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One Row Records ORRCD521 

A CD of the Salami Brothers? Surely, they are almost exclusively visual with their fire-eating, escapology, juggling and the other aspects of circus skills and street theatre? This album, therefore, is mostly devoted to the remarkable songs of Giacomo Salami (Jim Woodland) with visual and auditory support from the other three (Taffy Thomas, Mike Bettison and Richie Taylor). Jim’s songs are not easy to listen to and they are not meant to be. They leave the listener asking all sorts of questions of themselves about their reactions to them on political, social and personal levels. The responses to being challenged by songs like Sanctuary and Dangerous are ones that remain with the listener.

There are a couple of skits, Identity Parade and Paving Stone, that can stand by sound alone, but these will be more likely enjoyed by those who have seen their many festival appearances during their active years.

These performances were recorded live at the Shetland Folk Festival in 1985 and less than two months later, Count Salami (Taffy Thomas) suffered the debilitating stroke that ended the physically demanding role he fulfilled with the Salamis. These performances were released on cassette at that time as a fundraiser for him and his young children. We know that Taffy returned to performing as one of Britain’s most loved storytellers. Now, he has been robbed of an income again, this time by the pandemic, and so the album appears again with the revenue going to Taffy, this time it’s on CD.

Vic Smith


This review appeared in Issue 141 of The Living Tradition magazine