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JIM & LYNETTE ELDON "Stick" SDCD008
VARIOUS ARTISTS "Where the Parrett Winds Peaceful" FSW002CD

Here are two CDs which both cover traditional song performed in traditional formats, with both being engineered by Oliver Knight (son of Lal Waterson) and recorded by Robin Hood Bay's Panda Sound.

Cecil Sharp took bicycling holidays in Somerset between 1903 and 1908, and collected the songs of the area (although many appear to be variants of songs found elsewhere). Besides this traditional material there is 'The Song of the River Parrett', a "newly-commissioned folk song" telling the story of the area, funded by South West Arts, via Folk South West. Half of the twenty tracks are performed by the community choirs of Bridgwater and Stanchester (both formed specifically for this project), with arrangements by Eddie Upton, the Artistic Director of Folk South West.

The choral pieces are pleasant enough, but for me it's the solo pieces that work best, with some fine, robust singing from George Withers, a retired Somerset farmer - his 'Low Lowlands of Holland' is a treat! However, the best things by far on the recording are tracks from Eddie Upton; 'Pride of Kildare', and 'The Deserter', are both simple, unpretentious arrangements with sympathetic melodeon from Tim van Eyken.

I'm sure that the large numbers of people involved in the production and performance of this CD have found it both enjoyable and worthwhile project, but sadly it is of limited general appeal.

Jim and Lynette Eldon's CD contains 32 tracks with a playing time of around 65 minutes! All the songs and tunes are traditional, apart from one medley of vaudeville songs, and have Jim on vocals and fiddle, accompanied by Lynette on stepping. Jim used to work the pleasure boats out of Bridlington (and probably still does), entertaining the visitors to the town, and working hard for his brass. He has an ear for a good, entertaining song, most of which don't require a great deal of rapt attention. His voice and playing have an unsophisticated naivete which lends to the CD the sound and feel of a much older recording, almost that of a field recording. It is a basic, honest, and workmanlike album of the songs of Jim Eldon, and a testament to the years that he's been performing.

Mel Howley

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This album was reviewed in Issue 24 of The Living Tradition magazine.