Link to Living Tradition Homepage





Sleeve not available
DAVE BURLAND - "Benchmark" - Fat Cat Records FATCD004

The sleeve notes to this CD start by defining the term "benchmark: a criterion, standard, reference point" and go on to say "Traditional music is the benchmark I use to choose other songs in my repertoire and as my last two recordings have included predominantly modern material, I thought the time had come to redress the balance".

Dave Burland is one of the cornerstones of the folk revival and over the years he has set standards and this CD is a real pleasure, not least because of its simplicity, usually just Dave's voice (often described as velvety) and his guitar, and as close as you could come to a live recording. One of the highlights for me is his version of "The Blacksmith" which I have on a 1971 LP on the Trailer label which, unfortunately, is now almost unplayable because of heat damage, but there are several tracks that I find equally noteable.

There is quite a range of material, including some American songs where I found his slight change of accent slightly off-putting at first. An unusual song is his pairing of the "Lancashire Lads" and "Going For A Soldier Jenny" from the repertoire of Nic Jones and Dave Moran when they were in the group The Halliard. Dave gives it his distinctive "laid back" treatment, perhaps at times a shade too laid back but as Dave has been wooing audiences for over twenty-five years, who am I to judge!

Of the fourteen tracks on the album, only one is a contemporary song, Ewan McColl's "Shoals of Herring" which is totally at home in this selection. Dave also adds a contemporary section to "The Man from Kyandra" to look out for.

I must mention the fiddle playing of Roger Watson. If anybody wants a lesson in sympathetic song accompaniment, here it is. Dave is a friend of Nic Jones, who was also such a sympathetic accompanist on fiddle, and Roger's work is of a similar calibre, quite superb.

Current releases containing largely traditional songs are becoming rarer and this is a release to treasure. Some of the songs on this album can be regarded as standards. Dave breathes life into them and has come up with an album worthy of the title - "Benchmark".

Pete Heywood
Secure On-line mailorder service Buy this CD online from The Listening Post
The Listening Post is the CD mailorder service of The Living Tradition magazine.
This album was reviewed in Issue 7 of The Living Tradition magazine.