Geoff Lakeman isn’t quite as famous as his sons but he is a much regarded singer and songwriter, particularly in the West Country. At 69 Geoff has finally succumbed to the temptation to record an album, After All These Years, produced by son Sean. Geoff usually performs solo with concertina but with friends and family like his it must have been impossible to resist getting them on board, although the contributions of Jim Causley, Cara Dillon, Kathryn Roberts, Sam Kelly, Ben Nicholls, Jamie Francis, Seth Lakeman and Nic Jones are commendably restrained except when it comes to choruses. Geoff himself has the voice of, if not a young man, then a young man who has seen a bit of life – strong and characterful.
If you were a folk club regular in the sixties and seventies you will be entirely at home with this set. Not that Geoff is locked in the past as his cover of Reg Meuross’ ‘England Green & England Grey’ proves but the mix of material is such that if you don’t care for a particular song you’ll like the next one.
The set opens with ‘The Farmer’s Song’. It was written by Roger Bryant but easily could be one of Geoff’s as he demonstrates with the next track, ‘Tie ’Em Up’. Both are about the decline of traditional rural industries and while both writers were preoccupied with the plight of Devon and Cornwall the same stories are true all around the country. ‘Rule And Rant’ is a bit of obscure Cornish history involving an ingenious mine rescue. The traditional songs include ‘Ye Lovers All’, a song of romantic teasing from Ulster, the well-known ‘Jim Jones’ and ‘The Green Cockade’ a Cornish version of the song that may have arrived from Ireland and ‘Bonny Irish Maid’ – there’s a pattern developing here.
There are a couple of oddities. The first is the original version of ‘Galway Bay’ – not that song and certainly not the celebrated parody (I confess that I was rather hoping for that) – and the closing ‘Doggie Song’. This is the sort of encore that you’ll still find in folk clubs and probably means a lot more in Cornwall but is best not recorded. That aside, this is a splendid album to unwind with, think about and sing along to.
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Twenty-five or thirty years ago you would have identified Along The Old Straight Track as a new Levellers’ album. There’s the distinctive vocal style, the driving fiddle, the solid drums and bass in the engine room and the occasional agit-prop lyrics. You won’t be surprised to learn that The Leylines were inspired by Levelling The Land or that the album was recorded at Metway Studios with Sean Lakeman and Al Scott in charge of production and mixing. The band are a quintet from Weston-super-Mare: Stephen Mitchell, Matthew Wilkins, Hannah Johns, Peter Fealey and Dave Burbidge and this is their first album following on from and EP, Let It Go, and the single ‘Sat In A Field’.
So here’s the question – when does inspiration become copying? I like this album and there are some brilliant songs. ‘Things I Know’ anticipates the coming revolution, ‘Run For Cover’ reiterates the warning and ‘You’ve Changed’ is puzzling and vaguely menacing – I wish I knew its back-story. ‘Sat In A Field’ extols the joys of summer festivals while ‘Sorry My Friends’ looks at the other side of the coin, lamenting that “the dream just didn’t come true”.
While Levellers seem to be re-treading past glories it’s good that someone is taking up the torch but now The Leylines have to step out of that shadow and stand blinking in the light of their own, not inconsiderable, talent. You’ve pitched your tent, chaps, and that’s great but next time you have to break some new ground – something like the hidden track would be good.
Rising Cambridge five piece’s striking second album sets alight Anglo-American melting pot
Outstanding young Cambridge band The Willows will release a striking follow up to their debut album this autumn, further enhancing their growing reputation as inspired musicians and innovative songwriters.
In March 2012, folk-inspired, multi-award winning singer-songwriter Seth Lakeman played with the renowned BBC Concert Orchestra at Plymouth Pavilions in Devon. Seth will release a five track LIVE EP on 03 December featuring recordings from that night mixed by Richard Evans.
The live EP features versions of some of Seth’s best known songs, arranged by Anne Dudley and conducted by Matthew Coorey. It features Blacksmith’s Prayer (streamed below) from his current album Tales from the Barrel House, Kitty Jay the title track from his 2005 Mercury nominated album, Lady of the Sea and King & Country from his gold-selling album Freedom Fields and Changes from Hearts & Minds.
Levellers have just released the latest instalment of their project to record a video for every track from their recently released album, Static On The Airwaves.
Mutiny tells the story of the 1917 Étaples Mutiny by British troops in France during the First World War, and in particular that of its exectuted ‘leader’ Corporal Jesse Robert Short. The video was produced by Rich Mulryne and Emma Birchett Continue reading Levellers release Mutiny video