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Little Folk Records LFR104 

The release of King Ahtu by the acclaimed ceilidh band, Threepenny Bit, makes a grand total of four studio albums to date. As one might expect from such a musically tight outfit, the album is a delight throughout. This eight-piece band, known for their exemplary playing on the dance circuit, doesn’t disappoint in any way. The music has a very strong rhythmic content which, to the discerning ear, exposes their dance roots. This is no bad thing as, with such a solid foundation to build upon, the band is free to confidently experiment and broaden their already impressive complex musical harmonic and rhythmic qualities that they display in spades.

The album was recorded in Cambridgeshire and Cumbria by the legendary Pete Ord. With eight musicians all vying for attention, Pete expertly balances the intricate arrangements and stunning compositions with great skill. The material is in part traditional and in part original, but always with a unique ensemble sound that defines Threepenny Bit - an ensemble much greater than its parts. All the tracks demonstrate great care to attention and detail, so much so, it is difficult to single out any particular one but, with that in mind, and because of my own Morris background, I am going to plump for Old Mother Oxford. Threepenny Bit can also have the last word. They say, “We like to think of this tune set as a microcosm of May Morning in Oxford, the first church bells at dawn giving way to the celebrations of the day.”

John Oke Bartlett


This review appeared in Issue 132 of The Living Tradition magazine