MAT GREEN & ANDY TURNER – Time For A Stottycake (WildGoose Records WGS444CD)

Time For A StottycakeMat Green and Andy Turner are, among their other accomplishments, founder members of the popular band Magpie Lane. Mat has also marked fifty years playing fiddle for the morris, notably Bampton Morris Men and Andy plays Anglo concertina and sings and is a former morris dancer. That may give you a clue as to the direction that Time For A Stottycake, their debut album as a duo, will take.

As with most of Wildgoose Records’ output there is no messing about with the music and very few frills. The opening set of dance tunes, ‘Rosalie The Prairie Flower/James Winder’s/ Lucy Farr’s Barn Dance’, is followed by the first song, ‘The Banks Of Inverary’. This version was, we are told, reworked from the tradition by John Clare and the tune was melded to the words by Mat and Andy and differs in several respects from the versions catalogued by Steve Roud. To follow that Mat and Andy play two tunes, ‘Bobbing Joe/Kempshott Hunt’ from Clare’s manuscripts but how much of them are traditional and how much from Clare’s pen is impossible to say.

Next they pair a Shetland tune ‘Auchdon House’ with a Headington Quarry morris tune, ‘The Blue Eyed Stranger’, which work remarkably well together. The Hampshire song, ‘The Barley Raking’ with the Kirtlington tune, ‘Maid Of The Mill’. Two relatively modern tunes, ‘The High Tea/Lemmy Brazil’s’ are followed by two famous Bampton jigs, ‘Flowers Of Edinburgh’ and ‘Princess Royal’. After the rather spare style of the opening set the duo seem to have really hit their stride by this point and could be said, as Bob Dylan once put it, to be leaning forward a bit,

The third song is ‘On Board A ‘98’ taken at a rather jauntier pace than Peter Bellamy’s version which embodied the reflective viewpoint of the singer who is revealed at the end to be “nearly 98” (spoiler alert). ‘Old Black Joe/Banbury Bill’ are two more pacy morris tunes followed by a long set of dance tunes, ‘The Muffin Man/Quickstep In The Battle Of Prague/Welch’s Polka’, the second of which also comes from John Clare’s manuscripts.

We’re into the home stretch now and Mat and Andy seem to be dipping into a collection of favourites. First ‘Saucy Sailor’ sung unaccompanied by Andy, then ‘Battle Of The Somme’ is rather faster than the Albion Country Band’s version – this being a retreat march it could be said to be taken at a “let’s get out of here” tempo with several twiddly bits – and thirdly ‘The Golden Glove’ collected in Kent which is a fair distance from Tamworth.

‘Glorishears’ and ‘Highland Mary’ are two more Bampton tunes and are followed by an old broadside ballad, ‘Nottingham Goose Fair’. Finally we come to the title track. ‘Stottycake Polka’ was written by Andy while living in Newcastle and he pairs it with ‘Boyne Water’ which he borrowed from Martha Rhoden’s.

Time For A Stottycake is folk music simply, and well, performed by two accomplished and experienced musicians and that’s quite a rarity these days.

Dai Jeffries

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