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MAGPIE LANE "Jack in the Green" Beautiful Jo Records BEJOCD22

Here we have sixteen tracks of "English Songs and Tunes", all but two of them traditional, making up fifty-four minutes listening. The non-trads are the title song, written by Martin Graebe, and "May Song", written by Dave Webber, splendidly sung by Ian Giles (he should be more widely heard). The band have cast widely for material. I'm pleased to see they've gone to some field recordings - Fred 'Pip' Whiting, Font Whatling, Enos White for instance, and they also credit Reg Hall as "an important post-war collector of folk tunes". He certainly is. there are some classic songs, "Sheffield Park", "Rosebud in June" and "The Seeds of Love", among many, well sung by good voices.

The tunes, some familiar, some less so, go with a swing, and any lover of English tradition will be happy to browse among them. Whoever Beautiful Jo may be, she is inspiring an enclave of musicians to make good albums. The track record of this unusually-named label stands up well. It won't be let down by this album.

Roy Harris

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This album was reviewed in Issue 33 of The Living Tradition magazine.