BELSHAZZAR’S FEAST – That’s All Folkies! (WildGoose WGS437CD)

That's All Folkies1Paul Hutchinson and Paul Sartin have been entertaining us with sublime musicianship and comedy for more than two decades while at the same time pursuing their own projects – you may have heard of Bellowhead. Now they are calling it a day (until the first reunion) with an album drawn from all their previous records together with three previously unreleased tracks. I can’t say that I’m keen on the title. That’s All Folkies! suggests the comedy side of their act but the record presents them as the serious musicians they are.

They open with ‘Boda Waltz/Far Away’ from their debut album, One Too Many, and they say it’s pretty much the first set they played together. The second set, ‘Four Babies’ Rants/Drop The Reed’ has a bit more oomph suggestive of what was to come. Paul Sartin wrote the first tune for a number of new-borns including one of his own. From here they enter the 17th and 18th centuries with three traditional dance tunes from Kynaston and Playford, two of which are suitable for dancing, although my favourite is ‘Gathering Peascods’, which may not be.

The Food Of Love was a studio album from which they have selected the anti-drink song, ‘Doll Thy Ale’, and a live set within which they paired Mozart and Vivaldi. The former is paired with a jolly dance tune to suggest that they didn’t mean it. The latter is where the comedy creeps in, firstly in Paul Sartin’s introduction and secondly in their musical tricks. I will always contend that they were at their best live.

‘The Hampshire Mummers’ Song’ calls on Sartin’s choral background and Hutchinson’s ‘Bumpers’ is sort of named after a lace pin – or so they claim. ‘Home Lad, Home’ was set to music by our late friend, Sarah Morgan, and will always bring a tear to the eye. To cheer us up we have a couple of Beethoven’s tunes: his famous ‘Piano (Accordion)’ and the ‘Concerto For Oboe’. Listen for more musical jokes – you won’t have to try too hard!

The bonuses are, firstly, two wedding anniversary tunes written for friends. Next is a setting of a poem by Rudyard Kipling paired with a lament from Kynaston and finally, ‘Staines Morris/Apple Tree Wassail’ to bring the set to a jolly conclusion.

So ends the story of Belshazzar’s Feast. Some of the original albums are no longer available – and one will cost you £250 on Amazon: hurry, they only have one left – but you might get lucky. That’s All Folkies! is a fitting epitaph…unless they are recording their final tour. Tell me it’s so.

Dai Jeffries

Artists’ website: http://www.belshazzarsfeast.com/

‘Home Lad, Home’ – live:

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