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JULIAN GOODACRE "Pipemaker Calls Yer Tunes" WHCD03

Julian Goodacre is a pipemaker (hence the title!) based in Peebles. He makes a range of reconstructed English pipes, and some Scottish and other European pipes. On this recording, he plays his own Leicestershire small pipes, English great pipes, and Cornish double pipes in various keys. He's not alone: various friends play on various tracks, including members of the Justin Oddgig dance band and the rest of the Goodacre Brothers piping trio. The pipes hold their own with melodeons, fiddles and other instruments, but are at their best solo or with other pipes.

The seventy minutes of music on "Pipemaker Calls Yer Tunes" is an excellent showcase for Julian's pipes. Their maker puts them through their paces on a range of English and other tunes, mostly traditional with a handful of Goodacre compositions. The sound ranges from something close to early Northumbrian piping recordings to the more modern and more central English sound developed by Jon Swayne and Blowzabella. Production is in the best traditions of home recordings: a little rough around the edges, and rather variable, but full of life and completely free from studio gimickry.

Julian does not pretend to be England's greatest piper, and some of the tracks here are clearly lacking in technical brilliance. To my mind, the simplicity and power of this music more than compensates for any imperfections of touch or timing. Take track 7, for instance, with the booming low D from the Cornish pipes' virtual drone, and the rich harmonies possible on this ancient instrument: who cares if there's the occasional slip, when the overall sound is so captivating?

There's plenty here for anyone with a taste for English dance music, or with an interest in the rarer breeds of bagpipe. If either of these descriptions fits you, get in touch with Julian on 01721 722539 or by email (julian@goodbagpipes.co.uk). This isn't the sort of CD that gets wide distribution, but there is a website: www.goodbagpipes.co.uk will also give you details of instruments, tune books and other Goodacre recordings.

Alex Monaghan

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This album was reviewed in Issue 48 of The Living Tradition magazine.