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ROY BAILEY "What You Do With What You've Got" Fuse CFCD399
ROY BAILEY "Past Masters" Fuse CFCD403

Track lists - What You Do With What You've Got; The Ugly Ones; Let Your Hair Hang Down; Patience Kershaw; See it Come Down; Send Me Back to Georgia; Rose of York; The Day Before the War; If they Come in the Morning; Song of the Exile; Hard Times of Old England; The Burning Times; Everything Possible; Rolling Home.

Streets of London; Punch and Judy Man; The Malvinas; Curtains of Old Joe's House; Rain Forest Falls; Gracias A La Vida; Two Good Arms; In these Hard Times; Song of the Leaders; Roses of Eyam; War Without Bangs; Green Peace Really Green; All Used Up; Ghost Story; Sleep Well/Gravity; Maria Diaz; The Years Grow Tall; Daughters of the Revolution.

With these two releases, Roy's considerable back catalogue is given a good skimming. Rather than banging on about the omissions, it would seem more appropriate to make do with what we've got - thirty three diamonds rescued for the most part from the vinyl obscurity of Roy's '82-'88 solo albums with a few Rosselson collaborations thrown in for good measure. Other collaborators include John Kirkpatrick, Sue Harris, Chris Leslie, Footloose, most of Brass Monkey and Stalking Horses, the unmistakable guitar playing of Martin Carthy (our favourite MBE) and the presumably gas-lit audience of the excellent Beverley Folk Club.

Without the track listings, a review of these albums would be worthless. With them, it becomes unnecessary - there can be few folk music enthusiasts who have not spent at least some time as a member of Roy's audience over the last forty years, and as such they would quickly be aware of not only the extraordinary quality of the Bailey vocal chords, but also of his priceless knack of finding the very best contemporary songs and making them his own. Among the writers featured here are all the usual suspects - Robb Johnson, Si Kahn, Geoff Pearson, Leon Rosselson, John Tams, Jim Woodland - and an equally long list of unusual choices, giving both albums depth and balance.

Either one is an essential, as a pair they are indispensable.

Alan Rose

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This album was reviewed in Issue 30 of The Living Tradition magazine.