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THE ETCHINGHAM STEAM BAND Fledgling FLED3002

"We had fun ...". That's what Shirley Collins says in the sleeve notes to this album, and it's what comes through. Fun and enjoyment, just as I remember the folk scene back in the early seventies, that and a touch of the theatrical too. I sometimes wonder if there's enough fun being had on the scene nowadays.

Just in case you don't know ... The Etchingham Steam Band came between The Albion Country Band of "No Roses" and The Albion Dance Band, and was in part a response to those dark days of short working weeks and power cuts that added so much to life's rich tapestry in the early '70s. It was Ashley Hutchings and Shirley Collins along with Ian Holder and Terry Potter, and later Vic Gammon, an all together splendid band. I think were a couple of LP's brought out at the time but sadly they are missing from my collection.

This is a new album made up from a number of live recordings from 1974/75 and all things considered, the quality isn't bad at all. There is a good feeling of "being there"; "there" being anything from a trio of festivals to Cecil Sharp House in December 1974. The highlights for me have to include Vic Gammon with "Gaol Song" and a lovely rendition of "The Sussex Carol" which is the Cecil Sharp House bit of the recording.

Another fine recording from the Fledgling label and very much recommended.

Richard Walker

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This album was reviewed in Issue 13 of The Living Tradition magazine.