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ROY BAILEY "Coda" cfcd404
A new Roy Bailey CD is always an event - and this one, claiming to be his last (a coda, as Roy explains, is a concluding event) is of special importance. Actually, it's one of these CDs that's worth buying for one track alone. The track in question here, for me, is "Brigg Fair". First time I heard Roy's version, I leapt for my "Hidden English" CD to listen to the source - Joseph Taylor. Why? 'Cos Roy Bailey's version gets closer to the staggering original than anything I've heard and a second listen confirmed this. It's not mere pastiche, however. It's arranged, with an approximate Albion Band doing back-up duties. What Roy has managed is to capture the slow, majestic, but relaxed feel of Joseph Taylor's singing of this magnificent song. In the manner of all truly great singers tho', he's also claimed the song as his own. Sigh!

The remainder of the CD is of a similar standard. There's a jaunty thing called "Tom Paine's Bones", with John Kirkpatrick's accordion driving it along. There's a very individual version of Richard Thompson's fabulous "Beeswing" - one of my desert island songs. There's an atmospheric version of a truly desperate Alastair Hulett song - "Suicide Town" . back in Thompsonesque territory . real gloom and doom! Old mates Carthy and Swarbrick, John K. and Steafan Hannigan join in for an incongruously briskly-marching "The Last Ploughshare", to the well-known tune "The Bloody Fields of Flanders" (aka "Freedom Come-All Ye"). Ever a connoisseur of fine songs, Roy has included our own Karine Polwart's deceptively simple "Where do you lie?" - showing that he knows where good new songs come from, as well as well-matured old ones.

The only thing wrong with it's the title . "Coda". Concluding event? Surely not. Shurely shome mishtake? Please, Roy . say it's not true.

Alan Murray

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This album was reviewed in Issue 41 of The Living Tradition magazine.