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Anglo International

Various Artists
Anglo International
Folksound records FSCD70

How long would the queue be if you announced the sale of a three-CD set of music played on the Anglo concertina? Is this the release that you have been eagerly waiting for? I suspect not. As a semi-skilled English concertina player I approached this set with interest but did not really expect it to be the compelling listen that it turned out to be.

Back to the waiting list comment - this release has been a long wait for many people and what started out as the germ of an idea some twenty years ago finally came to fruition late in 2005. This is a collection of the best anglo players from around the World who put the anglo through its paces and show the versatility of the instrument and the different styles of music that it is capable of. Tracks from each player are grouped together with most musicians contributing between two and four tracks each. This gives you time to listen to the style and variety within each musician's repertoire and allows you to dip in to different players as the mood takes you.

There is a trend nowadays for groups in particular to play tunes faster than my ears can listen. The anglo is an instrument that injects rhythm into the playing whatever the speed and it is a real pleasure to listen to tunes played at a listenable and danceable pace. If you are interested in the anglo, then these recordings will likely come into the essential listening category, if you are tempted by this release and come to it with a more general interest in traditional music, then I suspect that this may become one of the gems in your collection.

I shouldn't really pick out individual tracks from such a fine array of musicians but the slow air, 'Lament for Limerick' played by Noel Hill, 'Maple Leaf Rag' by Andrew Blakeney Edwards, 'Somewhere Over the Rainbow' by Roger Digby, and 'The Mathematician' by Niail Vallely gives you some idea of the variety of the music.. and there are songs too.

The booklet is excellent - 48 pages packed with information about the instrument, the musicians and with links to various websites. Altogether a wonderful package - congratulations are due to everybody involved.

Pete Heywood

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This album was reviewed in Issue 67 of The Living Tradition magazine.