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PETER BELLAMY - The Maritime Suite: We Have Fed Our Seas For A Thousand Years 

PETER BELLAMY - The Maritime Suite: We Have Fed Our Seas For A Thousand Years 
Fellside Recordings FECD284 

This is Fellside’s most recent (and probably last) venture into the Peter Bellamy archives. The suite was originally conceived in 1982 – the year of National Maritime Year and the Falklands War. It never made it to vinyl – it was only available on cassette from Peter at his gigs. The suite is in two parts and the songs are linked by Dolly Collins and her classically inspired bridges, although they feel less inventive than some of her other work with Peter. In addition, Ursula Prank’s sonorous cello completes the accompaniment of the suite itself. The CD also contains five ‘bonus’ tracks from Peter’s archive along the same maritime theme. Here, Peter’s unique anglo concertina playing shines (On Board A 98 and The Bold Privateer) and Louis Killen also joins to make a duo of the Coppers’ Warlike Seamen.

As always, Peter demonstrates that he is a master of storytelling. The range of songs, traditional and more modern (including, of course, some Kipling) trace, more or less, 1000 years of our maritime history under sail – steam only makes an appearance in the bonus track of Big Steamers. The Death Of Nelson incorporates additional verses from Harry Cox, but the tune – classed by Peter as “magnificent” - comes from George Dunn. Peter was probably the most continuously creative and inventive performer of the entire folk revival, whether on individual tracks or in conceiving one of his many projects. Whichever side of the ‘marmite’ divide you stand, this CD continues, and perhaps completes, the extraordinary story of Peter Bellamy.

Tom Brown

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This album was reviewed in Issue 127 of The Living Tradition magazine.