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VARIOUS ARTISTS "Bold Sportsmen All" Topic Records TSCD495
A.L. LLOYD "English Drinking Songs" Topic Records TSCD496
VARIOUS ARTISTS "Round Cape Horn" Topic Records TSCD499

A.L. Lloyd's definition of a "drinking song", for inclusion on his recordings, were those of "a Saturday Night kind" and those that "tell a bit of a story. The songs were also a selection of those that were heard round "The Eel's Foot" alehouse on the gusty east coast of England". The original recordings were made and released around 1961 but this is the first time they have been brought together as one complete album.

A.L. Lloyd had an easy and fairly uncomplicated manner of singing but there were many who "borrowed" this to use as a base for their own styles. On these recordings he is in a mellow and perhaps even a "Saturday Night" mood and included in this selection are, "The Derby Ram", "Maggie May", Rosin the Beau" and "A Jug of This". The songs are all well enough known although some of the variants of verse or tune may not be so familiar. Not so familiar either are the styles of musical accompaniment. Tastes, fashions and approaches to accompaniments have changed much over the intervening four decades, come to that so has recording equipment and recording techniques. Alf Edwards' fine concertina playing is fairly under stated and balances well with the voice but the sound from Al Jeffery's banjo is maybe a tad too hard and metallic to complement all the songs.

A.L. Lloyd shares the honours along with Ewan MacColl on "Bold Sportsmen All". A reissue combining an LP and an EP with some additional material including one track from Roy Harris singing "The Saucy Bold Robber". Not all the characters celebrated here are very sporting, some aren't even men. The singers though, are at the top of their game and delight in the recounting of "The Sporting Races of Galway", "The Bold Gambling Boy", "Morrissey and the Russian Sailor", "Skewball", "Heenan and Sayers" and a dozen or so more, in a similar vein.

Roy Harris has a better crack of the whip as part of the crew of singers taking us, "Round Cape Horn". This is compiled from a number of long deleted LPs and the other singers pressed into service are, The Watersons, Louis Killen, Peter Bellamy, Cyril Tawney, Frankie Armstrong, A.L.Lloyd and Ewan MacColl. The selection of material is as strong as the spirited performances. "Captain Ward", Short Jacket and White Trousers", The Still and Silent Ocean", "Lovely on the Water", "Bye Bye Skipper" and "Warlike Seamen" are just some of the great songs to be found among the eighteen tracks.

Peter Fairbairn

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This album was reviewed in Issue 30 of The Living Tradition magazine.