BRIAN PETERS - Anglophilia

BRIAN PETERS - Anglophilia
Pugwash Music PUGCD006

Love of country is one thing, but a man's love for his concertina surpasses all understanding. Anglophilia is not a hymn to Englishness but Brian Peters' celebration of the Anglo-concertina, an instrument as integral to our folk music as singarounds and raffle tickets.

This plump 73-minute album is a masterclass in taking the Anglo beyond its usual boundaries. It's partly a matter of style. Instead of the familiar William Kimber method of right hand for melody and left hand for chords, Brian sets himself the challenge of playing bare but beautiful melodies with bold use of keys outside the standard range. The stately pace and minimal accompaniment ensure that this is music for rapt attention, not bouncy stuff for dancing to. It's also a matter of content. The tracks include polkas, jigs and morris dance tunes, but also baroque music, ragtime and slow airs. Several tunes are from 200-year old manuscripts of the Winder family, who were social dance and church gallery musicians from Lancashire. The album opens and shuts with Brian's own compositions.

Brian enjoys huge respect for his all-round talent. As well as the Anglo, he plays melodeon and guitar to a high standard. He makes your eyes prick with tears at the pity and terror of a murder ballad, then lifts you with a pop song. Some of this versatility is sacrificed here in celebration of the Anglo. The four songs are undemanding interludes.

Anglophilia may lack the broad appeal of Sharper Than The Thorn, Different Tongues , or his collaborations with Gordon Tyrrall, but is more than a musical indulgence. It's a serious musician's album which could become a lodestar for the concertina brethren and (sadly?) do wonders for their social confidence. Love us, love our Anglo-concertinas! Brian's extra-buttoned Crabb is right there on the front cover, lolling sexily on a red cushion, flanked by a glass of champagne and a candle.

The tracks are: Kissing Stones, Farewell Manchester, Chips and Fish, The Northern Lass, Polkas: Nymph Set, Turk's March / Tom Fowler's, Things We Said Today, Winder Minuets, The Entertainer, Jigs: The Peasant, Adieu My Lovely Nancy, Morris Dance Tunes, The Tankard of Ale, Dallas Rag, Accordion, Vive La Bagatelle, Sweet Sorrow.

Tony Hendry

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This album was reviewed in Issue 66 of The Living Tradition magazine.