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TOM McCONVILLE - Fiddler's Fancy OBMCD04

This is a successful, well-arranged and produced C.D. making a showcase of a relatively little known composer and fiddle player, James Hill.

He was born in the early 1800's and was thought to have died around 1860. Although Scottish by birth, he spent most of his life in and around Newcastle upon Tyne, the native city of Tom McConville.

Most of Hill's surviving tunes are hornpipes and indeed he may have been responsible for the immense popularity of the hornpipe in the mid 19th century Tyneside. Not only were his tunes held in great esteem, but as a player, he was described as having "no superior and no rival - the Paganini of hornpipe players".

With one exception the tracks on this C.D. feature a single tune only and in keeping with this, the arrangements are simple but most effective with Tom McConville playing a strong lead. As a guitar player myself, I find the playing of Chris Newman quite stunning; both in his refined rhythmical accompaniment and his highly articulate flat-picking style on lead guitar and mandolin. The occasional and sensitive use of bass guitar, keyboards, viola and whistle further enhance this recording.

There are many fine melodic tunes on this C.D. that make excellent listening but one or two are slightly marred by some intonation problems.

And finally, congratulations go to Tom who has realised his long time ambition to make an album devoted to the music of James Hill. This is well worth hearing.

Iain Goodwin

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This album was reviewed in Issue 2 of The Living Tradition magazine.