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Honest Jons HJRCD19

This compilation CD has a secondary title of "Leave-Taking From The British Folk Revival 1970-1977". It is a raid on the archives of Bill Leader and his Trailer label.

Now we will gloss over that questionable description (for the fact is that possibly by 1970, and CERTAINLY by 1977, it had become a case of "reviving the previously-revived", for the original Revival of the 50s and early 60s had run out of steam. We will instead get straight down to the nitty-gritty.

The artistes featured are some of the most stellar names to have appeared on the label. Having originally bought as vinyl LPs all-bar-one of the CD tracks featured, I have to say how pleasant it is to get pristine versions of tracks I have long ago worn out.

Of course, when you are choosing fourteen tracks from such a glorious back catalogue, you are on a hiding-to-nothing with the critics. And yes, you've guessed, I might have chosen other cuts from these very artistes, (forget whether I would have different artistes featuring in my compilation: the fact is that licensing agreements can be complicated in such matters).

But whilst I probably would have come up with a 70% different list of numbers, at the same time, I am not unhappy with John Williams's choice.

I was delighted to see Nic Jones' s deeply atmospheric and perhaps greatest -ever track, Annan Water is here. It was from his wondrous "Ballads and Songs" LP: an album he never bettered.

My own copy has been virtually unplayable for many years as I wore it through. But it is a funny thing: I can still recall the batting order. Annan Water closed side A: and so often I would sit in stunned silence as the song finished and the needle just kept making scratching noises going around and around (the arm refusing to automatically return to "switch off" mode, like it too was in awe at what it had just heard).

(Ah those young readers who only know CDs! You don't know what you missed!)

And then there is the great Dick Gaughan with perhaps HIS finest ever track, his version of marvellous ballad (with words by Sir Walter Scott) Jock O'Hazeldean. And Dave Burland with his oh-so-poignant A Dalesman's Litany. In addition there's Dorothy Elliott's Adieu To Judges and Juries. I had forgotten just how good Dorothy was.

So in closing this review, let me say that Honest Jon Records have done something of a service to both old fogeys like me and to the younger generation not even BORN in the 1970s. Plus, they have provided an added bonus in that the CD is available in LP form for those vinyl junkies still out there.

And let me also add that the liner notes from the aforementioned Mr. Williams, really do cut the mustard. And that, come to think of it, is most apposite. For as far as Bill Leader's Trailer label is concerned, nothing less than quality liner notes would do. After all, Bill had set the benchmark all those years ago.

Dai Woosnam

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This album was reviewed in Issue 66 of The Living Tradition magazine.