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PETE COE - The Man In The Red Van

PETE COE - The Man In The Red Van
Backshift Music BASHCD63

There’s a very good reason why Pete Coe’s career has been such a long and successful one: this is a man who never rests on his laurels and who is constantly looking for new angles from which to approach his music. In addition, he’s an extremely competent singer, musician, arranger, step dancer and a stage performer of rare ability.

This CD encapsulates much of what is best in Pete’s repertoire, in that many of these songs are ones that he’s been singing for years, and over that time he’s been amending and modifying some of them where other versions contained additional verses that completed the story, or has composed extra material himself – to such effect that, with songs like Joseph Baker, he’s convinced a wide cross section of listeners (and a music publisher) that it’s all traditional – the ‘folk process’ at its best.

Just over half of the 10 songs are traditional, with many of them being slightly different to the usual mainstream versions in terms of their airs or words, which means that one tends to listen more carefully than one might if it was just the usual, bog standard version. The four contemporary songs have been very well chosen and, for my money, Pete’s own composition, Farewell To The Brine, is the most outstanding of these.

If I had a criticism, it would be that the recording could have stood an additional couple of tracks without any risk of losing my attention – there’s enough variety in this CD to keep you engaged from beginning to end. Highly recommended.

John Waltham

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This album was reviewed in Issue 120 of The Living Tradition magazine.