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Coope, Boyes & Simpson "Twenty-Four Seven" No Masters NMCD20

This is not the easiest review to write, because I genuinely revere the vocal talents (both individually and collectively) of CBS. They are in a Premier League of just ONE team: to my knowledge, there is no other a cappella folk group to hold a candle to them. And I have really enjoyed several of their previous albums.

But after three plays, this CD has not yet worked its magic on me. Usually, albums by "CBS" (to use the abbreviation adopted by the cognoscenti for the group's three surnames) have an instant appeal for me: I can only hope that I grow to love this new one as much as their others. But at the time of writing this review, I am not persuaded.

Okay, so what's my problem? Well, let's get this clear: I have no quarrel with their performance. They are on top form. (And at this point, it might be appropriate to consider just what it is that makes this threesome the outstanding performers that they are.)

Barry Coope again shows he is the leading harmony singer of his generation. Some of his high notes are genuinely thrilling. Jim Boyes has just got better and better as a bass singer, and even in early Swan Arcade days, he still took some beating back then.

But the man who never gets the credit he deserves, is Lester Simpson. For the other two to add their flourishes, he (normally singing the melody) has to be as constant as the North Star. He, being a nautical man, appreciates it is his job to navigate and not deviate from the route. He is pitch-perfect, and never wavers. I salute him.

And, I repeat, their performance here is top-drawer. But the problem with this album is the content that they are performing. And to complicate matters for this reviewer, the songs are mostly Lester's and Jim's: five of the thirteen are from the pen of Simpson and four from Boyes.

And hey, they are workmanlike - bordering on the "pretty good" - songs. Boyes's "Privatise" and Simpson's "Raise Your Voices" will probably be covered by several performers, but for a trio of real stature like this one, they surely want to be putting their indelible stamp on great songs? Well, DON'T they?

It is like Maria Callas singing operetta. It would have been a waste of her talent: despite the fact that light operetta can be of a very high quality. And don't tell me that Lester and Jim REALLY need the song-writing royalties!

Dai Woosnam

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This album was reviewed in Issue 49 of The Living Tradition magazine.