VARIOUS ARTISTS – The Journey Continues (Fellside FECD272)

VARIOUS ARTISTS The Journey ContinuesPaul Adams’ Fellside Recordings has been doing its thing for forty years now. That includes giving young artists an early break, reissuing long-deleted albums and putting together collaborations like Song Links. The label celebrates with this triple-CD compilation – at a very attractive price given the number of rarities and lost gems it contains. As Paul explains in his notes, this set follows on from the 30th anniversary set, Landmarks, and concentrates, although not exclusively, on the last ten years.

Fittingly, the set opens with an unreleased track from the label’s longest serving member, Bram Taylor, one that is particularly affecting given the recent death of its writer, Andy M Stewart. ‘The Valley Of Strathmore’ is the sort of music that Fellside built its reputation on – good folk music, sung well with no messing about. Later tracks will suggest that some messing about now goes on but that’s the way times change.

The first disc features more of the same: A.L.Lloyd’s ‘Rambling Sailor’, Wendy Weatherbury’s uncompromisingly Scottish ‘Wars O’Germanie’, ‘The Gardener’ from Grace Notes and Rachel Newton & Lillian Kinsman-Blake’s ‘Bonnie Lassie’. In contrast there is the stomping ‘Jungle Queen’ from The Maerlock Big Band, folk-rock from The Queensberry Rules and Elbow Jane and the mischievous ‘Madeleine’ by Frankie Armstrong. That covers the first twenty tracks.

The second disc concentrates on new artists who have joined the label over the last decade intermixed with some old faces who have dropped in or returned to the fold – the sequencing seems a bit arbitrary at times. The first track is ‘A Beggar’ by Ewan McLennan, one of the best new voices on the scene. Other new arrivals featured include 422, Pilgrims’ Way, James Findlay and Joe Tilston with Hughie Jones, Hedy West, Martin Carthy & Dave Swarbrick and Peter Bellamy amongst the oldies. For variety there are also two tracks from albums released on the jazz label, Lake, by The Jake Leg Jug Band and Hot Fingers – both come from the folk/jazz interface and are great fun.

Finally we have “A bit of a detour” – tracks that predate the decade under consideration. This is a real nostalgia-fest as many of the source albums are long deleted and there are voices that we won’t hear again in this world: John Rennard, Bobby Eaglesham, Barry Skinner and Dave Brady. The absolute highlight is a magnificent version of ‘The Dowie Dens Of Yarrow’ by Janet Russell but there are delights at every turn.

For your (not very much) money you get fifty-seven varied tracks, copious notes by Paul Adams and a complete list of the Fellside recordings – when you’ve collected them all let me know.

Dai Jeffries

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