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AR LOG - “I – III (1976 – 1981)” - SAIN SCD2303

The 21 tracks on this delightful compilation are drawn from the first three albums of Ar Log, the premier Welsh folk band, to aid their silver jubilee celebrations.  Constant throughout are Dafydd and Gwyndaf Roberts, while Geraint Glynne Davis and Graham Pritchard replace Dave Burns and Lolo Jones after the first album.  Despite this personnel change, it’s not easy to spot the joins between the albums, which shows how competent and confident they were from the very start of their recording careers.

The Roberts brothers are principally harpers, which gives the band their distinctive musical signature, whether providing melodic lead, driving accompaniment or the distinctive and exciting gear-change between the two.  The other two provide guitar and fiddle (or gitar a ffidil) and everyone contributes top-class Welsh-language vocals, so the early Ar Log had a pretty broad canvas to go at, especially as they could provide whistles, mandolin and percussion if required.  According to their press release the current band is touring as a nine-piece, which ought to be really worth seeing!

The material is a highly satisfactory mix of songs and tunes, utterly Welsh and largely traditional.  They sing in harmony, play in harmony, and their ensemble performances on the dance tune sets are sensational.  They understand the value of reflection, and so temper their drive and attack with slower pieces of great beauty.

Alan Stivell hopes they continue for another twenty-five years.  So do I.

Alan Rose

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This album was reviewed in Issue 45 of The Living Tradition magazine.