I’m guessing that A Garland For Joey is an album that Bob Fox has wanted to make for a long time. Many fine musicians have taken on the role of Songman but Bob has the gravitas to take the part from that of the provider of incidental music to the play’s narrator.
Subtitled The War Horse Songbook, the record is described as a re-telling and it is certainly a reinvention. Bob puts aside the melodeon that he was compelled to learn for the stage and mostly returns to the guitar providing some big arrangement. He is supported on three tracks by the Carlton Main Frickley Colliery Band and on one by Sam Fisher’s cornet. The garland on the cover and the opening song ‘Snow Falls’ gives the record a Christmassy feel which is reinforced by ‘The Devonshire Carol’ or, at least its title, which both closes the songbook and leads into the first song of the postscript, ‘The Cherry Cheeked Optimists (Part One)’. The second part of the song is anything but optimistic, of course, and it sets the scene for ‘Scarecrow’ which closes the album. Given that the original version pre-dated the premiere of War Horse by some thirty years it was a remarkably prescient piece of writing by John Tams.
Religion was a much more important aspect of life a century ago but ‘Only Remembered’ has transcended time and faith to replace ‘The Parting Glass’ as the farewell song of choice. ‘Rolling Home’ is an expression of Tams’ socialist manifesto and is an uplifting mirror image of the bleak ‘Scarecrow’ but both mark the beginning of the end of deference to our “betters”. The traditional ‘Scarlet And The Blue’ is the jolliest song on the record with a jaunty tune matching an optimistic lyric, contrasting with the sombre ‘Stand To’ which follows it – another quasi-religious song – and Tams also borrows the carol ‘Lullee Lullay’ while maintaining its original form as a lullaby.
Hearing these songs sung in full and in sequence tells the story, not necessarily of Joey, but of the war itself and stand alone without the magnificent puppets and the action on stage. A Garland For Joey will be on a good many Christmas lists this year.
If you would like to order a copy of the album (in CD or Vinyl), download it 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.
John Tams has announced his retirement from Home Service – we thank him mightily for all his work with us and wish him well!
“A combination of circumstance not least and most recently an 8-part television drama series has drawn me reluctantly to leave Home Service effective from September 13th 2015”, said John. “This decision, whilst difficult, aims to avoid compromising the future for Home Service at a time when my restricted diary would make forward planning impossible. There are no issues beyond this and I leave my friends and colleagues, some of almost 40 years standing, in the certain knowledge that they are ‘The best damn band in the land.’ I send them my fondest thoughts and support for their continuing success. I’ll miss you lads!”
We are excited to announce that we have now regrouped with two new members and a revamped brass section.
Replacing Tam would never be an easy task, but with John Kirkpatrick joining our ranks we have found exactly the calibre of character and musicianship required. John will take over the lead vocal role and add his inimitably masterful accordion.
Also, we must announce the emigration of Jonathan Davie to Thailand. Huge gratitude and best wishes are due to Jon, whose replacement has also taken a lot of consideration. However, we can heartily welcome the wonderful Rory McFarlane (ex Richard Thompson band) to join us on bass.
Furthermore, now we have John K on board, Steve King will be not only be gracing the keyboard, but freed to stand tall amongst the brass section and exhibit his skills on tenor saxophone, helping to create an even more dynamic sound. The new line-up has already begun recording a new album at Morden Shoals Studio – watch this space to follow its development!
We shall miss you both greatly Tam and Jon, but know that you both wish the band all good fortune in its future voyage of discovery…
Our very own Dai Jeffries caught up with Graeme Taylor last month to talk about his pivotal role in Home Service, the bands history, his accident and his other theater and musical projects.
The band has had quite a journey since the highly successful festival season in the summer of 2011 which put them back at the epicenter of the folk rock map, Home Service was then nominated in two categories for Radio 2’s Annual Folk and Roots Awards, where they secured ‘Best Live Act’ at The Lowry, Manchester in February 2012.
The reunion of this classic band came about after the discovery, in early 2011, of some previously unheard live recordings made by their faithful sound engineer on a couple of cassette tapes that had languished in the back of his wardrobe for the last 25 years. These recordings, made at the Cambridge Folk Festival in 1986, exhibited a power and commitment that was never fully captured in the studio, so a live album release immediately became inevitable.
Home Service was originally formed from the creative nucleus of the Albion Band line-up that produced the classic “Rise Up Like the Sun” album, singer-songwriter John Tams feeling the need to explore more contemporary themes in his writing and its musical interpretation. Songs like “Walk my Way”, “Alright Jack” and ”Sorrow” were anthemic observations on the unfairness of Thatcherite Britain and its social inequalities. The crushing irony is that they sound as potent now as they did then, thereby making this band’s work as relevant as ever.
The stark acapella ‘calling-on song’ “A Quarter Hour Of Fame” takes a knowing pop at the industry known as ‘pop’ for, if Simon Cowell were to take even the slightest interest in a ‘folk’ band I’m sure he wouldn’t know what to do with them. So, in a track that lasts a mere 44 seconds it would appear the new line-up of The Albion Band mean business much like their predecessor. Forthright views conveyed with a passion were always part of the original band’s make-up thanks due in no small part to the lyrics of John Tams and I’m pleased to say Katriona Gilmore (fiddle) and Gavin Davenport (guitar/concertina) continue in that spirit. Of course, an Albion Band wouldn’t be The Albion Band without the inclusion of at least a couple of trad arr: songs/tunes and in this regard they don’t disappoint with re-workings of “Adieu To Old England” and the downright shanty-rock anthem treatment of “One More Day” where the trademark Stratocaster sound (once provided by Sir Simon Nicol) will leave any festival-going audience with a smile a mile wide. The rest of the band; Blair Dunlop (guitars), Benjamin Trott (lead guitar), Tom Wright (drums) and Tim Yates (bass/melodeon) really are a great ‘engine room’ providing rock solid rhythms and I’d say in conclusion that the band’s name and music is in safe hands. In the words of the great David (we are not worthy) Essex ”Rock On”! PETE FYFE
If you would like to order a copy of the album (in CD or Vinyl), download it or just listen to snippets of selected tracks (track previews are usually on the download page) then click on the banner link 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.
The Guide Cats for the Blind album series was produced to raise funds for a project run by the British Computer Association of the Blind (BCAB). Guide Cats Volumes 1 to 4 enabled the Association to create “EyeT4All”, a programme of life changing computer workshops for blind and partially sighted people. The work doesn’t stop there. With funds from Vol. 5 ‘Herding Cats’ will empower community centres for blind and partially sighted people throughout the UK to hold “EyeT4All” workshops for themselves. Continue reading Les Barker’s Guide Cats for the Blind Vol. 5 ‘Herding Cats’