BARNSTORMER 1649 – Restoration Tragedy (Roundhead Records CD9)

Restoration TragedyI must begin by apologising profusely to Attila The Stockbroker – this is his project – for not getting to this album rather soon than I have. However, as a new year treat it rates highly. Restoration Tragedy is a look at the latter part of the English revolution from a unique perspective. The sound is equally unique blending the recorders of Tim O’Tay and the variety of reeds played by Attila with the hard rock of Dave Cook on bass, drummer M M McGhee and guitarist Jason Pegg.

The album begins with ‘The Levellers’ Trilogy’ a medley of one of Attila’s tunes with Gerrard Winstanley’s ‘The Diggers’ Song’ and ‘The World Turned Upside Down’, thus setting the scene. ‘Wellingborough & Wigan’ are singled out as hosts of present day Diggers’ Festivals and then the story moves on to the aftermath of the Battle of Worcester and the escape of Charles II via Shoreham near Attila’s home town – the tragedy of the album’s title. He has no love for Cromwell either – “just a king in disguise” – but celebrates some of the larger than life characters of the period: Abiezer Coppe, Thomas Harrison, John Lilliburn and Winstanley, who crops up several times.

The story doesn’t stay in the past all the time. ‘The Man With The Beard’ is a warning against a modern-day cult of personality and that is followed by ‘Pride’s Purge’ drawing a comparison with the Rump Parliament and present day politics while ‘Robina’ makes a link between Attila’s wife and Cromwell’s sister who share a name. He refers to both himself and the Lord Protector as “driven, hot-headed and stubborn” with what feels like a wry smile.

The music ranges from the delicacy of ‘Cromwell’s Funeral’, a piano piece composed and played by Robina Baine, to the cacophony that ends ‘The Battle Of Worcester’ but it’s all nicely judged and balanced to keep the album flowing. You’ll get caught up and there is a danger that it will be over far too quickly.

Dai Jeffries

Artist’s website:

‘The Levellers’ Trilogy’: