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BUFFY SAINTE-MARIE Many a Mile Vanguard VSD 79171

A re-issue on CD of an album that was first issued in 1965. I bought it almost 50 years ago and almost wore it out with playing. It’s prob- ably 40 years since I last heard it, but it turns out that the tracks had all become hard- wired in my memory while the vinyl was wearing out. I remember the first, simple recording of her song Until It’s Time For You To Go that was later over-produced and over- emoted by all sorts of famous persons. Then there’s her powerhouse version of Bukka White’s Fixin’ To Die, the spooky Banks Of Red Roses with its strange chords, the lyrical Piney Wood Hills (Daddy Bones on second guitar) and Patrick Sky’s Many A Mile with the man himself on harmonica.

But I had forgotten just what a deep impression this album must have made on me at the time; this woman singing a huge variety of material powerfully and passion- ately, accompanying herself on flat-picked guitar was like nothing else I’d ever heard. Must have been the first time I’d heard a Bukka White song and strange to think that I first learned Come All Ye Fair And Tender Ladies from a First Nation American singing it with mouth-bow accompaniment. She wrote some of the songs herself (including the still topical Welcome Welcome Emi- grante) but included traditional songs from both sides of the Atlantic.

Sorry, I can’t manage a dispassionate review – this is a tremendous album! Maggie Holland


The Song Of The Waterlily/Black Shuck Own label MNTHBCD1

He functioned as a singing songwriter when mainstay of The Cleaners From Venus and then as a solo attraction before becoming, so it says here, the “most-published living poet in the UK”. Two of his lengthier offerings in the capacity, The Song Of The Waterlily and Black Shuck, have long been available on the printed page. However, the proudly East Anglian bard now intones them on this col- laboration with The Hosepipe Band, a local ceilidh outfit, affiliated most famously to New Model Army and The Churchfitters.

Among resources at their command are a serviceable pool of composers; the vocal con- cord of Cara Bruns and Simon Haines, and their mastery of the disparate likes of hurdy- gurdy, hammered dulcimer, musical saw, gui- tar, keyboards, schwirrbogen (a more eupho- nious version of a bullroarer), concertina – and all manner of blowing instruments. These include the bagpipes to the fore on the stirring conclusion to Warplanes, one of the eight tracks over which Black Shuck is spread, interspersed with succinctly-arranged inter- ludes by the group.

Another highlight of this section is the

Jethro Tullesque Churchyard Clang finale, but, overall, Black Shuck (concerning a spec- tral canine) contains a more compatible qual- itative balance of spoken word and music than its companion work. While the recurring We Are The Ship theme to Waterlily may come to be heard, despite differing arrange- ments, no more than a mariner hears the sea, the instrumentals – particularly Rowhedge Regatta and the piano-led intro to Song Of The Storm Part 1 – bear more repeated listen- ing than Martin’s narrative. Nevertheless, the backing to this in every selection on this release (as should incidental music in a film) enhances rather than diverts attention from declamations which, if wordy, are never pre-

ing abroad and a particularly prominent influence are the traditional songs of Gypsies from Rajasthan.

The term ‘easy listening’ does not have the negative connotations it once had and much in this recording could be called easy listening – even borderline new age. Howev- er what separates it are the tunes, which are fantastic reconstructions expanded from tra- ditional sources. They are inventive and robust with good improvisations and arrangements.

The sound quality and production values in this recording are excellent sounding, at times, like a well-funded film score or a recording from Real World. The mix of North African and Indian music is seamless and never forced. If you want authenticity and virtuosity in oud playing then download something by Tarek Abdallah. However, Kara- van Sarai can also produce evocative, easily accessible music which will be of interest to seasoned world music listeners as well as newcomers. There is nothing challenging about this music but, crucially, there is noth- ing bad either. Mark T Buffy Sainte-Marie

cious. So much so that I was left with a vague feeling that I’d like to hear more – and there’s plenty of that in five other Newell retrospec- tives within the catalogue. Alan Clayson

FREE THE HONEY Fine Bloom Own label

From Colorado, a new name, some new music and a recording that grows with each play- ing. Free The Honey is a quartet with three lead singers, each a songwriter and each a more than able musician. Lizzy Plotkin plays fiddle, always perfectly on the note, con- tributes three songs and a good original fid- dle tune. Crooked Child is her standout song. Jenny Hill offers mandolin and fiddle, more songs and tunes, with A Beautiful Life being her best moment. Final member of the front line is Katherine Taylor, guitar and banjo with the country waltz Go With The Light being my selection from her songs, just pipping the first-class Honey Blues.

Andrew Cameron on bass is the fourth

member, needing only to play faced with three such talented partners, but his bowed bass con- tribution to the instrumental Hymn For Renew- al deserves a mention. Some of the harmony singing is also memorable, in particular on the final track, Coming Up The Mountain an a cap- pella song that could well have been a Gillian Welch outtake from Oh Brother….

What also warms me to this record is the total absence of clutter. Each instrument fits in its place with plenty of air given for the many excellent instrumental passages and with the voices well to the fore. Young, tal- ented and tasteful. John Atkins

KARAVAN SARAI Woven Landscapes Karavansaraimusic

Karavan Sarai comprise Carmen Rizzo (key- boards, percussion) and Narayan Sijan (oud, voice, saz, buzuk and ba˘glama). Sijan spent twelve years living in India and then after- wards spent time in Cairo, Turkey and Israel. Woven Landscapes is the culmination of his musical experiences whilst travelling and liv-

MUSICA INEBRIATA The Tale Of Ale: Revisited Free Reed FRRR 19

It is somehow appropriate that my original double LP of this title should look very much as though it was once dunked in best bitter.

The Tale Of Ale was one of Free Reed’s big projects of the 1970s. Musically, it might not have been on a par with The Transports or Plain Capers but it had its moments. With performers of the calibre of Peter Bellamy, the Dransfields and John Foreman, not to mention readings from the late Willie Rush- ton, it couldn’t help it.

The revisitation to the same territory is

less star-studded, more homespun and dependent on performers from Free Reed’s backyard in Derbyshire: Keith Kendrick & Sylvia Needham; Cupola – who consist of Sarah Matthews, Doug Eunson and Oli Matthews – and Peter Bullock. They call themselves, for the purposes of this release, Musica Inebriata, in honour of one of the ensembles on the original 1977 vinyl.

Not that this is a straightforward facsimi- le. Many of the songs, tunes and readings are the same, but not all of them. There is no place this time, for instance, for Ye Mar’ners All, surely the most poignant of all English drinking songs. On the other hand, that makes room for songs that sound as though they should have been there all along, like Cockersdale’s Doing The Manch and Johnny Handle’s The Old Pubs.

Ironically, the stand-out track is specifi- cally not about beer, but about the alterna- tive they used to call Mother’s Ruin – There’s Comfort In A Drop Of Gin.

Much has happened to the brewing industry since 1977, a time when it was possi- ble to visualise a future which would consist entirely of characterless keg beer and lager, piped in by a handful of multinational con- glomerates.

The battle for a better, richer heritage brings CAMRA – the Campaign For Real Ale, which is given space here to promote its mes- sage – into a natural alliance with folk music, which is so often performed in pubs.

Somehow, Free Reed have crammed the whole 35 tracks onto one CD, 79 minutes long. It would never have done to have cus- tomers complaining of short measure. Dave Hadfield

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