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Bob Cann Proper Job Veteran Tapes VT138CD

Some lovely Dartmoor-style melodeon music here, including newly issued tracks, nine years after the old maestro's death. The man's unmistakable driving style, accompanied by rhythmic footstumping hasn't been followed by many of the new breed of English players, although his tunes are well used in the English repertoire and there are over 40 on this CD.

Bob Cann was a true community musician, a man whose music came from his own family, fairgrounds or anywhere he could pick up a good tune. There are even a couple learned from Jimmy Shand 78s. He played at parties and step dancing competitions but his first love was his own Dartmoor Pixie Band, a family tradition now continued by his grandson, Mark Bazeley. Do they still produce the tea-urn and orange cakes at Devon village dances, I wonder?

There are early (1952) BBC recordings of one Robert Cann here, cleaned up by new technology and a few recorded by Simon Evans of Radio Kent at Catford Folk Club in 1978, at a time when local radio recorded such things. Bob Cann's repertoire is distinctly English, i.e. It's mostly hornpipes, schottisches and waltzes, with a few jigs and occasional "reel".

"Morpeth Rant", the classic Northumbrian rant/reel here receives a distinctly Devon treatment in Bob's hands, presumably adapted for local dance requirements and why not? It's lovely. Like most traditional musicians, he never hesitated to adapt a tune; listen to the "B" part of the" Old Bog Road" - that old Irish waltz has become Bob's own.

Previously issued tracks include several from his influential 1970s Topic LP "West Country Melodeon" including the lovely "Harry Gidley's Waltz" and this excellent CD concludes with some fascination live recordings. The brief jam session on the "Manchester Hornpipe" (recorded at the first Cricklade English Country Music weekend in 1975) with Jim Small (mouth organ) and Ray Andrews (banjo) will stir a few memories and the last two tracks with Padstow supremo, Charlie Bate in the same year, are genuine little gems.

This is a classic album and the best memorial to a man whose style was his own whilst still in the best traditions of English dance music. Truly in Bob Cann's own words, a "proper job".

Jim Bainbridge

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This album was reviewed in Issue 36 of The Living Tradition magazine.