No Masters NMCD 22

Triple Echo features the voices of three singers - Barry Coope, Jim Boyes and Lester Simpson - and the work of three collectors - Ralph Vaughan Williams, George Butterworth, and Percy Grainger. The material ranges from religious songs and sea shanties, to love songs and ballads.

A good example of their sound is ‘The Ploughboy’s Dream’, a parable about the proper treatment of domestic animals and avoidance of swearing. Vaughan Williams set the text of ‘O Little Town of Bethlehem’ to this tune, hence its familiarity. They sing in robust, full-throated harmony, with the occasional colouring of a Yorkshire accent. There is a danger of settling overlong on those big fat chords, or loosing the lead voice in the arrangement, but they generally avoid these pitfalls. Pity their liner notes don’t include the words, though they do give details on the source singers and collectors.

An album of ‘three part singing needs a little variety. ‘The Cuckoo’, one of the few solo tracks, also includes instrumental accompaniment. Andy Cutting’s button accordion gives a rich background to Barry Coope’s elegant vocals in this song about the capricious nature of love. The other instrumental contribution is found on ‘It Hails, It Rains’, a solo outing by Jim Boyes with a delightful arrangement of multi-tracked saxophone by Jo Freya. It’s a light-hearted song, of the night visitation sort. Perhaps it’s slightly racy theme is why they followed it with ‘New Christians’. The final track, ‘Horkstow Grange’, is a rare song and a most haunting melody. I’ve loved this tune ever since hearing Grainger’s arrangement of it for wind band. The rendition here is stirring and flowing; its arching phrases and gorgeous harmonies leave sweet echoes in your ears.

E. Bradtke

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This album was reviewed in Issue 65 of The Living Tradition magazine.