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PETER BELLAMY - "Wake the Vaulted Echoes" - Free Reed Records FRTCD14

Neil Wayne has done it again. His last CD project on The Dransfields was lavish, this, his latest, has surpassed even that.

At a time when many company are re-issuing LPs on CD format, often with the barest minimum of sleeve notes and hardly any updates to the material, Free Reed have taken the opposite tack, deciding firstly what the project deserved, and then arranging appropriate packaging. The result is a triple CD with very extensive sleeve notes and, as if that were not enough, when they spotted some spare capacity on the third CD, they added a CD-ROM section.

With this kind of project, there seems little need for a track by track review. This is the definitive Peter Bellamy CD and will be treasured by those who were aware of his work, and an eye-opener to others who care to find out what Peter's contributions to the folk revival were. What is worth saying is that I found the CDs immensely enjoyable to listen to, there is a directness about the recordings that is often missing in modern productions. I guarantee that you will only need to listen to the first track, On Board a '98, to decide if this album is for you. After that you will be able to dip into the selections on numerous occasions and will be continually rewarded with repeated listening.

I have memories of seeing Peter perform on three consecutive evenings during a tour he did in Scotland. Peter never really took the safe option of a well-honed set list repeated night after night, and I was surprised at the difference in his repertoire each evening. On one night I must admit I didn't particularly enjoy it and on the next evening I thought he was fabulous. That says more about my ability as a listener than Peter's as a performer.

This recording demands your attention. Approach it with an open mind and you will be richly rewarded.

Pete Heywood

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This album was reviewed in Issue 35 of The Living Tradition magazine.