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Hot Vultures - Vulturama!
HOT VULTURES "Vulturama!" Weekend Beatnik WEBE9031

Back in the early Seventies there was a fashionable belief that singers should only do material from their own backgrounds, their own folk culture. This dictum held sway in many "traditional" clubs, whilst other folk enthusiasts happily embraced a much wider view on the scope of the revival. Hot Vultures left no doubt as to their side of the fence, with music rooted firmly in the early blues - but apparently also open to a multitude of other influences too. They were so open that they were mostly unable to work in the UK and spent an inordinate amount of time touring in Europe with the consequence that their first album was released in Belgium! As time progressed their material took on an increasingly English flavour, with Ian Anderson and Maggie Holland (aka Hot Vultures) eschewing mock American accents and singing in their own West Country and Home-counties voices - not to mention the long-hair and flared trousers which seemed to afflict them both! The rest, as they say, is history. The duo moved on to become a substantial force in English folk dance music, producing three albums from which "Vulturama!" is distilled.

The material on this compilation runs from the previously unreleased 1974 version of Fred McDowell's "Write Me A Few of Your Lines" up to "Lone Wolf Blues" from an '84 recording with Mike Cooper and in between there is a whole host of stuff! The first album, "Carrion On" in '75, had ex-Vipers skiffler John Pilgrim on washboard, plus Al Jones on guitar and Dave Peabody on mouth harp giving life to a Jimmy Reed medley, "Baby What's Wrong/Shame, Shame, Shame". Elsewhere was Hilary James with vocals on a version of Willie Dixon's classic "I Love the Life I Live".

A second LP in '77 called "The East Street Shakes" saw Simon Mayor and Martin Simpson in the band, with Simon, naturally enough on mandolin and Martin contributing guitar, banjo, acoustic bass, and vocals - the Vultures were distinctly on a roll! Two years on for "Up the Line" the line-up included Martin Simpson plus the emerging forces of English Dance music, Pete and Chris Coe. They can be heard on this CD on both "Preachers Blues" and Maggie's stunning version of the Jimmie Rodgers song "TB Blues" - best track on the recording (although very closely followed by "Pontchartrain" with really moody bass from Simpson). The Vultures went on to rock folk and rogue folk with amongst others Rod Stradling and The English Country Blues Band - but that's another story.

No record collection can be anywhere near comprehensive without the historically significant, and musically very enjoyable CD compilation. All-in-all "Vulturama!" has seventy-four minutes playing time with twenty-three tracks and not a duff one amongst 'em. Love it to bits!

Mel Howley

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This album was reviewed in Issue 27 of The Living Tradition magazine.