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The Copper Family of Rottingdean - "Come Write Me Down" - TCSD534

Take every penny you have in the bank, and go straight to your local bookies. (Making sure to pass your local record shop to buy three copies of this CD: one for yourself to play and play all day; one to give as a present to the person who means most to you; and one to bury in the garden for the Martians when they land, to show them us Human Race were capable of real excellence)

At the bookies, put your house - and indeed the SHIRT off your back - on this album winning the Album of the Year at the BBC Folk Awards. If ever there was a "racing certainty", then this is it. At first sight, it looks like it is a double CD. But it is not (though at 64 minutes, you are certainly NOT short-changed). The reason for the CD case seeming a "double" size, is that it needs to house two of the most pleasurable liner booklets that have ever come my way.

The first contains the lyrics of the 28 songs, but with the added bonus of deeply interesting notes by Steve Roud on every one of the songs. This booklet in itself would put most CD booklets in the shade. But then, even THIS is trumped by the second booklet: a 58-page "beaut", consisting of extensive notes from the pens of Reg Hall and Vic Gammon. One did not want the booklet to end. It is genuinely a compulsive page-turner. Bizarre though it sounds, if you buy this album and freakishly found it minus the disc, you would STILL have got your money's worth!

But of course the disc IS there, and what a delight it is. Some of those early BBC recordings by Brian George in 1951 and Seamus Ennis in 1952, sound every year their age, despite the technological advances that now allow for us to hear them minus much of the crackle and hiss. But golly, it is worth it just to hear Bob's father Jim, and Ron's dad John in such fine fettle. But, most of the tracks are from the 1955 and 1963 recordings by Peter Kennedy of Bob and his cousin Ron. Here, they are at their peak. Were there "Singing Olympics", they would have brought home the Gold … and Silver and Bronze! Truly, they Sang OF England and FOR England. It is marvellously heady stuff. And it makes us remember what a loss cousin Ron was. They say that "nobody is indispensable. Well you can fool me: 'cos I reckon that when he died in 1979, his place was never to be successfully filled, not just in the Copper Family but in the whole British Folk Scene. Yes there are bass singers who are technically even better - like the superb Jim Boyes - but that rasping Sussex voice has a quality that somehow conjures up an age now gone when giants like Kipling and Belloc bestrode the Sussex Downs", whilst the then slightly raffish Brighton (with Pinkie up to no good) was luring one on with a "come hither" from just down the road.

As for the CD content, any attempt on my part to talk of a "stand-out track" would immediately identify myself as a dunce. It is all sublime. Just let it wash over you. It is days like today that make one ever so happy to be a CD reviewer.

Dai Woosnam

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This album was reviewed in Issue 46 of The Living Tradition magazine.