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BRIAN PETERS - "Sharper Than The Thorn" - Pugwash Music PUGCD002

Now I must state from the outset that the record under review is one the most satisfying records that I have heard from Brian and I have certainly enjoyed his earlier works : "Seeds of Time" (Harbourtown HarCD 021) and "Squeezing Out The Sparks" (Pugwash Music PUGCD 001). Whether he sounds more confident or that the material he has chosen is well balanced, that the musical accompaniment is just right, I do not know. Probably a combination of all these factors, but what I do know is that this is a very well rounded record with good performances from Brian and his "friends".

Brian has chosen mainly tradition material for this release and it follows the pattern of his earlier records of having good songs interspersed with instrumentals on the concertina and melodeon. It starts off with a wonderful version of Lay The Bent On The Bonnie Broom; full of mystery and sinister undertones. There follows versions of Banks of Sweet Primroses, Black Dog and Sheepcrook, a fine Henry Martin and stunning rendition of Kemp Owyne, a ballad I had not previously heard. I remember Harry Boardman singing the droll humourous Cold Stringy Pie and its pleasing that Brian has revived the song. The record ends with a song written by Jim Woodland called, "Stand Up", one I think will be taken up by other singers.

One of the delights of a Brian Peters record are the instrumental tracks. Brian is rightly considered with great respect by other concertina and melodeon players, just listen to the playing here and you will realise why. Fine tunes full of melody and humour with playing to take your breath away, some familiar : "Jockey To The Fair", others new to me, but all will be heard with pleasure and with each successive listening.

The "friends" are made up of Gordon Tyrrall, Margaret Peters, Eliza Carthy, and Jenny Coxon. None of them surplus to needs, they add tone and textures instrumentally and vocally, filling the sound where needed in the songs and giving strong support in the instrumentals, helping to make this record so listenable.

Brian Peters can also be heard on a fine duo record with Gordon Tyrrall, as well as The Widow's Uniform CD (Realisations Real0101) where he is one of the main vocalists. I will recommend both of these recordings. Brian is currently touring with the Widow's Uniform Folk Opera so do go along and see it.

Nick Caffrey

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This album was reviewed in Issue 19 of The Living Tradition magazine.