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GADARENE - Butchers Of Bristol  

GADARENE - Butchers Of Bristol  
Private Label GADRCD04 

This is an album which demonstrates the true value of neglected traditional English dance tunes from the 18th and 19th centuries, using printed sources as raw materials for a very 21st century sound. 

The danger of drawing all your inspiration from one direction is that, however expertly played, it all tends to merge into one. For their first studio album - its only predecessor was a live recording - Gadarene can confidently plead ‘not guilty’ on that count. The way in which they achieve this is interesting; unlike many of their ilk, they resist the temptation to throw the proverbial kitchen sink at it.

The basic unit is five strong and each of the members concentrates on just one instrument, except for Laurel Swift (of whom more later). That means steady employment for Matt Norman's mandolin, Nick Wyke's fiddle, Jon Dyer's flute, and the drums of Si Paull (a few of whom feature on the latest Jim Causley opus). The only member given joint responsibilities is the aforementioned Ms Swift, who takes control of the unusual combination of double bass and clogs… you try playing them at the same time at your peril!  She is a former member of The Gloworms and Morris Offspring, the latter of whom provide the link with the cottage industry that was the Morris On series. 

This album incorporates an occasional brass section of Polly Meyrick on saxophones and John Westrip on trumpet and trombone, giving them a hint of mariachi flavour at times. It all bowls along merrily, fully justifying the description of the tracks as “miniature masterpieces”. The title track is as good an example as any, although for their names alone, Hod The Lass Till I Run At Her and Go To The Devil And Shake Yourself command attention. Sounds like a rough old night on the dance floor. 

Dave Hadfield 


This review appeared in Issue 139 of The Living Tradition magazine