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THE ALBION DANCE BAND’s - Rockin’ Barn Dance AND Natural And Wild THE ALBION DANCE BAND’s - Rockin’ Barn Dance AND Natural And Wild

THE ALBION DANCE BAND’s - Rockin’ Barn Dance
Talking Elephant Records TECD154

THE ALBION BAND - Natural And Wild
Talking Elephant Records TECD155

Two more missing links in the epic history of the Albions, from 1988 and 1987 respectively, with overlapping lineups. By my estimate, if the various Albion configurations survive until 2110, more than half the folk professionals will have passed through their ranks. I seem to recall a classic ‘Meet the Albion Band’ at Bromyard not long after this, when it was announced that it was the last gig for two of the members, which sort of defeated the object I thought (mind you Phil Beer went on to Show Of Hands so the story has a happy ending…come to think of it Simon Care’s still keeping busy also).

The first of these offerings is a real evening of dance recorded for posterity, including the caller’s instructions, which mostly assist the listener in imagining the event. Sid Kipper’s guest appearance as caller, however, is slightly amusing, but even after many listenings, the dance he describes is far beyond my visualization skills. I think you had to be there. Basically that is my main criticism of this album – called barn dances don’t transfer well to CD. Yeah, the accompaniment is grand, especially the moments when Phil Beer gets an opportunity to let rip on electric guitar or fiddle, but the intros and interruptions are tiresome in the extreme. This is one for Hutchingsiana completists only. The Albion Dance Band were a great act around this time – I saw them a number of times, but this CD doesn’t fill me with nostalgia, sadly.

The second is an album derived from an ‘eco wildlife-friendly concert’ featuring material from a number of sources including Laura’s Song (from the Lark Rise show revisited around this time) and Joni Mitchell’s Big Yellow Taxi which probably counts as one of the earliest ‘eco’ songs. Cathy Lesurf contributes four songs plus cowrote a further three, so has the lion’s share of the songsmith credits as well as all the lead vocals. This is a well-produced, well-packaged, well intentioned celebration of the countryside and its influences on town life (urban foxes and wildlife growing in bomb craters for example). I can’t vouch for the size of the audience (or their reactions) as they’ve been almost completely mixed out, so it sounds like the band are performing in front of nobody at all (though I assume there were some people there on the night).

Grem Devlin

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This album was reviewed in Issue 85 of The Living Tradition magazine.