The unitary district of Northumberland is to be lauded for its musical contributions to the world including as it does Billy Mitchell, Lindisfarne and Jack The Lad etc and perhaps none more so than the unofficial anthem “Blaydon Races” written by George ‘Geordie’ Ridley. This 19th Century song captures the very essence of the community at the time and performed in glorious recitation by Benny Graham conveys the fun in the chorus with its extended holding on the word ‘roaaaaad’ (think Newcastle United supporters on a beery match afternoon!) joined by members of The Whole Hog Band. This recording of Ridley’s classic, along with the other 16 songs he penned in his short life should form a part of every ‘folk music’ lover’s
CD collection. On the album, the ‘music hall’ genre of which the song is a celebrated fixture also features Ridley’s other ‘hit’ “Cushey Butterfield” and less well-known gems “Joey Jones”, “Cabman” and “Harry Clasper” performed by artists including Jim Mageean, Johnny Handle, Brian Watson and Terry Conway. Credit must also go to the arranging skills of Vic Gammon and the wonderful team at Mawson-Wareham who have more or less single-handedly taken the reins in promoting the spirit of Northumberland. With an eye to capturing every ‘entertainment market’ there is an accompanying DVD on the story of Ridley (featuring actor Craig Conway) produced by Ray Raidlaw & Geoff Wonfor and, as if that wasn’t enough there is also a sumptuously packaged book by author Dave Harker providing the reader with everything you needed to know about this most colourful character and the hopefully never to be forgotten era of the music hall. Talking of which…I nearly forgot…if you’re looking for a good old fashioned sing-a-long then look no further, it’s a wonderful collection!
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Catologue number: Mawson Wareham Music MWMCDSP107