD set there is bound to be something for everyone and a must have souvenir for fans of the band everywhere.

PETE FYFE

If you would like to order a copy of an album (CD or Vinyl format), download a copy or just listen to snippets of selected tracks then click below to be taken to our associated partner Amazon’s website (use the left and right arrows below to scroll along or back to see the full selection).

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Artist web link: www.thefureys.com

James J Turner – How Could We Be Wrong?

From the first bars of the opening title track “How could we be wrong?” I knew I would enjoy this album from Liverpool based musician/songwriter James J Turner. Having had a long career fronting bands James has turned his talents to writing and performing as a solo artist. The influences of his native city are imbued in his songs with driving rock rhythms combined effortlessly with a Irish folky feel. A band that consists of accordion, violin and cello, together with the guitars and rhythm section, provides eclectic settings to James songs and he too adds whistle and bodhran to his noteworthy guitar skills.

The instrumentation never dominates but always allows James passionate vocals to convey the down to earth authenticity and simple wisdom his lyrics bring. The songs have simple but memorable melodic lines with “Walk the Bridge”, “Forever No More” and “How Could We Be Wrong?” the stand out tracks for me. Janet M Roe June 2012

If you would like to order a copy of an album (CD or Vinyl format), download a copy or just listen to snippets of selected tracks then click below to be taken to our associated partner Amazon’s website (use the left and right arrows below to scroll along or back to see the full selection).

Buying through Amazon on folking.com helps us to recover a small part of our running costs, so please order anything you need as every little purchase helps us.

Artist web link: http://www.jjturner.com/