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HUGHIE JONES - Maritime Miscellany

HUGHIE JONES - Maritime Miscellany
Fellside Recordings FECD258

Those of us who belong to Generation Bus Pass can recall the bad old days when “folk music” was never heard (or seen) in the mainstream media. A Liverpool-based quartet, The Spinners, one of whom was Hughie Jones, were one of the first acts to rectify this and we all know the progress that has been made since. The Spinners, of course, by daring to become “popular” were immediately dismissed as lightweights by the Folk Police!

Since The Spinners’ withdrawal from public life some years back, Hughie has continued to sing solo, maintaining his delight in nautical themes, as witnessed by this, his fourth Fellside solo album in which he accompanies himself on guitars and harmonica, along with John McCormick, double bass; Brian Peters, melodeon, Anglo concertina; Dave Russell, fiddle, bouzouki; Bob Conroy, banjo, guitar, vocal; Dan Jones, keyboard; and Linda Adams, English concertina. There’s also a vocal chorus of Robert Hallard, Andy Hughes, Dave Russell and Greg Russell, so there’s lots of variation in the accompaniments, but the key factor remains Hughie’s singing.

Hughie’s approach to his songs is to let them tell their stories and his voice is powerful (despite the loss of a lung), rich and well-balanced, with plenty of lift and drive to help convey the emotions of the topics. The songs themselves, a mixture of traditional and contemporary, are conveniently grouped under the headings of “ocean racers”, “sea fights”, “American writers”, “British writers”, “whalers” and “traditional favourites” – not mutually exclusive sections, to be sure, but there’s something quite pleasing about these thematic links. And, a bonus track of She Moved Through The Fair just to round things off.

Top marks too, to Hughie’s son, Dan, for a nifty bit of production on this CD which will sit well in any collection of sea songs.

Gordon Potter

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This album was reviewed in Issue 99 of The Living Tradition magazine.