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VARIOUS ARTISTS - Traditional Dance Music of Britain & Ireland 

VARIOUS ARTISTS - Traditional Dance Music of Britain & Ireland 
Saydisc CDSDL449 

This is a collection of exceedingly diverse recordings all, as the title says, tunes for dancing, and all from the Saydisc archives. There is a total of 51 tracks on the two CDs that comprise the collection which is drawn from the playing of some 15 musicians and bands. There are notes on each of the performers. Hardly any tracks are of a length to actually dance to – but that is not the point! As the brief note in the booklet says – “It will probably be a brave or dedicated listener who plays all these 51 tracks at one sitting. However… we have arranged the dances with the greatest variety of instrumentation, provenance and periods of history.” The result is a triumph! From York Waits to Bonnie Shaljean, from Jack Armstrong to The Mellstock Band, or from the McPeake Family to Alex Stewart, this is a collection of exemplary playing, both old and new – at times surprising, always delightful, and a great resource of tunes and styles to delve into and come out inspired and better understanding the range of dance music from these islands.

The tracks are so diverse that I have no problem listening right through each album! Like other Saydisc issues, the booklet gives the sources of the tracks, where the recording may have been issued previously, and lists some of the other Saydisc collections. This double album is highly recommended (one may almost say a necessity) for any practitioner or student, dedicated or casual, of British dance musics.

Tom Brown

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This album was reviewed in Issue 126 of The Living Tradition magazine.