DAVEY DODDS – Toadstool Soup (Coalshed Music CSM031119)

Toadstool SoupDavey Dodds, rather belatedly it must be said, has had fame thrust upon him all because of a song he wrote back in the 1970s. The Unthanks recorded ‘The Magpie’ which was then used in The Detectorists and that resulted in a namecheck by Sam Lee from the stage of the Royal Albert Hall. Davey shrewdly re-recorded the song for his previous album, Kernowcopia. Although starting out as an unaccompanied folk singer, Davey’s passion was always prog as anyone who heard his band, Red Jasper, will testify and his second solo album, Toadstool Soup, falls between the two stools.

The opening track, ‘Lucia’, harks back to Davey’s other career as a fishing guide and the song concerns that most voracious of British fish, the pike. The words are definitely prog and could easily be death metal and the music is prog-folk, I suppose, with Davey on mandolins, whistles and percussion supported by Martin Solomon on violin and harp, Carlton Crouch on border pipes and recorder and Collette DeGiovanni, who also designed the booklet, on vocals. The sound manages to be light and earthy at the same time.

Two things are immediately apparent. Firstly, Toadstool Soup is, inevitably, rather more polished than its predecessor since Davey effectively started his career anew just a few years ago. Secondly, the album concentrates more on instrumentals and one or two of the songs sport long codas. The second track, ‘The Rocky Road To Bodmin’, combines one of Davey’s own tunes with the more familiar Dublin-bound piece and shortly after we have an adapted version of the ‘Sheep Crook And Black Dog’ tune. Between them is ‘Three Lines And A Whip’, a song about dark deeds in London and nothing to do with horses. ‘Sing The Sun’ is derived from pagan religion as, in its own way, is ‘Dancing With The Jedi’.

If you were around the folk clubs in this neighbourhood during the 1970s you will immediately recognise ‘The Drinking Song’ and Davey invites Jim Mageean, who recorded the song with Johnny Collins way back then, to join in on vocals. It takes me back, I can tell you.

Finally, we have the three-part title track, with instrumental variants, a slow air and a jig, framing a song about a fairy seducer and where better to go for inspiration than William Butler Yeats. If you’re going to steal, steal from the best. Toadstool Soup is really good and I hope it enables Davey to travel and perform rather more widely. It would be nice to see him again.

Dai Jeffries

Artist’s website: https://www.facebook.com/profile3901624600

‘Lucia’ – live at Slatehenge:

VARIOUS ARTISTS – Gannin’ To Blaydon Races: The Songs Of George Ridley

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!

PETE FYFE

Artist’s website: www.mawson-wareham.com

Catologue number: Mawson Wareham Music MWMCDSP107