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Park Records PRKCD31

Subtitled "A Cure for all Melancholy", this CD might just as easily be titled "Seventeenth Century Golden Party Greats"! Andy Watts leads the Carnival band on another musical adventure, mixing period and modern, even electric, instruments, but the Carnival Band still maintains an authentic spirit. Maddy Prior meets the challenge of singing in differing styles with her usual ability and grace.

The band bursts into The Prodigal's Resolution with the abandon of an Elizabethan whoopee band. It continues with a set of Playford Dances, starting with pipes alone, and building up to a folk-rock band. The Jovial Begger - yes, spelt "er" the insert insists - sounds like early jug band music!

There are pieces which are more simple. Maddy Prior has a showcase in Never Weatherbeaten Saile, with a plain lute backing, and period instruments accompany The World is Turned Upside Down throughout. Maddy shares in the two unaccompanied songs, "A Northern Catch" and "A Round of Three Country Dances in One".

There are also some more modern tempos - The Leathern Bottel has a hypnotic rhythm with electric bass and rich Hammond organ. Now O Now I Needs Must Part has the charm of a gentle Country and Western waltz, introducing strains of Somewhere Along the Road. Finally, Old Simon the King starts off sedately, but suddenly electric guitar and saxophone transform the beat into ska. This fusion of styles is truly a Cure for all Melancholy!

Henry Peacock

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This album was reviewed in Issue 17 of The Living Tradition magazine.