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Fellside Recordings FECD278

The second album by Jimmy Aldridge and Sid Goldsmith on the Fellside label is a mix of traditional songs and original songs which show a strong social conscience. The vocals are shared, and the deft musical arrangements are dominated by Jimmy’s banjo and Sid’s guitar. Some tracks are filled out by James Gavin on fiddle, Tommie Black-Roff on accordion and Dominic Henderson on uilleann pipes and whistles.

Among the traditional songs, I loved Sid’s version of Mary And The Soldier, which is taken slower than Paul Brady’s well-known version. In a nod to Nic Jones, Shallow Brown is followed by the hornpipe Jackie Tar. It’s always a pleasure to hear the beautiful Scots ballad Willie O’ Winsbury, even if Willie’s landowner status is left out of this version. Right on, lads. Jimmy and Sid’s sympathies are with those oppressed by landowners and their ilk.

The Ballad Of Yorkley Court is about a modern day Diggers-like conflict in the Forest Of Dean. Moved On is written in support of Focus E15, a group of Newham residents fighting for social housing and against relocation. The Grazier Tribe reworks a folk song to castigate those responsible for overgrazing in the uplands (only the big boys, not the small hill farmers). The most successful original song is the less strident title track, which looks at a sleeping city from the perspective of its night shift workers.

If you don’t mind the sound of political points being hammered home, there is much to enjoy in this 57-minute album. The singing is strong, their musicianship has developed, and the arrangements mostly work well. The duo is also excellent in live performance.

Tony Hendry

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This album was reviewed in Issue 117 of The Living Tradition magazine.