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TOM & BEN PALEY - Paley & Son

TOM & BEN PALEY - Paley & Son
Hornbeam Recordings HBR0004

Tom Paley's wonderful Oldtime Moonshine Revue CD, issued in 2012, was a classic of its kind, and this one is further pure delight. Tom Paley's roots in his own tradition are unparalleled, with many years of playing and singing in the best of company - Leadbelly and Woody Guthrie for a start. Yes, it's 62 years since his first gramophone recording for Elektra, and he's lived in London for many years now, frequenting folk clubs and sessions even when not a guest - an indication of the man's humility and sheer love of the music. His earlier (1960s) recordings with the New Lost City Ramblers opened a door to Charlie Poole and his ilk to folk like me, who'd never heard such material and were knocked out by it! I had always enjoyed his contributions at London folk clubs many years ago, but had little idea of the man's pedigree at the time.

On this CD, his guitar, banjo and fiddle are augmented by his son Ben on fiddle, who leads on several lovely old-time tracks such as the Avalon Quickstep and Yew Piney Mountain. It's good to hear Ben coming more to the fore than he did on the Moonshine Revue CD and Brighton-based Ben is certainly an excellent and sympathetic player, so the tradition is in safe hands with him. However for me, the sheer class of his dad's playing and singing are as spellbinding as ever and, whatever your taste in music, you should not miss this CD.

There's great variety here so I'll mention a few of the highlights. Firstly, there's a lovely flowing version of W. C. Handy's Didn't He Ramble, so beloved of New Orleans jazzmen, complete with its bizarre lyrics. There are several old time versions of songs well known on this side of the Atlantic, such as Three Men They Went A-Hunting and The Devil And The Farmer's Wife. There's also great humour here - have a listen to his own adaptation of the old country song, This Train, and the risqué words of Follow The Band will provide you with a guaranteed guilty giggle!

Tom Paley is an icon to many ‘stars' in the top echelons of popular music - I won't mention many names. He doesn't need it, but when you hear that Ry Cooder came to him for advice on playing slide guitar, you realise that it's an understatement to say that Tom Paley is a giant of the tradition, and son Ben is following in his footsteps.

So, with a beautifully produced and informative booklet and not a bad track among the 16 here, you'd be mad to miss this CD.

Jim Bainbridge

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This album was reviewed in Issue 109 of The Living Tradition magazine.