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VARIOUS ARTISTS - Stand Up Now: Songs From The Landworkers’ Alliance 

VARIOUS ARTISTS - Stand Up Now: Songs From The Landworkers’ Alliance 
Many A Thousand Records MATR21001 

The Landworkers’ Alliance is a union of small-scale and ecological farmers who, recognising that traditional song has long been a crucial thread of its cultural identity, has assembled under the guidance of the estimable Sid Goldsmith a collection of 15 songs concerning the land, farming and the struggle for a better world. Sid travelled extensively throughout Britain to record songs on location, and captured “farmers with a song in their back pocket and jobbing musicians who support their cause”.

And nicely atmospherically too – for instance, Ed Hamer’s fine rendition of Matt Armour’s Generations Of Change, a disc highlight, is accompanied only by birdsong. Among the more well-known contributors we find Ewan McLennan (Rufford Park Poachers), Nick Hart (The Faithful Plough) and, of course, the Aldridge & Goldsmith duo, with female harmony trio The Norfolk Broads (Green Brooms) and Young Waters’ Kerry Ann Jangle & Theo Passingham (Sing Ivy). I welcomed the chance to hear unknown (to me) performers Rita Oldenbourg (a cappella on The Quiet Joys Of Brotherhood) and Amy Cox & Maddy Yarwood (a darkly thoughtful Oak, Ash & Thorn).

Sveral songs are trad-arr, others more in the way of rewrites, cognisant of the ever-topical nature of the project’s central themes – Bernie’s Yard deliver a setting of Packie Byrne’s poem, The Drovers’ Song; King Driscolls’ We Want The Land is a stirring modern-rustic anthem; Owen Shiers’ Trecadwgan (sung in Welsh) a latter-day land-rights ballad, and Eggclab 7 turn in a rewrite of The Lark In The Morning with a jaunty clarinet-bedecked backing.

Although, commendably, the disc’s attractively homespun package sports a booklet containing lyrics and brief song notes, I’d have liked to have learned a little about the performers themselves too. In every other respect though, this is an enterprising and thought-provoking disc that’s well worth supporting.

David Kidman


This review appeared in Issue 141 of The Living Tradition magazine