The Young ’Uns are probably the most entertaining group I’ve heard in a folk club in a long while. This is not just because of the quality of their music but on-stage banter, in the course of which they’re as unconscionably rude to each other as only the very best of friends can be.
When Our Grandfathers Said No is actually their fourth album but the first on a major label with a producer from outside the trio as Stu Hanna takes over from David Eagle. It shows in the relative solemnity of the album – there is no place for a song like ‘No More Frying Bacon’ or the ten minutes of hysterical out-takes that conclude their previous outing, Man, I Feel Like A Young ’Un. Sean Cooney, Michael Phelps and David Eagle are from the north-east, specifically Hartlepool and Stockton, and inevitably draw on maritime themes – they do enjoy a good shanty.
The Young ’Uns sound very traditional – three part harmony, with accordion and a little guitar and piano – but try as you might you won’t find a single traditional song on this album. They choose carefully – Ron Angel’s ‘The Chemical Worker’s Song’ is second up and there are songs from the famous Kipling/Bellamy partnership – but more important is Sean Cooney. He writes with a feel for place and time like Angel, Johnny Handle or Matt McGinn. The opening ‘Another Storm’ and ‘The Battle Of Stockton’, from which the album’s title comes, are particularly good examples and ‘One December Morn’ is a lament which inexplicably puts me in mind of ‘The Wife Of Usher’s Well’ despite there being no connection between the two.
I can recommend both Young ’Uns CDs that I’ve got hold of but, above all, I recommend you hear them live and put your singing heads on. You’ll need them.