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"They're Coming Back To The Water"
Folksound FSCD47

The genial Jeff Dennison may not look like a crusader but for more than several years he has maintained a mission to take music into places it might not otherwise reach. He has run clubs where before there were none, he has taken singers into schools, he has run festivals and concerts in parks for the benefit of the general public. Lately he has combined his passion for the music with his other love, narrowboats, by taking a 'Folk Afloat' show around the English canal system.

What we have on this CD is a show in its current and most developed state. Entitled 'They're Coming Back To The Water', (a song from the great Johnny Handle, a frequent cast member), the show plays at canal rallies, arts centres, village halls, and is absolutely perfect for towpath pubs with a decent function room. It's a multimedia event with songs, stories, backdrops and slides, telling the canal story from the first diggings to the present day leisure use.

The songs are mostly modern trad-style pieces written by the likes of Johnny Handle, Ian Campbell, Bill Caddick, Barry Skinner, to quote the best known. Others come from broadsides - 'When Leeds becomes a seaport town' - or the literature of canals - 'The Tommy Note'. They are performed with enthusiasm and skill that takes them beyond merely specialist appeal. In fact anyone with an ear should find something to please them in this album, not least the exceptional voice and style of Benny Graham. To my mind he is one of the best half-dozen male singers in the English folk revival. How he can be this good for so long and yet remain in semi-obscurity is beyond me. He deserves a solo album, and soon.

My advice is, buy and enjoy this album whether you are interested in canals or not. And another thought - all the visuals evoked by this make it a natural for television. Some producer should pay it attention.

Roy Harris

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This album was reviewed in Issue 25 of The Living Tradition magazine.