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Various Artists - Good Hearted Fellows

Various Artists - Good Hearted Fellows
Veteran VT154CD

The late Keith Summers was a blazing enthusiast for traditional music in all its forms. He had a passion for finding singers and musicians on their home ground and the knack of making recordings that captured the full flavour of the occasion. This album is a fine example of his work, being thirty-two items recorded by him in various part of Suffolk from 1970 to 1977.

Suffolk is a county known for the bestowing of nicknames and Keith brings us items from 'Harkie' Nesling, 'Eely' Went, 'Jumbo' Brightwell, 'Dinks' Cooper, and 'Font' Whatling, among his 'Good Hearted Fellows'.(There's one 'good hearted lass' by the way - melodeon player Dolly Curtis).

They bring us the mix of songs usually to be found among country singers, ranging from 'Lakes of Coolfin' and 'Eggs in the Basket', to music hall pieces like 'Dicky & Cart', the tale of a shopping trip in a donkey cart, smartly sung by Ted Laurence. Incidentally the title of this album comes from a line in a further Ted Laurence song 'Do Your Best'. I wasn't familiar with Mr Laurence's name, but I've enjoyed his singing.

Other things I enjoyed were Jumbo Brightwell's 'Seventeen Come Sunday', quite the best version I've ever heard, and 'A Group of Young Squaddies', sung by Geoff Ling. This song brought a lump to my throat as I remembered it being sung by Nobby Thurman, noted footballer, cricketer, and pub singer, in our neighbourhood, and my favourite uncle. He called it 'Two Sweethearts' and sang it frequently at family gatherings, much to my grandma's delight.

The fact is that this album, with its parade of people giving out with their songs, step-dancing, fiddle, melodeon and mouth organ playing, for the entertainment of themselves and their friends and neighbours, is very much to my delight. I boast of a wide taste in music, but when it comes down to it this is the kind I like best. Keith Summers left us far too early. We, who knew him, miss him, but we thank him for his legacy of recordings of which this is a prime example.

Roy Harris

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This album was reviewed in Issue 70 of The Living Tradition magazine.