Link to Living Tradition Homepage





JOHN KIRKPATRICK - Tunes From The Trenches

JOHN KIRKPATRICK - Tunes From The Trenches
Fledg’ling Records FLED3099

At first glance this is an album that looks like it missed the boat: after all, the First World War commemorations and the flurry of albums in every conceivable genre that generated was last year, wasn’t it? John K, meanwhile, was busy bringing the songs to life in various productions in Shropshire. Having built up a repertoire of well-sung-in songs, it would have been a waste not to record at least some of them.

Personal tragedy – the death of his wife, to whom the album is dedicated – postponed that intention: indeed he still feels unable to sing some of the more intense songs of loss and separation. Instead, we have 25 songs (some as part of medleys) from both World Wars, reflecting a wide spectrum of viewpoints: sentimental pop, music hall jollity, patriotic fervour, and, crucially, some fruity and sometimes very un-PC songs and parodies that the soldiers themselves sang.

The result is a thoroughly satisfying set of songs, spanning 30 years, that ranges from the obvious but essential (burning home fires, running rabbits, washing on the Siegfried Line etc.) to the obscure but entertaining (try track 5, Cleaning My Rifle and dreamin’ of you). Even more pleasing is the way all the songs seem perfectly suited to John’s vocal delivery – they could have been written for him. Suitably muscular vocal support comes from an assemblage of five more Kirkpatricks and John is self-accompanied on a variety of squeezy things, plus an array of whistles and percussion that embraces vibraslap, washboard and metal ruler.

The whole thing is supplemented by a detailed and informative booklet, which incidentally contains the most moving dedicatory note I have ever read. Like the whole of the album, that note brings the word heartfelt to mind.

It’s a CD that will make you laugh out loud, think in silence, yield the odd whoop of delight and, I suspect, shed more than the occasional tear. In short, it’s a musical triumph and a triumphant memorial.

Nigel Schofield

Secure On-line mailorder service
Buy this CD online from The Listening Post
The Listening Post is the CD mailorder service of The Living Tradition magazine.
This album was reviewed in Issue 110 of The Living Tradition magazine.