Alongside Steeleye Span and Fairport Convention, The Albion Band are one of the “Big Three” of English Folk Rock, fusing traditional British songs and tunes with contemporary instruments and sounds. All three were formed by legendary band leader Ashley Hutchings. Generally considered one of the most important groupings in the genre, The Albion Band has contained or been associated with a large proportion of major English folk performers from Richard Thompson to Martin Carthy in its long and fluid history.
Until 2011, the one constant has been Albion Band leader and bass player Ashley Hutchings but, on the fortieth anniversary of the band’s founding, an idea was sparked for a re-imagined, new line-up that would bring together a new generation of performers. The new line-up recaptures the spirit of The Albion Band’s heyday with a rockier, edgier approach to traditional English folk music. Taking the unique character of classic era Albion Band (Battle of the Field/Rise Up like The Sun) and fusing it with award winning song writing and a contemporary rock and indie vibe, this is the new sound of 21st century English Folk Rock, and a shot in the arm for the whole genre.
For the first time in the band’s history, Ashley steps aside to let son, Blair Dunlop, lead a new generation of folk artists.
“For a good number of years people have been encouraging me to re-form The Albion Band. I have resisted these calls; getting the old faces together again in a permanent kind of way didn’t seem the right thing to do. Then, just before last Christmas, I had a Eureka moment. The way forward was to allow a new generation to take over the baton of The AlbionBand. The next day I asked my son Blair what he thought of being part of a new re-invented Albion Band. His reply was that he couldn’t think of anything he would rather do. We were up and running. Initially, I thought I would be some kind of Brian Wilson-figure, lurking in the background, pulling the strings. However it hasn’t turned out that way. The youngsters don’t need me and are building something new themselves.” Ashley Hutchings
“We have a hell of a heritage to live up to, but with this record we’re confident we’ve made something that stands comfortably alongside anything the genre has had to offer. It’s contemporary, relevant and will bring the concept of traditionally rooted rock to a new audience.” Blair Dunlop
This new line up features a number of performers from a range of backgrounds reflecting earlier versions of the Albion Band. These members include Folk Award nominee Katriona Gilmore (Tiny Tin Lady, Gilmore/Roberts – Fiddle and vocals) the traditionally biased vocalist, concertina player and guitarist Gavin Davenport, (Solo, Crucible) drummer Tom Wright (former Young Folk Award finalist and member of Eliza Carthy projects, Glorystrokes), and Tim Yates (Blackbeard’s Tea Party/The QP) taking on the onerous duty of playing bass – only the second bass player – the first being Ashley Hutchings himself – and lead guitarist Benjamin Trott.
Such a radical overhaul of Albion recruits has met with some controversy, given that no original member of the band remains after Hutchings’ departure, but the startling debut album strikes a contemporary chord that is set to firmly answer many questions.
In our opinion this album has the potential to become the seminal album release of 2012. The work captures the very essence of what the Albion band is and what it stands for. It cleverly works in the best of what has gone before and boldly demonstrates why Folk-Rock is here to stay! Folking.com
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