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BERNARD WRIGLEY "Albert, Arthur & the Car Park" LOOFY 012 CD

Many years ago - more than I care to think about - I won an album in a raffle at my local folk club. The only one left was 'Songs, stories and elephants' by someone I'd never heard of called (you've guessed) Bernard Wrigley. Imagine the culture shock as the Bolton Bullfrog's unique tones escaped from the record player. On the strength of that album I got the organisers to book him, sold most of the tickets to people who were forced to borrow the vinyl. Next time no such problems.

Since then I've seen him all over the place - clubs, festivals, on the tv, as a French cook in a kids Saturday morning programme aboard the Mersey Ferry (this project sank fairly quickly) - and he never fails to make me laugh. I've seen him work the most difficult audience and come out winning. Given the right breaks he could have been as big as the other more famous 'folk' comedians. But he's still around our circuit, which is probably how it should be.

I'm not sure this CD works though, with a mix of live tracks and studio material. True, the live stuff is funny the first couple of times, but I've programmed them out on subsequent listenings. The songs are all in Bernard's style as he tries to keep the 'Black pudding' tradition going. For those not familiar with this tradition, it's based around the Wigan area. Consisting mostly of humorous songs and stories, Bernard is the leading light of this musical genre. Whilst this CD may in years to come be a valuable source for revivalists, the strength still lies in live performance.

'Albert, etc.' will sell well at Bernard's gigs and I don't think people will be disappointed. It won't make the charts, but then I don't think the world music circuit is quite ready for Bernard just yet - more's the pity.

I would have liked to know who is playing all the other instruments, or is it Bernard himself?

Dave Beeby

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This album was reviewed in Issue 29 of The Living Tradition magazine.