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MARTIN SIMPSON "Grinning In Your Face" Fledgling Records FLED3021
MARTIN SIMPSON "Sad Or High Kicking" Fledgling Records FLED3022

Fledgling records present two timely re-issues from Martin Simpson. Both originally released on Topic in the mid eighties, allowing Scunthorpe's first son to show us why he's such a rare and distinctive talent.

"Grinning in your Face" is 1983's opus, featuring a heady mix of standards with "The First Cut Is The Deepest" sounding as if it were composed for solo dobro, alongside a series of traditional tunes presented with a distinctive bluegrass flavour. Simpson tickles the strings as if each note where a diamond to be treasured, providing a glitter ladened background for his bitter-sweet, gravel tinged vocals.

By 1985 Simpson had moved on, "Sad Or High Kicking" is by far the most notable of these two releases. This album has more in common with Ry Cooder at his dazzling best than the bluegrass overtones of two years previous. His chosen material on this album is much more obscure, however, he still manages to make every track his own. High points include the baroque arrangement given to 'moth', and the divine title track which transports the listener to some long lost aural sunset. For the closing track Martin finally abandons his beloved blues, in favour of a scorching tribute to everything that's good about Cajun music.

All in all these re-issues are a celebration of a guitarist who plays great music he believes in, and these two albums will live on long after many fashions and fads have come and gone.

Keith Whitham

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