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VARIOUS ARTISTS - "Trip to Harrogate" - FTSR2

A collection previously issued by Traditional Sound Recording of Macclesfield; this is a re-creation by seven able musicians of Joshua Jackson's 1798-manuscript book. 31 tunes and 3 songs of its total 450 tunes and 12 songs are performed here and if you like what you hear, there's also a book (ISBN 897225.17.4).

This CD bears little relation to the current perception of "English music" but there is much that is valuable here, although the principle of natural selection works in music as well and it may be that the tunes are forgotten by the tradition for good reasons. Having said that, the title track is well worth a revival, as it is the lovely (Scottish!) tune "Mary Eleanor". The interpretation here is unsurprisingly, of a northern English, even Scottish nature, with small pipes and English concertina doing what they do best, especially in the lyrical "Touzle Your Kerchie" and "Lovely Nancy" with even echoes of Shetland in "Lady Barnsley's Fancy".

As the small pipes are akin to the musette, a French court instrument, it's not surprising that there's an overall impression of stately court music - a feeling that isn't dispelled by the CD cover, which shows an engraving of just such a court dance.

There are three songs, unmistakably English in style, to round off an interesting CD - much of the musical rhythm is outside the current dance tradition, in that there are minuets, quadrilles and military items here. However, most "English" bands would benefit from such variety as this and no doubt it will be well used by musicians in the coming millennium.

Jim Bainbridge

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This album was reviewed in Issue 36 of The Living Tradition magazine.