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JOHN SPIERS & JON BODEN - Through And Through

JOHN SPIERS & JON BODEN - Through And Through
Fellside Recordings FECD161

It is a dozen years since the first album by “the two Jo(h)ns” was first released. As a result of public demand, here it is, available once more. The only change is a concession to eco-friendliness – the original jewel case packaging replaced by a bubble pack. Otherwise, no remixing, no remastering (the usual Fellside quality control still renders this unnecessary so superb was the original production), no bonus tracks/out-takes/live versions, no additional sleeve notes. Indeed, re-evaluation is unnecessary. Critics hailed an important debut release when it came out: the more adventurous forecast great things. Beyond this CD lay Eliza’s Ratcatchers, solo albums, Bellowhead, TV specials, countless awards, ‘A Folk Song A Day’: in a way, it’s now a record that stands in its own shadow.

Certainly it’s more understated and in some ways less confident than later releases. But it remains a mighty beginning. The track listing might seem unadventurous, but one has to recall the album was made at the turn of the century when the new folk revival had barely taken hold: the fact that there are many versions of most of these songs is actually a strength: to quote Peter Bellamy, whose version of Down The Moor informs this one, “If it’s a song a lot of people have chosen to sing, then there is a very obvious reason for that.” However, John’s original Red Kites provides the album with its own neglected gem.

Under various guises the songs and tunes have migrated into later repertoires (Bellowhead did Rambling Sailor and several of the tunes; a couple of songs were reworked as part of Jon’s daily ration of internet folk-song), but these performances have stood the test of time.

The record was made when the duo was still finding their own voices and certainly their revival roots are showing (particularly Tim & Maddy and, of course, the great Peter Bellamy).

Twelve years on, it remains a recommended buy and a record that holds its own.

Nigel Schofield

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This album was reviewed in Issue 98 of The Living Tradition magazine.