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Martyn Joseph – Live at the Brook

Martyn Joseph captured live on DVD at his folking best playing solo in front of an enthusiastic audience at The Brook in Southampton in November 2010. Martyn Joseph is renowned for giving his audiences what thousands have described as the best live music experience of their lives, and this DVD demonstrates just why this edgy and charismatic performer has continued to win fans on both sides of Atlantic for over 30 years.

Featuring live classics such as “Cardiff Bay” and “Vegas” alongside brand new favourites “On My Way” and “Lonely Like America“, the film perfectly portrays the magical connection between Martyn and his audience in a truly memorable performance.

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Bellowhead – Hedonism Live

Released in October 2010, the ‘Hedonism‘ album has quickly become one of the best selling folk releases of modern times. After a packed summer of 23 UK festival appearances that concluded with a performance at BBC Radio 2’s Hyde Park concert, Bellowhead then embarked on their second sell-out UK tour in support of the album in November and have a European tour scheduled in early 2012. A new in concert DVD entitled ‘Hedonism Live‘ was released at the conclusion of the November tour and really gives a great insight into why the band are at the top of their game .

Recorded in Bournemouth at the O2 Academy in May 2011, the two hour set contains 23 songs drawn from all three albums released by Bellowhead to date.

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ALBION CHRISTMAS BAND – A Sound In The Frosty Air (Rooksmere Records RRCD104)

I’ve just had to slag off a certain ‘folk’(???) band for daring to ruin our traditional songs by taking liberties with the arrangements and smothering the vocals. What a delight then to put on this recording and immediately be seduced by the honeyed tones of Kellie While on an acapella rendition of “Christ Was Born In Bethlehem”. Of course, the addition of Simon Nicol (Guitars/Vocals), Ashley Hutchings (Bass Guitar/Vocals), Simon Care (Melodeon/Percussion) and special guest Will Pound on harmonica helps to drive the rest of the tracks without any need of indulgence with the possible exception of Roland Orzabal’s “Mad World”. This beautifully understated performance with While providing the vocals and Nicol’s subtle guitar picking should see it grace the top of the charts…if we had a real one to speak of…and in my humble opinion is every bit as good as Garry Jules take on the same song in 2003. An Albion Christmas wouldn’t be complete without some ‘readings’ and, coupled with the fact the band have included the jaunty “Obvious Jig” by the sadly missed Nigel Chippendale this is a recording that I will keep returning to long after Christmas is over. Now…somebody please pass me my brandy and mince pie(s).

PETE FYFE

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Christy Moore – Folk Tale (Sony Music Ireland)

It’s quite possible that there couldn’t be a more fitting title for this album, and not just because it’s the title of one of the songs contained therein. Christy can legitimately lay claim to being the epitome of the living, breathing folk ‘process’; indeed, one of the most rewarding aspects of following his career is the way in which his material morphs and reinvents to suit the occasion, be it the musicians he’s playing with, the audience to which he is playing on any given night, or the more substantial reordering that arises from the growing wisdom and perception that is amassed as the years pass by. It’s this very aspect that distinguishes Folk Tale as something that little bit more special: it’s a snapshot of where Christy is right now, the continued story of the songs he’s carried along with him, alongside the new chapters that reinvigorate and fortify his voyage.

Two particular highlights find Christy furnishing songs of tragedy with a genuine compassion, whilst avoiding any hint of mawkish sentimentality. Kevin Littlewood’s “On Morecambe Bay” thoughtfully observes the fate of illegal immigrant cockle pickers, lost to the deadly tides. The narrative is remarkably evocative for placing the workers firmly amongst the local community, with the writer seemingly expressing a sense of collective guilt for being aware of their plight, but failing to intervene and warn of the treacherous dangers out on the sands. “Haiti” takes a more global view, with it’s clarion call to a nation to rise up and “smile again” in the wake of the harrowing earthquake that decimated the country. The contemplative manner with which Christy approaches these songs probably gives voice and emotion to many who witnessed these events from afar.

