RAINBOW CHASERS – Chimes At Midnight (Talking Elephant TECD255)

Chimes@MidnightRainbow Chasers are a band that promised much and delivered relatively little – sad but true. The band that Ashley Hutchings put together in 2004 made two studio albums, the second, Fortune Never Sleeps, being particularly good, and released a Best Of set, a move that might be considered a bit premature. They’re still going, albeit without Mark Hutchinson, but it seems like a struggle.

Chimes At Midnight is another compilation album although there are seven previously unreleased tracks including a cover of Pete Seeger’s ‘Big Muddy’. If you’re familiar only with Hutchings’ projects this might come as something of a surprise. Firstly, there are big string arrangements by Ruth Angell and Jo Hamilton, exemplified by ‘The River’s Tale’ and secondly there are glorious harmonies built around five voices. They are not homogeneous, however. ‘Looking For A Change’ is reminiscent of the While/Matthews Albion Band line-up; ‘Gypsy Jigg’ takes off into flights of fiddle fancy and ‘First Europeans’ is one of Ashley’s historical studies.

Of the new songs the opener, ‘Weather’, is a long involved piece and the second track, Joe Topping’s ‘Would You Still be Here?’ is an absolute cracker. ‘The Trunk Beneath The Bed’ is another. In fact, this is a splendid album but, although they play to sell-out crowds whenever they do appear, I can’t help but feel they are selling the concept short by being an occasional band.

Dai Jeffries

A couple of tunes from Rainbow Chasers, not from the album:

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