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COOPE, BOYES & SIMPSON "Hindsight" No Masters NMCD11

In an increasingly disconcerting world a kept promise is worth noting. Almost two years ago avid (or in my case obsessional) Coope, Boyes and Simpson watchers started to hear rumours of a proposed album composed entirely of traditional material. True to the word, "Hindsight" consists of fifteen tracks seeded, rooted and fruited within the diverse richness of the English tradition (and since you ask, yes there is a John Barleycorn here, and a right cracker it is). As well as soil-songs, there are sea-songs, story-songs, sad songs, sassy songs, some which can only be described as singing-songs. CBS are set to launch three-part unaccompanied harmony singing into the twenty-first century as a vibrant, potent musical force, and although Lester Simpson and Jim Boyes each have an accompanied solo, the bulk of "Hindsight" features the seemingly infinite combinations of Barry Coope's soaring, almost sensual top, Lester's rock-solid middle and Jim's magnificent bottom. (Oops ...)

Despite their last two-and-a-half CDs comprising of contemporary (mostly self-penned) material, it was always obvious they are singers who have undergone several decades of serious marination in the music of The Watersons, The Coppers, The Young Tradition, Swan Arcade and similar mighty voices of the English Tradition. Now they have come clean and revealed their roots with such majestic assurance it gives added authority to their contemporary work, while the meticulous crediting of their sources not only gives respect but also provides valuable sign-posts to those interested in further exploration.

"Hindsight" contributes greatly to CBS's well-deserved reputation for being at the cutting edge of musical creativity. It is especially heartening that they have done this by making an album of songs which had their birth in a time before records were kept. This is one record which I will certainly keep.

Alan Rose

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This album was reviewed in Issue 27 of The Living Tradition magazine.