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(A Celebration of 25 years of Fellside Records, 1976-2001) Fellside FECD156
All together now ... "Happy Birthday Dear Fellsiiiiide, Happy Birthday To You"! Actually, around half of this high-value, "2 CDs for the price of one" set was released in 1980 for Fellside's 10th and as a "benefit" album for Nic Jones. It's good to have all that peerless stuff on CD now ... with well-known names like Gerry Hallom, Martin Wyndham-Read, Roy Harris and Jez Lowe (singing Bob Dylan, reggae-style!) performing at the top of their form. There are also tracks from non-Fellsiders Martin Carthy - a "couldn't be anyone else" version of "The Bloody Fields of Flanders" not available anywhere else - and Nic Jones himself with a truly mighty "Warlike Lads of Russia". If only he'd been a Fellsider then we'd certainly have had "Noah's Ark Trap" and "From a Devil .." on CD ages ago - but that's another story that we all know and hate.

It's hard to say anything very coherent about a CD with this diversity, except to say that (a) there isn't a single duff track (b) there are 41 tracks altogether (c) it illustrates very clearly indeed just how many important key figures either record, or have recorded for Fellside and (d) Paul Adams' nose for a good act is undimmed by his 25+ years of sniffing around. The second CD comprises more weel-kent names such as Maddy Prior with Frankie Armstrong, Clive Gregson with a terrific version of his own "Fred Astaire", alongside talented relative newcomers such as John Wright (yes, that one) and Simon Haworth. Entertaining curiosities also include a version of "Fiddlers Green" from its composer, John Connolly (you thought it was "Trad." - didn't you? Come on, own up!) ... it's a great song, despite being over-sung, and the man can sing.

This is not a "fashionable" CD - it is as close to the club/festival scene as you'll get and that ain't trendy. It is, however, very, very good and also as close as you'll get to the heart of a diverse range of folk music. At this price, you'd be daft not to buy one.

Alan Murray

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This album was reviewed in Issue 42 of The Living Tradition magazine.