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ROBIN & BARRY DRANSFIELD - "Up To Now" - Free Reed Records FRDCD18

Had this been simply a re-issue of the two classic Robin and Barry Dransfield albums "Route of the Blues" and "Lord of All I Behold", it would have jumped to the top of my "must have" list. This album is much more than that. Neil Wayne has not only teased out vinyl tracks for re-issue but he has accessed in concert BBC recordings to make this a genuine new release. With thirty-nine tracks it runs in total to 156 minutes - yes over two and a half hours! It features a substantial amount of previously unreleased material.

For those who don't know them, the Dransfields are two brothers both with strong voices often singing in harmony. The resultant blend was as distinctive a sound as the Watersons. Instantly recognisable unique and with a similar earthy Yorkshire accent. Robin added guitar and Barry fiddle, playing it in the crook of his arm singing to his own playing. Even now the instrumental work would be regarded as top class and it is easy to see why they were so special in the 70's.

Hindsight allows us to realise how influential they were, listen to their use of brass on "The Holmfirth Anthem". We would also muse on the impact they might have made on the history of folk rock had they stayed together a little longer.

Despite the length of the album, it still doesn't contain all the tracks from their early Trailer albums. The most complete section of straight re-issue is nine tracks from their Free Reed release "Popular to Contrary Belief" which has them on top form.

This album will surely be a landmark release in 1997. I am tempted to say "they don't make them like this any more". The truth is they probably don't. An immensely enjoyable album, classic recordings from a vibrant era of the modern folk revival and two CDs crammed full of music. What more could you ask for?

Pete Heywood

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This album was reviewed in Issue 21 of The Living Tradition magazine.