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Roy Clinging "An Honest Working Man" 101RECCD.12

Roy's timely follow-up to his 1999 "Cheshire Born" album again presents a great choice of songs in interesting versions and exceedingly stylish performances vocally and concertinally (is there such a word? - if there isn't, then there is now!) from Roy himself. The principal difference is that whereas the earlier album concentrated on songs and tunes from Roy's native Cheshire, the new album contains a fair sprinkling of maritime material alongside unusual versions of classics of the ballad repertoire. In the former category are "The Death Of Admiral Benbow", "Western Ocean", "Shiny-O", "Billy Boy" (which shantyman Stan Hugill noted down as a Northumbrian capstan shanty, though Roy here gives us a version of more southerly origin) and "Davy Lowston". In the latter category are the haunting "John Barleycorn" (in a chillingly mournful Scottish version that I only discovered recently myself through the singing of Heather Heywood), a perfectly valid hybrid version of "Lord Randall", and one of the most attractive of the many variants of "Cruel Barbara Allen" (it turns out to be a Shropshire version which Roy gleaned from Roy Palmer's "Songs Of The West Midlands" collection). The closer, the title track, is Roy's own composition, and is one of those deceptively jaunty industrial songs that I'm sure will easily enter the tradition. Supporting musicians are few and far between on this album, imparting a more telling focus to Roy's own considerable talents (we're reminded anew of just how fine a performer Roy is); there's just that brilliant but eternally underrated guitarist Phil Hare, superlative fiddler Gina LeFaux, and Roy's wife Mary on occasional backing vocals. Roy's profile has increased a lot since "Cheshire Born", but if this new album gets distributed properly, the word should get round even faster that Roy's a performer of real stature, good taste and integrity.

David Kidman

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This album was reviewed in Issue 47 of The Living Tradition magazine.