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DAVE SWARBRICK "Lift The Lid & listen" Storyville Records 1025702

This reissue by Storyville is a pleasure to review. Originally recorded in 1978,this was about the time I saw the four-piece Fairport at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane. Now sadly, without Sandy, Richard or Trevor, you could say that the band was vocally bereft but this would lack veracity. Simon proved a fine frontman and lead vocalist and Swarb's delicate singing and wry humour meant Fairport was no dying ember. This album of tunes includes the four-piece from that time- Swarb, Simon, Peggy and Bruce Rowland plus Savourna Stevenson (harp), Beryl Marriott (piano), Roger Marriott (melodeon, whistle, flute) and Allan Robertson (accordion).

The range and skill of Swarb is proved via sweet ballads like Fanny Power, Lark in the Clear Air, and Sally Gardens, great dance music like Queen's Jig, Dick's Maggot and Dargason, plus some great reworkings of Bampton Morris tunes - Banbury Bill, Maid of the Mill and Highland Mary. The press release refers to Swarb as a "jazz-tinged" violin player, on this I cannot agree. Swarb does extemporise but craftily uses the folk modes to enable a transformation of some perhaps tired tunes to occur- whoever would think that folk fiddlers could not mix it up a bit? Swarb is a fiddler in the best of our island traditions and although he has been unwell of late, he is still working and giving joy to us all and to most fiddlers a look of frustration; long may he continue! A really smashing album.

Tony Kendall

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This album was reviewed in Issue 57 of The Living Tradition magazine.