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ROY BAILEY "New Bell Wake" Fuse Records CFCD262

Here's one in the eye for those who claim that nostalgia ain't what it used to be. All the way from 1976 preserved in digital splendour, Roy's truly marvellous singing of ten traditional (or almost-trad) songs comes winging down the decades. For me it's not so much a stroll down memory lane as a burn along memory eight-lane highway!

The insert has Karl Dallas and Tony Rose rightly applauding the Bailey voice-box, and Roy's original succinct notes are updated in similar style. David Bailey has redesigned the package retaining Tony Riley's original components, just as Andy Seward's digital remastering has remained faithful to Colin Sanders' 1976 recording. Also unchanged is my personal opinion that the two contemporary songs (Bill Meek's "The Wymondham Fight" and Leon Rosselson's "Fair's Fair") are overshadowed by the traditional material, which is never short of magnificent. Apart from two acapella tracks (including the mighty "Flying Cloud"), Roy is accompanied by any combination of his and Rosselson's guitars and the concertina and fiddle of John and Chris Leslie. Although the playing is superb it never intrudes upon the needs of the song, and of course it never comes close to overshadowing That Voice!

It can be argued that "New Bell Wake" is an early pointer to the eminently justifiable international reputation that Roy Bailey has achieved. Whilst being very different to the Robb Johnson or Si Kahn type of song which Roy turned to subsequently, his treatment of the likes of John Barleycorn and Lord Franklin not only show the superb quality of his voice but also the passion and commitment that he has always brought to his musical work.

For those of us who remember the first issue, it's a welcome return. For everyone else, it's simply welcome.

Alan Rose

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