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Harbourtown CD HARCD031

These blokes are excellent musicians, good singers, and have blended an interesting range of traditional and traditionally-based songs and tunes into an album which deserves a lot more than casual consideration.

Where do I fit in? "Almost Satisfied" and "Roads to Ruin" are powerful polemics with some nice rock-and-rollish melodeon voicings. There's an unusual Norfolk version of "Just As The Tide Was Flowing" with a fine dorian tune, rather than the more usual "Blue Eyed Stranger". "Farewell My Dearest Dear" is the Penguin Book of English Folksongs version from Mrs Verrall of Horsham, Sussex; there are echoes in this recording of Shirley Collins' performance on her Aramanth album, of blessed memory. Perhaps it is memories of Louis Killens' spine-chilling performances of the "Ship in Distress" back in the 60s, but, I felt that this song of cannibalism narrowly averted, was given almost too sparkling a performance! The powerful lyric almost got lost in the accompaniment. The oft-thrashed "Swansea Town", however, gains immeasurably from Brian and Gordon's measured arrangement.

The instrumental tracks demonstrate that this pair have rather more than adequate chops. "Throw The Wood, Laddie", a handsome Lancashire tune, starts with a sensitive guitar solo from Gordon, and the arrangement expands to include some equally sensitive anglo concertina from Brian. In their two-guitar arrangement of the classic Irish reels "The Musical Priest/The Green Fields of America", I waited for something else to happen, but eventually realised that it was a celebration of (I assume!) Gordons fingers! May they long be celebrated! Gordon is also no mean flute player, and I'd recommend a listen to his playing of the Colm O'Donnell's set on this album.

There aren't too many people making albums of relatively straight ahead revival-traditional music nowadays. This is a good one.

Chris Bartram

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This album was reviewed in Issue 20 of The Living Tradition magazine.