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NICK DOW - Then As Now 

NICK DOW - Then As Now 
Old House Music OHM813 

I first came across Nick in the late 70s when I responded to a mailshot accompanied by a Dingles label vinyl LP, Burd Margaret, asking me to consider him for a gig at Southport Bothy. I responded positively, having been impressed by his versions of such as Fair Rosamond and the title track. Hence in June 1980 he debuted for us and my not-seen-live judgement was vindicated!

The story behind this album is absorbing and is in essence a remarkable recovery of songs, some recorded live, others at the BBC in 1989, and intended for a wider exposure. Printing errors and a general screw-up spelled disaster and the tapes were believed erased. However, a friend had horded copies all these years and the COVID-19 incarceration afforded the time to garner together and organise his recorded output. That friend unearthed the long-gone recordings and here they are, remastered by The Feud’s Luke Paget.

Nick knows his stuff and, lest we forget, this is a man who has done extensive collecting in Dorset (Hammond and Gardiner territory) noting over 400 songs and producing a valuable audio work on the renowned Marina Russell during a period away from live performance.

His measured mellow voice is shown to its best on the spirited opener, The Brewer Lad, but the album is a rewarding experience throughout, with the melancholy of such as Maid In Bedlam contrasting with an unusually lively Broomfield Hill and the stateliness of Bold Fisherman, all sung with authority and subtlety. The songs are entirely trad.arr. and the addition of Nigel Canter and Chris Robson on fiddle and button box respectively, allied to Nick’s guitar, only adds to what is a fine collection.

I knew I was right about Nick Dow in 1978; I’ve no reason to alter that view now. He has a real feel for traditional song and its nuances, valuing its heritage and relevance. This CD affirms that.

Clive Pownceby


This review appeared in Issue 138 of The Living Tradition magazine