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SIMON RITCHIE - Squeezebox Schizophrenia X-Tradition Records TMM 1956

Well, there are several sides to the playing on this recording. With names like Bob Dylan, Edward Elgar, Leonard Cohen, Smokey Robinson and Johnny Rotten featured amongst the credits, balanced against more Traditional-sourced material (including an appearance from Bob Davenport), there's either going to be a 'knees-up' or a 'punch-up'. Some listeners and reviewers may take a more confrontational line: bringing the, "what is folk music?" chestnut back for a reheat. For me, it's the intention and spirit of any performer that adds the folk thing/style/bit to any material and this CD is more like the party sessions I enjoy so much. If the ice breakers, Move Over Darling and Sweets For My Sweet, prove a challenge for some, their parameters may need totally resetting after Cohen's Hallelujah, and Sex Pistols' Anarchy In The UK. All these are great fun as are, Rivers of Babylon and, Tracks of My Tears. Simon Ritchie has a strong, confident voice and singing style adaptable enough to take on both the modern and the traditional. The more Traditional side includes a great, Edmund In The Lowlands Low with Bob Davenport and Rodger Digby; the epic Banks Of Sweet Dundee; yet another track that won't make Mike Harding's playlist - the audience-stunning, Nobby Hall; the joyous Roving Gypsy and the totally non-pc, Duck Foot Sue. Various melodeons have been used in this CD and for all the songs that are included here this is very much a melodeon driven recording as proved by two of the best tracks - the up tempo Sheer Joy, Simon Ritchie's own composition and Edward Elgar's The Wagon Passes.

Peter Fairbairn

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This album was reviewed in Issue 59 of The Living Tradition magazine.