Several pieces from Christy’s 1996 album, Graffiti Tongue, receive a more circumspect reworking, seemingly holding at bay some of the anger that permeated the original recordings in favour of more considered readings that are no less disarming. In particular “God Woman” basks in a genuine feeling of warmth, whilst the title track benefits from a more reserved, melodic approach that somehow makes the romance of the story much more compelling.

Folk Tale also reminds us of Christy’s keen sense of humour. “My Little Honda 50” is a light-hearted ditty, on the face of it a quirky tribute to a an even quirkier form of transport, yet dig beneath the skin and it’s a fond recollection of simple times and simpler pleasures. “Weekend In Amsterdam” is a more raucous affair, with some lyrics that I daren’t even repeat within these pages!

Harking back to his days with Planxty, “Farmer Michael Hayes” is recast in a more sparse arrangement, delivered at a slightly more measured pace, proving more reflective than the hearty rebelliousness of the original Planxty recording, largely owing to the greater depth and maturity that age has bestowed on Christy’s voice.

Drawing together the disparate threads of artistry that inspire and nourish his life, Folk Tale draws from a rich palette taking in poetry, politics, humour and tragedy. It’s a collection that is no doubt richer for the accomplished production skills and sympathetic musicianship of the doggedly talented Declan Sinnott, but it’s most certainly Christy’s heart that beats strong throughout. Mike Wilson

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: http://www.christymoore.com/

MOONSHEE – Moonshee (Park Records PRKCD114)

I suppose the mark of any good CD is when you can play it to your mates (even those not remotely interested in ‘folk’) whilst grooving like an ‘acoustic’ version of Bill & Ted in the car and you can play it loud (if you’re so inclined) without offending passers-by. OK, so the mix of Indian and British folk cultures has been attempted before (most recently by Michael McGoldrick) but to get the balance right commercially is like walking a tight-rope. Bearing in mind that fellow Park Records artists Steeleye Span have already proved that through hard work and determination there is plenty of scope to reach the ultimate goal of a commercial recording that has its sights set on capturing the Radio Nation and with a helping hand from the right people… Mike Harding, Aled Jones and Jools Holland etc this group could well succeed.

Utilising the tried and tested “Fair And Tender Maidens”, “The Water Is Wide” and “Concertina Reel” (here titled Cortina Reel Mk II for some reason) the group are no slouches musically speaking and by adding tuneful decoration including Benji Kirkpatrick, John Spiers and Rosie Doonan ‘Moonshee’ will have done themselves no harm in the ‘folk’ communities eyes. One slight criticism is that although all the vocalists are credited, it doesn’t state who the lead singer is on each track. In conclusion, I for one am keeping my fingers crossed that the band does really well commercially and perhaps, with John Dagnell and everyone at Park on board Moonshee have more than a fighting chance. Great debut!

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).


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: www.moonshee.com

VARIOUS ARTISTS – A Treasury Of Shanties And Songs Of The Sea (Proper Records)

Now don’t get me wrong, I suppose like many of the general public I’ve come to be seduced by the qualities of a good old shanty and on the strength of this recording I’m assuming that Proper Records are diving head long (sorry about that) into band-waggoning this trend. Perhaps they’ve missed the point a bit as I thought the whole idea of tagging along was to be the immediacy following the popularity of the original product in this case Port Isaac’s Fisherman’s Friends CD. Ah well, better late than never with five tracks each given over to the afore mentioned Fisherman’s Friends, Long Dan Russell, The Cod Ranglers and Ron Kavana & The Shrekin Crew. So long as you like a lusty sing-along with the Briney blowing gustily through your hair or the smell of a fish and chip supper in the offing then I’m sure you’ll enjoy this recording. Not so special that I think it deserves the title “A Treasury Of…” but it’s alright if you like that sort of thing. Personally I’d rather see an up to date re-print of The Spinners “Songs Of The Tall Ships”.

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).

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.