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VARIOUS ARTISTS - Sportsmen, Seafarers, Scumbags And Psychos  Songs And Tunes from the Leigh Folk Festival 2013

VARIOUS ARTISTS - Sportsmen, Seafarers, Scumbags And Psychos Songs And Tunes from the Leigh Folk Festival 2013
Thames Delta Recordings MUD006CD

Well, not for the first time, I’ve mistaken Leigh in Greater Manchester with Leigh-on-Sea (Essex). This collection is from the latter and comprises 22 tracks, which includes a reprise of the opener, Hangin’ Jonny by Micky Denny and James Clarke (in true Hendrix ‘Slight Return’ style) at the tail end.

Putting the festival that has beget this album in context, it is essentially a free festival, self-financed with the assistance of the funds raised from this CD, which at £5 is cracking value and gives a good introduction to local talent as well as more familiar names.

Alasdair Roberts gives a nice interpretation of the original trad Jamie Foyers, set during the Peninsular War (and later re-engineered famously by Ewan McColl, when he set it in Spain during the civil war last century). Kirsty Cotter and Barry Watson provide a lovely medley – Neil Gow’s The Fallen Hero coupled with a musical response – Mr Marshall’s Compliments To Neil Gow. A couple of documentary style field recordings from Boxing Day 2012 provide interesting interludes.

Contemporary offerings include Widescreen Heart by Plantman, which is a well-constructed acoustic track, and With All Hands by Greanvine, which is a delicate track which harks back to early Fairport and Joni Mitchell. Yes, many of the contributors are unsigned, and yes, there’s not a lot of heavy production present, but what you do get is the soggy end of 70 minutes of a local festival, which is a great shop window. Could even persuade me to head there (now I’m finally working out where it is…).

Grem Devlin

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This album was reviewed in Issue 98 of The Living Tradition magazine.