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THE HIGH LEVEL RANTERS "Northumberland For Ever" Topic TSCD483

This was the first Ranters album, several were to follow with a similar blend of songs and instrumentals. The basic Ranters sound of fiddle, accordion, concertina and guitar was fully established on this recording - plenty of drive and not too much of the arrangements which are more common in today's hands. Most of the time, all the band members play all the way through the sets and with no double tracking there are no instrument changes taking place at various points in the tunes. The dynamic comes from the playing and the key changes. Thirty years on it still sounds good to me!

For this recording the oldest member of the group was Foster Charlton who played fiddle and pipes. Foster played with the likes of Billy Pigg and was the group's link to the traditional music of Northumbria. On one track he plays a small pipes duet with Colin Ross. In those days having a fiddler in a folk band was reasonably rare. Having fiddles, pipes and concertina made the Ranters unique.

Another difference I noticed from modern recordings is that although the album only runs to forty minutes there are seventeen tracks on it. No endless repetition of tunes and the whole album moves briskly forward so that at the end - like a good live performance, you are ready for an encore. Recorded by Bill Leader.

John Muirhead

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This album was reviewed in Issue 25 of The Living Tradition magazine.