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THE HOUSE BAND "Another Setting" Green Linnet GLCD 1143

I associate the House Band with some of the most structured sessions I have ever encountered. Anyone who has the nerve to announce in a session that one of any instrument at a time is enough, and sometimes (particularly with bodhrans) more than enough, gets my vote before even setting foot in a recording studio. This excellent CD amply illustrates their approach to instrumentation, allowing each one to develop and display both its capabilities and that of its player. It was also nice to see a list of instrument makers in the sleeve notes - makers frequently do not get enough credit.

Of the twelve tracks, eight are instrumental, and left me, as I would expect, with an overall "Breton" impression, although bombarde(s) are only present on half of them. Having heard John Skelton play these things in the same (smallish) room as myself, they have obviously taken a lot of trouble to balance and mix the instruments meticulously - a live performance would not, I suspect, sound very much like this CD. Favourite tunes from this excellent bunch are the opener, "Sadam's Reel", "The Hanter Dro set", and "Tom Hark" - a new one, a familiar one, and a "fun" one! The last tune on the recording, "The Twin Katies", left me wondering who influenced whom, as it sounded very much like "Tick's Reel" by Willy Taylor - but it's a good tune anyway.

The four songs make quite a surprising contrast to the instrumentals, and in three of them we detected influences and similarities including Nic Jones, Bert Jansch and John Renbourn. Very "English". The one that didn't quite work for me was The Rocky Road to Dublin - although Ged has done a good job trying to remove its corny image. Maybe it was just its familiarity, but I found it tedious (it is the longest track) and might well skip it in future listenings.

Eleven out of twelve good 'uns is a very good score though, and I thoroughly recommend this CD to anyone who likes a jolly good noise, but also insists that their noises are well played. On the basis of this I shall be looking out their previous recordings also, now that my personal recession is slightly less of a problem.

Julia Say

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This album was reviewed in Issue 8 of The Living Tradition magazine.