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ALAN REID – Recollection (Temple Records COMD2103)

This CD represents a nostalgic look-back over many years of creative input from Battlefield Band’s longest serving member Alan Reid. Now, I’ve been following the band since I first saw them at The Half Moon in Putney humping (and you don’t hear that term used in the way it was originally intended much these days) his harmonium on stage and ‘that’ very first recording on the French record label Arfolk…yes, I go back that far…and I for one can say how enjoyable this experience has been. Of course, in company with band mates including BrianMcNeill, Davey Steele, John McCusker and Mike Katz it was not only his keyboard accompaniment to the powerful instrumentals but his own contributions in the singer/song-writing department that has inspired a whole generation of Celt-ophiles to take up pen and paper. With a choice of songs as long as your arm to choose from he has selected eighteen tracks to represent his career with the band. Including as it does “The Road Of Tears”, “Jenny O’The Braes” and “The Pleasure Will Be Mine” these are but the tip of the iceberg on an album of treasures and I’m pleased to say that his work will continue (even if it is without the Batties) and prosper in whoever’s company he chooses to collaborate with. Artist links: http://www.templerecords.co.uk/ PETE FYFE

BERNARD WRIGLEY – Every Song Tells A Story (Loofy Records 020)

There was a time (some time ago admittedly) when the words folk and ‘entertainer’ weren’t looked upon in such a derisory way as they are now. Shep Woolley, John Townsend, Jasper and Billy could all be found plying their trade alongside the Bolton ‘Bullfrog’ himself Bernard Wrigley. From his gently expressive Lancashire brogue Wrigley relates songs and tales the way you used to enjoy them whilst watching Jackanory (rhyming slang for a glib excuse…don’t you know?) or perhaps those early ‘folk’ performers including The Spinners. The art of balancing a sense of humour juxtaposed with the pathos experienced in a song like the opening track “The Dutchman” shows that the tears of a clown are indeed deeply imbedded in us all but of course to temper this, we have the jocularity of sadly missed music hall songs including “Down In The Fields Where The Buttercups All Grow” or Bernard’s own “Does My Bum Look Big In This”. It’s also good to see that the ‘folk’ singer in us of a certain dotage can still pick a good song from the back catalogue of established artists including John Denver (or in Bernard’s case the original composer Steve Gillette’s) “Darcy Farrow”. Even further back, Lonnie Donegan’sHave A Drink On Me” (the ‘Politically Correct’ brigade even had a say back in the early 60’s) has that welcoming hootenanny style that draws everybody in. In many respects this is an album that takes me back to my youth and for that alone I can’t thank Bernard enough. This recording along with about twenty others are only available at his concerts or check out his website at http://www.bernardwrigley.com/ PETE FYFE

ROSIE DOONAN – Pot Of Gold (Silvertop Records SRCD03)

Moving away from your previous audience comfort zone (in this instance the ‘folk’ music scene) can never be an easy choice for any artist to make but let’s face it, in the dog eat dog world of the music ‘industry’ occasionally these decisions have to be taken…and not lightly. Still, Rosie hasn’t forsaken her ‘roots’ entirely although from the opening track “Fall For Me” it might lead you to believe otherwise. The startling introduction with full on drum kit bashing away like an unmixed session featuring the Muppets aptly named percussionist ‘Animal’ might not be received too well in certain quarters but on the other hand, it might attract those looking for a fix of Lily Allen with a lyrical style that is…how shall we say…bloke-ish? For me though, it’s the more attractive nature of the gently pulsating (I presume) tambourine and maracas exploited on the track “Lay Your Love” and the Mexican influenced waltz song “Into The Fire” that really take pole position on what turns out to be a very satisfying album. This recording could be a case of the ‘pop’ world winning out to us sensitive ‘folkies’ but hopefully it might be seen reflectively as a take-over bid for common sense and let’s face it there’s precious little of that coming from the likes of Tinie Tempah.

PETE FYFE

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JIM CAUSLEY – Dumnonia (Wild Goose Records WGS 377 CD)

At least young Causley is thinking outside the box, even if it is by reflecting in song his local county of which he is justifiably proud. Come to think of it let’s have a show of hands for those of you who agree. As he states in his sleeve-notes he’s steered clear of the more established Devon songs and in doing so brings a wealth of lesser-known material to his audience. I’m pleased to say that he’s not averse to giving credit where credit’s due and opens with “When I Was Young” passed on through the aural tradition by Paul Wilson. As he rightly states, this pleasant ballad should take its place among the more popular of the ‘established’ songs and, who knows, if enough tradition bearers latch onto it, it will. Surrounding himself with an august bunch of musicians including Nick Wyke & Becki Driscoll, Tom & Barbara Brown and The Dartmoor Pixie Band his vocals are mostly unmannered unlike a plethora of recent artists whose names immediately spring to mind. There is much to admire in his diligent research and much to thank for his inquisitive nature in putting together a selection of songs that through the passage of time may well become as popular as the standards he has tried to avoid. http://www.jimcausley.co.uk/ PETE FYFE

Pilgrims’ Way – EP (Own Label)

In these days of ever encroaching technology isn’t it pleasing to hear someone getting back to their ‘roots’ and performing on the unassuming, some might say teeth shattering Jews’ harp. I’m pleased to report that the perfectly pretty mouth of Lucy Wright is none the worse for her ordeal and her vocals sit very well with Tom Kitching (fiddle/mandolin and vocals) and Edwin Beasant (melodeon/guitar/bass and vocals). Not to be outdone instrumentally herself, young Wright also plays second fiddle (her words, not mine) on a set that establishes the band’s traditionally biased repertoire. As well as a jaunty “Tarry Trousers” and “The Handweaver And The Factory Maid” the trio also get a resounding thumbs-up for including Les Barker’s striking song “Maybe Then I’ll Be A Rose” (also covered some while ago by June Tabor). On the strength of this ‘sampler’ recording, the protagonists have secured many festival bookings and a full-blown album is to be released on Fellside Recordings and should be available shortly (Ed.now available below!). Definitely one to look out for! Now can somebody point me in the direction of a good dentist?

PETE FYFE

If you would like to order a copy of an album (in CD or Vinyl format), download one or just listen to snippets of selected tracks (track previews are usually on the download page) then click below to be taken to our associated partner Amazon’s website.

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: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Pilgrims-Way/131686003547457

BARBARA DICKSON – Words Unspoken (Greentrax Records CDTRAX353)

Having travelled musically from her recognised commercial sound back to traditional roots, Barbara Dickson has now become…more or less…a duo working with her collaborator of many years multi-instrumentalist Troy Donockley. This album nails its ‘folk’ colours firmly to the mast by starting with “The Magical West” (co-written by the protagonists) featuring a technically nuanced display of low whistle provided by the former You Slosh member and serves as the appetizer before the main course. I would like to point out that those expecting ‘commercial’ styled arrangements won’t find it on this recording as this is a far subtler project reflected in Dickson’s choice of songs. From established ballads including “Jamie Raeburn” and “King Orfeo” to Robert Burns “Ca’ The Yowes” it would appear that Ms Dickson relishes the challenge in the re-birth of her musical direction and with arrangements that are sparse but effective she seamlessly appears to have crossed back with no difficulty. As stated before, this is predominantly a traditional recording with the only other concession being Paul Simon’sBridge Over Troubled Water” that finishes the album simply backed by Donockley’s finger picked guitar. Of course, Dickson’s retrospective career, having plied her trade in folk clubs now stands her in good stead for a return to the fold and it’s pleasing to note that she has already been booked by several ‘folk’ festivals throughout 2011. http://www.barbaradickson.net/ PETE FYFE