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GREG RUSSELL - Inclined To Be Red

GREG RUSSELL - Inclined To Be Red
Fellside Recordings FECD281

A year or two back I got a real buzz from reviewing Greg’s second album with Ciaran Algar. And so, my getting both hands on this new solo CD from Greg had me licking my lips in anticipation. I say “solo”, but need to acknowledge that he is ably assisted throughout by Archie Churchill-Moss on diatonic accordion and Tim Yates on double bass.

And so I opened the two “arms” of the classy, triptych-style Fellside CD, and was immediately delighted to see that Greg had made a clear effort to tell us what lay behind the choice of all 12 of his tracks. This immediately puts a reviewer “onside” with a project: far too often artistes cop out and refuse to go the extra mile and just give us lyrics instead, and hope we will be happy with that.

Then came the moment when I clicked “play” on the CD...and I immediately committed a cardinal sin. I started by playing track 3 first. And this is a no-no (especially by a reviewer who should know better), and Greg has my apologies. After all, with most recording artistes, a lot of thought usually goes into the batting order. And just as one should not start reading a new book halfway through, so it is with a selection of songs. But I could not help myself.

You see, that track 3, Road To Dorchester, is a barometer song as far as I am concerned. It tells me everything I need to know about the “weather” of an album I find it in. I need to feel that the singer is doing justice to this Graham Moore masterpiece (or more accurately Moore/Ryan masterpiece, since Mick Ryan wrote the glorious chorus). And boy, doesn’t Greg Russell really nail it. Sure he misses the extraordinary magisterial cello of Gill Redmond, but his delivery of the lyric contains all the real brio of the Moore original.

So with that question answered, I was able to relax and go to the start, and let the album work its magic on me. And it did, with Greg Russell showing himself to be no slouch with the pen, as half the songs are his compositions. Of his own songs, I rated his opener best. E.G.A. is his story of the life of Elizabeth Garrett Anderson, who did so much good as a pioneering woman in medicine in this country. Of the songs from other sources, I rated his a cappella delivery of Keith Marsden’s Willy-Ole Lad, as an unqualified success, with his intense reading of Si Kahn’s What You Do With What You Got, close behind.

This is a significant release. I wish it a fair wind.

Dai Woosnam

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