VARIOUS ARTISTS – Folk Awards 2013 (Proper Music Properfolk14)

Folk Awards 2013Glorious…there’s no other word to describe it. Opening with every folk fans favourite band of ragamuffins Bellowhead and “Roll The Woodpile Down” this 3 CD compilation of the BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards positively blasts forth heralding the achievements of all concerned. We in the folk world have a lot to be grateful for and the inclusion of (amongst others) Hannah James & Sam Sweeney, Gilmore & Roberts and Kathryn Tickell show how they can ‘acoustically’ kick butt along with ‘rock’ music’s finest. It brings a beaming smile to my face to feel privileged as I do that my enjoyment of this much maligned genre really can give every other form of music a run for its money and that recording’s like this will hopefully inspire the next generation to pick up the baton and run with it. Mind you…before I sign off (heartily recommending that you purchase a copy of the album) I’d like to credit Smooth Operations Jon Lewis on whose shoulders rest the unenviable task of selecting this compilation as it must have been an agonising decision choosing only one track from each of the featured artists plus the bonus ten track CD of the Young Folk Award contenders. Finally, Proper Music and the production team led by the legendary Brian Ledgard have to be congratulated for their support each year in allowing ‘our’ music such a fantastic shop window (and not a hint of Mary Portas in sight) in which to showcase such astonishing talent.

PETE FYFE

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KIMBER’S MEN – The Strength Of The Swell (A Private Label APL014)

For those of you that haven’t seen Kimber’s Men do yourselves a favour and rectify this at the earliest opportunity. Otherwise, you could stay at home and put on this great 2-disk CD and bask in the rich harmonies of one of this country’s leading Shanty-styled groups. Now a five-piece the hearty vocals of Joe Stead, Neil Kimber, Dave Buckley, John Bromley and Gareth Scott combine in unison to stir the imagination of anyone wishing to feel as if they’ve just encountered a force ten gale or, in my case having got wet from the splash-back of the hose whilst cleaning the windows of my caravan. Of course there are the obligatory traditional ‘shanties’ including “Roll The Woodpile Down”, “Haul Away For Rosie” and “Bulgine Run” but the scholarly, though never starchy booklet notes (they even include all the lyrics!) lead you to a riot of colourful songs of the sea such as Stan Rogers “Mary Ellen Carter” and Bill Meek’s “Harry Eddom”. For me though, the stand-out tracks are those penned by members of the group themselves (Kimber and Buckley) who have embraced the very spirit of their chosen craft and I’m sure will find their way into the repertoires of like-minded souls of a nautical persuasion. The strength of the swell is…in this case…the strength of the ‘sell’ and it couldn’t have been done any better even if you were a Fisherman’s Friend! Pete Fyfe