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THE NEW SCORPION BAND "The New Scorpion Band" NSB01

Coincidence found this album, of mainly English songs and tunes, plopping through my letter-box on St. George's Day. The band members have a massive track record although this is their first recording together - Tim Laycock (vocals, concertina, melodeon) from "Larkrise" to "Collector's Lot", a consummate folk scene stalwart; Brian Gulland (bassoon, oboe, harmonium, whistles, tuba, vocals) an early music specialist, a founder member of "Gryphon" and ex of Malicorne, the near-legendary French folk-rockers; Robin Jeffrey (english guitar, banjo, guitar, cello, theorbo, lute, vocals) again an early music-ist with a list of impressive theatre work; Colin Thompson (fiddle, saxophone, vocals) performed with the Late Night Band, Rod Stradling's Feckless, English Mustard and Yetties and famous English fiddle guru - "The English Fiddle Tutor" published by Gremlin; and Bob White ( cornet, euphonium, tuba, flute, whistles, uilleann and northumbrian pipes, vocals) regularly works as a composer and musical director in theatre, and has TV credits including "The Irish RM", "Sharpe's Rifles" and "SOS Titanic".

Many of the tunes and songs are familiar and are reworked much in the Hardy-esque style of the Mellstock Band. Songs like "Sailing Over the Dogger Band", "Hopping down in Kent", "John Barleycorn" and "The Fox" (this last one remembered by me from music and movement classes in primary school!), have a familiarity which is acceptable in the context of the major reworking these musicians have accomplished. The "Cambridgeshire May Song" is very similar to a Hertfordshire/Essex song I have collected with a slightly changed tune. The tunes again are often well-known - "New Rigged Ship", "Banks and Braes", "Devil Amongst the Tailors", "High Road to Linton" and "Scan Tester's (Posh) Polkas" but are rearranged to afford a new level of understanding.

If I had to whinge it would be about the reverential Victorian mood of the album, even so I found myself falling for its charm. The band are obviously out to re-enact a piece of music history and the style would fit more than happily into a future mega-bucks costume drama - maybe time for a film production of "The Mayor of Casterbridge". The vocals by Tim Laycock are superb, the vocal arrangements are moving and beautiful, and the standard of musicianship is exceptional. This line-up deserve success, this album is a winner!

Tony Kendall

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This album was reviewed in Issue 33 of The Living Tradition magazine.