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Fellside Recordings FECD271

If I was asked to put together a list of my favourite Pete Morton songs, the result would bear more than a passing resemblance to the 15 tracks herein. I suspect the same applies for most people.

This is a collection not just of new recordings, but of new versions, of some of his most requested songs. Omitting his last two albums (both for Fellside and both, unlike the rest of his back catalogue, currently available), Pete has worked with Full House, a Chester-based band who have been long-time friends and occasional musical collaborators, to create a rich and varied set which will satisfy new fans desperate to own a copy of Another Train, Shepherd’s Song, Further or whatever, but will also please his long standing fans.

This is simply because, rather than just re-record them, Pete has worked with the group to reinvent, rearrange and reconsider sometimes very familiar material: the result is revived, refreshed and reinvigorated. It’s a highly listenable album in its own right, textured, varied and flowing naturally. A genuine ‘Best Of’, that is much more than the usual rehash. Sometimes the effect is startling – the rustic setting and shimmering harmonies of Shepherd’s Song; Battle Of Trafalgar as rockabilly; the Bach-influenced chamber arrangement of Another Train. Some songs are reconsidered in other ways; how many eccentrics, Pete? While his songs of social, indeed moral, comment sadly continue to be relevant. The version of Shores Of Italy is actually more heartrending than his original recording – as if the early note of sadness by the weight of human tragedy repeatedly brought to land on ceaseless waves has informed it. Not that it’s all serious, of course: Related To Me becomes a hilarious slice of Latin jazz; 7 Billion Eccentrics is a jaunty, melodeon sing-a-long; The Luckiest Man is a romp with a joyous fiddle solo.

Pete Morton and Full House is a combination that works singularly well. Pete is clearly delighting in rediscovering his songs in this new context. It’s a CD that you’ll want to own, even if you already have all the songs scattered across previous albums in earlier versions. If you don’t already possess them, it’s one you need to have. A delight from start to finish.

Nigel Schofield

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This album was reviewed in Issue 115 of The Living Tradition magazine.