Link to Living Tradition Homepage






Firebird Records FBR005

I can pay this disc no higher compliment than to describe it honestly: as straight-ahead feel-good “social dance music” played with gusto and commitment by musicians of proven pedigree and steeped in the English tradition. It’s been a long decade or so since Phoenix Dance Band released its first CD, After The Fire. Purchasers of that earlier CD will note that Martin Brinsford has since been replaced by Steve Harrison, but in every other respect the line-up’s identical. It’s especially reassuring to find that in the intervening years the band’s philosophy also remains resolutely unchanged – i.e. the virtue of introducing to the scene some “less-than-well-known tunes” and unearthing neglected tunes imprisoned in old manuscripts. The musicians do this in a refreshingly ungimmicky way, by presenting the tunes directly and with no virtuosic distraction or grandstanding, no undue haste or attention-drawing challenges, and the listener (and his feet) gains much pleasure from the strength and drive and solid delivery of the melody itself by harmonica (Steve Harrison), fiddles (Mike Pinder and Fran Wade) and melodeon (Rod Stradling), accompanied by trusty vamping piano (Kevin Bown).

The robust force of the band-personality is commendably ubiquitous, and I specially commend to you tracks such as the unforgivably obscure Irish barndance, Pearl O’Shaughnessy’s, and the Nantwich/Enfield/Spirit and Campaign/Squall/Burlesque sets. The CD’s presentation is commendably simple too, with brief all-you-probably-need-to-know notes inside the booklet. My only possible quibble is that I often became so embroiled in getting to know the tunes that I felt I’d been shortchanged if we didn’t get “three times round”!

Hopefully you’ll now be “all fired up” to purchase a copy of this storming CD.

David Kidman

Secure On-line mailorder service
Buy this CD online from The Listening Post
The Listening Post is the CD mailorder service of The Living Tradition magazine.
This album was reviewed in Issue 116 of The Living Tradition magazine.