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BRIAN PETERS Gritstone Serenade

BRIAN PETERS Gritstone Serenade
Pugwash  PUGCD008

The last two recordings that Brian issued were respectively Anglo concertina music and the Child Ballads, demonstrating his status as not only a top-notch singer and player, but also as one of the best-researched performers currently doing the rounds. It might seem easy, as Brian does in the notes, to describe this as “a bit of everything album” – but what bits!

Brian’s concertina and melodeon playing is immediately recognisable, combining drive, intricacy and originality whilst retaining absolute respect for, and understanding of, the traditions from which he draws. So here we get not only traditional and original tune sets, but also Brian’s own tunes to broadsheet ballads such as the impressive The Cotton Lords of Preston – an unfortunately timeless tale of the arrogance of the rich at the expense of poor workers, which is immediately followed by a version of Keith Marsden’s Prospect, Providence, which neatly encapsulates the life of such a worker.  There’s big songs, too, with a Child Ballad offset by one which the great collector refused to include because he didn’t like the refrain changing between verses.  Just when you might think you’ve got the measure of the man, he finishes off the collection by turning the English drinking song Good Companion into an old-time American fiddle and banjo delight.

The balance of the whole CD is quite sublime, never too serious or too lighthearted.  There certainly is “something for everyone” here – existing fans will have all their buttons pushed, and any new audience will immediately realise that they are listening to a master of his several crafts.

Gordon Potter

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This album was reviewed in Issue 88 of The Living Tradition magazine.