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ROY HARRIS - "Live at the Lion" - Wild Goose Records WGS 297 CD

Folk-club-phobics ... go to next review. Do not pass "Go" etc. Folk club fans, fans of good singing, good songs and commitment ... read on. This is for you. If anyone deserves the corny epithet " a stalwart of the folk scene" - Roy Harris is the very chap. His performance style is the simplest imaginable - he simply stands up and sings songs that he likes, unaccompanied and with little flourish or ceremony. The recording is also simplicity itself - a good-quality live recording, complete with chat and audience participation - that puts the happy listener right in the room with one of folk music's great communicators. Roy's been at this lark since the late 1950s and he's got to be rather good at it.

Some of the songs here are extremely well-known ("Doodle Let Me Go", "Johnny Come Down to Hilo", "Foggy Dew" etc.) and the audience get stuck in a gie it mince on the choruses. Others, like "The Lion's Den" (recently revisited in a different form by Martin Carthy) are more reflective and prove that Roy's not just a chorus-bawler. He also enjoys the silly and bawdy - in songs like "The Pear Tree". Sadly, this CD marks Roy's retirement as a touring-folkie, but hopefully he'll be coaxed up to the mike for special occasions.

Is this CD for you? Easy - if you like a good singer, an unpretentious recording and a night out at a packed folk club - this is as close as you'll get without leaving your own living room.

Alan Murray

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This album was reviewed in Issue 37 of The Living Tradition magazine.