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DEARMAN, GAMMON & HARRISON Black Crow / White Crow

Black Crow / White Crow

What an opening track! 'Sorry the day I was Married' is so often sung as a self-pitying dirge, but here we have it as a jaunty cry of defiance sung with what we used to call 'Gusto' by Annie Dearman. This straightforwardly wholehearted approach sets the tone for the rest of the album, a pleasing programme of traditional songs and tunes performed for their own worth in a relaxed, enjoyable style. The bands, arrangements, incorporating melodeons, concertinas, banjo, and mouth organs, fit the songs well without any excess flourish, allowing the singers plenty of room to do their stuff.

Speaking of singers, it's rare to hear two such distinctively individual singers on one album as we have here. Annie Dearman's Southern England accented voice has the power and edgy tone suitable for street singing or the stage of the music hall in the days of Marie Lloyd, both qualities apparent in her 'Broom Sellers Call/Besom Maker' number. She sings a good ballad too. Vic Gammon on the other hand has a more confidential style along with a cheery tone and waggish manner, just right for a song like 'The Boatswain & the Tailor', one of his highlights. Top marks to them both for avoiding the clichés of folk revival singing. A solo album from each wouldn't come amiss.

DG&H have given me a last paragraph for this review. I can't sum them up more fittingly than they speak of themselves in their admirable liner note... 'As folk music revivalists, we perform in a way that is both our own thing and yet also derived from the styles of traditional performers we have listened to and learned from. We claim nothing for the authenticity of what we do (other than in playing it we are true to ourselves and our influences) but we believe that we perform in a robust and firmly rooted English style, well suited to the material' I'll second that.

Roy Harris

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This album was reviewed in Issue 68 of The Living Tradition magazine.