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THE RUDE MECHANICALS - Lady Pentweazle's Maggot 

THE RUDE MECHANICALS - Lady Pentweazle's Maggot 
Private Label RM002

Three good old boys from Sussex play tunes from all over northern Europe. There's some nice music on boxes and fiddles - piano and hexagonal, plain and keyed respectively - but the woodwind and fretted strings are rather more erratic. As you might expect from Sussex, this band's sweet spot is polkas: Irish, Swedish, and, of course, English. The Rude Mechanicals also do a nice line in hornpipes: Sheffield, Proudlock's, The West End and The Navvy On The Line all bounce along happily, and they have an interesting take on Tom Anderson's Laird Of Gulberwick, which I've never managed to get to grips with myself. There are some attractive waltzes too, although these versions don't really add anything to the originals by the likes of John McCusker, Roger Tallroth and Jacky Bouchard.

Some pieces here are surprisingly ambitious. Ronnie Cooper's Shetland Bus waltz is a demanding tune, nicely trotted out by Mick Parker on accordion. The ragtime Santa Claus takes a minute to get lined up, but once it's moving it fairly whizzes along. Others are more laid-back than usual - the title track doesn't really live up to its name, and this CD certainly boasts the slowest version I've ever heard of Rosin The Bow. The recording quality could be described as rustic: slightly muddy, with undulating dynamics and plenty of wide open spaces between the tracks. It's perhaps best experienced on a long journey, where the duration of well over an hour can be properly appreciated. I'm currently listening on a slow train from Liverpool to Nottingham, and it's really quite a pleasant way to pass the time through these old industrial and rural landscapes. 

Alex Monaghan

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This album was reviewed in Issue 113 of The Living Tradition magazine.