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NEW SCORPION BAND The Carnal and the Crane Private Release NSB 02
NEW SCORPION BAND The Plains of Waterloo
Songs and Music of the Napoleonic Wars Private Release GHP 4

Hot on the heels of the article on Tim Laycock (LT Issue 52) come reviews for these two CDs, part of the growing discography of the New Scorpion Band - of which Tim is an important part.

First, "The Carnal and the Crane" is a Christmas celebration in fine style, which in its way, also celebrates the wonderful carols collected by Ralph Vaughan Williams in Herefordshire (1909 - "The Carnal and the Crane" and "The Truth sent from Above") and in Sussex (1904 - "The Sussex Carol"). There are well researched sleeve notes and an excellent standard of musicianship throughout. The beautiful arrangements and instrumentation including baroque strings and woodwind and more modern brass with some beautiful violin (Sharon Lindo/Colin Thompson), Tim's gentle concertina all topped of by Michael Gregory's sensitive percussion, makes for a seasonal glow which warms this chilly, rainy Summer day - I can almost smell the mulled wine! Recommended for Christmas-aholics everywhere.

The second CD "The Plains of Waterloo" takes us a few marching strides on from the Tams/Muldowney "Music from Sharpe" (Over the Hills and Far Away VTCD 81) with a very authentic sounding pastiche of songs and tunes from this most swashbuckling period of history. Colin Thompson (violin) and Michael Gregory (side-drum) join Tim Laycock, Brian Gulland, Robin Jeffrey, and Robert White for another NSB blockbuster. The band's delicate and skilful use of baroque and other instruments provide a convincing musical insight into the military life of men and women in the early 1800s. I absolutely loved the Tams/Muldowney Music of Sharpe (which benefitted from a more modern rock/orchestral edge in the grandstanding style of Sharpe) - but the NSB "take" on the defeat of Old Boney has a compellingly realistic charm and could form the basis for background to a more factual TV documentary reading of the life of Sir Arthur Wellesley or Admiral Horatio Nelson. Again there are sensible sleeve notes and the usual smashing songs, tunes and arrangements - this is FAB! - buy it.

Tony Kendall

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This album was reviewed in Issue 53 of The Living Tradition magazine.