Topette!! released ON – Live at the Jam Jar on January 19th. The Jam Jar is in Bristol, “one of those wonderful venues where magic happens” as the publicity puts it. Such venues are increasingly rare; capturing the vibrancy of the magic on album is even rarer, but this album manages to do it rather well.
Topette!! is made up of: Andy Cutting (diatonic button accordion & melodeon), James Delarre (violin & viola), Julien Cartonnet (French bagpipes, & tenor banjo), Tania Buisse (bodhrán) and Barnaby Stradling (acoustic bass guitar). The names and instruments give a good indication of both the Anglo-French make-up of the band and the liveliness of the music they make.
There are fourteen tracks, over an hour’s worth of energy packed into the album. If you’re sitting peacefully as you play the album, you’ll want to be tapping the table in front of you within a few seconds of ‘Bourrée Morvandelle’, the first track, playing. The second, ‘The Oblique Jig / Miss Heidi Henry’ gives you a couple of minutes to draw breath before raising the energy on its second tune … and then you’re back to the animated energy of ‘Polka Know / Dixie’s / Halling Från Härjedalen Efter Per Myhr’, the tunes of the third track. And so the album goes with the slower French-influenced swing of the ‘Year of the Metal Rat’ coming next to be followed by the very danceable ‘Pot Neuve / De La Flamme’.
From the opening track to the album’s conclusion with the eastern-ish, klezmer-ish ‘Galician Sher’, ON – Live at the Jam Jar, provides a great hour’s worth of live entertainment drawn from different traditions, interplayed by five splendid musicians (a couple of guest additions for the last tracks create an even bigger sound) and recorded with a sense of the live event.
In short, if Topette!! don’t have you wanting to dance you have no soul.
Topette!! have recently played a couple of gigs in France and have a nine-event tour in June in the UK. Fun though the album is, I rather feel they need to be experienced live – preferably towards the end of an evening, preferably in a Festival tent with space to dance and twirl where we can take our clumsy dances (borrowed from Neruda) of the evening into the highs of an elated early morning finish.
In the meantime, ON – Live at the Jam Jar is a grand recording to keep you going in anticipation of the live events.
Artists’ website: https://www.topette.co.uk
‘Polka Know/ Dixie’s /Halling Från Härjedalen Efter Per Myhr’ – live: