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The House Band - October Song
THE HOUSE BAND "October Song" Green Linnet GLCD1190

A follow up from 'Rockall' in 1996, this new release comes hard on the heels of a 'Best of' compilation reviewed in Issue 27 of The Living Tradition. The four piece House Band seemed to have settled into a fairly strong niche for themselves which retains the same freshness and eclectic diversity of material comparable to Kevin Burke's Open House.

Instrumental tracks feature tunes from Scotland, Ireland, Brittany, America and Zakynthos played generally on fiddle, melodeon, guitar, flute and an intriguing selection of French pipes which adds that extra cutting edge on tracks like 'Three Rusty Swords', a hornpipe in 3/2 time and the marvellous Romanian swing of 'Risipiti'.

But the French bags of wind truly come into their own when handling the indigenous material and the beautiful air 'War Hent Berc'hed' is magically rendered on the veuze, followed by two derobees (dance tunes from Tregor) played in jig tempo.

The songs are generally performed in an understated fashion, 'Seven Yellow Gypsies' sung by Roger Wilson is a derivation of the 'Raggle Taggle Gypsy', still stealing away the Earl of Castle's lady-o, delivered in fine fashion. Ged Foley follows with a generally faithful, but ultimately unremarkable version of the Cyril Tawney classic, 'Grey Funnel Line'. But the title track, a thirty year old song by one Robin Williamson, is a real gem about the passing of time, age and experience - beautifully sung by Roger Wilson with only sparse guitar backing.

At a time when many groups are trying to redefine their sound by adopting the trendy groove factor or messing with studio knobs the House Band are honing the original close focus, live in the studio feel, to great effect. This release perhaps lacks the immediacy of 'Rockall' but has that cosy intimate feel throughout. File under: 'late night, by the fireside'.

Iain McQueen

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This album was reviewed in Issue 28 of The Living Tradition magazine.