Link to Living Tradition Homepage





JANET RUSSELL - Gathering The Fragments

Gathering The Fragments
Harbourtown HARCD003

I still have my cassette version of this; Janet's inspired solo debut from, 198.. um - let's not go there! It seems like it was only yesterday and suffice to say that this is a welcome chance to revisit in shiny silver disc format a recording with a timeless quality. Direct, taut and imaginative, this is a refreshing journey through Russell's roots in Scots folksong ('Band Of Shearers') well-sourced covers ('All The Tunes In The World' from Ewan McVicar) and practical own-write feminism ('Secretary's Song.') Her's has not been a prodigious output, and her work in recent years has seen energies developing into areas of community projects and workshops around her now-home area of West Yorkshire. Hearing again however, the swooping range of her vocals and the spine-chilling venom in the delivery of Jim Woodland's 'Sanctuary' relating one woman's experience of the mid-80s Miners Strike, is to be reminded of why Janet Russell matters.

In fact the best songs here are carefully chosen, carrying an emotional weight to which bigger 'names' and more recently emerged talents can only aspire. Listen too, to Janet's own 'Fast Bright Nights' ("now ideas fire my head and my heart's for friends") for a resigned, world-weary realisation of shallowness v. true values and her version of the, it must be said, overly-sentimental 'Land Of The Leal' surely rivals that of Andy M. Stewart's with Silly Wizard. All the pieces fit in this invariably effective, often engrossing, and frequently delightful reissue. Ever since the days of Tennyson, artists and poets have maintained that you can never go back, but when you're dealing with rewardingly vibrant music such as this, hooray for musical archaeology.

Clive Pownceby

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 68 of The Living Tradition magazine.