What’s in a name…well, quite a lot actually and I don’t know where the Celtic influenced Flying Toads acquired theirs but (to me at least) they haven’t done themselves any favours as the title is neither descriptive nor flattering. Having said that, never judge a book by its cover as looks can be deceptive. This Sussex based quartet sparkle with the energy of an early Planxty although possibly lacking in their Irish counterparts finesse and without wishing to sound churlish there’s nothing wrong in the presentation it’s just that in general it’s a little rough around the edges. OK, so maybe there’s nothing to laugh about with “In Stitches” featuring as it does well rounded performances from all concerned including Val Marciandi on vocals and concertina, Brian Hirst (cittern/fiddle & guitar), Keith Whiddon (tenor banjo/bouzouki & backing vocals) and the Uillean pipes/flute/whistle and Northumbrian pipes of Erik Faithfull. Bringing to mind memories of the 70s when bands such as Oisin and the acoustic version of Stockton’s Wing were making a name for themselves The Flying Toads nestle comfortably in the category ‘goodtime Celtic’ and include trusted tune sets such as the traditional “Banish Misfortune/Battering Ram/Geese In The Bog/Boys Of Ballymote” and “Out On The Ocean” performed with ‘balls’ – which is just the way I like it. Likewise, Val’s vocals are clear and concise without the need of fragility as so often seems to be the case with a lot of traditional singers these days. Aided in the recording by ex-Battlefield member Alistair Russell (now based in Sussex himself) this proves a fine representation of the band and I look forward to future releases. www.flyingtoads.co.uk PETE FYFE
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