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J P Slidewell - 'As it happened'

J. P. SLIDEWELL - As it happened!

'J.P. terms himself a “reinvented folk singer”, who purveys a dynamic and defiantly individual approach to the tradition wherein he reworks his sources in a powerful, uncompromising and excitingly passionate way.  To my ears, although this owes much to the partly declamatory style of urban-folksters like Pete Morton and Billy Bragg, it’s nonetheless extremely effective at getting the thrust of the songs across.  The first fruit of this latest phase of J.P’s musical career was the CD From Light To Darkness, which appeared last summer; this was followed by a limited-edition “demo-style” EP, the recordings from which have been re-mastered and now form the basis for just over half of the contents of As It Happened!  J.P.’s second official full-length CD (well, when I say full-length I mean 33 minutes: the disc’s only shortcoming).

The CD’s title is apt, for it consists entirely of recordings made “as they happened”, with no studio embellishments, overdubs or extra musicians: pure, unadulterated J.P.!…  It kicks off with a couple of songs taken from a live session for Genevieve Tudor’s Radio Shropshire folk programme: a pretty decent rendition of Peter Bellamy’s Abe Karmen and an unaccompanied Pretty Nancy Of Yarmouth.  Two further songs from the same radio session crop up later on in the disc.  The Female Drummer and O’Reilly have a wide-awake quality that doesn’t for a minute betray the “unearthly hour in the morning” when they were recorded!  Then there’s two tracks recorded live at the Biddulph Arms (some rougher edges here I’ll admit, but nothing embarrassing), and a rather fine rendition of The Brethren that, fittingly, was recorded “in a field on a Sony cassette walkman”!  For the CD’s centrepiece, J.P. daringly tackles Tamlyn (with a distinctly Mortonesque demeanour, it must be said) and proudly “does it in under ten minutes” (but only just!) in a live session for BBC Radio Manchester; J.P. sure makes up

Fortunately the word’s spreading quite fast about J.P., and he’s travelling far and wide with an increasingly healthy touring schedule (he’s just completed a series of charity gigs in aid of Save The Children and masterminded an excellent companion compilation CD which should be in every home).  So that means plenty of opportunities to “judge the JP” and his vital brand of music-making exactly “as it happens”.

David Kidman

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This album was reviewed in Issue 74 of The Living Tradition magazine.