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PHIL BEER ASHLEY HUTCHINGS & CHRIS WHILE Ridgeriders HTDCD 103

Apparently there was a series of very popular Meridian TV programmes which mixed history and classic motorbikes. Using the highways of ancient man, the presenter travelled the South of England in the company of some bike-mad celebrity. These included Midge Ure, Neil Morrisey, Paula Hamilton, Jamie Theakston and Chris Serle. How good the series was (or is?) I don't know as I never saw an episode, but if this CD is anything to go by it was probably OK. I think the above three, plus the rest of the Albions (not all of them!!!), provided the music which is certainly evocative of the region. As I listened to this CD memories of past holidays spent in the area come flooding back.

But what of the music? As you would expect from any project Ashley is involved in, it's of high quality, but doesn't reach the brilliance of some of his others, noticeably the one about the Thames. All the tracks are specific in their references and must have linked closely to the programme content, so much so that I suppose they were specially written. Not many will find their way into Albion repertoire with the possible exception of the brilliant "Along the Pilgrim's Way" sung beautifully by Chris While. This track has a more complete feel to it than some of the others due the shortness of some of the material - most being less than three minutes - but this could have been because of programme restraints. The only other slight moan is that Phil's vocals seem to have been flattened.

On the whole an interesting concept album with enough interest for those who never saw the series, but for those readers north of the Border, it is very English in feel. Nothing wrong with that though!!!!!

Dave Beeby

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