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JOE STEAD "Hearts on Fire" On A Private Label APL1

Joe Stead was well known in folk circles in the sixties and early seventies, not only for his livewire performances but also for his thriving record label "Sweet Folk All". His career continued into the mid-eighties when he retired from the folk scene. Prematurely it would seem, for here he is again, working his way back with live performances, a new album and yes - it's on his own label.

This album harks back to the late sixties' folk clubs: shanties, work songs and social commentary. There's strong material from names that many will remember. Whatever happened to Jeremy Taylor? His song "Mrs Robinson" features alongside others by Si Kahn, Nigel Mazlyn-Jones and Gordon Lightfoot. There are the more familiar shanties like "Leave Her Johnny, Leave Her" and "Shallow Brown" - echoes of a club heaving with bodies singing in intent harmony. Those were the days!

One time "Sweet Folk All" signing Paul Downes puts in an appearance, joining others on guitars and mandolin. Unfortunately, the weight of the instrumentation at times threatens to obscure the voice. The sound belongs to another age, and will appear dated to many, but Joe Stead is covering difficult social and political topics here, and this is certainly an album produced from the heart.

(To save confusion "On A Private Label" is the name of the record label).

Anne Jones

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This album was reviewed in Issue 6 of The Living Tradition magazine.