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THE ALBION BAND - The Vice Of The People

THE ALBION BAND - The Vice Of The People
Powered Flight Music  POWFCD02

After more shape-shifting over the years than Doctor Who, the erstwhile Albion Band is now officially reborn, with the departure of founding member Ashley Hutchings. Now at the helm is a gaggle of younger bodies, one of whom happens to be Hutchings’ son Blair Dunlop. The coup d’état was always going to be bold gesture but it is one which, happily, the band have made with musical expertise, lush production and a boisterous sense of fun, not least demonstrated by the title’s cheeky wink at Topic’s esteemed CD series.

Yet this wry nod to past sources and legacies runs more than sleeve-deep. Even the album’s introductory song poses the question ‘who are your heroes now?’ before segueing rebelliously into Richard Thompson’s Roll Over Vaughan Williams, suggesting a sweeping of the folk road to make way for the new. Able covers of contemporary songs like Nik Kershaw’s Faces sit alongside high in-house songwriting standards, with Gavin Davenport’s Thieves Song, a swaggering and satirical resetting of Hark! Hark! The Dogs do Bark and the gloriously jubilant and – you’ve been warned, impossibly catchy - rewrite of the shanty One More Day. Musicianship is slick too, as The 2x2 Set retains all its nuanced jauntiness – delicacy even – atop heavy guitars and the skilled and sensitive drumming of Tom Wright.

The band are doing what the old Albion Band did – playing punkily with ideas of new and old traditions – but also doing their own, brand new thing. The mantle has passed into safe hands.

Clare Button

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This album was reviewed in Issue 92 of The Living Tradition magazine.